Pop Up Camper Remodel: Repairing a Coleman ABS Roof

Repair Pop Up Camper Roof

When we bought our pop up camper, we had been looking on Craigslist for quite some time for just the right deal.  I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted in a pop up, but I knew one thing — I did not want a Coleman with an ABS roof.  We obviously threw that right out the window when this little Coleman Santa Fe came along.

Coleman Santa Fe

Because our Santa Fe was in such fabulous condition for the price, we jumped on it.  I had read horror stories about the Coleman ABS roof situation, but I was confident we could head off any problems.  What is an ABS roof?  Well, in the mid-90’s, Coleman had this fantastic idea to make a one piece, ABS plastic roof on some of their higher end pop up trailers.  The idea was good, no seams for water to leak in, etc., but in reality, the ABS roof didn’t hold up on most trailers.  The sun really dried them out, and there was some severe cracking and delamination on many campers.  Coleman had to replace quite a few roofs.  The pop up camper division of Coleman/Fleetwood eventually went out of business, and now it is impossible to have your roof replaced.  Seems like a deal breaker, right?

Pop Up Camper Cracks

I thought so, too.  After a lot of research, though, I realized that you could still repair that ABS roof, and, in many cases, the owners of the repaired Coleman ABS roofs were happier with the results than had they gone with a traditional pop up camper roof.  We had minimal cracking in our ABS roof.  There were a couple of medium sized cracks on one corner, a few small hairline cracks along the lip of the roof, and some spidery cracks under the awning rail.

After a lot of research, we decided the best method for repairing the roof, and preventing further cracking in the future, was the ABS MEK patch method, followed by a good coat of UV protectant bedliner.  The Pop Up Portal was an invaluable resource for all things repair related, and there is a good amount of information there about the MEK repair method.  If you have a pop up, and you haven’t checked the Portal yet, you are missing out!  So, what is the ABS MEK patch method?

Drilling out the cracks

Mr. TypeTwoFun started out by drilling a small hole at each end of the crack.  This is supposed to help keep the crack from spreading.

Repairing Cracks in Pop Up Roof

Then he used a cutting wheel to clean out the crack.  He wanted a nice clean surface for the patch to adhere to.

Now, I don’t have a picture of the next step, because the stuff Mr. TypeTwoFun used to patch the crack is pretty toxic.  He had to use a respirator when he was applying the stuff.  We basically took equal parts of MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) and white ABS plastic pellets and mixed them together in a glass jar with a lid.  MEK is a solvent that breaks down plastic, and it is pretty dang toxic.  Make sure you wear gloves and a respirator when handling it.  You can buy ABS pellets on eBay, but we just took white airsoft bb’s, which happen to be made of ABS plastic, and used them.  It takes about 24 hours for the MEK to melt down the plastic, but then you’ve got a nice liquid patch for your cracks.

MEK ABS Roof Repair

Wipe down the cracks you are patching with a bit of MEK on a clean rag.  The MEK will eat into the plastic a bit and give you a nice surface for your patch to adhere to.  Use a Popsicle stick or paint stirrer to patch your cracks and then let them dry.  Again, use the respirator and gloves when working with your MEK patch “goo.”  Once you’ve got your crack patched to your satisfaction, you can sand it down a bit with some fine grit sandpaper or steel wool.

MEK ABS Roof Repair

Once we had all of our cracks repaired, we used some steel wool pads in our sander to sand the whole roof down.  We wanted to make sure that we had a nice clean surface for our bedliner paint to adhere to.

Sanding the ABS roof

It’s a little hard to tell from the picture, but when you sand, it will leave your roof looking a little dull.  That’s what you want.  Make sure the whole surface has been sanded evenly.

mekwipedown

We then used drop cloths and painters tape to protect the areas we didn’t want to paint.  Once you’ve got your camper taped up, you can don that hot respirator again and break out your MEK.  You want to wipe the whole roof down with MEK.  We used clean, old t-shirts cut into rags.  Make sure you protect your hands with gloves and check them periodically for holes.  (The MEK ate through Mr. TypeTwoFun’s gloves!)  :(   Once your roof is wiped down, it should shine like you see in the picture above.  Now you are ready to paint on your bedliner.

We used a product called Grizzly Grip, which can only be purchased online.  It is supposed to be incredibly durable, and it is a favorite product among Coleman ABS owners.  We purchased the 4×8 kit in Snow White.  Our camper is approximately 6.5′ x 8′ and we had PLENTY of product to finish the job.  We actually had about half a jar left over.

Grizzly Grip Roof Repair

This step was pretty toxic, too, so I stayed away.  I did manage to snap a picture of Mr. TypeTwoFun finishing up the first coat.  The paint goes on with a foam roller, and you want to apply a light first coat, wait 2-4 hours, and follow with a heavier top coat.  Same rules here — gloves and respirator — and don’t get it on your skin!  It is supposed to cure within 24 hours, but ours was still tacky 24 hours later, so make sure to allow for plenty of dry time.

Repairing a Coleman ABS Roof

Remember that corner crack from before?  You can’t even see it anymore!  The roof looks amazing.  It’s now bright white, and it looks brand new.

Coleman ABS roof repair

The spidery cracks underneath the awning rail are gone, too.  You can see that the Grizzly Grip did leave a slight bit of texture, but I don’t really mind it.  It seems strong, and I am hoping it will last the life of the trailer.

When we went to put the seal back on, we discovered that it had shrunk quite a bit.  We tried everything, but couldn’t get it back on.  In the end, we had to buy a new seal.  We purchased it from colemanpopupparts.com and the new one went on pretty easily.  We wiped down the lip of the roof with some acetone to make sure we had a clean surface for the new seal to adhere to.

Replacing the seal on a pop up roof

The new seal had a tape adhesive on one side, and we just gently peeled off the backing and tapped the seal into place with a rubber mallet.

Pop Up Roof Seal

Then we cranked the roof down all the way to keep the seal in place while the adhesive cured.

