How to Repair Curtains on a Curtainside Trailer

Curtainside Trailer for Trucking

Purchasing a curtainside system will prove to be a wise decision as it has many benefits.  The curtain materials that are used are made from PVC.  A lacquer coating is also applied during production to produce a protective coat.  In addition, a shiny surface is also acquired which gives the material the new-look.  Unfortunately, from time to time accidents will happen and your curtains may get torn.  To save some money, you can do the repairs yourself by following these instructions.

Before you begin you should purchase some tools and supplies. Here is a list of what you will need:

  1. Heat gun: this must be an industrial model that should be able to produce about 1300 watts and have a flat nozzle tip.  Anything less or different will not produce satisfying results as the material bondage is weak.  The price for one can range from $250 to over $500.
  1. Roller: this tool is used to bond the curtain materials by pressing them together as the heat gun melts the areas being applied.  The base of roller should be about 2” wide.
  1. Paint reducer: recommended is Dupont’s number 3912.  Do not use lacquer thinner as it will tarnish the lacquer coating of the PVC curtains.  It is a highly flammable product so keep the container away from the heat gun.
  1. Flat board (FRP): it is used as a backing support for the rollers to roll the curtain materials together while it is being heated.  There are a few materials that can be used as a backing support.  Fiberglass Reinforced Plywood (FRP) or door blanks are what SSI uses most often.  Metal can be another.  Using plywood will likely result in some pieces of plywood being bonded to the curtains.  Other materials may have varying results.
  1. Wiping cloth or towel: used in combination with the paint reducer for cleaning dirty surfaces.  Regular paper hand towels will not have satisfying results.
  1. Curtain material: two choices – 20 ounce or 28 ounce.  28 ounce material is a thicker material.  They all come in various colors to match the original curtains.   The curtain material will have to be purchased from SSI.

All the tools listed above can be purchased at many paint and hardware stores.    Depending on your location access to resources may be limited.  SSI has all the tools and supplies that you will need for your convenience.  If you have any questions or would like to make a purchase please call 800-236-6655.

Repair Procedures:

  1. Turn on the heat gun and let it warm up as you complete the next two steps.  Place it at a safe distance from the working area for safety issues regarding the flammable paint reducer.  Make sure it is blowing hot air before you start patching.  Also be careful not to burn yourself as it will get very hot.
  1. First, the patch is to be applied from the inside of the trailer.
  1. Clean the area around the tear thoroughly by applying paint reducer.  This is a very important step, not to be skipped, as it will affect the type on bondage you will have when you weld the curtain materials together.
  1. Cut out a patch from the curtain material.  The idea is to cut the patch with at least two inches extra beyond the outside of the tear.  For example, if you have a two inch wide by four inch long tear your patch should be six inches wide by eight inches long in measurement.
  1. Place the flat board behind the tear.
  1. Center the patch over the center of the tear.  Be sure there is two inches of overlap all around the tear.
  1. Place the roller onto the patch on the two-inch overlap area.
  1. Place the heat gun with the flat nozzle tip between the curtain and the patch. The heat gun should be blowing hot air at this point.
  1. Hold the heat gun steady until you see that both the patch and the curtain are beginning to smoke.  Start to move the heat gun along the two-inch overlap.  At the same time, use the roller to roll and press the patch to the curtain.  You may have to use a back and forth motion.  Do this until the patch is completely bonded to the curtains.  The applied area will still be hot so you should be very careful.
  1. Now, the patch is to be applied from the outside of the trailer.  Repeat step 9 until all edges are bonded.

It is ideal to practice before you begin repairing your curtainside.  Weld a couple pieces of curtain materials together. Let it cool. Then attempt to peal them apart.  A good bond will prove difficult to pull apart.

Repairing the curtains yourself may demonstrate to be very beneficial financially.  The initial cost for the tools may be expensive but in the long run it should pay for itself. However, it is not for everyone.  The other alternative is to take it in to a repair facility that is specialized in this area.

About the author
Scott Elgin has been in the trucking business since 1982, acting as both a motor carrier and a freight agent. During this time, he has overseen thousands of units servicing the entire continental United States.

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