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Coleman ABS Roof

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Coleman ABS Top Repair Directions

Article courtesy of Natasha's Camping Site

Coleman®􀀂 Folding Trailers 
by Fleetwood®􀀂 ... 
the Two Most Trusted Names 
in Outdoor Recreation! 


The Industry's Only 
True One-Piece Seamless ABS
Roof with Luran®􀀇 S ASA!

This brochure is provided so that 
you may better understand the 
construction, properties, and care 
for your new Coleman®􀀉 Folding 
Trailer's seamless ABS roof system. 

Coleman® Folding Trailers
by Fleetwood® ... 
the Two Most Trusted Names 
in Outdoor Recreation 

Over 27 years ago, the Coleman® Company introduced its first folding trailer based on the same tradition of quality known for its popular outdoor camping products. The Coleman name has come to symbolize ''The Greatest Name In The Great Outdoors" with an unparalleled commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. The Fleetwood􀀉 name has also established a reputation of being the world's largest recreational vehicle manufacturer, producing nearly one out of every three RV's on the road today. Over the past years, both Coleman and Fleetwood names have steadily grown together in establishing a new level of product value and customer satisfaction. 

Your new Coleman® Folding Trailer by Fleetwood® features a revolutionary new camper top technology that makes it rigid, durable, and seamless. Its . construction consists of a plastic outer skin, approximately .080" thick, a core of injected high-­density foam, much like inside a Coleman Cooler, and a plastic inner skin also approximately .080" thick. The plastic skins are a material called ABS, which possesses high impact resistance and easy formability. ABS has been extensively used in the RV business for over twenty years. 

The Coleman Folding Trailer's ABS roofs outer skin is co-extruded with a UV resistant layer called Luran® S ASA which is produced by BASF®. UV resistant co-extruded ABS is excellent for exterior applications and in fact has been used in this fashion by Coleman as front and rear body panels on its camping trailers for over fifteen years. Other common exterior applications for weatherable ABS are in outdoor spas, pickup truck caps, lawn and garden equipment, and body moulding on cars. 

Because ABS is a "Thermoplastic" material, it is formed by heating a large sheet and then "draping" the softened sheet over a mold and allowing the sheet to cool to the shape of the mold. Because of its thermoplastic nature, ABS never loses its heat formability, thus parts made of ABS will expand in heat and shrink in cold. At colder temperatures, ABS parts will shrink and at warmer temperatures, ABS will expand. We have extensively and suc­cessfully tested Coleman Folding Trailer roofs to temperatures as low as -20°F and as high as 140°F. 

The trailer roof is designed with the ability to shrink and expand. This is why the body of your trailer is longer and wider than the roof and why the roofs perimeter gasket will sometimes be tucked behind or be protruding out from the roof. The perimeter gasket is free to roll as the roof expands and contracts while maintaining a weather tight seal to the body of the trailer. 

You may notice the top surface of the trailer's roof will bow slightly upward or downward and the side walls of the roof will bow inward and outward. This is caused by the expansion and contraction of the ABS material. ABS has a •memory• which allows it to regain its original shape once the material returns to a moderate temperature. Shape distortions will be most noticeable when there is a great temperature difference between the material's core and its surface; such as when a cold trailer is exposed to the hot sun or when a trailer warmed by the sun experiences cold night time temperatures. If equipped with a roof-top air conditioner, the top surface may bow downward under the air conditioner's weight. This .does not harm the roof and is minimized by the addition of an interior brace. 

As with all plastics, cleansers containing abrasives, solvents, and caustics should be avoided. Your trailer came with a BASF hang-tag which gives cleaning instructions for the Coleman Folding Trailer's ABS / Luran® S ASA roof and these instructions must be followed. In the case of gouges or cuts to the exterior and interior plastic skins, the factory Customer Service Department or your local Fleetwood Folding Trailer Dealership can instruct you how to repair this damage to a fully functional state, although most repairs will not be cosmetically invisible. If an accident should result in small dents to the trailer roof, it's likely that no structural damage has occurred. If a severe impact creates a creased dent, it's possible that the structural foam core has been cracked and the skins have delaminated from the foam. This will not render the roof unusable, but will weaken it in the surrounding area.
This information is provided so that you may better understand the construction and properties of your new Coleman Folding Trailer's seamless ABS roof system and how to properly care for it. 

The roof on your new Coleman® Folding Trailer by Fleetwood® is made of LURAN® S ASA, a highly durable thermoplastic from BASF® Corporation. 
Luran S ASA makes your folding trailer roof better by delivering superior strength and protection even under the harshest weather conditions. Luran S ASA also delivers long lasting good looks and if properly cared for, your new roof will retain its appearance through years of service and exposure.

To keep your Coleman Folding Trailer roof looking good, it's important to following the general simple cleaning instructions below.

Cleaning instructions for your Luran S ASA folding trailer roof:
•Always use the cleaner according to the manufacturer's directions.
• Use a soft, clean cloth to apply the cleaner.
•Apply the cleaner to the cloth rather than directly to the roof.
•Clean only a small portion of the surface at one time.
•After cleaning, rinse off the surface as completely as possible.

For specific information regarding general and heavy cleaning, refer to the cleaning instructions '"Care and Cleaning Directions for Your Coleman Folding Trailer Roof located in your owners packet. 

If you have specific questions about cleaning your
Luran S ASA roof call BASF Corporation Plastics
Materials at (800) 527-TECH {8324).

We Don't make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.® 

Luran is a registered trademark of BASF Aktlengesellschaft
BASF and We don't make a lot or the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.• ere registered trade marks of BASF Corporation