Coleman ABS Roof Repair

Here’s one last look at my brand new roof.  Isn’t it pretty?  Obviously, if you have a Coleman ABS roof with major cracks and/or delamination, the roof repair might not be so simple.  If you’ve just got a few cracks in the ABS plastic, like we did, this may be the repair to go with!  We’ll report back on how it holds up over the summer.  Now who’s ready for some camping?   😀

larissa

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Comments

  1. Brian says

    Hi, We have a 2001 Santa Fe and our ABS roof is actually in pretty good shape but I’ve noticed a few hairline cracks about an inch to an inch and a half starting to appear. I’m trying to decide if this approach would be worthwhile as a preventative action since we’d like to keep our popup for several more years. I am anxious to hear how yours is holding up though I know its only been a few months. I’m hoping this is an actual long term repair rather than a cosmetic band-aid though I suppose you could repeat this every few years as required (yuck), Also, was it necessary to remove and replace the seal rather than just masking it off? Thanks for any advice, and great site btw! -Brian.

    • says

      Brian, thanks for the comments. I think it would be totally worth your while to take on this project — especially if your roof needs minimal work. This was hands-down the best thing we did for the camper. It is easy to wash, and I don’t have to worry about any further cracking issues. So far, we have had zero problems. The roof looks brand new, and I love it! I’m not sure about masking off the seal. I wanted to make sure the entire roof was covered, so we took the seal off. Sorry I can’t be of more help there. Maybe ask on the Pop Up Portal forums? :-)

  2. robert says

    We have a 1999 Bayside that within the last year has started to crack on one corner and along the roof edge at the gasket. LIke your roof I dont have many cracks yet, but would like to stop them now. I feel pretty confident in being able to handle the repair. I do wonder where you were able to get the roof gasket? i purchased this pop up from a dealer 3 years ago, around when FTCA closed the plant in Somerst PA. Unfortunately they don’t have a gasket in stock any longer. I’d like to get this done as the rest of the camper is good shape yet. TY for any help – Rob

    • says

      Rob, this is the seal that we purchased from Coleman Pop Up Parts. It’s pretty expensive. I don’t recall how much we paid for it, but I think it has gone up in price since we purchased it. I know that there are some sellers on eBay that sell a similar item for cheaper, but I don’t have any experience with them, so I really can’t recommend anyone in particular. I will say that we have never regretted purchasing the new seal. The roof looks like new now, and we expect it to last us a good, long time. Best of luck on your roof repair! :-)

      • john says

        Any Help would be great. The new roof seal. Did you put the adhesive side outside or inside the camper? Don’t know if it matters just thought I would ask. Thank you

        • says

          We put the adhesive side outside the camper, John. We did that for two reasons… 1) It was easier to pull the paper backing off the adhesive as we went along if the adhesive was on the outside. 2) We wanted to make sure the adhesive formed a barrier on the outside in case of rain. It was a tight fit anyway, so both sides are snug and sealed well, but we just wanted to be sure. 😉

  3. April says

    Hello, just wanted to add my experience. When I bought my 2001 Sante Fe I wasn’t familiar with the ABS roof problem but was soon engulfed with it. The cracks were very small at first but quickly grew and were soon so big that the roof was peeling off. I live in Florida and heat was not kind. My BIL just pulled the crumbling shell of a roof off and sprayed 2 coats of Rhino Liner. He did tape off the seal but soon after the seal started to shrink, its time was up. I guess it’s been about a year and a half and the roof is holding up great. Because of the texture it is hard to keep clean, I can live with that. We purchased a seal from ebay for around $130.00 and am currently waiting for it to be delivered. I saw some posts on popuportal about installation and it looks easy enough.

    • says

      Thanks for your input, April. I have heard of people peeling the ABS roof off when the cracking is severe. Nice to hear some first-hand experience about that and that it actually does work. :-)

      Good luck with the seal. Ours was super easy to install, and I’m glad we spent the extra money to do it.

  4. Tom says

    Hello there,
    I am about to order the Grizzly Grip. Which would you recommend for the Coleman Pop-up: the course or the fine Grizzly Grip?
    Thank you so much for your help.
    Tom

    • says

      We ordered the fine GG, Tom, and I love it. It’s easy to clean and very durable. You hardly notice that it isn’t part of the original roof. Hope that helps. :-)

  5. Kyle says

    Did you drill the ends of the hairline fractures like you did the big ones or did you just clean out the crack with the ritary tool? My Coleman Cheyenne has a crack near the hinge of the cargo box and around one of the cargo box clamps. Thinking of trying out this method to fix those along with a few hairline fractures in main roof. Thoughts or suggestions?

  6. Rick says

    I have found your post very informative and it has given me a new desire to try a “secound” attempt to repair our niagara elites roof. First attempt we took it to a repair body shop the owner said he knew how to weld abs plastic back together after spray painting it with a Bed liner product called U-Pol $1000 later it looked like your photos after yours was completed. About a year later all the cracks came back with a few more additional.
    It looks like the final solution would be you must repair it using the MEK method. I had read post prior to the U-Pol treatment about the MEK but most people just poured it in the cracks making a mess of the roof seeing pix of the projects they completed it looked terrible. Looks like the conservative filling of the cracks works best..
    My son is taking the camper to the smokie mountains for spring break hopefully no addtional damage will be done from that trip and I will schedule it for a vacation in May.
    Thanks for posts it has got me pumped up

    • says

      I’ve heard about the U-Pol Raptor bedliner, Rick. We had thought about going that method because it can be sprayed on. Ultimately, rolling on Grizzly Grip just seemed easier, so we went that route. We are getting ready to use the same method to repair our front and back ABS panels because the roof repair went so well.

      One note on the MEK Goo method… Once the MEK Goo sets, it can be sanded. If you make more of a mess than you intended, you can sand it smooth before applying your Grizzly Grip. That’s how we got such a nice finish. Best of luck to you… and let me know how it goes! 😀

  7. Curtis allen says

    I am going to look at a 2000 Utah sat. I was about to walk away till reading your article. I’m pretty handy so I think I could handle it. This one does have a roof ac/heater. From pic it shows no sag.. So my question is about how long did the repair take start to finish.. And what was a ball park cost including new seal.. Thanks

    • says

      Curtis, we ordered the 4×8 kit from Grizzly Grip, and with shipping, that came to $185–we had quite a bit left over, though. The seal was $198. Our Santa Fe is a 10 ft. box, so your costs may differ, as I’m pretty sure the Utah is much bigger than ours. We added in some MEK and a few miscellaneous supplies from Home Depot, but I’d say that our total roof repair came to around $400. It took us about a full weekend to complete. We started it after work on Friday and finished it up on Sunday afternoon. It did require some late nights, as we had to factor in drying time between coats. We got the camper for dirt cheap, so $400 and a weekend of work was well worth it for us. It you are purchasing a camper that already has roof issues, I’d factor that into the purchase price. I wouldn’t pay full market value for a trailer that is going to need some major roof work, but if you are getting a screaming deal, it may be worth your time and money. 😀

    • says

      It will depend on how thick your goo is, Joe. My husband left ours overnight (about 12 hours) and it was perfect. Yours may harden slower or faster depending on your mixture. Hope that helps!

