With the body panels removed from the camper, it was time to start the repair. We carefully fit the panels back together like a puzzle and used painter’s tape on the front side of the panel to hold everything in place.
Then we used the same 50/50 mixture of MEK and ABS plastic pellets that we did for our roof repair. Mr. TypeTwoFun wiped the back side of the panel down with MEK and brushed the MEK/ABS mixture onto the the cracks, making sure to fill them well. We painted it on pretty heavily, as we wanted to make sure that this panel didn’t crack again.
We let the MEK/ABS “goo” dry for about 24 hours. This was longer than we let our roof repair dry, but we applied the goo pretty thick. We wanted to make sure it was completely dry. Once we were sure it was ready, Mr. TypeTwoFun removed the painters tape and started sanding the front of the panel.
You can see that the MEK/ABS goo filled in the crack pretty nicely, but there was still a lot of visible cracking on the front side. We knew that the Grizzly Grip would fill in all those little cracks and make the panel even stronger, so we weren’t too concerned. Grizzly Grip does a great job of hiding imperfections. We just wanted to sand off any ridges or bumps left by the repair that might be visible under the Grizzly Grip. We also wanted to give the whole panel a light sanding to prep it, just like we did with the roof. Mr. TypeTwoFun used 220 grit sandpaper and then wiped everything down with MEK. Just like any painting project, preparation is key, so don’t cut corners on the prep!
Remember that MEK is nasty stuff, so be sure you have the appropriate safety gear when working with it. Gloves, eye protection, and a ventilation mask are a must. Applying it in a well ventilated area is best, too. I was far away and using my zoom lens to snap these pictures, in case you were wondering. 😛
Once the panels were wiped down, we gave them a coat of our favorite Grizzly Grip. We initially bought one quart of fine textured Grizzly Grip in Snow White. It didn’t end up covering enough surface area, though, so we had to order another quart. Because we had to wait a week in between coats, we wiped the panels down with MEK again in between coats. If you buy enough materials, you shouldn’t have to do this step.
When our second quart arrived, we hit a couple of snags. The new Grizzly Grip texture didn’t match the first quart. We contacted Midwest Chemicals, and they were amazing. Apparently, some of the course material had gotten mixed in by mistake. The guys at Midwest Chemicals went above and beyond to make sure that the problem was corrected. We were sent out a new quart, and the rest of the repair went off without a hitch! The panels turned out perfectly.
As we were moving the panels, we turned them over and noticed a bit of cracking on the repair. To add durability and protect that ABS repair, we gave the back sides of the panels a coat of Grizzly Grip as well. The MEK/ABS mixture is excellent for repairing cracks, but it doesn’t provide a lot of strength. Coating the back side with Grizzly Grip will help reinforce the panels and prevent future cracks.
We are beyond pleased with how well our body panels turned out. Repairing the panels cost a fraction of what new panels would have cost us, and they look brand new! Before we put the panels back on, we gave the tongue and bumper a coat of Rustoleum spray paint, and it really makes a difference. Once the rest of the body is painted, it’ll look like a whole new camper! 🙂
That about wraps it up. Let me know if you have any questions or if you’ve taken on a body panel repair yourself. We’d love to hear about it!
Chris mendola says
What is MEK? Where do you buy it and ABS plastic powder/granules? Have you ever used the (higher) VOC Liquid Nails Heavy Duty adhesive? Works very well esp. with polypropylene (slippery) plastic. Also suggest using fiberglass mesh to reinforce cracks. Even mesh for drywall joints will work esp. if multi-layered.
I’m sending photos of our Aliner solid-wall folding camper supposedly the most photographed RV in North America.
Your readers are invited to visit our website for POI listings of places to visit. We have THOUSANDS of listings.
MEK is Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Chris. It’s a solvent that dissolves ABS plastic. We bought MEK at Lowe’s and used plastic airsoft BBs for our ABS plastic pellets. We repaired our ABS roof the same way, and you can read about that here. You’ll find more info about the MEK/ABS repair method in that link. We did quite a bit of research into ABS plastic repairs, and this seems to be the preferred method. From what I hear, caulk and Liquid Nails just don’t adhere to ABS plastic longterm, but we did actually consider using fiberglass mesh or drywall tape to reinforce the panels from the back. In the end, though, we didn’t need it. The Grizzly Grip alone does a good job. 🙂
It dissolves the plastic??? I’m a newbie and fixing this on my own. Do I want it to dissolve it?
