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The Story of a Roof

Note:  As of January 2011 FTCA, formerly Fleetwood Folding Trailers went out of business.  Any reference I have within this article to a warranty is no longer valid as there is no company in business to honor it.

Fleetwood Folding Trailers (FFT), which was then selling pop ups under the brand name Coleman introduced the ABS (plastic) roof in the 1996 model year. During the early years of introduction the ABS roof was included on almost all Coleman Pop Ups, including some in the Destiny series. So, if you are looking at a 1996-1998 Destiny series, check the roof for type.

FFT manufactured the ABS roofs themselves in their Pennsylvania assembly facility. It was soon found that some roofs began to sag for unknown reasons. The first thought was that the A/C unit caused it and they had dealers retrofit the roofs of pop ups equipped with A/C installed units with a metal bar inside the camper to provide additional support. This bar was added as a regular item to ALL pop ups manufactured sometime in 1998 and a retrofit kit was made available for all older units. The absence or presence of a bar in a pop up does not denote a " new" roof.  Currently, if you have a unit that did not come with the bar, FFT is no longer supplying them free of charge.  They are included in an A/C install kit and are around $175.

They continued having problems and other factors were investigated, such as exposure to heat. It appeared that pop ups in warmer climates experienced a greater number of sag cases than cooler climates. FFT tried different formulations of ABS plastic but roofs continued to sag. Additionally, the problem appeared more in 12 foot box pop ups than in 10 foot boxes.

The final cause (as well as anyone can like us can figure out) is that roofs manufactured under certain climatic conditions (temperature and humidity) did not allow the ABS plastic to cure properly. It was these roofs that eventually sagged. The number I hear thrown about is that 10% of the ABS roofs manufactured were bad. I think this number is a little high, but who is to know other than FFT.

Sometime around 1999/2000 Coleman finally stopped making the roofs themselves and began buying ABS roofs from an outside vendor. At his point the the sagging problem seems to have lessened to a degree or disappeared. Now those roofs being supplied by the outside vendor began to exhibit other problems, which have been chronicled on internet forums.

They include:

Delamination: Part of the ABS plastic delaminates from the core of the roof and a blister forms on the surface.

Bowing of front & back seal: The seal area of the front and back portion of the roof, where it contacts the box in the down (or travel position) bows up sufficiently to allow water penetration during driving in rain. This condition appears to go away after 24 to 48 hours sitting in the down position. Some believe that the shepherds hook used to push out the bed end canvas pushes up into the seal during use and bends it out of shape. At least 2 different styles of seals/gaskets were introduced in an attempt to correct this problem.

Both of these problems appear to be limited to a small number of roofs.

If you are the original owner of a Coleman pop up defective ABS roof you have little to worry about. The ABS roof has a lifetime warranty. In 2003 the vendor FFT was buying the roofs from went out of business.  At that point FFT began enforcing the letter of the written warranty. The roof warranty is detailed on the following table:

Year

Fleetwood Pays

Owner Pays

1996 Parts and freight are paid years 3+ of ownership Labor after year 2
1997 Parts and labor are paid years 3+ of ownership Shipping after year 2

Excerpts from the written warranties are at the bottom of the page.

Second and subsequent owners do not have the protection of a warranty. In the past some have reported that FFT seems to be working with these owners to find a solution. The most common solution that has posted here is that FFT will supply a new roof to a FFT dealer if the owner will pay shipping and labor for the installation. They will not ship one to an owner for self installation. Parts prices for the roof itself have been posted at between $1,200 and $2,000 with shipping and labor running between $700 and $900. I have not heard about anyone getting this deal after FFT began enforcing the warranty.

Starting the 2003 1/2 model year, Coleman is phased out the ABS roof and replaced it with the new AlumiTite Krystal Kote Composite Roofs for the GT and GTEs.   The AlumiTite Krystal Kote Composite Roof didn't last long either, and has been replaced as well.

Now, I get a lot of e-mails from folks asking about "fixing" their roof.  I'm sorry to say, if you have a severe sag or your sides are bowing out fixing it may be out of the question.  But, if you have a few small cracks you may be able to take care of it yourself.

First of all, should you attempt to do this remember, you decided to do it and you are on your own.  I do not guarantee anything.  It's up to you.  Secondly, the repair should be done in a well ventilated area. The things you are going to be working with PVC/ABS glue and MEK are toxic solvents and are probably not real good for your lungs. As always, wear clothing to protect your skin and safety glasses/goggles.

The best ABS crack repair you can do is with MEK (MethylEthylKetone) and ABS powder or chips. MEK can be found at most hardware stores as PVC/ABS glue, and it will melt ABS plastic given sufficient time. While ABS plastic can usually be found at hardware/home improvement store store in the PVC area, it is usually black. You could also stop by a FFT dealer as they may have damaged roof and wall panels lying out back that they may give you a piece of.

1. Drill the end(s) of any cracks to reduce the stress and keep it from cracking further. It doesn't have to be a big hole, just sufficient size to round out the end of the crack and stop the stress at the "pointy" end of the crack.

2. Rough up the ABS around the crack and clean it with ABS/PVC cleaning solvent.

3. Grind up the ABS plastic you have by whatever method you may have , the smaller the better. Mix about equal parts MEK and the ABS you ground up in a glass jar (with a lid). Let this mixture sit for a few minutes , then open the jar and stir the mixture. Repeat until you have a "slurry" or "goo" of melted ABS plastic.

4. You can now use the slurry of ABS to fill the cracks with. This slurry should have sufficient MEK in it to melt your slurry to the roof, sealing the cracks. Work quickly as it dries quickly. Also, be careful about letting the slurry or ABS/PVC cleaning solvent drip/run down the side of the roof as it can melt/stain the good areas of your roof.

Now, a commercial ABS repair kit is available from "The Electrical Connection".  I have never done business with this company, it's not my uncle and I don't get anything out of it.  I'm just passing along information someone gave me.

 

1996 Warranty

 

1997 Warranty

   Revised: August 29, 2007

 

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