MCM - Project Voyager
"If you want your new motorhome to last and maintain its value, this is the time to think about protecting your investment"
.MCM: Practical Motor Caravan Project Camelot ~ August 2000
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Imagine the scenario

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You've just collected a large retirement cheque, you're looking forward to years of leisurely touring and, to that end, have taken delivery of a brand new luxury motorhome - bliss!

The last things on your mind are practical considerations but, if you want your new motorhome to last and maintain its value, this is the time to think about protecting your investment. As well as sticking to the initial servicing schedules for the base vehicle's mechanicals, and running it in gently, you should also consider the vehicle's body work.

Motor caravans tend to cover very low annual mileages so the biggest long-term threat is not mechanical wear but corrosion of the base vehicle's steel bodywork. Commercial vehicles are designed to withstand tough use and high annual mileages, but rustproofing is probably not at the top of the manufacturer's agenda as 'white van man' will probably have driven the vehicle into the ground by the time it's five years old!

 

For a motorcaravan, though, twenty years is probably nearer the average lifespan, so it makes sense to rustproof a motorhome when new. In addition, rustproofing can more than pay for itself when it comes to selling your motorhome. According to Phillip Lewis of Rustbusters, "Most of my customers swear by rustproofing because, when the time comes to change, they always sell their vehicles quickly, and for top money!"

 

With coachbuilt motorhomes there's an additional reason for rustproofing the underside, and that's due to the extra protection that rustproofing products will give to the laminated plywood floor. The outer plywood layer is often only protected by a thin film of paint or bitumen, so a thick layer of flexible, water resistant rustproofer is useful extra protection.

A line up of brand new coachbuilts awaiting work at the Rustbusters' premises when I arrived with our Camalot project van, stood as testement to the affectiveness of the rustproofing process - with many customers returning, having treated some of their previous motorhomes.

 

Never to late

You might be wondering why we chose to rustproof an old motorhome like the Camalot? Well, it is unusual to treat a vehicle of this age, partly because rust may have already taken its toll. However, since the Camalot has had most of its body panels repaired, it makes sense to protect the work that has been done. The main reason, though, is to demonstrate the process to readers, in case you're concidering rustproofing your own van.

Phillip Lewis of Rustbusters in Bournemouth, Dorset, has been rustproofing motorhomes for many years now, and has equipped his workshop with specially designed high pressure spray pumps that ensure the rustproofing product reaches every cavity, both underneath the vehicle and within panels such as the cab doors.

He uses Waxoyl branded products from Hammerite in various grades depending on the application for instance, 'Clear' Waxoyl is injected into all the cavities and box sections, while the thicker 'black' Waxoyl is used to protect the vehicle's exposed underside. As its name suguests Waxoyl is wax based, but, unlike some traditional 'undersealing' products, it does not harden with age, but remains 'waxy' and supple, preventing the water ingress that causes corrosion. Waxoyl also contains a rust-preventer, which acts against any surface rust that may be present at the time of application.

The following pictures tell the story of the Rustproofing on our Camalot. The cost of treating a vehicle of this size is £420, and you'll need to leave your vehicle there for a day for the work to be completed - you can stay in your van on rustbusters' premises if you want. The cost rises to about £500 for large motorhomes, and Rustbusters' workshop can cope with the large American RVs - Phill Lewis says that many American motorhomes come with a shocking lack of rust protection from the factory.

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Step One
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This shot of the Camelot's underside shows all the surface rust. The loose rust flakes were blown away with a high-pressure air hose before the rust-proofing chemicals were applied.
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Step Two
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Here you can see the front offside jacking point and the inner section of the offside sill box-section. Apart from surface rust, the camelot was very sound underneath, making it a good candidate for rust-proofing . Note how the sills on this Talbot Express have large cut-outs which have allowed moisture to drain away over the years, stooping the sills from rusting through completely.
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Step Three
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A display of all the equipment used by rustbusters. The large cylinders in the background are high pressure pumps used to spread the rust-proofing product. In the foreground are all the air hoses and nozzles which connect to the pump. On the left are the tins of rust-proofing chemical, with 'clear' Waxoyl in the foreground, thicker 'black' Waxoyl in the background, and the tough stone chip-resistant compound (used under the wheelarches) in the smaller tin - it's so thick that the tin can be left on its side!
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Step Four
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Clear Waxoyl being sprayed into one of the chasis box sections. Note the excess fluid seeping out of the other end of the section, showing that the product has spread throughout. All the box sections are treated in this same way, with chemical injected through existing drain holes and cut-outs.
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Step Five
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A view of the Camelot's underside, looking back from underneath the engine. Note the contrast of the 'black' Waxoyl coating on the underside to the surface corrosion on the engine/gearbox in the foreground. The exhaust is masked-up during spraying so that it isn't covered with rust-proofing chemicals - which would simpley burn away with heat of the exhaust.
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Step Six
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The vehicle's underside being treated with underbody seal with added Waxoyl. This remains soft and flexible, curing any existing rust and preventing future corrosion.
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Step Seven
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The inner door sections are also treated with Waxoyl. Note the fine mist of spray exiting from the bottom of the panel, again showing that the product has reached every crevice inside the door. Corrosion of the door usually isn't apparent until rust bubbles form on the outer door skin. By this time it's too late to prevent rust, and a new steel skin is the only real cure. Our Camelot has already had replacement panels wlded in to repair its corroded door bottoms.
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Step Eight
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Clear Waxoyl being injected under high pressure into the cavities that form the Talbot's sill sections. These large holes in the sills allow any moisture to run out, and are ideal for providing access to spray rustproofing chemicals into the sills.

If a box section doesn't have an obvious point of access, a small hole is drilled so that the spray probe can reach inside. These holes are then covered with small plastic caps, especially when they are drilled in visable areas, such as the door panels.

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Step Nine
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The engine compartment is sprayed with Waxoyl - useful for protecting areas such as the battery tray, which can corrode quickly due to the spillage of Electrolyte from the battery. The engine itself is not covered, as the heat generated when running would cause the rust-proofing wax to melt and simpley drip off or burn away.

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Before & After
These two shots compare the same section of the camelot's underside (near the rear axle), before & after the application of 'black' Waxoyl. This product remains flexible and waterproof (although it feels waxy and dry to the touch), and will not crack or fall away.