Coleman Popup Trailer ABS Roof Repair

Fleetwood Folding Trailers (FFT) (which sold trailers under the Coleman brand) began using an ABS roof in 1996 on their Coleman popups. The idea seemed sound: a strong one piece roof with no seams to leak. Unfortunately these roofs have had their share of problems: sagging, bowing, cracking and delaminating.  FFT phased out these roofs around 2003.

FFT became FTCA and continued to replace roofs under a lifetime warranty, but in 2008 FTCA was acquired by Blackstreet Capital Management which then shutdown FTCA in 2011. No company means no more warranty service. So what do you do if you have ABS roof issues?

Fortunately there is lots of information on the web about repairing these ABS roofs. If you have serious bowing or sagging you are probably out of lucky. But there are solutions for cracking and delaminating. Just Google “Coleman ABS roof repair” and you will find lots of information.

We have a 1996 Coleman Cheyenne, one of the first trailers with the ABS roof. After a few years it sagged, and we had it replaced under warranty with a new roof. The new roof had an improved shape (crowned in both directions) and a metal support brace. It has resisted sagging and bowing, but after over a dozen years the roof was showing its age:

  1. The awning rail had opened up and was cracking
  2. The roof was covered with cracks, most small but a few larger ones.

In this article I will go over what we did to repair our roof.  Fortunately our roof had no delamination, so I won’t be covering that. But there is plenty of information on the web for that if you have delamination issues.

We repaired our roof in two phases:

  1. Replaced the awning rail
  2. Repaired cracks and coated roof with Grizzly Grip

The awning rail replacement is covered in a separate article. The rest of this article will focus on refurbishing the roof.

Refurbishing the Roof

Since our roof did not have any delamination the steps were pretty simple:

  1. Inspect the roof and fill any large cracks
  2. Coat the roof with Grizzly Grip

Repairing Cracks

Our roof was covered with many cracks. Most were small, but a couple were a bit larger. None seemed to be causing structural issues, but I was concerned that left over time these cracks would result in delamination.

Lots of small cracks

Lots of small cracks

And some bigger ones

And some bigger ones

Since we had so many cracks I decided to fill just a couple of the larger ones, and then let the roof treatment (Grizzly Grip) cover the rest.  If you have fewer larger cracks then you might want to check out this blog posting on Coleman ABS Roof Repair where the author does a more complete job than I cover here.

The most recommended way to fill cracks is to use an ABS paste made of Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) and ABS plastic (either  purchased pellets, or shaved directly off of scrap ABS).  The problem is MEK is not available in California, so I had to go with a substitute: acetone.

Making the ABS Paste

I was unsure how well acetone would work compared to MEK. In the end it worked out OK, the biggest challenge is that acetone is very volatile (it evaporates almost instantly), so your work time with the paste is just a couple of seconds. Here is how I made the paste:

  1. Purchased ABS pellets from Apache Replacement Parts
  2. Placed them in a small canning jar in a ratio of 1 part pellets to 1 1/2 parts acetone
  3. Let it sit overnight
  4. Stir mixture with screwdriver. The ABS had separated into a liquid slurry and a gel-like chunk. I had to work a bit to break up the chunk and blend it.
  5. Add a bit more acetone, stir, let sit for a couple more hours, add a bit more acetone, stir some more

At this point I had a nice paste a bit thinner than toothpaste (and BTW, a week later the paste was still in good shape in the canning jar — so you can make this well in advance).

ABS plus acetone plus time equals ABS goo

ABS plus acetone plus time equals ABS goo

Filling the Cracks

I decided to go quick and dirty, and just fill the cracks. I did not drill holes at the ends of the cracks, nor bevel the cracks with a dremel (as described here). If you have large structural cracks then I think those extra steps are a good idea.

Warning! I should have spent more time filling cracks. See “Update” at the bottom of this article.

