Going up in the world..

Here’s something a little different, no actually a lot different to our day to day operations.  Yes, a helicopter.. Well the screen of a helicopter to be more precise.   Part of our ‘Restoration’ work  is the windows on Caravans and Motorhomes.  These are nearly always covered in swirls, branch marks and sometimes far worse, leaving a hazy outlook through the window, that will look awful in certain lights and direct sun.

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We’ve always said, if you cannot feel it with your nail. we can Restore it.  Once Restored, the windows will have a far more crystal finish, making it far nicer to both look at from the outside, and look out of from the inside.

Restoring Acrylic, Perspex, and general clear plastics, takes a huge amount of skill.  There is a very fine line between Restoring a transparent surface, and distorting it beyond repair.  This is even harder when you consider that Caravans and Motorhomes have double glazed units, making the risk of delaminating if too much heat is transferred through our machine polishers, literally causing both pains of Acrylic to come apart from each other. (something we’ve seen several times after a poor attempt to fix an issue)  Also you have to consider the products you are using to both Restore, and to protect afterwards.  None of these products can contain certain ingredients, because of the risk of future ‘Micro-fracturing’  something that’s well reported by the acrylic manufactures, and what they use to blame for certain issues, but I personally have yet to see conclusive evidence that this is the case.

Anyway.. As you can see above on this 1990’s Helicopter, they have a very similar material to the windows we restore.  It wasn’t until an engineer in Kent contacted me a few years ago and asked if we’d attempt to fix a scratched poor looking set of helicopter screens.  After he told me that if I couldn’t, they’d have to be changed anyway, and that cost was an insane amount of money, that we agreed he had nothing to loose by letting us have a go.  We carried out this job, fixed the issues, and saved the helicopter owner thousands of pounds, and the rest is history as they say.  We’ve now done loads of helicopter screens, and even a couple of side windows on a multi-million pound jet, where an amateur used the wrong cleaning equipment to wipe the windows, and scratched them.  As the pilots always explain to us, when they are flying and the sun is directly ahead of them and all they can see is a halo of swirls, this can not only be very dangerous, but very annoying as we can all imagine!

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This helicopter in todays blog was owned by one lucky chap, who used the wrong side of a scouring sponge to clean off bugs after a flight.  (strangely a far more common issue than you’d imagine, and something we’ve seen in Caravans and Motorhomes many times)  People don’t always realise just how easy it is to damage these types of plastics, plus they don’t realise how harsh the rough side of a washing up sponge actually can be.  When I saw this job, even I was sceptical i’d be able to fix this one.  Thankfully after a lot of very delicate and very precise machine work, I removed all evidence of the damage, and the owner was understandably ecstatic with the result.

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Hens Teeth..

Yes, rare as the proverbial teeth that hens don’t actually have anyway, so it’s a daft quote. However, todays blog is as rare, but not as daft.  So rare that we’ve never worked on one in our 10 years, and i’ve only ever seen one other at a show for VW’s

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Here we have a 2005 VW LT35, built by the famous Karmann, who are renowned in the VW scene.  This may look to most people, like a normal Motorhome, but when do we see a collaboration with a quality company like Karmann, and a beast of a VW LT in the UK??   For all intensive purposes, this was just a Motorhome resto, to us.  The body was full GRP, as per usual constructions, the cab was normal steel and paint, the windows were exactly the same acrylic that we work on every day, yet this job gave myself and Lee a little buzz to be working on something just a tiny bit different.

There was an obvious quality feel with this vehicle, that you’d expect from a joining of two such great brands.  Yes, the GRP, was as dull as a chalk board, and yes the cab lacked any shine or lustre before we got hold of her, but that’s all standard for the boys at Tourershine, and something we deal with every single day.

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The finish after our Restoration service was exceptional, and could easily be mistaken for a 2017 Motorhome, and not one that is now 12 years old!  but as all my other blogs make obvious, making something that’s tired, look new is just what we do.

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We didn’t get to meet the owner of this stunning Motorhome, and because it was stored indoors, we were able to deal directly with the storage owner, so the actual owner didn’t need to take time out of work to deal with us.  Thankfully our reputation is so, that this is becoming more common place with us now, and owners feel confident that they can give us an address, power and water, and a set of keys, a text when we are up and running, a text when we are finished, and a bank transfer to pay the invoice, and life is as simple as you can want for an owner.  The owner has now been and gone after a full inspection of our work, and a quick late night text to myself to express his obvious overjoy with the finished job (thankfully phone on silent)  and it’s another Tourershine job well done…

On the subject of rarely.  One of our upcoming blogs will be an even rarer 1990 VW Karmann Gipsy Syncro, that is a reported 1 of only 30 in the UK.  (no we are not VW specialists, but it’s getting there)

DVLA..

