RV on the open roadThe reasons for living the RV lifestyle are as varied as the nomadic souls who live it. Life on the open road in North America usually has some surprises in store, and that’s why we love it.

Some surprises are pleasant, like when you come across the World’s Largest Peanut in Ashburn, Georgia. Others, like a nasty tear in your sewer hose, a leak around a window, or a mirror getting knocked off, are not as pleasant.

A few simple tools, tricks and tips will help you repair minor problems on and in your RV without missing a second of your journey.

One of the simplest and least expensive, but probably most useful tools to have aboard is an industrial strength, one-part adhesive, like RV GOOP. (Some other tools to consider: a shovel and axe, hammer, screwdriver, pliers, some duct tape, flashlights and batteries, and leveling blocks.)

You’d be amazed, however, at how many annoying problems can be solved with a tube of contact adhesive and sealant. Look for a product that remains flexible after drying, is great for repairs that will weather a moving vehicle even over bumpy roads, is waterproof and good at permanently adhering two materials together, such as metal to glass.

I’ll take you through how to do three minor, but common RV repairs over three separate posts. Each has broad application, so you can use the same directions to repair a variety of surfaces. We’ll reattach auto trim, specifically a wayward reflector, next we’ll patch a tear in some linoleum, finally, we’ll mend a torn sewer hose.

Match adhesive to material
White glue like Elmer’s works great for paper-to-paper projects, an industrial strength crafters’ glue might be better for glass-to-glass, and no one has developed anything better for wood than carpenter’s wood glues. On your RV you have a variety of surfaces and often a repair will mean adhering two different surfaces together.

An adhesive that remains flexible when dry will provide maximum stick for your buck because it allows each surface to dry at its own rate. This is true when reattaching auto chrome, or a reflector to the exterior of the RV. The bond will hold through extreme variation in temperature and the constant vibration of the road.

Recipe for success: Make sure both surfaces are clean and dry prior to applying the adhesive. Apply a small amount to each surface and allow the glue to partially cure for 2–10 minutes before pressing the pieces together (the less adhesive you use, the less time you need for a partial cure).

Press both pieces together using sufficient pressure to establish complete contact. Immediately clean away excess adhesive with a little acetone on a clean cloth. (Acetone is a paint thinner, so be careful how much you use.) Allow the repair to dry for 24 hours.

Tip: Different materials need different drying times and outside temperature also affects the drying time. The bond cures faster in higher temperatures and slower in lower temperatures.

Stay tuned for part two – patching a linoleum tear.

[parts of this series originally appears in Escapees Magazine, November/December 2003]