One problem with acetone over MEK is that the work time of the paste is just a few seconds. So filling went like this:

  1. Open the jar
  2. Using a coffee stir stick scoop up some paste and dab it along the crack
  3. Immediately scrap it in with a putty knife
  4. Close the jar

So filling my cracks took just a few minutes. Then on to the Grizzly Grip!

Coating the Roof with Grizzly Grip

Grizzly Grip is a bedliner, and has become a popular material for coating aged ABS roofs. Any white bedliner will probably work, but Grizzly Grip is nice because it is designed to be rolled on — so it’s easier for DIYers.

First step is to order your Grizzly Grip. Here is what I ordered:

  • 1 4 X 8 Aliphatic Bedliner Kit, Snow White, Fine (comes with 2 4″ rollers)
  • 1 additional quart (turns out I did not need this for my 7×10 roof. Although if I had extra rollers I could have done an extra coat)
  • 2 9″ rollers
  • Shipping was $39 to California. Kit came with instructions, a pair of gloves, and an accelerant to use with the coating.
  • Total Cost: $217.36

Additional Supplies

  • 9″ roller handle
  • 4″ roller handle
  • Metal roller pan
  • 2 2″ cheapo brushes (NOT plastic)
  • Tape and plastic drop cloth
  • Paint stirrer (used with power drill for stirring paint, make sure yours is small enough to fit into the gallon jugs! Mine was too larger so I had to resort to stir sticks at the last second).
  • Extra stir sticks
  • Acetone
  • 3M 6211 Paint Respirator

That last item is important! The Grizzly Grip is pretty nasty and I was very thankful I used the respirator.



Coating the roof went like this:

  1. Wash the roof well. Might as well do the whole trailer!
  2. Mask rubber gasket that is attached to roof and protect sides of trailer with plastic drop cloth and newspaper
    1. I chose to leave my gasket in place. If you are replacing your gasket you can remove it.
    2. Oh, you might want to mask around the awning rail and clasps.
  3. Wipe roof down with acetone (or MEK)
  4. Open a gallon of Grizzly Grip, add the accelerant, stir like crazy
  5. Roll on first coat
  6. Wait until it has dried to the touch (about 2 hours for me)
  7. Roll on second coat using new rollers

A couple tips:

  • Do not do this in direct sun. I did mine in late afternoon shade.
  • I used the 4″ rollers for the sides and 9″ for the top
  • I used the 2″ paint brush to daub paint around the awning rail, etc.
  • Bits of the rollers pulled off and embedded in the Grizzly Grip. I’ve heard this complaint from others. The Grizzly Grip does degrade the rollers, so maybe I took too long or overworked it. I dunno. It doesn’t look too bad, but I do have some bluish speckles in my roof now!
  • The Grizzly Grip handles differently than paint, and my first coat went on a little gloppy in places. You might want to go with a light first coat.


Overall I’m very satisfied.

If I had to do this over I would consider ordering extra rollers and do 3 thin coats instead of two medium ones. I had enough extra Grizzly Grip to do this.

Did it hide the cracks? Yes! Not all of them perfectly, but overall it came out very good.


Finished Product

No more cracks!

No more cracks! You can see little bits of roller foam here and there. I’ll live with it.

Looking better than it did

Looking much better than it did. That squiggly line is some dirt on my camera sensor.


Update (July 9, 2018)

Three years after the repair and there is good and bad news.

  • Good: the Grizzly Grip has held up great. No oxidation, no flaking, still a very nice finish.
  • Good: the larger cracks I filled with ABS paste are holding up pretty well.
  • Bad: other cracks are starting to re-appear. Both the hairline cracks and some larger cracks that I did not fill and should have. I don’t blame this on the Grizzly Grip, but on my insufficient crack filling.

Some lessons learned:

  1. Fill those cracks! As many as you can.
  2. Unclear if there is much to do about hairline cracks other then maybe skimming them with ABS paste.
  3. It’s possible you’ll need to do a touch-up every few years.