A weird heading for a Caravan I hear you saying to yourself.  Well, this 2006 Bailey Discovery 100 is one of our normal ‘Restoration’ jobs, with a little more interesting history, that warranted a place in our blog pages.

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This Caravan belonged to the DVLA, and was used as a tow vehicle for anyone that passed their driving test after 1 January 1997.  As many people know, drivers that took their tests after 1997, will need to take an extra test to enable you to tow a Caravan.  This is one of the Caravans used by DVLA to test drivers.  Imagine the amount of people that have towed this Bailey!

It was booked in for us to fully Restore, and had all the usual issues that effect the Bailey’s.  Dull sides, swirly front and rear panels, and also the bonus that all the decals had been removed from the Caravan, leaving ‘Ghosting’ on every panel.

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The finished job looked as good as new, with just a few knocks and dents that you’d expect with a 2006 Caravan, and even more so, one that had been used to help people pass their towing tests.

A straight forward job, with an interesting background.

Spotting body repairs

One of the most common issues we see pretty much on a daily basis is patch repairs.  These are only really obvious to an owner once they go wrong, but to our trained eyes, we can find most repairs from new.  We estimate that around 75% of the new Caravans and Motorhomes we see, we will find a repair in some form or another.  Repairs can be from damage during construction, or transportation, or even a careless member of staff in a dealership.  There are two kinds of repairs in our opinion, and they are the right kind and the wrong kind…

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The above repair is what we’d class as the wrong kind.  This 2008 Senator Wyoming was booked for our Restoration service to fix the dull cloudy sides, which as many other blogs have pointed out, is a very common problem for Bailey.  However, ignore the dullness of the side, and look at the top, and follow your eye down in front of the nearest window in the photo.  What you should see is a huge glossy patch, and this is two separate repairs that were possibly done at the same time.  Not only was it obvious to us where the filler work was, because it had sunk and was blistering, but the actual finish of the paintwork over the repair was done to a very poor standard.  This we suspect might not of been a manufacture repair, but more like a smart repair carried out by either the previous owner, or more likely the original suppling dealer.  If we’d of seen this Caravan back in 2008 when it was new, we’d of spotted the poor work, and rejected it.  Sadly the current owner didn’t notice it when they purchased it from the original owner at only a year old.

Thankfully the skill of our Restoration processes will not only blend this huge patchy mess back to original, but we were also able to make the finish of the repair far more expectable, and the customer was very pleased with the finished result, if you study the picture below of the finished job.

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One thing we couldn’t fix, was the poor blowing in on the repair, and the fact the filler had sunk, but if you look at the improvement above, against how it was, and the fact that fixing only these repairs correctly would of cost far more than the full Restoration on the whole Caravan.  Along with the fact that by following our aftercare advice, the poor repair will now stay as it is, and not deteriorate further.  This is a far more cost effective and sensible approach to making your Caravan look like new again.

Repairs to Caravans and Motorhomes are totally normal, and if done correctly and the surfaces maintained, they will never cause you any problems.

Neglect your exterior surfaces and the above is the result almost every time, and in as little as 2 years from new.

Naked and exposed..

Now and again, we get asked about decals and stickers on Caravans and Motorhomes.  Can we change them? Can we Restore them? Can we remove them?  Simple answers and No, Yes/No, Yes..

We won’t change decals for the simple reason, we feel that’s a job for a decal specialist in a workshop free from wind and dust contamination.  We can Restore certain decals that have faded, depending on the quality of the decal, and how badly it’s faded.  We will remove decals for customers if they want to pay for the extra time these take to do, and if it’s because they are being replaced.  We will always advise against ‘de-stickering’ a Caravan or Motorhome altogether.  There are two reasons we don’t think removing all the decals from your Motorhome or Caravan is a good idea.  Firstly, although in my opinion less is more, a fully de-stickered Motorhome tends to look like a horse box with windows, and a fully de-stickered Caravan looks like a white box on wheels.  The factory fitted decals tend to break up the vast space of white, and draw your eye away from the fact these things are never perfectly arrow straight.  The second reason we don’t advise to remove decals fully, is because the glues used will react differently with the surfaces.  GRP will be very slightly raised where the decals were, and no matter how much machine polishing you do, you will never polish that out.  This will leave a very faint outline of the decals, called ‘Ghosting’  Aluminums tend not to ‘Ghost’ so much, but we do find that as decals are not easy to get hold of, that any previous paint repairs, might have masked around the decals, and removing them leaves and obvious lip that can also look awful.