  8. Dan says

    Hi, I was thinking about applying the GG to my santa fe. I read you went with the snow white color, are you happy with that color or would you maybe consider the dove grey color if you were to do it again? Thanks, Dan

    • says

      I love the snow white color, Dan. I think it is a matter of personal preference, but if I had it to do over again, I’d still pick snow white. 😉

  9. says

    Hello,
    I have 1999 Coleman Pop Up Camper (Niagra Grand Touring) We are replacing the seal today actually thanks to all of the comments and reviews from this site. The post above were so helpful! I just have one question though… Is there anything else that we could use to repair our roof besides the MEK? My dad is a painter and he thinks that he might be able to use something else to repair the cracks in the roof. Any suggestions?
    Thanks!
    -Nathan

    • says

      You can check the Pop Up Portal forums for more information, but this is the preferred method there. I’ve read on the forums that anything less won’t adhere long term. I’ve seen people do repairs with caulk, plastic epoxy and welding and such, and they just don’t hold up well. That’s why we went this route, but feel free to report back here if you try another method! :-)

      • Happy Camper says

        I tried using FlexSeal based on the recommendations of two people that have used it (albeit for different purposes). That was a big mistake! The FlexSeal itself has started to crack, worsened the cracks in my roof, and is discoloring to yellow. I think the MEK ABS method is really the only way to go. Now I just need to get started!

  10. Lori says

    Last year I purchased a 1999 Coleman Fleetwood Niagara, when I saw it I was excited to see a popup that’s canvas was in excellent shape I failed to really inspect the trailer. Not that I regret purchasing it because the price was well below market. Before we even took it out for the first time we had a dealer inspect and repair the electrical, gas and plumbing lines… seems the previous owner thought using household plumbing would be adequate. This Winter we had the flooring repaired. The only thing left is the minor cracks in the roof, the roof seal and the crack along the front storage compartment. I have found your post extremely helpful. My question is what type of ABS pellets should be used (grade, color, quantity)? The crack in my roof looks like the size yours was and the compartment crack is almost the entire length. I had plans on purchasing a new roof seal and applying the Grizzly Grip this winter but would like to fix the cracks now. What are your thoughts about separating the repairs?

    • says

      We just used white airsoft BBs for our ABS/MEK goo, Lori. I’ve heard of people using Wendy’s spoons or ordering ABS pellets from eBay. If you are covering with Grizzly Grip, the color won’t really matter. The smaller the pellets, the quicker they’ll dissolve in the MEK. We mixed it at about a 50/50 ratio, but Mr. TypeTwoFun would check the goo periodically and add more pellets or MEK to get the consistency he wanted.

      You can certainly repair with the ABS/MEK goo without covering the roof with Grizzly Grip, but you will likely have to be continuously repairing cracks. We don’t have any experience separating the repairs, though, so I can’t comment there. I don’t know how the ABS patching will hold up under normal use during the summer without a UV protectant on top. You may have to go back and fix your earlier repairs when you get ready to coat the roof with Grizzly Grip. That Grizzly Grip adds a lot of protection and prevents further and additional cracking. Have you checked the Pop Up Portal forums? Someone there might have experience separating their roof repairs and can answer your questions better than I can. That place is a wealth of information! 😉

  11. Happy Camper says

    Great post and great blog! How much MEK and ABS Pellets did you need to make enough for the patched area in your photo. I have an area about that large that needs repair. Thank you!

    • says

      We just made sure that we mixed the ABS pellets and MEK at a 50/50 ratio. I think we started with about 1/4 cup of each. Mr. TypeTwoFun kept playing around with the consistency, and so I’m not exactly sure how much it took to cover the cracks. I’d err on the side of more–better to have too much than not enough. It’s relatively inexpensive anyway.

      • Jana says

        I have a 1997 coleman with the ac mount in the center of the roof. We have been plagued with cracks and serious sagging due to the weight of the ac unit. Last summer my hubby sent me off on a camping trip without the usual duck taping of the cracked edges. The wind caught the roof as I was traveling and peeling it back like a banana! Before I noticed the damage while driving, I had a huge piece of roof flapping in the breeze….my husband says junk the trailer. What a shame because everything else still works great! I can now see the inside rubber of the roof. My thoughts are to take the entire top coat off and have it all professionally sprayed with a bed liner, the re-attach a new piece of base trim. Our trim had rotted and cracked, so it was taken off the trailer prior to my trip, which caused the whole banana peel fiasco! What is the purpose of salvaging the top coat of the ABS (?) plastic when it as fragile and brittle as an egg shell? Any thoughts out there? I hate to junk it…..I love my little solitary camping trips!

        • says

          Jana, there are quite a few people who have pulled that ABS plastic coating off of the roof and just coated the foam underneath with Grizzly Grip bedliner. I have heard great things from people who went that route. The roof can be fixed! Now, by “trim” do you mean the gasket/seal that goes around the bottom of the camper roof? Those can be replaced quite easily, too, and they sell them on eBay and at Coleman Pop Up Parts. We replaced ours, and the camper closes up so much better now. I definitely wouldn’t junk the camper. You can totally take on this project! Don’t listen to your husband! 😉

          • Jana says

            Yes, the gasket seal that pinches/seals the whole thing together along the bottom. I looked up the site you linked, and saw the seal on there for purchase. The problem we had with the first seal was that it became so brittle over time that it actually separated into 2 pieces. The roof is so warped/bowed at this point that it’s impossible for it to sit flat around the base. It sits like a banana with the outer edges not touching the trailer body as soon as the center does. This amount of pressure caused the rubber trim to break apart. I have debated about using some sort of steel plate to raise the sides of the base body to possibly force it back to it’s original shape without breaking apart a new piece of trim. Honestly, we have been fixing this dang roof since barely 2 years after purchasing it! It has been a repair nightmare, but it’s paid for so I want to find a way to still use it. Thanks so much for the input!