But overall I’m still pleased, and so far this is the only practical solution I’ve seen to prolonging the life of a Coleman ABS roof.


31 thoughts on “Coleman Popup Trailer ABS Roof Repair

  1. Pingback: Coleman/Fleetwood Popup Trailer Awning Rail Replacement | Joe's Happy Hour

  2. Great detailed post. Looking forward to rehabilitating my roof as soon as I get a couple days of nice weather. Did you find that not drilling the holes at the ends of the cracks made any difference? I have seen other posts where people drill the holes but I am reticent to turn my roof into swiss cheese.


  3. Thanks for the comment! So far not drilling holes has not caused any problems, but it has not yet been a year. It might be worth doing on some of the bigger cracks. One issue I have seen is that some of my “medium” cracks that I did not fill with the ABS paste have opened up a hair under the Grizzly Grip. Not bad, but with hind sight I should have filled those with paste too, and doing a third coat of Grizzly Grip (I had enough Grizzly Grip, but not enough rollers). I’m still very happy with the repair, and the Grizzly Grip still looks great after 10 months.


  4. Thanks for the write up. I’ve picked up the MEK, gloves and mask. Ordering ABS this weekend with plans of knocking this out before the southern NV heat sets in.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for the write up and great pics. You mentioned that you could make up the “goo” and it stayed solvent. How early can you pre-make the goo? Could you have a “crack repair kit” for future issue while on the road? Thank you again, just picked up a 2000 Cheyenne and it has a few issues that need to be repaired.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The goo lasted a couple weeks, but had set after a couple months. Maybe if you checked every couple of weeks and added MEK/acetone and stirred it would last longer. FYI, another weak spot on this vintage of trailer is the front bottom corners (floor of storage box) are prone to water damage/rot. I’ve been able to avoid significant repairs by using Rot Doctor penetrating epoxy and filling epoxy to treat those areas.


  6. Great post. Thank you very much. My issue is a bit different. Small pieces of the ABS came off when our canopy got pulled off the side. Since there is a certain amount of depth to contend with, would you recommend this or not? Thanks!


  7. Our Coleman 2007 bayside that we bought used a couple of months ago had some cracks and we used bedliner. We were satisfied with the result and went camping. However after just one month in the June Miami heat, the roof cracks are reopenned with a vengeance and the entire roof cover is now bubbled and warped. Im not sure I understand the fiberglass foam center. Is the cover superficial? Will it leak if i dont keep the tarp over it? I am sad that there are no apparent fixes for this…any suggestions?


  8. TJ, sorry to hear about your issue. I’m not familiar with the roof construction on a 2007. As far as I know the one piece ABS roofs were phased out around 2003 and that’s what I’m familiar with (and what I’ve seen the GrizzlyGrip successfully used with). You might try posting on one of the popup forums.


  9. Joe,

    Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge regarding this matter. I own a 1999 Colman Fleetwood “Utah CP” and the roof is it’s showing signs of fatigue along both side ridges of the roof. I’m starting to see many small cracks on both side all along this area and the foam is absorbing it . In fact, if I take my finger and press lightly on the crack, water will perk out. I’m also fearful that this may be causing excessive weight to my roof top. All that said, Your instruction gives me hope in making the necessary repairs and confidence that I might be able to share my experience with you. I do have one question I hoping you can answer. Do you think Gorilla Grib is flexible? I ask because all, with the exception of one crack are small stress like fractures. In read your commentary, you did mention that some crack have re-appeared. Please advise when time permits. Thanks again… Mike


    • Mike, my roof basically had three sizes of cracks: small hairline cracks covering almost the entire roof (first photo with the lens cap), a few large cracks (second photo) and some medium ones (no photo!). The Grizzly Grip covered the small cracks great, and those have not re-opened. For the large cracks I filled them with the ABS goo, and those also have not re-opened (knock on wood). The cracks that have started to re-open are the medium ones that I did not fill. With hindsight I should have filled those.

