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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
J&J Auto Fabrics Apollo 4-way Stretch Marine Grade Vinyl = "waterproof"...

I have mixed feelings about this right now. I ordered this online, and the description said that this vinyl will form a "tight, waterproof fit" (direct verbatim quote from the supplier's web site). The company called me today to inform me of a minor cosmetic defect with the piece that I ordered. In talking with them over the phone about that, I ended up mentioning the fact that I needed it to be 100% waterproof, at which point they informed me that it is not in fact water proof, but only "water resistant", and that none of the products they offer are 100% waterproof...

This is the point at which normally, I would be saying some very colorful things about the company. I am pretty upset, but this is where the "mixed feelings" come in. They did call me about the cosmetic issue instead of just not worrying about it, as many would have done. I asked about cancelling the order, and they did give me the option of doing that. I had to make a decision on the phone, so, having spent so much time and effort researching this nonsense for my project, I chose to just say fuck it and keep the damn order. I am questioning my choice a bit, but I can't spend the rest of my damn life on some little project. If it doesn't work, then I'll probably just throw the damn camper shell away and forget this whole failed experiment (trying to use a camper to actually camp -- who would've thought...? Novel idea, right...).

Anyway, since I have already purchased the vinyl (maybe I should've stuck with the EPDM rubber as originally planned, but there's a good chance that would have failed too) and the glue, I figure I'm done. I will put it on and most likely end up having failed completely. I will have wasted my time, money, and energy on this project, and it will not work. The vinyl will leak; the glue will fail, and then the glue will end up stuck all over my cab and look like shit and be damn near impossible to remove.

Sorry for the negativity. This is just me ranting about being poor and having to put up with human stupidity and incompetence (whoever wrote the description, and whoever designed and sold leaky ass "camper" shells) and/or intentionally misleading advertising. Don't mind me. First world problems anyway...

I am considering forcing them to update all of the descriptions on their web site. If they refuse, I could sue for false advertising. The employees were nice enough (calling about the cosmetic issue and offering to cancel if I needed to, when I asked...), but still, at the end of the day, water resistant does NOT = "waterproof", and those who actually need waterproof are inevitably going to be rightfully disappointed when they discover that the product they ordered is not, in fact, waterproof as advertised. I knew perfectly well about the whole waterproof versus water resistant issue in general, but was dumb enough to assume that if it said "waterproof", it would actually be waterproof.

I probably should have cancelled the order in hind sight, but I had to make a damn decision. It's done. Too bad I already spent a fortune on the amazing custom-sized mattress for this project. Oh well.
 

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Frustrating indeed. Good luck.
While the EPDM would have been waterproof achieving a strong lasting bond would have been difficult.
I would recommend somewhat generous pleats between cab and camper to allow for chassis flex, but not so big as to allow aerodynamic pressure when rolling down the highway to suck on fabric, make it flap and thus over-stress the bonds.
Waterproofing the hatch and tailgate will be it's own challenge. Dry bags and tarp wrapping bedding may still be necessary in the monsoon season.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Fred, thank you for the encouragement and suggestions!

I tested the vinyl when I got it a few days ago: I cut off a small square of it and put it down into a cup a little; then I poured some water in onto the vinyl and let it sit there for about two hours. It was 100 percent dry on the other side still at that point (as was the cup), so I'm still holding out some hope that it will actually be waterproof.

The epoxy I selected has completely cured on the truck now, and so far it seems like it performs as advertised. I have pulled on the vinyl quite hard several times (if I pulled much harder, it might start to rip the vinyl), and there was no sign of the bond having any issue at all with that. I suspect the vinyl might actually rip off before this glue does. Big thumbs up on the epoxy so far! I hope it stays that way. I'm afraid I may have failed still, though, as I erred in installing (gluing on) the vinyl. I thought I had enough extra material between the cab and camper shell, but the way it ended up working out was such that there really isn't much extra (about an inch or so...). It was a bit challenging doing it all by myself: laying down the vinyl to see where it needed to go, then running two lines of glue -- maybe 8 feet or so each --, then laying the vinyl back down onto the glue, then pressing the edges down onto the glue lines all the way along both sides, then constantly going over the whole thing and pressing down again and adjusting the whole thing as the epoxy was setting...all in a bit of a frantic hurry, as the stuff sets quite quickly. Being precise with the whole process was not easy. It will likely rip the first time I go off road LOL.

Sometimes I'm pretty negative about things, and maybe a bit melodramatic on occasion (I just re-read my post above and actually laughed quite a bit, haha...I was not pleased at the time!). But at least I have learned from this. If this doesn't work for whichever reason, I may still end up cutting/scraping/sanding the glue off and trying again. If the project goes that way, then next time, I will make sure to have A LOT of extra material in between the two bonding points (glue lines), and I will make 100 percent sure that whatever material I use is 100 percent WATERPROOF. With those two aspects done right, I think this idea really could work out still... I sure am pleased with the glue! Finding a completely waterproof, flexible expoxy that could withstand exposure to the elements and would bond solidly to fiberglass, vinyl (or rubber), and painted or unpainted metal...no easy task! After the first under-side lines had mostly fully cured, I laid down another line along the other (outer) side of the vinyl/along its edge; that turned out really well. It really seems to have bonded extremely well to all three substrates, just as the advertising claimed it would! I may have actually found that miracle epoxy that I sought, haha! (time will tell...)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Now that looks like a real camper!
 
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