          • says

            What a bummer, Jana. Does your roof have the braces inside? I think they started bracing the later Coleman ABS roofs–especially if they had an A/C unit.

  12. Jana says

    When we approached Coleman about the sag, they furnished us with 2 braces and instructions to install ourselves. We did put those in, but the weight from everything has been too much for the roof. the base trim (that you shared the link to) started to break down from the weight and when that was no longer intact, that allowed to roof to settle even lower. hence, the crescent shaped sag. I can force the roof all the way down and still latch it, but the worst sag of course is in the center. Our heavy snow winters haven’t helped, either. I have racked my brain trying to come up with a solution, and after my last trip with the roof topcoat actually peeling back, I came up with the bedliner idea. I am SO glad to know other people have done that, too!
    Coleman only guaranteed the roof for life to the original purchaser. We got ours used like you did, so we were stuck. Your info has been so helpful!! Thank you!

    • says

      Wow! We have had none of those problems, so I guess we’ve been pretty lucky. Our roof was braced, and we only had minor cracking. I hope that you find a solution to the sagging–you might check the Pop Up Portal forums–and that you come back here to report on your roof repairs and how they worked out. :-)

  13. Dave cunningham says

    I purchased a 1999 Coleman westlake several years ago. The pop up had no cracks at the time of purchase. I bought a cover fo it and with in two weeks of having the cover on it the camper roof bubbled up, cracked and delaminates. After an extensive search on line I decided against repairing it and decided to replace the entire roof. The reaso for replacing it was I read several posts online that said that I might spend all the time and effort repairing the areas where it was delaminates and cracked only to have it do the same thing in other areas. The moral of the story is do not use a cover with ABS as it traps to much heat and the glue bond releases the ABS from the foam roof.
    I removed the entire roof and then sanded down the foam to remove the glue. I then installed two layers of fiberglass mat. After the fiberglass resin dried I once again sanded down the entire roof. Once the roof was to my liking I applied gorilla grip. I purchased a new roof gasket from eBay for $130.00. The roof is now strong enough to stand on. I just purchased a set of yakima 60 inch roof tracks to mount on the camper. The tracks will allow me to install bars anywhere along the 60 inch track. I also purchased a mega warrior basket with extension to hold gas cans, firewood etc. I also have a kayak and bike rack. The final result is a very strong and water tight roof that is capable of supporting a roof rack.
    I just thought I would share my ABS roof replacement with you all so you would know that there is an alternative to just repairing the ABS.

    • says

      Awesome, Dave! Thanks for sharing. I have heard of people removing the ABS shell and applying Grizzly Grip over the entire roof. I’ve heard great things about that method, and if you have delamination, it seems like the way to go. Since you’ve got the racks on the roof, it was probably pretty smart to reinforce the roof with the fiberglass mat & resin. :-)

    • says

      Could you please list the material you used, and where you got it from. My biggest concern, is that I will order the wrong stuff, and it will melt the foam roof!
      This is an awesome, permanent fix!

      • says

        Are you removing your ABS shell from the roof, Jeff? I don’t have specific experience on that, although a couple of readers here have done it with excellent results. I’ve just never done it myself. Most people use the Grizzly Grip in Snow White, fine texture, which is what we used.

          • says

            Jeff, we’ve had Grizzly Grip on our roof for over a year now with no problems. You may have a problem with dirt if you use the course texture, but the fine texture cleans up well. We took it from Arizona to Montana and back last year, and the camper collected a lot of dirt and debris from the trip. We hadn’t repaired the body panels yet at that point, and when we cleaned the camper, the roof washed up better than the aging ABS plastic body panels. We haven’t had a single issue with the Grizzly Grip, and I am so glad we did the repair.

    • Gregg says

      I am looking to do the same repair to my 1998 Niagara. How difficult was it to strip the entire abs roof? Any techniques you can recommend?

  14. Jeannette says

    We have a Santa Fe camper. The seal has shrank over the years. You posted you bought a new seal. We have the same camper you have. How much seal did you purchase? Did you measure around the camper top? Have looked at this camper site several times. I am glad I saw this about you redoing your camper.

    • says

      We measured our old seal and added a few inches to compensate for the shrinking. In the end, though, the seal we bought was cheaper when sold in 41′ lengths, so we ended up purchasing that length. We did have a couple feet left over, but it was still cheaper to buy that length than purchase it by the foot. Hope that helps.

  15. Ron says

    Love what ya’ll have done, looking to start on ours. I have a lot of cracks, We have a 2000 coleman cheyenne. having trouble finding grizzly grip on ebay, Do you no where on ebay it is located?

    • says

      You won’t find Grizzly Grip on eBay, Ron. You can find the white ABS pellets on eBay often, but Grizzly Grip can only be ordered directly from Midwest Chemicals on their website. You can order that here. Best of luck with your roof repair! :-)

  16. Michael says

    Hello from NJ,
    I used Grizzly Grip on my 2002 Santa Fe last summer, looked great. survived the winter. I opened it up, did some spring cleaning. My popup top does not always come down evenly in one corner, so when I pressed on it, my cracks re-appeared……… Now I am going to try Kool Seal product as it does not become so rigid. I will keep you posted… Great website

    Michael

  17. Cindy says

    Hello. I have a 2001 Santa Fe with a crack in the roof that I want to repair. This information has been extremely helpful and I am going to give the ABS/MEK method a shot! My only question is this.. If I don’t apply the Grizzly Grip, will it look really bad? I am thinking about only doing the patch of the crack and sanding it down but I don’t really want to do the 2nd part which is applying the Grizzly Grip over the entire roof. Is that a bad idea? Could I possibly just use the Grizzy Grip or a regular gloss latext paint over the patched area only? Thanks!