MEK dissolves the ABS plastic pellets and makes a “goo” that is the consistency of white glue. You’ll use this goo to repair any cracks you might have in your panels or ceiling. You can read a little bit more about that here, Kim.
Lori VanBeek says
What if large portions of the panel are missing, completely? What do you think i should use to complete the front storage bin on a 2003 Coleman?
I haven’t seen anyone repair the storage compartments on a Coleman with the ABS patch and Grizzly Grip, Lori. I’m not exactly sure how it would hold up or what you could patch the missing sections with. Maybe fiberglass cloth… maybe? I’m not sure. I have seen some PUP owners replace the entire storage compartment with diamond plating. It might be pricey, but you could always call a local metals shop and see if it is something they could do.
Just a thought… On our abs roof we used some of our sons white Legos!! (He has about 100,000! ☺️) worked perfect! We found this little tip at popupportal.
I heard that, Jaime! Good to know it works! 🙂
Todd stowe says
I too did some moderately major damage to my old camper. A concrete post jumped out at me at Disney’s Camp Wilderness a few years ago. It turned a crack made by the previous owner into a hole big enough to slide my hand into.
I looked into buying another panel too but was also scared off by the price. So I decided to give fixing it myself a shot.
While not perfect, I did a pretty good job. You can see the photos here: http://www.toddstowe.com/Other/Camper/n-66bnTb/i-bxqxD4r
Thanks for sharing that, Todd! You did an awesome job on your repair! 🙂
MATT f says
We just got a 1976 coachman, it has a hail dented aluminum roof, do you think bondo would fill the divets alright, then coat the whole roof over that?
Did you research ABS/MEK repair for TPO panels before this project? Are yours ABS or TPO?
I may or may not have run into my Coleman Cottonwood with my riding lawnmower, and the blade engage handle may or may not have punctured my front body panel. Mine is TPO, and I’ve seen how to repair that on other sites, but I didn’t know how easy it was to remove the panel. Your blog will come in handy for June repairs.
We’re going to tackle this project this coming weekend. We too said “no way” to an ABS roof until a deal too good to be true came along. So much for sticking with my guns!
A few roof questions as yours looks as good as new
Can you provide a link to the type of MEK you used?
Also, what was your ratio of MEK to ABS pellets?
Nice! We bought our MEK at Lowes. It was the only place we could find it, Sarah. We mixed the ABS/MEK at a 50/50 ratio. You want your “goo” to be the consistency of white glue, so you may have to adjust your mixture over the course of a couple of days. Let me know how it goes! 🙂
Lowes no longer carries mek we got it through Amazon 32oz for $25
Thanks for the heads-up. We’ve also found it at Ace, Brett! 🙂
Save your left over dried ABS goo. You can re-dissolve it again with MEK. I mix/save mine in 4 oz canning jars and use the flat metal lid & ring. Once the repairs are done, I leave the lid off so it can dry and then cap it back up to keep it clean. I save all my scrap ABS for melting in ziplock baggies. I get it from plumbing (the black stuff is ABS), Valterra holding tanks (because I install large pluming fittings in it – cutouts and drill shavings get saved) and ABS tent stakes. I did not know that plastic airsoft BBs were ABS. I will add that to my notes. I used regular fiberglass window screen as re-enforcement for some ABS repairs. I used to own a very vintage Apache popup and all the hard sidewalls (no canvas) were ABS.
Larissa, Our PUP has an ABS roof that luckily has not needed repair. I have been following you and popupportal for years now just to be in the know. Well, I think we now have a repair that is needed and I think this process may help us. We went on vacation, without our PUP. We had a carrier (like a Thule) on top of our van. When we got home, my husband forgot it was up there and he drove into the garage with it still on. It popped back into shape, but it now has a small crack about 1 long. I was thinking this process would work to fix it.
What are your thoughts?
The Grizzly Grip seems to come in quantities larger than we need, therefore it is quite a bit more than we want to spend for this repair.
Gloves- Did you all use the black gloves for hazardous materials?
