Do s & Don’t s of Fiberglass Trailer Restoration

Jan 29 2023

So.. you have found a small fiberglass trailer !

And you have always wanted one.  But alas it needs help ! It’s a project… and you are not sure.. Are you up to it?  Do not be afraid, help is all around you.  Join the fiberglass trailer forum..

Or maybe You are looking to buy one.

Watch my you tube videos.  google the trailer ..  lots of help out there.  But this post is about what I have learned after restoring four of these trailers.  Just my opinion, use it or not it’s up to you.  So let’s get started..

How much to spend ?

Here in Canada folks are asking as much as 15 thousand for a fixed up trailer.  And you know that everyone has their own idea of what that means. Or how far they went. Remember the old lipstick on a pig.  So never mind the nice curtains or the colorful toss pillows.  A realistic price in my opinion is more like 12 thousands range for a nice one.  Now you bought or looking at a “project” trailer so hopefully you will pay less.  I try to have a budget of 8 to 9 thousand , which would include buying the trailer and buying the parts and supplies to fix it up.  Things like axles and new cushions are pricey.  Stuff ads up quick.  If you plan to keep the trailer and use it and love it than spend what you can afford.  Oh and those trailers for sale for 15 thousand .. are not selling.  Now do s or  don’t s …

Where do I start ?  With the frame..

Chances are the trailer you have ( or planning on getting) is old.  Old as dirt.  most of the ones I see are over 40 years old and some are close to 50.  So unless the frame is newish, you need to start here.  I’ve seen them all.  Spend some time and money won’t regret it.  Don’t be afraid to remove the frame from the body. It’s the only way to do the work properly.   Bolers are the worst for broken or sagging frames.  So carefully inspect those.  New axles are the best investment for these trailers.  And if it has a torsion axle …replace it with the same.  Two thousand pound rating is best.  a 3500 lb axle will give you no springy springy for your 1800 lb trailer.  And you won’t be able to keep the dishes in the cupboard.  Also a good jack up front is best.  One more thing..  The wiring for your lights..  If they work than that is amazing !  So many people mess with them and don’t know what they are doing. I use these simple junction boxes for all my trailers. They are cheap and work so well.

I would say half of the trailers I have purchased over the years. Lots and lots of them..  Really !  The lights are messed up and I have to use my towing lights.  Brakes…  optional on these trailers.. if you want them fine.  Ok if you are working on the frame and you painted it (good idea) then before you put the body back on put truck canopy tape on the top side to prevent the metal frame from chafing the fiberglass body..

Do bolt the body on the frame .. do not use screws.

Do replace the axle… don’t use leaf springs

Do use rust paint on the frame.

The  Exterior of the body:

Old gel coat is gonna have holes, chips and other damage.  Are you going to spend the time polishing or just paint it.  It’s a good bet that it will need paint.  And that’s a good thing ,because protecting the exterior is important.  Painting is easy if you use a good marine paint like Interlux top sides.

What you are looking at is about a $300. cost.  You will also need auto body filler and an orbital sander.  Do remove the windows so you can re seal them.  Don’t use house paint on the exterior..

Interior walls and ceiling:

If you can avoid removing the Ensolite vinyl finish that’s good.  It can be cleaned and painted with acrylic latex door and trim paint.