    • says

      Cindy, you can patch your cracks and not apply the Grizzly Grip, but it won’t be pretty, and you run the risk of getting more cracks later on. The Grizzly Grip provides both durability and UV protection. We haven’t had any cracking since the roof repair. I wouldn’t use latex paint, but I know some people have used elastomeric roof coatings. I don’t have any experience with that method, so I can’t attest to whether or not it will last. Best of luck on your repair, and be sure to come back and let me know how it goes! 😉

  18. KC135SUP says

    @ThePUPrincess
    I have cracks on 02 Cole Utah
    Did Mr type two fun ? have any problem with air pockets when he applied applied it to the roof. did he make the slur thin or thk to fill cracks, I’m using a meat syringe to inject the slurry and I get air bubbles that rise and can’t escape because the slurry has skinned over. any suggestions
    Tks in adv
    KC135SUP
    By the way Great job on you camper and blog

    • says

      Are you using a plastic syringe? I’d be nervous about that, because MEK is made to dissolve certain types of plastic. Second, do you have any delamination? If your ABS is pulling away from the foam roof underneath, you’ll have to address that before you attempt to repair the cracks because you’ll have air pockets underneath the ABS shell.

      You want your “goo” to be about the consistency of Elmer’s glue. Mr. TypeTwoFun used a Popsicle stick to drizzle it down into the crack. Once the crack was filled, he would use the stick to spread the goo flat. We never had any issues with air bubbles at all. Hope that helps.

  19. says

    We have a 2000 Coleman Bayside Elite and we had to take the whole ABS roof off because the cracking became so severe and then when we had a bad storm the wind peeled most of the room off! I was really upset. So I started searching online for roof repair when we were left high and dry on the ABS roof, I bought the Raptor bedliner and had a body and paint man do the job. but was done shotty! so my husband and I had to wind up completing the project ourselves and so far so good the roof has held up. To me I think another coat can be applied. It sits outside with no where to store it. Once i get it all cleaned up on the inside and out, i am going to take another look at the roof. One of the screws come out of the doorstep and I was wondering where i could find a screw that would work to allow the door to open and close with ease. Really enjoy your website :)

  20. Kathie says

    I had my camper closed up 2 years and when I uncovered it, I notied the roof has a medium L-shaped crack in the corner as well as the seal is falling apart. I took it to the shop and they opened the camper up and some mice had made theirselves at home. The shop said they could fiberglass the top but it would be very expensive or they could put this specisl tape which would not look very pretty. I had the camper under a tarp all the time but they said they believed that some water got in the top and they were concerned the cables would break but I didn’t think there was any problem. There are surface cracks that have not broken through. After reapiring the crack – do you think the Grizzly grip will seal the rook. My goal is to repair the camper and donate it to the Wounded Warriors programs so the can check it out and go out for a weekend to get away.

    • says

      It has worked for us. It’s been over a year since we repaired our roof, and the cracks are not coming back. Do you have any delamination?

  21. Jazzg55 says

    I saw your before and after photo’s. Where did you get that awning? It looks ;like it’s telescopic. Our roof cracked, fiberglass, and the RV shop said they could repair it based on what you did. Saved us a bunch of money.

    • says

      Nice! Did they use the same method?

      That’s the factory awning, Jazzg55. I think we are going to have to replace it soon. It has seen better days. 😛

  22. Craig says

    I just came across this while looking at common pop-up repairs. Spot-on advice Larissa! We use MEK for metal surface prep and stop-drilling sheetmetal on military aircraft routinely and yes it does stop the crack from continuing so long as you find the very ends. Another famous example, the Liberty Bell! If I can offer a helper hint with regards to injecting MEK slurry under the ABS; MEK turns foam/plastic to muck on contact and injecting it would dissolve the roof foam creating additional cavities under the cover. If the cover is separated in spots, drill the smallest hole possible to squeeze silicon or foam safe glue into the gap. If you drill a slightly larger hole in a thin piece of plywood and place it over the repair, aligning the holes, and add a small amount of weight, the plywood will distribute pressure across the area and help force excess silicon/glue up through the hole. Clean off the excess that squeezes out, let it cure, apply the slurry, and paint. Cheers!

    • Brad says

      Craig, could you please explain the addition of silicon before MEK procedure? The cracks I have in one area are a bunch of Zs next to each other and some ABS pieces between the Zs are very loose and I could probably pick them out. I know in this area I will have more than just a crack to fill, more like a square centimeter, and do not want to apply the MEK/ABS paste to the foam under the roof if it is just going to create a larger and gooier mess.

      Actually, I just went out and looked and may end up with quit a large rectangle to patch in this area. Most of these cracks seem to be starting under the awning attachment grove if anybody has any experience fixing these, please help?

      • says

        In that case, Brad, you may want to re-adhere the ABS plastic will some heavy duty glue (some use Gorilla Grip) and a syringe. The other option is to remove the ABS plastic shell completely, but if you’ve only got a few spots of delamination under the awning, the glue may be the way to go. Check the Pop Up Portal forums. There’s bound to be someone that’s encountered your problem before! :-)

  23. Rebecca says

    We have basically followed your process described here to fix extremely similar repair on our Coleman Westlake ABS roof. We added a strip of Eternabond tape over our MEK repairs, though, under the awning rail as an extra preventative measure, hopefully. We are now doing the Grizzly Grip. Do you know during your GG application if it seemed ‘patchy’ after a coat was applied? The top of our camper roof seems like some areas still look wet and smoother and other areas look dryer and more textured. Just not quite what I was expecting. Possibly my husband just laid down more on some areas than others with the roller. Or maybe he went over areas with the roller after it was starting to dry and made it ‘nappier?’ Just hope it’s all going to dry looking the same in the end.

