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Author Topic: ABS/MEK Welding Demo  (Read 14262 times)
rjniles
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« on: September 10, 2009, 02:37:10 PM »

 I get concerned when I read people recommending how to repair cracks and holes in ABS materials on PUPs and other RVs. Some have recommended Fiberglass, various caulks and epoxies for the repairs. While I do not go as far as to say none of these work, I know for a fact that fiberglass will not stand up and most caulks will not last. The problem is they do not bond to the ABS but they merely stick to it -- for a while. The patching material has a a different expansion and contraction rate than the ABS and in time (sometimes a short time) the patch pulls away from the ABS. If silicon caulk is used it is not paintable and UV from the sun will destroy it in a short time. Now you are stuck with trying to clean up the old patch to do it again. Additionally, some of these materials are not inexpensive and are difficult to work with, particularly fiberglass.

I would like to illustrate the method of using ABS/MEK welling to accomplish these repairs. The added benefit is the patch will bond (solvent weld) to the ABS. No worry about expansion and contraction rates as they are of the same material. The materials are cheap- MEK solvent (ACE or Tru Value hardware, about $6 a quart), and ABS plastic (white LEGO children's building blocks). Just remember that all white plastic is not ABS.  If you need flat stock ABS for larger holes or to back up a large crack, it can be found on the internet.

The next picture show 2 pieces of ABS flat stock material about 3 by 1 by 1/8 inches (hole drilled in each end for this demo), a glass jar with ABS/MEK mixture ( glass not your DW's Tupperware) and a disposable foam applicator. Make the mixture by placing pieces of ABS (or LEGOs) in a jar and cover with ABS. Let it sit overnight: if too thick - add more MEK, if too thin - add more ABS.  I like the consistency of room temperature honey.

In the next picture, I have primed the ABS by wiping down with MEK - this cleans the material and softens the surface for a good weld. I have applied the mixture to each end of the ABS, overlapped the ABS about 1 inch and secured with a spring clamp. If there will be no pressure on your repair you can hold the pieces for about 2 minutes and the pieces will have bonded.  I will wait about 3 hours for the next step.

This is a close-up of the welded joint.


This picture shows the joint with 2 full propane tanks hanging from it. Total weight about 80 pounds.  This joint is as strong as the ABS material itself. 


To protect the repair from UV damage it needs to be painted. I recommend Krylon Fusion in a spray can (Walmart and other retailers about $5). Fusion comes in various colors and satin and gloss finish. Wait at least 24 hours before painting to allow all the MEK solvent to dissipate. IMO, this repair method is as cheapest and most effective way to repair ABS.
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Bob & Sandra

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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2009, 03:40:43 PM »

Nice demonstration!  I have been using this method with great success.  I luckily had a piece of the ABS roof from where I installed a roof A/C.  I chipped up some of the plastic, mixed with the MEK and made a nice slurry to fill cracks.  I also use a disposable flux brush and brush the cracks with the MEK before applying the slurry to increase the 'welding' effect to the existing plastic.
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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2009, 03:40:43 PM »

AWESOME!!  This is great info.!!
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2009, 06:33:09 PM »

Thank you for the info also.  I just bought a 1996 Coleman Santa Fe with many cracks in the ABS top.  Looks like I'll be raiding my son's toy chest for some "repair materials". Grin
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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2009, 02:51:10 AM »

You can check out some abs/mek roof repair on my picture site if you wish.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mschepac/MEKRepair#

http://picasaweb.google.com/mschepac/CrackRepair#

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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2009, 04:51:40 AM »

rjniles, mschepac, excellent information.  Thanks very much.

Could one use pieces of ABS piping as a substitute for white Lego blocks?
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rjniles
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2009, 07:16:01 AM »

Yes you could use ABS pipe (not PVC). The problem is that all the ABS pipe I ever seen is black. It would work fine but the color might be dificult to cover with a light color paint.  LEGOs are easy to come by or do a search on ABS on the net and you will find other reasonable sources.
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« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2009, 03:11:27 PM »

Quote
Thank you for the info also.  I just bought a 1996 Coleman Santa Fe with many cracks in the ABS top.  Looks like I'll be raiding my son's toy chest for some "repair materials".

