We all have to do lists, right? And sometimes those to-do lists get neglected just a bit. Am I right?
Well, sitting atop my to-do list since we bought our RV was getting the dirty, ugly, nasty-looking Diamond Shield off the front of the RV.
Diamond Shield sounds great, right? Sounds almost bullet proof. Well the point of it is to protect your front end from rocks that get kicked up at you while on the road. Most of the time when an RV has a Diamond Shield on it, you don’t even know it’s there. It’s a clear film that covers the entire front end.
Apparently around 2006, the product wasn’t so great. I haven’t gotten a straight answer on what the deal was, but either the product allowed moisture underneath the film or there was a problem with the application process. Either way, the moisture that was under the film ended up molding and turning the entire front into a dirty-looking brown with dark mold spots all over.
I talked to several other RVing folks that either had the same issue or knew someone who did. They recommended different products or places to go to get it fixed.
I took all of their advice to heart. I looked into the products. I called the places to get estimates. I had a long talk with Diamond Shield themselves, hoping they’d feel bad for me and offer to do it for free since their product was junk. No dice there.
They said they’d be able to take it off for around $1,500 and that didn’t cover any paint damage that may occur. Then to top it all off, they wanted another $1,200 to put another film on. I was like, hold up, I saw how the last one turned out, not sure I want to try that again.
So, after countless hours researching the RV groups on Facebook, other RV forums, and talking with Newmar, my RV manufacturer, I was at a loss.
There were so many different methods people were talking about, and the biggest thing that scared me away was the time commitment people were saying it needed. I was looking at a minimum 24 hours of scraping.
Well, you know what happens when an information overload is dumped on someone, a huge feeling of being overwhelmed, then nothing. It stayed on my to-do list, with every intention of starting, but no definite plan on when. (See lie No. 7 at www.crazyfamilyadventure.com/18-lies-full-time-rvers-tell-themselves)
As fate may have it, we pulled into a campground and a guy one row ahead of us was out in front of his rig working away on something. I got curious and “took the dogs for a walk.” He was working on the exact problem I had, so I had to stop and chat.
His name was Bruce and he was more than willing to share the knowledge he learned by working on his. He wanted to pay-it-forward and hopefully prevent some of the mistakes and time drains for the next guy. Well, I was the next guy!
We talked for a good 20 minutes and by the time I was ready to leave, he had given me one of the nylon scraping tools that he was using (which was the last one he had in the pack), the name of the solvent he was using and details on each step of the process — which I’ll get into in a minute.
I went back to my rig all fired up to get started. Then the kids wanted to go to the park — priorities, right? We went to the park and when I got back there was a box on our step. I opened it up and it was another tool that Bruce used that he was now done with. This guy is pretty great.
I walked over to thank him and after talking for a bit longer, he ended up giving me the rest of the solvent that he had left. It was about a half gallon. He also threw in a funnel just because.
Armed with all the tools, supplies and knowledge, I was ready to start.
So here’s the process on how to get the Diamond Shield or 3M off your rig. To do this, you’ll need the following:
- Nylon Sticks — http://amzn.to/1VlHgZ3
- Contractors’ Solvent — http://amzn.to/1R9ODNU
- Clothes steamer – http://amzn.to/1R9OH0b
- Sand paper
- Painters tape (optional)
- Rubber gloves
Step 1 — Remove the film
The first step in the process is to get the film off. Bruce said this was the hardest part for him, but turned out to be the easiest part for me. He had a 3M product on his coach and I had Diamond Shield. Supposedly, Diamond Shield is a thicker mill film, so it came off in larger pieces, which made it faster for me.
To get the film off, I used the clothes steamer and the scraper tool. I also had some sand paper for when the edge of the scraper tool got a bit dull.
Use the steamer to steam a small section of the film. You’ll see the film start to sweat (yeah, it knows who’s the boss), then use the scraper tool to scrape it up. It was just like peeling a potato.
You’ll scrape in straight lines on the section that you just steamed and the film will come right up. You shouldn’t have to scrape too hard to get the film off. If you find yourself scraping too hard, just steam it some more. You want to really heat the glue underneath to make it easy to release.
Do this all over the front end where the film is. As I said, work in sections and be patient. It will take some time and making nice, neat rows while scraping is the most efficient way to go about it.
After you’re done scraping all the film off, your coach will look WAY better, but that’s only half the job. Well, maybe not even half.
Step 2 — Remove the glue
The next part is to get the glue off that is still on the RV. This is also where the big mold spots are, so those need to be scraped off as well.
For this part of it, the Contractor’s Solvent is the ticket. Get a spray bottle, you can buy an industrial looking one from the store or use the one your wife has in the bathroom. I chose the latter.
Before you start spraying, you’ll have to do something with your headlights. The solvent made the plastic headlight covers on Bruce’s RV very hazy. To the point he is going to replace them.
So you have two options here. You can remove the headlights if it’s not too much trouble, or you can tape over them. I taped over mine with blue painter’s tape. It seemed to work pretty well, but there were spots where the solvent must have crept under the tape. It’s not horrible, but I notice it. You have been warned!
Load the spray bottle up with the solvent and start at the top. When scraping off the glue, it will sometimes crawl down the front of your rig.
The glue is still a bit sticky, but also slippery, so it’s kind of a slime that can get stuck on lower parts of the rig. You don’t want that ending up on a section you’ve already cleaned up. I speak from experience.
Work in sections again and spray the solvent on your coach. The solvent will most likely drip down the front, and that’s okay. Give the solvent a minute or two to do it’s work, then spray it again. You want the solvent to work dissolving the glue, but you also want it to be wet when you scrape.
After letting the solvent soak again for a minute or two and making sure it’s nice and wet, go ahead and try to scrape it. The same scraping pressure applies here. If you have to scrape too hard, there isn’t enough solvent on it or the solvent hasn’t had enough time to do it’s thing.
Have at it for a while and you’ll learn how long and how much solvent is needed. From my experience scraping off the glue took much longer and was a much more tedious step in the process.
The glue isn’t cooperative and generally doesn’t come off in strips like the film did. However, just work in small sections and again be very, very patient. It will work and it will look like new when you’re done!
Overall, it took me about four days to do my rig. I was able to strip the entire film off in one day, putting in about eight hours on it. The other three days were spent getting the glue off. Over that three days, I worked less time on it since my patience ran thin. I’d say about four hours each day.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor
I’m so glad I took on this endeavor. The rig looks like new and I love sharing this knowledge with other folks in the same situation. A bad Diamond Shield is literally a black eye to an otherwise beautiful coach.
So, best of luck to you in getting your coach cleaned up and as Bruce said, pay this forward and share it!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. By purchasing these products, I will receive a small percentage of the sale. This does not effect the cost to you. Thank you for your support!