The Grizzly Grip comes in smaller quantities, Elaine, but the tough part is shipping. We order a couple of pints of Grizzly Grip, but the shipping was more expensive than the product itself. What is your Thule carrier made of? Would it be possible to use fiberglass or plastic epoxy for the repair? It would certainly be cheaper…
It isn’t actually a Thule, just one like it. They sell it at Walmart. I can do some research to find out. Thanks for the GG info. I’m starting to consider a different process because of the GG. I would use it on our PUP’s roof if it needed it, but it doesn’t and they are different colors.
Thank you so much for your blog.
Today I had a friend ask me about buying a PUP. I referred her to your site, popupportal, and Popup Owner’s FB group.
Out of curiosity, what year is your Santa Fe? We just bought a 1999 Santa Fe and are really looking forward to doing some of the same mods, remodel, and maintenance you guys did. Thanks for sharing!
We have a 99 Santa Fe as well! Can’t wait to see how you personalize yours! Make sure to send us pictures. 😉
Once done, how did you reattach the panel? Do you need to use rivets or can screws be used where the rivets came out?
Mr. TypeTwoFun says our panels were attached completely with screws. We just screwed the panels back on. Now, there were rivets attaching the marker lights. You’ll need to reattach those with rivets, but if you have a good rivet gun (like this one), it’s quite easy.
Those look great. I have mine off and they are currently drying with the MEK on them. One question I have is did you ever paint the rest of the PUP? If you have and I missed the link sorry but that is next on my todo after I finish the Grizzly on the roof and panels.
We did, Shaun! It turned out so nice, too. I’ve got a post on the paint job in my “to-do” list, but in the meantime, feel free to ask any questions you might have. Right now, it’s just plain white, but we are looking for some cool decals for the sides. Haven’t found anything we love for a reasonable price yet. You can see in this picture how it looks right now. 🙂
Have you done this post yet regarding painting your pop up? I’m anxious to read about your process as I’m needing to do the same soon. Love all of your posts BTW…thanks for doing it.
I haven’t gotten that post up yet, DJ. We painted the PUP, but I just haven’t had good luck finding a good place for replacement decals. I promise to get that post up soon, but in the meantime, feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions on the painting process. 🙂
I have been trying t figure out how to get the front Panel off our 2002 Sun Valley. I finally figured out how to get all the screws out and your tip on the sealant under the metal trim allows me to finally get the thing off. The sealant under mine was a black sort of tape. I have not been able to find anything like it to replace it with to put it back together. What did you use in its place when you put yours back together?
Mr. TypeTwoFun just ran a thin bead of caulk along the edge of the body panel before he put it back on. It worked great.
michelle wolff says
I am learning a lot from your site.
We were given a 1989 Jayco trailer that is fairly good shape. Needs a lot of cleaning and some dry rot roof repair.
Luckily the previous owner had bought canvas for it prior to giving up on fixing it. I have been trying to figure out how to take the roof apart and how to replace the trim that covers all the edges. Is that something that you have done? With it being an old trailer I am not sure where to get new trim pieces or if we will be able to use the old. We plan to rebuild the roof to have a slight slant for water run off and are looking into solar panels.
Tony Brockwell says
How has the repair to the front panel held up so far? I am about to attempt the same repair as soon as it warms up. Do you know of any tips on repairing a alumatight roof?
The panels have held up very well so far, Tony. We’re very pleased with the results. We don’t have any experience with alumatight roofs, but have you tried the Pop Up Portal? There is sure to be someone with an answer over there.
Jack Smith says
We have a 1997 Fleetwood,/Coleman-Sun Ridge. We are in the process of renovating it. Your postings will help us a great deal. We will keep you posted. Thanks for all of this info.
Pat Crain says
Does anyone kniw whst size rivets i need fir tge bed end corner caps lower on a 1972 ramada
Yadi Ruiz says
Hello, just wanted to let you know that I love your sight . So many ideas. I was given a 1997 Jayco Eagle Pop-up Tent . On the front corner of it the trailer is coming apart on the corner due to rotting and swollen wood under neath . The outside is aluminum has anyone fixed something this damaged we’re scared to take it apart and don’t know if it can be put back together . Has anyone fixed anything like that if so please, please post pictures.
Check out Robert’s Pop Up Camper Remodel, Yadi. He totally rebuilt his from the ground up. 🙂
ROBERT’S POP UP CAMPER REMODEL
James berreth says
You should do a how to on body repair for those of us with aluminum bodies. Or, do you know a good source for such a thing?
As always, your blog is the best!
