Advice requested re repairs to composite panels

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by bajansailor, Dec 6, 2021.

  1. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Apologies, these panels are not on a boat as such - rather, they are on two John Deere tractors.

    Our survey company had an assignment here to inspect the mild damages sustained - one tractor has fractures in the composite roof, and the other has fractures in a wheel arch.

    I didn't see the tractors - they were inspected by one of my colleagues.
    He was told (by the Receiver of the tractors) that they are made out of a special type of fibreglass which is difficult to repair properly, hence why a claim is being made for replacing these panels with brand new ones, rather than trying to get them repaired.

    I am a bit skeptical about this - I would have thought that any good fibreglass laminator would have these looking as good as new again fairly easily (?)

    @fallguy or @rxcomposite do these photos show enough to allow you to offer an opinion re if they can be repaired easily?

    The first two photos show the damaged RHS wheel arch on one of the tractors.

    #315 - Right side aft mudguard damage 1.JPG

    #315 - Right side aft mudguard damage 2.JPG

    The next two photos show the tears in the roof on the other tractor

    #316 - roof damages 1.JPG

    #316 - roof damages 2.JPG
     
  2. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    I have repaired many of them. You can do a repair like any other fiberglass panel. If it preferable to use epoxy, but other than that it is up to the skill of the repairman.
     
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  3. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Those were essentially my thoughts as well, and even better to use epoxy rather than polyester.
    But I wanted to get opinions from others on here to confirm this.
    @gonzo what type of cloth do they usually use for these components, and do you know what would be a typical lay-up for a roof or wheel arch panel?
     
  4. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    They are made with a male/female mold and use chop strand. You can see the mold marks on the inside. I have used stitched mat with has no binder and is softer for sharper curves. Regular mat works OK but it is stiffer since it is designed with a binder that dissolves with styrene. The layup would be the same thickness as it is now. Simply taper grind the cracks from both sides, hold them temporarily with wood and screws until the resin sets, then grind and fair.
     
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  5. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Thanks for this @gonzo

    One reason for asking is that the tractor dealer that received these tractors have submitted an estimated cost of repairs to their Insurers which is for the replacement cost of complete new panels to replace the ones that have been damaged.
    And I am sure that this estimated cost is at least 3 or 4 times the cost of simply getting a good fibreglass repair technician to repair the damaged panels.

    Certainly replacing the damaged panels with new panels would be the simplest and easiest option for the tractor dealer, rather than getting them repaired.
    We are just trying to be impartial here, in the middle between the dealer and the Insurers.
     
  6. Rumars
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    Rumars Senior Member

    Bajan, I don't think the main problem is technical, but legal. The repair, no matter how well done (you can't really hide it unless you repaint the whole tractor, otherwise in time the colour will fade differently and the repair becomes obvious) has to be disclosed by the dealer, and the goods sold at a discount. This lowers the dealers profit margin, so he has every right to insist on OEM replacement parts to minimize his loss. That's what he paid insurance for after all, to guard against such things.
    I don't know exacly how the local law is, but here that tractor is not "new" anymore, and you can't sell it as such.
    This is similar to an opened or damaged package, you can not sell goods at full price anymore in that condition.
     
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  7. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Thank you @Rumars you have made a very valid point there.
    Although on the issue of painting, the estimate submitted includes a sum for painting the new OEM components after they are received.
    This baffles me, as I would have thought that all John Deere parts would be in fairly generic colours already.

    If the Insurers allow all OEM parts to be supplied to replace those damaged, then the Dealer will be very happy, as they can then charge a healthy fee for fitting the parts, to restore the tractors to the original condition, and thus still get the original agreed selling price with no discount for damages.
    And what happens to the damaged parts then?
    Make an allowance for their 'scrap' value against the agreed insurance payout, and allow the dealer to keep them (if desired)?

    Edit - I am thinking of a possible analogy with a brand new fibreglass yacht which has been shipped to the dealer, and which has sustained some minor damages to the fibreglass bimini canopy over the cockpit (I cannot think of a suitable comparison on a yacht to an add on fender / wheel arch on a tractor).
    I suppose that the yacht dealer could also insist then on being supplied with a new OEM bimini canopy from the suppliers overseas, rather than getting one of the laminators at an approved local boatyard to fix it.
     
  8. Blueknarr
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    Blueknarr Senior Member

    Those parts will be very time consuming to repair. There are many contour changes. I see half a dozen contours at each crack. Each change would add several hours of shaping to dial in. Then add the same time for the underside.

    I think replacement would be cheaper than repair.

    Is there a sufficiently skilled FG repair shop near the dealership?

    If this was a sheet metal part there would be no question about replacing it. No auto body shop straightens fenders. They replace and repaint.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2021
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  9. Rumars
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    Rumars Senior Member

    How this functions is entirely a matter of local jurisprudence. For example our law clearly states that in order to be considered new, a vehicle must not have any storage damage or any repairs done after it leaves the assembly line. How much of a discount you get for the "used" vehicle is a matter of negotiation, but OEM replacement parts are better then plain repairs.

    Another problem is the warranty, if the repair is not done according to manufacturer methodology and by approved personnel, it may void it (and I mean for the entire vehicle, not only the cosmetic stuff), wich is a big deal. To cover your backs, call the manufacturer and ask for the approved repair methodology and certified local personnel. Doesn't matter if your guy is certified by Lloyds, DNV-GL and RINA to laminate superyachts, if they don't want to allow him to do it because he does not hold a piece a paper from them, that's it. You may even discover that the only approved thing is replacement with OEM parts by a certified body shop.

    Ultimately this is a matter for the lawyers of the dealer, insurance and any other party involved (shipping company and it's insurer, etc.) who must sort it out between them according to their contracts and applicable law.

    The painting issue has to do with how the replacement is supplied, the body panels probably come in primer, to be painted the desired colour. That's because the vehicle colour might already be faded and the repair must match the existing tone.
     
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  10. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Thank you Blueknarr and Rumars for your comments above - this makes life much easier.
    I'll just 'go with the flow', submit a report on the damages, and forward on all the info requested by the Insurers.
    And then they can make a decision about what they will settle.
     
  11. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Rumars sums it well. A home repair can be done; pro repair to prior very difficult.

    Break my tractor; fix it to new.
     
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  12. leaky
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    leaky Senior Member

    When you start figuring $80/hour and materials, and shop time can be a whole range of hourly costs given the precise situation and business, a quick look and that could be 20 hours for someone to repair the damage in say the last picture - ie $1600 plus materials, a $2000 job that is still a bird in bush as far as seeing it done right.

    Outside of the legal and ideological concerns, probably the #'s just don't work.

    A backyard repair for a farmer, or done by a pro with the understanding that its not going to look good as new, totally different and do-able to make something look decent and sound for far less $$. The "good as new" part basically quadruples the labor involved.
     
  13. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    The estimates for the 'repair' work required, submitted by the Receiver of the tractors (who is the local dealer for the tractors) came to approx US$ 3,200 for the damages to the fender on one tractor, and approx US$4,700 for the damages to the roof on the other tractor - hence why I asked on here about the viability of getting them repaired, rather than replaced with new OEM components.
     
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  14. leaky
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    leaky Senior Member

    Those sort of quotes are not at all surprising and could be easily reached due to the sheer hours of labor in getting back to "like new". By no means did that $2000 I threw up represent an informed opinion, just a quick browse of a picture and some idea of what would be involved, anyone looking at those pieces/damage in person would have a much better idea of what they were up against.
     
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