Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Your recent letter, about constantly cleaning the RV, struck a chord with me. I am not a neat freak or constant cleaner, but I do like a nice looking rig. I think my problem is, I can’t make a decision. I read way too many RV forums. Lately it has been cleaning related. My wife makes me come home once a year to mow the lawn. When it gets knee high, people start to wonder. She met a local woman who asked her where she lived. When my wife told her, the woman was so relieved. She told my wife she thought two old people died in our house and no one had found them yet.
To get to my point, I use this pit stop to do yearly maintenance on our rig. Most campgrounds do not allow RV washing. I want to refinish the exterior, but I am perplexed as to what route to take. The previous owner used Poliglow finish on it and made it look like a million bucks. It was wearing in places so I just stripped the whole rig. It has been a real bear getting that stuff off. I used all the solution from the Poly people, then tried ammonia, and ended up using ZEP floor stripper. It was the only thing I found that would really cut the Poliglow. It would be easy to just re-apply Poliglow, but I hate the thought of having to strip it again in a few years. After reading a weeks worth of RV forum suggestions, I just can’t think straight anymore. It’s like I am being pulled in several different directions at once. I have never been like this. I am usually focused and can make good decisions without second thoughts. Is this a problem many RV owners have, or a rare condition that is only haunting me?
--Poli Perplexed in PA
You are not alone. Many RV models are unpainted gelcoat with decals. Most manufacturers do not recommend wax on decals. Trying to wax around them is like painting by number. Some opt to use products like ProtectAll and Aerospace 303. These have a short UV protection life, as they weather off quickly. Poliglow and other remedies like floor polishes do make a rig shine like a new penny, offer some UV protection and can last a long time if applied properly and maintained adequately. I began my working career as a Airstream Shine Boy. As a kid I used Met-All with a carpet affixed to a floor sander to de-oxidize aluminum trailers. I then used flour to absorb it and buff it out. Airstream eventually went to an acrylic clear coat.
With my first motorhome, I waxed everything twice a year. The decals went south and nothing would bring them back. In my opinion, most decals are only going to look good for about 5 years no matter what you do, short of polishing once a month with products like 303 or spending big bucks for a full paint job. That would cut way into my backpacking time and budget. You are not alone in your dilemma. Personally, I’m a Poliglow owner. I have had the misfortune of having to strip a few I have bought used. It is no fun. Like all finishes, it wears away eventually. It needs a couple maintenance coats per year. The secret is to do the prep work correctly. It’s not for everyone. But after trying it all, I find it the least time consuming. I didn’t buy an RV to be a slave to it. It sounds like you already schedule time to do yearly maintenance, this might be the way to go. The other methods are equally effective and you actually build up muscle stamina with the constant motions involved in waxing and polishing. You can start looking buff just from buffing.
If you read the comment section of this post I bet you will find others with methods you will find as interesting as all those that have you confused from the other RV forums. If one of these do not convince you, I would suggest you write them all on scraps of paper, put them in a scrub bucket, hold the bucket over your head, reach up and pick one out.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink