Older campers can sometimes show their age with dents and dings that collect during all the adventures. Whether these dents are from learning to tow, weather related issues such as hail, or just from things that are kicked up from the road, they can be unsightly. While getting it back to looking brand new can be a struggle unless you’re a skilled professional, you still have some options to at least make it look better. Here’s how to remove dents from older campers to reduce the majority of the eye sore.
Most of the older rigs were made from aluminum instead of the fiberglass exteriors RVs have today. There are a lot of different supposed methods out there but not a lot of fact to them. The main one we see a lot that has been disproven is that dry ice will pop the dent back out, but unfortunately it only works on steel. Here’s what will work though:
If you have an old RV that has panels then you’re in luck! You can remove the panels and replace them and it will look good as new!
If you’re dealing with a lot of dents or a big one that runs across several panels and you can’t replace them, the next best thing is to get a pneumatic dent puller. This tool uses suction and a slide hammer to pull the dent. Basically what happens is, you stick a powerful suction cup to the dent. Then you use the slide hammer to create a pull away from the RV. This can many times pull the dent out. They don’t always look brand new but they look better than a giant caved in dent.
If your dent is lower on the RV, especially in the front, you may be able to get a diamond rock plate and just cover it up! These plates are designed to keep rocks from denting the RV itself so when you add it on it just looks like it’s supposed to be there. And it will help to prevent any future dents.
If you have an older camper but it’s new enough to have fiberglass on the outside, dents are a whole new ball game. Since fiberglass is not just one piece, but a ton of small glass fibers stuck together, you can’t just pull the dent out. You can however fill the dent, crack, or whatever you’re dealing with pretty easily and you have a better chance of making it look new again than with aluminum. Here are the basic steps you need to take to get it done!
- Get a repair kit from a marine store that will come with things like resin, hardener, fillers, fiberglass fabric, and an application syringe.
- Sand around the edge of the dent or crack so you can get down to the actual fiberglass.
- Clean off the area with acetone to ensure there’s no dirt or dust left from sanding.
- Mix your hardener & resin and fill the dent as much as possible with it.
- Once this is hardened and dry, sand it smooth and clean it again with acetone.
- Rip off a piece of fiberglass fabric just larger than your dent. Wet the area with the mixture and place it over the top. Blot the fabric with the mixture until it is dampened and sticking to the surface.
- Let the patch cure and harden completely. Now you can sand it again and if needed, use filler to make it smooth. Once the filler is dry you can paint the area to blend it in!
Getting rid of dents yourself can be less expensive than taking your camper in to a professional. Always remember however that the professionals have tools and training that the average person does not, so they have more of an ability to make the RV look new again. Many places will give you a free quote so it may not hurt to at least find out what you’re looking at before you dive in to do it yourself.
For more information on how to keep your RV looking new, check out our other posts on how to re-seal a camper and how to keep your roof in tip-top shape!