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Old 09-26-2015, 05:00 PM   #1
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How to fix broken plastic on back/front end

Still working on our "fixer-upper". Our 1206 had a hole, which was literally a puncture wound in the front end about the size of a quarter. The plastic was totally gone, and in order to make it weather tight, we glued (with E6000) a piece of (flexible) plastic cut from the lid of a container that was in our recycling bin. That took care of that.

However, we have this issue on the back end that we're still wrapping our heads around how to fix. The photos will speak volumes as to what the issue is. The bumper is totally bent on that side, so it's very apparent that someone either rear-ended the camper or it was backed into something...and hard. The plastic actually sticks out, so that is what makes this a challenge.

My first though is to try heating up the plastic with a hair dryer held really close and use a stiff putty knife to push the plastic back closer to where it should be while it's warm and hold it there to cool. What we don't know, is will this plastic shrink up when it gets warm? CAN we get this warm enough to bend it? We don't have a heat gun, but I'd be worried about getting the plastic too warm and doing more damage with one of those. The alternative is to cut off the protrusion and replace it with a new piece of plastic, but with it being right on the corner, that's going to be a challenge. The piece removed could be glued back over the hole with the backer piece to make it blend in a bit more. The part where there's an actual hole is about 4 inches long, the cracked part extends about 5 inches.

Has anyone out there tackled a repair like this? What did you do and how well did it work (or not work)? We really want to get this sealed up soon to keep weather and rodents out. Don't want to have to resort to the handy(wo)man's secret weapon (duct tape) after getting the duct tape OFF the holes in the tent!
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Old 09-26-2015, 05:19 PM   #2
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I've never done this and I don't know what kind of plastic that piece is made out of. And I do like unconventional repairs. So my answer is both biased and uninformed.

But if it were mine, I would not hesitate to try out your idea. First, I'd try to find out what is behind that broken plastic - if it is something flammable, you will want to be careful; a hair dryer or hot air gun puts out lots of heat. Instead of using a stiff putty knife, I would probably use a wide chisel - it's stiff and much thicker than a putty knife and so holds more heat. You may end up needing a real hot air gun to get stuff hot enough. If you can get the edges closer together, just caulking might be enough to keep it water tight. Or you could use my favorite, Eternabond.

If you do this, please post pictures and tell us what happened. But please be careful and do not burn down your trailer. Maybe have a water hose handy, just in case?
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Old 09-26-2015, 06:03 PM   #3
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Behind the plastic on the side of the camper is plywood, which is about 1/2 to 5/8 inch thick. It's shaped to the shape of the back of the camper and the plastic shell goes over the top of it. The edge of the plywood is right where the crack is. I know this because we had the plastic off the front of the camper replacing the running light sockets, LOL.

The stiff putty knife is actually a 5 in 1 painters tool and it is *really* stiff, not flexible at all. I don't like the idea of using the chisel for two reasons. First they're REALLY sharp and I can see either more damage to the plastic or to myself! Secondly, the widest chisel we have is 1 inch which wouldn't do much for pressing the whole area down and holding it there while it cooled.

I'm thinking if I can get that flattened out, that I can take off the trim (shown in the pics) and pull the plastic off a bit and get some sealant back behind the hole. I have butyl tape.

No worries about burning down the trailer, LOL I'm paranoid like that. The hose spigot on the house is within 4 feet of the back of the camper, plus, I don't plan to get it *that* hot! Will definitely post photos of the repair. I can post a photo of the hole in the front that we already repaired as well. You can see it, and it's not perfect, but heck, it's water-tight and it's a lot better than the old sock we had stuffed into it when we first got it! LOL!!!
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Old 09-26-2015, 07:22 PM   #4
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I doubt you'll get it hot enough to "weld" the seam, it may close some depending on the plastic. If you can get it close they make a plastic welding kit, Harbor Freight. If that fails I would smooth that down as flat as you can fill it with expanding foam for a base and cover it with aluminum tape. A rattle can of white paint and you have a water proof repair.
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Old 09-26-2015, 08:08 PM   #5
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I'm not even considering that it would "weld" the plastic together. I just want to get the plastic so it's back where it should be and then seal the crack, probably from the reverse side, since that is fairly easily accessed.
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Old 09-26-2015, 08:36 PM   #6
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Maybe a screw with a wide flat head to hold in the plastic that sticks out.
Then go over the lower part of the corner (just under the tail light) covering the hole with Eternabond tape.
Consider doing both sides so they match.
The tape is white like the plastic back of your trailer too.
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Old 09-27-2015, 09:00 AM   #7
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The plastic is about 1/8" thick and is not flexible. I'm afraid if I just pull it back into place with a screw/washer that it will just snap off.
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Old 09-27-2015, 07:43 PM   #8
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Absolutely thrilled! We used the hair dryer, very close and let it heat up for a little bit. I tried using the 5 in 1 tool (still putty knife) to push the plastic in. That wasn't strong enough so I grabbed a pair of pliers and used the tip (held closed) to push in. It worked beautifully. It didn't take long to reduce the opening. It's not perfect, but it's a LOT better than it was. Next step is to open up the plastic back part of the camper and use a piece of flexible plastic glued with E6000 bridging the crack. The glue will seal the crack and the plastic will be some reinforcement.
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Old 09-27-2015, 07:57 PM   #9
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Excellent result! Congratulations.
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Old 09-28-2015, 07:38 AM   #10
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Great job!
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