    • says

      It’s been awhile since we applied our Grizzly Grip to the roof, Rebecca, but when we did the front and back panels, we rolled over some of the drier areas, and it did give it a bit of a patchy look. It’s not noticeable unless you look closely, though. We’ve found Midwest Chemicals to be pretty responsive to all our questions, so I would suggest you e-mail them or give them a call. They were great with us. :-)

  24. Kenny says

    My wife and I bought a 1998 10ft. Sante Fe pop up with air in May of 99. Our camper was kept in a garage the first 10 years. After the first 2 years the gutters started developing small cracks in which I patched up. As the years rolled along, more and bigger cracks developed with delamination. A few months ago I decided to completely restore our pop up to it’s former glory, with the roof being the biggest problem. After reading your post Larissa, I feel that stripping the existing roof off and replacing it with gorilla grip is our best bet. I can’t begin to tell you how many great memories and times our little pop up has brought us. We have had it on many beaches and many mountains with great comfort. Thanks again for the priceless info, Sincerely Kenny

  25. Wayne says

    Great thread! I have a 2000 Coleman Niagra Elite, 2nd owner, garage kept since new…no sag, no cracks…immaculate condition. Moved to new house & will not be able to garage it any longer. Trying to decide to sell it or keep it & wait for the cracks/sags to commence :) will be watching this thread with much interest. wk

  26. Daniel Clark says

    My dad, brother, and I just went in together on this same make and model. I spend TOO much time on DIY projects and doing DIY research. I’ve seen countless forums, youtube videos, webpage after webpage after webpage. I LOVE yours. It is incredibly helpful. Keep up the good work, and keep DIYing!!!!
    ~DC

  27. Stacie says

    Hi Larissa,
    We have a 2000 Coleman Utah, our roof has just a few small cracks along the edges and a couple of bubbles starting on top. Out main problem is the for has lost some shape and doesn’t meet the side body properly anymore. Are you familiar with this at all? Thank you for sharing your experience.
    Stacie Dartnell

    • says

      That’s called delamination, Stacie. When that happens, you can drill small holes in the ABS shell and inject Gorilla Glue (or a similar adhesive) between the foam and the shell. This really only works well if the delamination is not too severe. In most severe cases, people opt to remove the ABS shell and use Grizzly Grip directly over the foam. I have not tried either method, so I cannot attest to their effectiveness, but I’ve had many readers tell me their stories of removing the ABS shell and coating the foam. It seems to work pretty well. :-)

      Do you have an A/C unit, or is you roof sagging in the middle at all?

      • Stacie says

        Larissa,
        I don’t think I explained that very well. I know we have some delamination beginning on the top. The problem I am trying to explain is that when the trailer is closed the side of the roof on the kitchen side especially and a little at the trunk the entire roof edge sticks out farther than the side. Therefore the gasket is not meeting the side of the body. We worry about water if it storms when we are on the road with it. Is seems like the sides are spreading out some, not just the outer layer. I wish I could send a picture.
        Does that make sense?
        We do not have an A/C unit. We bought the trailer new in 2000 and have enjoyed it very much.

  28. Mark says

    Hi Larissa! A short time ago I wrote to you on a different thread about my pop up. Recently I had to take it to an rv shop for some repairs. Before I did I gave it a mojor cleaning inside and out. That is when I discovered the cracks. They are hair line cracks about 1 to 1.5 inches long leading up from the bottom edge of the roof along the sides. In your story about how you repaired your roof, you drilled and ground out the large corner cracks before filling with the MEK mixture. My question is how did you repair the small side cracks… did you use the same method as the large ones? I want to make sure I make the repairs right the first time. The small side cracks are the only issue with the roof but I want to catch it before it gets worse. Thanks for your help and again, great site!

    • says

      We repaired the small cracks the same way, Mark. Small cracks can quickly become large ones if you don’t stop them from spreading. It’s a big pain, but we definitely recommend drilling out all the cracks and patching them. You’ll be happier with the results in the long run.

      • Mark says

        Thanks for the reply Larissa! I kind of figured those small cracks had to be repaired the same way but I didn’t want to create more work for myself if I didn’t have to. I guess I had better get busy. I have a camp site reserved for October 1st! Thanks again!

    • says

      We repaired the small cracks the same way, Mark. Small cracks can quickly become large ones if you don’t stop them from spreading. It’s a big pain, but we definitely recommend drilling out all the cracks and patching them. You’ll be happier with the results in the long run.

    • says

      We repaired the small cracks the same way, Mark. Small cracks can quickly become large ones if you don’t stop them from spreading. It’s a big pain, but we definitely recommend drilling out all the cracks and patching them. You’ll be happier with the results in the long run.

  29. Jacqueline Pare' says

    I am looking at a 1998 Coleman Casa Grande with roof issues. When I went to look at it, it was set up so I couldn’t see the roof. I asked the owner about it and she said “there is a small crack that I have taped up and it doesn’t leak. other than that there are no problems.” Well, when I went to pick it up the roof was down and the small crack was about 3 times what she described. Plus the whole top is warped. I have called two RV places and they both told me to walk away and find something else because the cost of repair wasn’t worth it. (I left it there that day because the owner didn’t close it up correctly so the slide wouldn’t close tight) I am supposed to pick this up tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. but I am struggling because I really love the camper…except for the roof. Does the warping mean that the whole outer skin should be removed? I am not extremely handy and since I don’t have a significant other the repairs will be up to me. If anyone can offer any suggestions I would appreciate it. Thanks. Oh, and there is a slight sag in the roof as well. No evidence of water damage anywhere inside though.

    • says

      Sadly, Jacqueline, I think the RV places you called are right. You should probably walk away from this camper. Bracing a sagging roof is no easy feat, even for those of us who are handy. You may not have water damage issues now, but if the roof doesn’t close properly, you will. :-(

      If you are patient, the right camper will come along. No need to settle for something that isn’t worth the money. It took us a year to find our camper, but I love it, and I’m glad we waited.

  30. Jerry says

    Thanks for your story and instructions. I am almost complete on my Grizzly Grip restoration. I have a 97 Coleman Cheyenne with a significant amount of cracks.
    Everything went well with the project except for the supplied roller broke apart after completing half of the first coat. I believe I need to thin down the product before using. I luckily had a few spare regular foam rollers to complete the first and second coat. I ordered more than I needed of the Grizzly Grip so I plan to add a third coat.
    I did use the Airsoft BB’s to make my ABS Goo and I used Acetone to melt down the pellets. I was unable to locate MEK in my local stores.
    The roof delamination was minimal so I drilled holes into the bad spots and squeezed in gorilla glue into the area and placed a weight over the area. After I sealed the hole with ABS Goo.

    Again, Thanks for your instructions and I hope my comments will reassure and help others with their project.