      The Grizzly Grip dries to a pretty hard, epoxy like finish. It likely has some give (since it is a bed liner and must handle thermal expansion/contraction of truck beds), but I would not call it flexible.

      My recommendation is that for any cracks larger than hairline you should fill them with the ABS goo. Also, if any of the ABS skin is de-laminating from the foam you’ll want to try and glue it back down with Gorilla Glue. And finally, it seems like getting the roof dried out before repairs would be a good idea.

      And yes, please report back with how things go with your repair.



  10. I’ve removed 90% of my ABS roofing as most was delaminated. Most of the ABS has been removed that goes in under the rubber gasket around the roof. To roll on the Grizzly Grip, would you (or anyone in this thread) recommend removing the rubber gasket and then putting it back on? Or would you recommend brushing it down into the gasket area? Thanks


  11. Delaminated meaning the ABS was coming off? Starting to order the necessary equipment. My 1996 Cheyenne will under go the process. I have some cracks that I will drill and patch. Grizzly grip as well. Your blog convinced me that I can do this project.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Used the grizzly grip worked great. Only problem I have is that I some how got a hole or 2 on my roof. Not sure how it got there. I am going to mix up the paste to seal it up. The paint is worth it. Invest in the mask the grizzly paint is nasty even if you’re working outside.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jim, good to hear you tackled this project! I agree the respirator is required — the Grizzly Grip is pretty nasty. Depending on the size of your holes you might want to consider squirting a little Gorilla glue under the ABS skin if you think there is a risk of it pulling up. I


  12. Hi happy hour Joe. love the article its easy to understand and appears to yield an excellent product. I am looking at doing the ABS roof on my 2001 Coleman Niagara. only have small minor hairline cracking at the bottom edge near the gasket (i got lucky!). Will still take the time to drill out the small cracks with a tiny drill bit as i want this repair to last. not sure how to get a hold of you but i guess i will try here. 1, how has the repair held up so far? 2, you mentioned using acetone or MKE, which one is better? which did you use? I read some concerning things about MEK and abs plastic with expansion rates and uv rays and i am not sure which to use. this article has been extremely helpful and it stopped me from using liquid epdm rubber. hope to hear from you thanks.


    • mattyd, thanks for the kind words! Overall the repair is holding up OK, but (after 2+ years) I am getting more surface cracks reappearing. Nothing I’m worried about but something I’ll keep an eye on. I might want to re-coat in another year or two.

      As to MEK vs acetone: I have not used MEK (not allowed for consumers in California), but that appears to be the preferred solvent for making the ABS paste. I used acetone because I couldn’t get MEK. The Grizzly Grip should protect the filled cracks from UV.


  13. Your repair project looks great! I had cracking and delamitation on my 97 Coleman Cheyenne. I started out with the MEK method, but found that a bondo product with fiberglass fibers in the mix worked well with the ABS and was more manageable for me than the MEK mix. I drilled all the ends and cleaned the cracks with a dremmel, then filled the cracks and holes with the bondo. After sanding the bondo I painted the roof with grizzly grip. Nine months later and two hairline fractures came through the grizzly grip out of the nearly hundred cracks that were filled. The jury is still out, but I am fairly confident that this repair will last what remains of the life of the camper.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer, the larger cracks that I filled with ABS paste have held up well, but the hairline cracks are starting to show through again. And I have one area where the hairline cracks have gotten a bit larger. I’m keeping my eye on that spot, and might repair those and recoat just that area.

      But overall I still recommend this repair, although if I was to do it again I’d spend more time filling more cracks with the ABS paste.