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This 2006 Autocruise Starfire was owned by a customer that wants us to remove the factory decals, so that his sign writer could replace them like for like.  The reason for this is a common one with the Autocruise Motorhomes.  They have poor quality decals that have a separate clear top that almost acts as a lacquer on top of the decals.  This top layer always shrinks in the sun and wrinkles up, exposing the glue underneath.  It also effects other manufactures of Motorhomes and is very common on the Bailey Ranger Caravan.

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As you can clearly see, this job was lucky and after a Full Restoration, the faded surfaces looked like new.  Once the sign writer has fitted new decals and graphics, the Motorhome will look as good as new, but as you can see from the side view, a fully de-stickered Motorhome does not look that nice.  Toooo much white..

To infinity and beyond..

No, not buzz light year i’m afraid.  This is more the future of some Caravan designs.  This amazing little beast is called a Swift Basecamp, and it’s less of a compact and more of a Tardis.  We were looking forward to having a peek around this little beauty, purely because neither myself or my colleague had worked on one.

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This 2017 Basecamp was booked in for us to Tourershield. (our paint sealing service) The owner chose to use us, and not his dealer, because of the reports on our work he’d found on CaravanTalk.  So we were rather excited to get the pleasure of taking this one on. (sad I know, but we love our jobs)  Our customers were new to Caravans, after years with a trailer tent, so this was all new ground to them too.  This Swift is built using all the different plastics and fibreglasses commonly known to this industry, including GRP sides, ABS cappings, and plastic bumpers.  So protecting this from any premature UV damage is imperative if you want it to hold it’s lustre for a long time.

As most of you know, we are also there to make sure we don’t find any issues that may need attention by the supplying dealer under warranty, on the exterior.

Sadly the Basecamp’s hidden issues didn’t escape our beady eyes.

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What you might just about make out on this picture was what we’d refer to as a ‘Sub standard’ repair.  Now, we can only speculate who carried out this repair, and as i’ve mentioned many times before, repairs to brand new Caravans and Motorhomes are very common.  We don’t have any problems with repairs, providing they are carried out to an expectable high standard, which most are.  This one however wasn’t.  Not only had the repair been rubbed down with a far too coarse sandpaper as you can see above, but the repairer hadn’t even bothered to machine polish their work to blend it in.  After we did what we could to make this look far better, we advised our customer to make their dealer aware of the issue,(incase any future problems arise) but as it was pretty hard to find the damage now, we said it might be less hassle if you just put up with it.  This will save the possible disappointment of another poor fix, loosing their caravan for several weeks, and us having to come back and Tourershield any works the dealer carried out.  They agreed with our findings and conclusions.

It just goes to show you how vigilant you need to be when inspecting your brand new purchase…

The beast of Bodmin Moor..

Ok, not quite an elusive wild cat in the depths of Cornwall, but it got your attention… The first part is true though, it is a beast!  In fact it’s possibly the biggest Motorhome (RV to those who prefer)  that we have ever Restored.  It looks far bigger than the pictures show, or it felt bigger when we were machine polishing it.

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What we have today folks, is a mid 90s American RV thats constructed using full fibreglass panels.  This job was as we’d expect, dull, tired, faded, weathered, green, and generally in a poor exterior state.  The picture above is after our initial wash off (that took 2hrs) You can see Lee starting the specailised Restoration process, cutting through the years of oxidation and bringing back that stunning factory shine.  Note how the full vehicle has zero reflection, and has the normal matt white finish we see all the time.

This picture shows clearly the top half that we have worked, against the bottom that has yet to be Restored.  It’s always pretty obvious to us as professionals, but the dullness is not alwaysbus 2 to our customers.  This is mainly because they see a consistent matt finish from top to bottom, and because this finish is white, many owners presume this is the finish they came with from new.

In basic terms, a panel would of had a glossy finish from the factory, and we are here to bring that finish back, regardless on how dull a panel has become.  Many of our other blog posts go into depth on how we can fix this issue, how it happens, and how to judge your own surfaces.

 

 

 

 

Below is the finished job, and I think you can agree, that it looks a lot better.  Compare this with the 1st picture, and you will see the reflections are now obvious.  This job took hours, and hours of machine work, finished with protection to prevent the dullness coming back. The job was extremely satisfying as you can imagine, and when our customers returned to see their RV, they were understandably stunned at the result, and their ‘Testimonial‘ followed shortly after.

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RV’s are not the most common job we carry out at Tourershine, but we’ve had our share of them.  They are no different to Restore, than any other job we carry out, and we look at the the same.  Yes, they can be a little more expensive to Restore, and this job took the same time as 2 standard Motorhome Restorations, so this is to be expected, but considering our customer looked at potentially Re-Painting this monster, the price was a fraction of this, and the bonus of keeping it original far outweighed the cost, and hassle of a re-spray to achieve pretty much the same end result.