How to Clean and Care for your Fibreglass Trailer

October 8, 2019

As a fibreglass trailer owner, you have to be aware of the maintenance requirements these vehicles demand on a semi-regular basis. Because of their size, cleaning these trailers often go neglected. But in order to keep your trailer in tip-top shape and in order to receive a return on your investment, it's important to be diligent in your care.

Why do fibreglass trailers require maintenance?

Our fibreglass dog grooming trailers (as well as many other fibreglass vehicles) are coated with a gel coat finish, which is a synthetic, resin-based substance that is bonded directly onto the surface of the trailer. A standard paint gun is used to apply the gel coat in order to finish our trailers with a glossy, luxurious looking finish.

This gel coat is durable, but is still subject to dullness and fading as it weathers. Exposure to harsh sun glare, heat, and air will, over time, result in natural oxidisation, leaving your gel coat appear dull and cloudy. Fortunately, gel coat oxidisation can be easily fixed using a few simple tools and processes.

How to clean moderately faded fibreglass:

Cleaning moderately faded or dull fibreglass really only requires some elbow grease and some cleaning products to remove the oxidisation, such as a polishing compound or another kind of liquid abrasive. Simply apply the product to a standard non-scratch sponge or cloth, work in the product (while wet) by hand or an electric buffer, polish until you don't feel any resistance, then wipe of the excess product with a clean, dry rag. This should be enough to get back the shiny exterior layer in cases of moderate oxidisation.

Polish products often contain a small amount of abrasive that rubs off some of the oxidisation, consequently restoring some of the surface's shine. These products work best for vehicles that have slight to moderate oxidisation, and are great for general maintenance. If you want to prolong this shine and hold off oxidisation, you can apply some kind of protective coating after cleaning (preferably a wax).

How to clean heavily faded fibreglass: 

If you're finding it impossible to restore your fibreglass trailer's sheen and lustre even with professional products, then you may have to employ the wet sanding process. This process takes time and patience. Sanding paper with 600-2,000 ranging grits is soaked for 24 hours, before being placed on a foaming block and the sanding begins. Once the sanding is complete and the surface is smooth to touch, the surface will need to be polished using high-grade polishing compounds.

In some extreme and uncommon cases, you may witness strands of fibres coming apart at the surface. If these fibres can be pulled apart from the surface with tweezers, then your trailer has an erosion problem. You can either have your trailer be painted, or have the surface re-gel coated. The second option promises better results.

If you find that you can't pull the fibres apart, then you're encountering an irregular situation known as imprinting. This occurs when the fibre forms a thick impression on the surface during the lay-up phase of production. In this case, this problem may be remedied by blocking and colour sanding, which requires wet and dry sandpaper and a sanding block with a padded backing. The best thing to do in this situation is to take your trailer to a reputable maintenance shop to have it professionally appraised.

Ultimately, prevention is the best form of maintenance for your fibreglass trailer. You should protect your trailer from serious damage by washing it once a month to prevent buildup and by keeping under covers when not in use. Here at Bayswater Custom Trailers, we're happy to do maintenance or repair on all trailers, no matter its factory of origin. If you're looking for advice on how to maintain your trailer, or want some maintenance or repair works done, don't hesitate to contact us at any time.