  14. Hi, my name is Amy & I have a 2000 Coleman Sea Pine Pop Up Camper
    > this type of camper can do electric, can do a large battery( to run the lights and run the heater), and a propane tank for power, gas for the cooking stove and has a small heater, it sleeps 4 people.^ it was the smallest and lightest popup camper at that time.( at that time our small minivan could easily pull it )
    ** ours also came with a add-on room for the awning and a refrigerator. >
    My camper did not start cracking until the May 2010. However, we did not want it to get worse so we put a large tarp on it ( our insurance company gave us 2 options :
    > give it to the insurance company and they would destroy it and we would get less $ for it ( since that type of campers went out of business & no way to fix the roof at that time without costing more than what the insurance would cover )
    > keep it but it & we would never have insurance on it again and get more $,
    SO yes we keep the camper hoping that next year we could fix it . Well that never happened & now it’s 2018 and we need to make a digestion & Since we no longer have a truck to pull it & since we would be moving by next summer.
    The camper itself on the inside is in excellent shape like the beds have no cracks nor rips and the canopy is also in excellent shape – no cracks or rips, however, due to the age and from what I found on Michichign Craigslist :
    > sell it like it is and get maybe get $ 1,500
    > try to fix it and then sell it for $ 3,000 – maybe $ 5,000
    Since I looked at it last, it now has larger cracks – mostly along the seams & really bad along were the awning sits * that area was so bad we decided to take off the awning – before it tor off and made it unfixable!
    my question is would this produced work for me?
    Also, I tried to look for this “Grizzly Grip ” that you talk about on eBay but had no luck and with the price on the grizzly grip web page it is very costly & I would not even know where to start on the amount I need …
    – the cheapest they sell is $ $102 says something like
    comes in Black only & is 4×6 covers 60-65 sqft ?
    and they want to know what type of Material it is= fine or coarse ???
    — the next comes in a color and it’s like $ 6 – 8 dollars more.
    for my budget paying that extra cost just to have a color is just a bit too much.
    And the cost for something that has to be mixed & what if I do not mix it well ??
    sounds too hard for me to understand. Then the extra cost of an air compressor
    (These are not cheap & that I would never use again ) , the one time use of a mask ( they run from $ 30 up to $ 50, and to buy large long gloves. ** I understand the safety factor, that I would need the mask and gloves.
    Have you ever heard of: Flex Seal Liquid – Liquid Rubber Sealant Coating
    * that stuff is like under $ 75 for a 128oz can and is sold in stores and on eBay.
    I was going to look into that because from what I looked into a lot of owners of the Coleman popups say it worked great, very easy to use and not smell ( no mask required and no air compressor required).
    ^ I am just trying to understand why you are promoting this product when it cost so much to buy, when there is a cheaper product out there. And without paying for an air compressor that I don’t have or even need once I am done.


    • Honestly, people may be ASKING 3 to 5K but actually getting that much for a 2000 sea pine….. seems quite doubtful.

      I just bought a 2001 in great condition for 1700…. so I think if you’re going to do all that hard work in hopes of getting an extra 2 or 3 or even 4 GRAND…. you might end up very disappointed


    • Do your research in flex seal… works great short term, but then cracks reappear thru it later.
      There’s a reason grizzly grip is so often mentioned ALL OVER the internet… it works


    • Amy,

      I picked Grizzly Grip after researching because It is recommended by the manufacturer for coating ABS roofs and has many glowing reviews for this application. I have been very pleased with it.

      It seems like you are looking for a quick cheap fix for this issue, and I don’t think that exists. I’m not familiar with Flex Seal, but a quick search shows some people have issues with it staying bonded to the roof over time. And if that happens, then cleaning it off the roof would be a mess. I would not be comfortable using it myself.

      In my article I state how much Grizzly Grip I ordered for my 7×10 foot roof, as well as the texture (fine). And the cost too (around $220 at the time). You do NOT need a compressor. You roll it on.

      That said, this repair is not a trivial job, and doing proper prep and crack filling is an important part of it (see the Update I just added to the end of the article). So you’ll have to decide if the cost and effort is worth it for your situation.


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