If your roof has more than a few cracks, then this repair method won't work for you. First off it is slow and roof with a lot of cracks will take a long time to fix them all. Second, a roof that bad will just keeping cracking. And a repair with the ABS/MEK goo doesn't add any structural strength to the roof.

I would consider using ABS patches with an ABS epoxy to cover areas with large number of cracks. Particularly above and below the awning rail. Then coat the entire roof with bedliner(Grizzly Grip) or one of the commercial roof coating.  There has been a number of threads on PUX, search on ABS roof repair and you should find them.
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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2009, 03:18:49 PM »

Also note you can get ABS pellets from

http://www.apachecampertrailers.com/Prices.html
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Bill

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« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2011, 04:35:21 AM »

I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate your posting of this thread! This spring I discovered about a dozen hairline cracks in my ABS roof. My first thought was that it was going to be a pain getting warranty service. (I'm the original owner and have that lifetime warranty.) Imagine my shock and disappointment when I discovered that Fleetwood/Coleman had closed their doors! Then I began to read about repairing ABS with M.E.K. It sounded awfully technical and complicated. Then I came across this thread. Wonderful! I got a quart of M.E.K., scrounged up some Legos and a glass jar, and went to work. This morning all of my hairline cracks are sealed up. I figure if I keep after them as new ones form, I may be able to preserve my roof's integrity and keep it looking like new. The hardest part of the whole job was finding some Legos, since my kids are grown and gone. Fortunately, Mrs. SpeakEasy has some Legos in storage for grandchildren, and she came to my rescue.

Thank you, thank you, thank you rjniles!

-Speak
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« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2011, 05:13:22 PM »

Guys - this is big time!  I got mine last year and never did the research until AFTER the fact which is when I found out about the ABS roof! Disapprove  The PO already had some patches on it which I'll post - it looks like it's in all the common spots - under awning, front bends, etc.  I think I may be getting some new tiny cracks but it's hard to tell.  I may post some pics and see what you guys think.  I'll also post pics of my roof reparis that were done by the PO.  My kids are 10, 8 and 6 so lego's will be no problem!!!!   Smiley

Great post - Great Pic's!!!!
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Tukee44
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« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2011, 10:17:52 PM »

Don't steal your kid's Lego to fix your toy, get your own here

http://shop.ebay.com/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=ABS+pellets&_sacat=See-All-Categories
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« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2011, 05:04:31 AM »

Don't get too excited about this. It's not really a fix. It will seal the crack, but it's not a strong bond unlike the test rjniles did above. As your roof continues to sag, the cracks will come back. So frequent inspection of all areas of the roof is still required. Particularly under the awning. I took a different method. I epoxied ABS patches to the roof using high strength epoxy. Then coated it with Grizzly Grip Bedliner.
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Bill

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« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2011, 05:19:50 AM »

I have ABS panels on front and rear of my 87 Shenandoah. On the front panel a chunk of ics/snow flew off PO's TV and munched one corner really bad. All of the ABS is still there but is cracked pretty badly. I have been trying to determine how to fix it and this looks like a good fit.

HOWEVER these panels are riveted on the top rail and I would prefer to leave them in their original state (plus I don't have a rivet gun or any experience using one). How can I fix my panel using this method? I MIGHT be able to work it from the under side but there won't be much room to get one arm in. If I attempt the repair from the front it might work, BUT my ABS is tan and it looks like I'll either have white or black repair material.

Any ideas?
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« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2011, 06:27:33 AM »

There shouldn't be any rivets holding the front panel. But if there is, you can replace it pretty easy. Make sure you have the correct size rivet and gun before you remove the old one.

I repaired my front panel using ABS/MEEK slurry before.  I use fiberglass to reinforce it from the inside. Also, buy some ABS sheet and cut them out in short strips and use as backing. The panel is stronger than new.

Be CAREFUL, MEEK will destroy your lung. Put a blower behind you and blow fresh air to your face, or wear breathing mask.
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