There is an easy way and a hard way to get a motorcoach looking its best.
I use the hard way.
The easy way is to get someone else to do it. Many of the places that we go with our coach have companies that will come on-site to do a wash and wax. Costs vary somewhat but count on roughly $500 for a wash and wax of a larger Class A motorhome.
The hard way is the do it yourself way. It will definitely take much, much longer than a mobile RV detailer. I take about 20 hours to do a fairly thorough detailing of the motorhome. When we were not travelling full-time, I would detail the coach once a year as it was kept indoors in storage for the winter months.
Now that we are outside and travelling full-time, detailing will happen every three months or so.
I will share my process for detailing our coach broken out by tools and technique.
It does take a fair amount of equipment to detail a coach. This is what I am using right now.
Ladder. The coach is about 13 feet high. A ladder is a necessity. We use this one from Camping World.
Extension poles. I have two of them. One for washing and one for blading the water off the coach. These extension poles are readily available at places like Lowes or the Home Depot.
Wash buckets with grit guards. I use two. One for the fresh soap and one for rinsing off the wash mitts. I bought two 5-gallon buckets from Canadian Tire. Grit guards can be found online from places like Chemical Guys.
Orbital polisher. I use the Porter and Cable 7424XP dual action orbital polisher available online at places like Amazon. And I use the red polishing pads from Chemical Guys to apply wax. If I need to polish the surface, I will use a stronger cutting pad like this one.
Water blades. I have two. A California blade for getting water off the body of the coach by hand. And a specialty California blade for getting the water off the body of the coach using an extension pole. Really speeds up the process of drying the coach. Find the original blades here at One Pass Waterblade. You can also find them on Amazon.
Hose and nozzle. I have a 50-foot pocket hose, folds up nice and neat, and a high-quality nozzle with multiple patterns. I picked both of them up at Lowes.
Microfibre towels. I have dozens of microfibre towels. Drying and polishing towels. I get them from places like Chemical Guys.
Microfibre wash mitts. I have handheld and pole mount wash mitts. I get them from Chemical Guys.
Clay mitt and lube. For surface preparation, I remove contaminants with a clay mitt and clay lube. For a large vehicle like a motorhome, the clay mitt works a lot better than hand holding the clay bar. I bought mine from Chemical Guys. I use their clay lube as well.
Wash soap. I have used a number of wash soaps and lately I have been using Griot’s Garage Brilliant Finish.
Wax. You might be getting the idea that I really love Chemical Guys. I use their Butter Wet Wax. Easy to apply and easy to remove and gives an amazing result.
Phew! And there is more. I have products for detailing tires, cleaning windows, polishing mirrors and chrome, interior dash, and on it goes. But, for detailing the coach, those are some of the tools of the trade. Now on to the process.
I follow three steps for a thorough detail:
- Wash and dry
- Surface preparation
- Finish coating
Wash and dry. I use the two-bucket system to wash the coach. This video from Chemical Guys shows you how to do this if you aren’t familiar with the technique.
Surface preparation. This step may involve claying and polishing the surface prior to applying a wax. Another video from Chemical Guys shows you how to clay a vehicle. They are using a clay bar here. I prefer to use the clay mitt for a large vehicle like a motorcoach. Much faster than using a clay bar.
If the finish has lots of swirl marks, then polishing would be the next step. Another great video from the Chemical Guys shows you how to polish. Because I have taken great care with the finish of our coach, I haven’t had to polish the surface (yet).
Finish coating. I use an orbital polisher and a hand applicator for applying the wax. With waxing, a little goes a long way. A final video from the Chemical Guys shows you how it is done. I use a hand applicator to get at the top part of the coach. I have not yet mastered the ability to stand on the top part of a ladder while operating a dual action orbital polisher.
How long does all of this take? Well, as mentioned, I will spend about 20 hours or so to wash, clay and wax the coach. I do sections of the coach over several days: rear cap, front cap, full wall slide out , passenger side slide outs, driver side bays, passenger side bays. And the roof. So important to protect the roof. I use a sealant up there though. Lasts much longer than wax.
Detailing wheels, tires, windows and chrome? I do those areas whenever the urge to clean hits me, which, oddly enough, happens frequently.
It is something I enjoy doing and, being retired, I have the time to fit it into my busy calendar.