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Old 06-28-2014, 02:57 PM   #1
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1979 23' Safari
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Las Cruces , New Mexico
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Welding plastic.

I have some fairly tight cracks in the shower surround in my Argosy 20 that I would like to repair and stop them from getting any worse. I alsi have discovered a small tight crack in the shower pan. I think one option would be to repair them with epoxy the other option would be plastci welding. Welding requires knowing what type of plastic I have so I can use the proper Rod(PVC, ABS and FF) Any experience out there on this type of repair?

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Old 06-28-2014, 03:19 PM   #2
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1974 Argosy 20
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I am not sure, but I think the shower pan and surround in those years of Argosy were fiberglas with a gel coat. If so, the gel coat may be all that is cracking and the repair would not involve any more than a new gel coat. Have you determined if there are any actual leaks? Can you see the back side anywhere to see if it looks like a fiberglas material, or if it is a smooth solid plastic?

I again am not sure, but I bet the boat people can tell you how to re finish a gel coat if it is a fiberglas material.

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Old 06-28-2014, 03:54 PM   #3
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I believe the tub and surround are made of ABS plastic. The same material as the interior end caps.
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Old 06-28-2014, 05:39 PM   #4
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Argosy's were such a test bed anything is possible. For a while I owned one of the very rare Argosy's with real honest to god fiberglas outer end caps, not the steel ones that were usual. I posted a thread on it, and we found a few others with that strange system. One responder even found one steel end cap and one fiberglas one on his rig.

But TG, you are most probably right with the ABS plastic call. But it is worth looking at any rate.
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Old 06-28-2014, 06:03 PM   #5
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I am completely unfamiliar with vintage Airstreams and Argosy's. However, "Idroba" offers good advice. If it is fiberglass, most boat repair shops can easily repair cracks. (They fix horrible-looking hull damage and make it good as new, both structurally and cosmetically.)

I'd let them take a look at the cracks and tell you if they can repair them.
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Old 06-28-2014, 06:27 PM   #6
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My 77 Argosy shower pan and all the bathroom plastic is ABS. MEK will melt ABS plastic and make a glue.
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Old 06-28-2014, 06:39 PM   #7
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My guess is that those plastic welders have a bit of a learning curve to them.

I have a couple of regular steel welding machines and can do a decent job with them (one a mig and one just an AC buzz box,) but some time back I bought a plastic welder on sale at Harbor freight just to play around with it.

Basically it is a gun that you hook up to 110v and to a compressor and it blows very hot air. There is a heat control knob, and you can adjust the airflow of course with the regulator on your compressor.

I have never used it yet on a serious project, but I have experimented with it - have not yet been able to make a good plastic weld! I wind up just melting holes in the plastic!

I should dig it out and give it another try!

There was a small crack a couple of inches long in one of the bottom corners of the shower in our 2005 Classic when we bought it used.

I just drilled the end of the crack to prevent it growing, then ran a bead of flexible clear sealant along the crack and filled the hole that I had drilled with the same sealant - it has stayed exactly that way for the six years we have owned the trailer.

The sealant I used was something I have had good success with that we can buy here in Canada called "Storm King." Not sure whether it is common also in the US. Many RV shops here seem to have it.
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Old 07-04-2014, 12:57 AM   #8
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My experience with the harbor freight plastic welder is that it does work if you have 3/8 or ticker plastic. Anything less the plastic warps badly.

What I do:
I route out a rut (using a dremel) then use the Harbor Freight PVC sticks to fill the gap. I also take the plastic welder again and heat the plastic pushing aluminum screen into the plastic. (submerging it) Finally I'll take PCV glue and brush on top. (probably does nothing)

The plastic weld will crack but embedding aluminum screen into the surface really helps strengthen the joint.

JB Weld will crack if the plastic flexes.
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Old 07-04-2014, 04:49 AM   #9
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If it's ABS, I haven't found anything to fix it. According to the best information I have found--and I searched hard--the only thing you can do is fill it with silicon caulk. It's ugly, but it works, and it's cheaper than replacing the whole thing.

If it's fiberglass, it's a piece of cake. It's almost certainly a gel coat problem, which means the epidermis of the structure, not into the fiberglass matting. If that's the case (you can look in the crack and see if you see damage to the underlying fiberglass fibers or matt): Go to a West Marine, get their small "gel coat repair kit." Experiment with the repair on a small portion that's pretty much out of the way. You need to wait several weeks to find out if your repair worked--so I'd do the small portion, then wait before I moved on to the rest. That's the hardest part: waiting.

I've been using fiberglass, epoxy and additives for so many years that it's second nature to me. It seems pretty easy to me, and really did from the beginning. I don't know if that's because it's easy or it's just one of those few things in life that I have a natural feel for.

If you don't know what it is: I guess I'd take it to a repair shop (RV or marine) and ask them to look and see if they know what it is and give me a repair estimate. I don't know about y'all, but sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between these substances, and I certainly don't recognize some of the more unique ones.
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Old 07-04-2014, 05:57 AM   #10
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While not aesthetically pleasing in this application, this stuff might be useful:

About sugru - the future needs fixing - sugru

2014 25' Flying Cloud Rear Twin
2012 Dodge Durango Hemi/AWD
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