Chad Oatman says
I have tried the MEK/ABS repair with Grizzly Grip as you suggested but I ran into a couple problems. First, the Goo, once it dried did not want to stick to my panel. It kept flaking off very easily. The ABS I used was from plastic spoons bought at a local party store, which was much cheaper than trying to buy legos. Perhaps I need to look into another source for the ABS plastic chips. Where did you get your ABS from? I even broke down and bought a plastic welder, which worked for a few of the cracks but the major ones on the storage box deck lid, i can not seem to find a suitable repair for do to the expansion and contraction of the ABS with temperature changes.
Brandon Pratt says
Try a flame treatment with propane torch. Just run the flame over area to hear it up and open the pores of the plastic. Check with water to see how water reacts. It should not sheet or bead off of treated area. Use multiple passes if nessacary. Once satifieds sand with 150 grit then try the repair and should have no issue.
Also plastic bbs for little BB gun work well may be a little higher grade abs
Connie Gowin says
We recently inherited my dad’s 1995 Rockwood Popup camper. We have a few questions.
First of all, we have some roof latches pulling away from the side wall. It appears that there was water coming in behind the screws. Anyone have some feedback on how to repair this?
Lastly, we are going to take our popup on a long trip through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Oregon this summer. I am a little nervous about hauling our popup camper that far and through mountainous terrain. I would appreciate any feedback on how to prepare our popup for a long road trip.
Thank you in advance.
I don’t have any first hand experience with any roof other than the Coleman ABS roof that ours has. It does sound like you’ve got some water damage, though, Connie. That might require a roof rebuild or repair. You will definitely need to get in there and see if there is damage to the wood in the roof. That might be causing your issues. Check the PopUpPortal for more information on that. There are some amazing people there that are sure to have the answers to your questions.
As far as road trips… We go on an extended road trip every summer and it is so much fun! In 2014, we hit Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. In 2015, Washington and Oregon were on the itinerary. You can see our 2014 road trip here, and the 2015 trip is found here. Tires are important, so check the wear and tread and make sure they are going to last you for the trip. I would also check your bearings. It wouldn’t hurt to repack those bearings and make sure they are well greased. You can find info on that here. Have you done any extended camping in your PUP yet, Connie? It is always a good idea to do a dry run and get the set up process down pat before you hit the road. 🙂
Hi. Your camper is so adorable. We just recently bought an old camper and are fixing it up and I was wondering the kind of paint you used for the exterior? Also dd you finish it with something?
We used single stage automotive paint, Lauren. We have a local automotive paint store here, and we used a stock white color and sprayed it through my husband’s HPLV paint gun. It turned out beautifully, but it was a little hard to photograph the process, so we haven’t been able to finish a post on it yet. LOL. 😉
Totally Understandable! Thanks for the info.
Les Selzler says
I did the ABS top repair with the ABS beads and MEK then the white Grizzly Grip coating toward the end of last year. During installation of a Fantastic Fan I was able to re-adhere the top to the foam core with Gorilla Glue. The top looks great and we have hopes that it will outlast the rest of the trailer now. We bought a 1997 Coleman Sunridge with two king size beds. Love your tips and repairs and updates.
One update that I did was to add two LED lights when I installed the fan. I used electrical track for the wiring and built a slimline junction box between the fan and the power source: the existing light. I ran track from the junction box to a point over the table and over the sink/stove area and added lights over each. All interior lights are now LED.
Tracy Reid says
Thank goodness you have this site!! This blog saved us. While rewiring tail lights, one wire slipped back into the tiny hole. We were gonna cut from inside the dinette seat to reach wire. Luckily I read this before cutting holes into our pop up. We followed your instructions, retrieved the fallen wire and all is connected. Thank you for sharing your remodeling and modifications. This site has been SO HELPFUL!!!
How are your panels holding up 2 years later? We need to repair a couple of small cracks on our Coleman body panels this year and we are looking at our options. Thanks!
They look just as good as they did when we first did them. The repair has held up beautifully! 🙂
Can you use this process on aluminum siding that has been painted? I have a Shasta rv that has some pretty bad damage to it .
You wouldn’t be able to patch aluminum siding with ABS plastic, Amanda. We recently repaired the aluminum roof of our new project camper with fiberglass Bondo. That worked really well. You can find that post here.
Great stuff. Just repaired front of my Pop up. I added fibatape to the underside of the shell with the plastic mix to add strength and flexibility.