    • says

      Good to know, Jerry. Thanks for sharing. We did have a little more trouble with the rollers on this last batch of Grizzly Grip–when we did our body panels. Before you dilute it, call Grizzly Grip. Their customer service is amazing. They may be able to make suggestions. :-)

  31. says

    HI All thanks for all the great comments regarding the ABS ROOF REPAIR. I have seen many people fixing the roof’s but not when decontamination is involved. My roof curves upward on both ends leaving a gap at the front and back with cracking on the ends. Do I cut the top part off and use Grizzly Grip or do I build some kind of truss? My 1999 Utah does have the metal support already. ANY COMMENTS AND THOUGHTS ARE WELCOME! P.S. Heading to clifty falls indiana this weekend

  32. Rick says

    Larissa the best part of this blog is that your still giving updates, ty. Im rebuilding the roof on my 92 Starcraft starlite pop up using luan for the roof with a layer of fiberglass over that. A few others are doing the same but its hard to get updates from people that have used the grizzly grip. I found one bad update but it was 3 years after he painted it. Is yours still doing ok and where do you store the camper when your not using it and do you cover the top with a canvas? Basically I just want to know if you keep it out of the sun :)

    Thanks

    • says

      We do keep it out of the sun, Rick, as it is stored in our garage. The roof still looks amazing, and I’m so happy with it. We haven’t had any problems with durability since we did the roof repair. It still looks as good as it did when we first did it 18 months ago. Having said that, we used Grizzly Grip on our body panels, and I was not quite as happy with the consistency and results of that batch. It still looks good, I just don’t think it looks as nice as the roof. I don’t know if they’ve changed the formula or if we just got a bad batch, but the texture is rougher than our roof repair. Grizzly Grip customer service is really great, though, so you can always call them with questions or concerns. :-)

  33. joe says

    Well I did what your blog stated and got me some airs oft bbs melted with mek in mason jars overnight… made 3 jars with 10000 bbs … only needed 2 jars… boy that stuff is toxic! Definitely for anybody doing this method to buy a really good resporator! Lowe’s or home Depot have them for about 35 to 45… worth it! One thing I did notice was after the cracks dried… I began noticing new ones before I applied the liner… didn’t know if that happened to you….

    My roof was severely cracked with big and small ones to include everything to the front of the ac was delaminated. So I used a cutoff wheel and basically cut off the top -leaving the sides intact- and used the mek to help bridge the gap between the foam and the existing top…. I used the t Rex 2000 spray liner… just took 12 bottles to cover the entire top and trunk lid… worked great just a few over spray spots I’ll deal with in spring when I add a roll on liner over the top just to get it thicker where I cut off the original top. Replaced the delapitated junk ac cover with a max air replacement cover and it looks like new… just hoping now it holds…. was wanting to attach before and after pics but can’t figure out how….

    Oh yeah… sry I’ve got a 2000 coleman cheyenne
    Bought brand new and had it ever since

    Thanks again for your help!
    Joe

  34. Charles says

    We too got a great deal on a Coleman Westlake camper and the roof need some repair. I did not notice how bad the roof was until we got it home. I tried using Flex seal but I did not have much success with it. The Flex Seal just made a mess and started to crack again. When I saw this posting I tried the ABS MEK repair and I have to say it looks great and worked great. My roof had a few more issues then what yours had. I had to use gorilla glue to re attach parts of the roof were it had cracked before applying the ABS gue. But with the roof all sanded and the Grizzly Grip applied the top looks like new. Thanks for the Tips.

  35. Armando says

    Hello Larissa! I’m am fixing my roof on my 1999 Coleman Santa feb and I purchase the abs roof seal From Colemanpopupparts.com. The question that I had was did you guys use any other adhesive or glue on installing the seal to the roof,or if you only use the the tape adhesive it comes with? Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon.

  36. JJ says

    Hi Larissa, I LOVE this blog! I have a 96 Coleman Shenandoah with an ABS roof. The roof has started to cave in and is cracking pretty bad. I’ve been researching how to repair it myself since they don’t make the roof braces anymore. My husband has been pushing me to get rid of it because he thinks its an eye sore, although our family has really enjoyed using it in the past. I had almost given in and then I found your blog and now I am super motivated to fix it up!! I had no idea it had so much potential!! Now, my roof is definitely worse than yours. I know we first need to brace the roof and then fix the shell. Can I send a photo to see if you or your readers have some advice as to the best way to do this or tell me if it’s too far gone?

  37. Chad Oatman says

    Hello:
    I have a similar but different problem and was wondering if anyone may know from personal experience how best to fix my problem. I have a 2004 Fleetwood Laramie with an Aluminum roof with ABS plastic mounted to 1/8th inch plywood that has delaminated from the Aluminum roof. Has anyone used the Gorilla Grip liner to seal one of these Aluminum roofs successfully? I have seen a different bedliner material applied to Aluminum and it didn’t stick, which is why I ask. Also, I am considering using the #12 delaminating epoxy to reattach the ASB/plywood ceiling back to the roof, I am also not sure if this will work as I don’t know if it will stick to Aluminum. I have contacted both manufacturers for there expertise, but I thought I wood ask here also if anyone had any insight as well as to let you all in my project. Any words of wisdom is appreciated!
    Thank you for this site, it has been very helpful thus far.
    Chad

  38. Carolina j says

    Hi, I read the Q&A about only repairing the cracks and saw that you highly recommend the grizzly grip coating for UV protection. My question is can I apply the GG as a spot treatment vs a full roof paint job? It just seems like a big job… I’d love to find a way to only repair the small cracks instead of doing a full roof makeover.
    Also, have you heard of MEK and marine grade 5200 mixture? It’s supposed to create an excellent “goo” as well.
    Thanks for the amazing blog. I Wish I could hug you in thanks for all these great ideas!!!
    ~fellow Coleman Santa fe owner

    • says

      Aw, thanks, Carolina! 😀

      I have not heard of the MEK/5200 mixture. I’ll have to check that out. I suppose you could spot treat your roof, but it wouldn’t look very pretty. There is a definite difference in color and texture between the Grizzly Grip and original ABS plastic. You’d be able to see spots all over your roof. You’d also defeat the purpose of the UV protection. You want to give the entire roof a good coat of GG to protect it from the sun and prevent the need for further spot treatments.

      p.s. Aren’t Santa Fes the best? 😉

      • Carolina j says

        We love our Santa Fe!! Like you, we came across a deal that we couldn’t pass up. Luckily “LC” didn’t need too many big repairs. We sure do have a long list of customizing we want to do though! Haha

  39. says

    Nice fix! I’ve been repairing cracks by plastic welding , but will need to give this a shot. I’ve been welding ABS for a long time , but change is good. Thanks for the idea.

