Fixing a fiberglass utility body by yourself
Installing a fiberglass utility body on your truck is a great way to safely and effectively transport parts and equipment. Fiberglass is far lighter than most types of metal, while still offering significant strength and durability. This allows it to stand up under the tough off-road conditions so frequently encountered by electricians and other contractors. Best of all, airtight and waterproof construction ensures much-needed protection for materials during transport.
However, as with any other material, a fiberglass utility body won’t last forever. Tough impacts or long-term wear and tear can result in cracks, rust, and other damage to your truck body. Though seeking professional repair assistance will guarantee the best results, it is worth noting that fiberglass repair isn’t as complicated as working with other materials. The following guidelines will help you restore your fiberglass utility body to top condition.
Conduct a Damage Assessment
To ensure effective results, you need to start by fully assessing the damage your vehicle has experienced. Inspect the area to determine both the type and scope of the damage. For certain cracks, you may need to sand away the paint surrounding the damaged area to reveal the full extent of the crack. Keep in mind that certain types of damage simply won’t be repairable—instead, you’ll likely need to buy a replacement component.
Remove Damaged Sections
If the damage is deemed repairable, you will need to start by grinding away the damaged area. This is because the presence of frayed or torn fibers could limit the effectiveness of any repair work. Using a dual-action sander, you should move slowly and cautiously as you grind away the unusable materials. The remaining area should feel completely smooth. Try to avoid removing more fiberglass than necessary, as this will only increase the scope of your repairs.
To ensure your fiberglass patch gets the job done, you need to prepare everything properly. Start by cutting a piece of fiberglass cloth to the size of the damaged area. You will need to cut multiple layers of cloth, with each subsequent layer getting gradually smaller until you have created a small stack. Each piece should still be large enough to fully cover the crack or hole.
Next, mix the resin. Pour both the resin and hardener into a bucket and stir it until it reaches a smooth consistency. It is generally recommended that you have an even ratio of cloth and resin, so weigh your mixture accordingly. Once the resin mixture is created, apply a thin coating to the area where the repairs will take place. It is also usually helpful to place a mold under the fiberglass to provide structural support and ensure that the patch will take the proper shape.
Applying the Patch
Once the resin is prepared, you can patch the damaged area. Wet each piece of fiberglass cloth in the resin, starting with the smallest piece. Once the cloth is completely soaked, place it over the damaged area and use an air roller to remove any air bubbles. Repeat this procedure until you’ve used all the fiberglass cloth pieces.
Once the patch has been applied, you’ll need to let it cure overnight. Using a shop lamp to keep the area warm can help this process go smoothly. Once the repaired area has hardened, use sandpaper to make the surface even with the rest of the vehicle body.
Prime & Paint
With the repair work complete, you’re ready to fully restore your vehicle’s appearance. Apply a high-quality primer to prep the sanded area for painting, paying special attention to the edges. After the primer has been applied, your vehicle is ready for fresh paint! Be sure to use color matching tools to select the correct blend for your vehicle. This way, the fiberglass truck body will look as good as new.