So I have a 25 year old cover for my tent trailer, probably made of PVC, that is very brittle. A new cover is soft and supple, whereas folding mine up causes alarming cracking sounds (and a few holes have appeared). I plan to gaffer-tape the holes, but can I restore the plastic somehow (maybe with some loving gentle massaging of something like baby oil into the cover?) Or will I have to fork out for a new one?
PS I'm not actually sure it's PVC, it might be vinyl or something similar? It's from a Conway Challenger 1991 trailer, I'm not sure if it's original (as it doesn't have Conway branding) so it might be younger than 1991.
Message posted by tonyv8power via mobile 23/6/2021 at 5:59pm Outfit: Bailley Cartagena. Land Rover Discover Location: Herts. UK
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PVC is polyvinyl chloride aka vinyl. years of exposure to sunlight, aka UV radiation is the worst enemy for pvc. Once the plasticisers have been leached out by constant exposure to UV the base layer does become brittle and no amount of tlc will bring it back to supple life. You may need to invest in a new cover!
Concur re: once PVC has gone brittle, that's nothing anyone can do to restore it.
I had concerns about the longevity of my Dutch canvas pyramid tents with PVC windows, however, my camping under canvas days were over long before they showed any sign of deterioration.
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Plastics contain plasticisers, they are volatile and over a period of years evaporate from a plastic object. The resulting material is brittle and may just flake away. If they are enclosed you may notice a sharp smell that hits the back of the throat.
Time to buy or make a new cover, you've had 25 years service from the old one.
Thanks all for the feedback! I had nothing to lose so have invested a couple of hours and 130p worth of baby oil, and to be honest I think it has made a slight improvement in suppleness. The cover was not completely brittle, just a bit, and probably once the baby oil has dried it'll be back to brittleness :)
As for having had 25 years of use out of it; someone else certainly did - but I've only had it for about 2 weeks!
PS the cover is still waterproof (apart from the holes, which are very small). Unfortunately, as I discovered today, very small holes can still let a very large amount of water through in our lovely wet weather - so I've bought a cheapo tarp from toolstation (about £2!! which I thought was a bargain) and will put it under the cover to hopefully make it fully waterproof again.