  40. Walker Family says

    We recently purchased a 1997 Coleman Niagara. The roof is in comparable condition to yours in the rood repair write up… with maybe few more cracks. Thank you for the detail I which you posted. Any chance of getting an “18 Months Later” follow up? If it is still going strong, it may be the first project we tackle. Thanks again for the teriffic write up.

    • says

      Our roof repair has held up really well. My only advice is to drill out and fix every little crack. The Grizzly Grip will fill all the cracks, but they will reappear if you haven’t repaired them to begin with.

  41. KALLIE says

    Hi my husband and I are thinking about purchasing a 2000 Coleman Mesa pop up. I wanted to see how your repair was holding up. How long ago did you repair your roof? When you mix the beads and mek how big of a glass jar did you use and did it make enough product? And do you close the lid on the jar while it is melting? I would love to hear back from you !!! THANKS!

  42. Aaron says

    We have the exact same camper. I plan on doing the roof repair with Grizzly Grip. Do you think that the 4×8 kit is enough to do the roof and the front ABS panel?

    • says

      I would do both panels at the same time, Aaron. The panels will look different once you apply the Grizzly Grip, and if you only do the front panel, they will be mismatched. Plus, it will protect your rear panel in the future. The only real regret we had with the roof was that we should have applied another coat. Maybe that’s why we had so much left over. The panels took quite a bit of the product to coat, so you may want to order another quart or so of Grizzly Grip with the 4×8 kit so you can coat everything well. :-)

  43. brad evans says

    I’m wondering if the mek good ends up getting hard like the ABS roof? I tried starting this project yesterday and put some MEK goo on a test area and 24 hours later it is “dry,” but soft. What I mean is, it isn’t sticky or tacky or anything, but in the cracks that I opened up, if I press with my finger nail, it indents. Its not hard like plastic. Should it be? I’m at a loss right now and now sure what to do. PLEASE HELP!

    • says

      It depends on how thick you apply it, Brad. The longer you let the goo dry, the harder it will be. Ours was kind of soft and flexible in the beginning, but the longer we allowed it to dry, the harder it became. Hope that helps. :-)

  44. STephanie Penrod says

    Hi we own a Sante Fe just like the one you have worked on. We need to replace the floor inside and one of the walls on outside needs to be fixed as well. We had this same problem with our roof although ours was cracking so badly that we ended up having to take the outer shell off. We painted a product called Duck Coat on the fiberglass. While it does not leak at all, it proceeded to bubble and looks hideous. LOL I was wondering if you knew of anyone who had taken their outer shell off and was able to possibly use the Grizzly Grip to recoat the fiberglass?? Or any other ideas? We have used it this way with the bubbles for one whole season and just took it this past weekend on a trip too. Once again no leaks but just looks bad. Would like to fix the look of it if we are going to keep it.
    Thanks ahead of time and thank you so much for all the info you have posted about your fix up jobs to yours! They are going to help us tremendously! :)

    • says

      I actually have heard of several people removing the ABS shell when the cracking is severe. They seem to have good results with the Grizzly Grip over the foam roof. You may need to call Grizzly Grip, though, and find out if you need to remove the Duck Coat. How difficult would it be to remove it? Does it peel off pretty easily?

  45. Valerie says

    We just bought a Colman the previous owners took all the abs off the top and now it’s just foam. There is a rather large Crack in the foam that starts on the side and goes on to the top. How do I fix the foam that’s cracked?

  46. Amanda says

    Hey Larissa! Wondering if you know if this method will repair Apache hard sided pop up trailers? We just bought a 1976 Apache Royal and the roof has some fine cracks…. I think covering the entirety of the roof after fixing the cracks would look really nice, so wondering if this method is a possibility…thanks!

      • Mark says

        Larissa, thanks for the great instructions!! I just want to make sure of one thing before I mix the MEK and the ABS plastic. My camper has about 6 major cracks that are 1-2 feet long and about 15 additional hairline cracks that are 6 inches to a foot long. Your instructions say “equal parts of MEK and pellets.” Do you recommend 2 cups of each or more/less?

        • says

          It honestly depends on how thick you apply the goo, Mark, and how wide your cracks are. We did a mix of 1/4 cup each, and had more than enough goo to cover the small cracks that were on our roof. It keeps well, so if you are in a hurry, it might be best to err on the side of too much rather than having to wait another 24-48 for a new batch to be ready.

          • Mark says

            Thanks for the quick reply! I was going to use 2 cups of each, so I’m glad I have the right amount now.

  47. Mark says

    I just completed the restoration and have a few observations:

    1. Buy at least two 9″ rollers from Grizzly Grip. You want to have a fresh roller for the second coat. I tried to use the old roller and it quickly disintegrated. In fact, I’d buy 3 rollers “just in case.” I also bought 2 4″ rollers but I didn’t need them. I did the entire task with the 9″ roller.
    2. My MEK/plastic mixture lasted over 3 days. I was able to go back to the jar more than a few times and reapply in areas that I missed or in areas where the wind blew the mixture back out of the drill hole (I applied the MEK/plastic mixture outside). By the way, I mixed 1 cup of MEK with 1 cup of ABS plastic and I had a little left over.
    3. I have an 8X10 camper, and the Grizzly Grip customer service rep was able to tell me exactly the amount to purchase. The Grizzly Grip arrived in two 3 quart containers (with a bottle of accelerator for each). As I applied the first “thin” coat, I started to worry a little that I was using too much. I ended up using almost an entire 3 Quart container on the first coat. But the second “heavy” coat did not require as much of the “paint.” I also bought the snow white color and it looks great!
    4. They say this in the Grizzly Grip instructions, but you don’t want to push hard on the roller when you apply the Grip, especially at the end of a painting session. You’ll start to get flecks from the roller in the paint, and it’s almost impossible to pick out.
    5. I bought a pair of heavy-duty rubber gloves (specially made for applying caustic liquid) from our local “Big-R” to apply the MEK/plastic, to wipe the camper top with the MEK solution, and to apply the Grip. Worked like a charm.

    Thanks again for your outstanding instruction!

    Mark

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