Restoring Gelcoat with a Buffer.
(Same as polishing a boat when its pulled from its mold)
First, get a handheld microscope or strong magnifying glass and look to
see if the gelcoat is alligatored ... if it is, then paint it. If not,
Determined visually if there is sufficient gelcoat to sand/powerbuff
......usually on most boat the gel is quite thick.
Use a caustic wax stripper to remove all old dead wax that inside all
the 'pores'. TSP or a sodium silicate based detergent, applied, let
to soak then rinsed with water.
If heavily oxidized use increasingly finer grits of 1000, 1300 then
2000+ grit wet and dry sandpaper and remove the oxidized layer, use a
rubber sanding block and use a few drops of dishwashing detergent in
the water to keep the paper from getting fouled for a 'fast' cut.
Sandpaper will develop a 'satin' surface.
Need: high speed auto body shop polisher, several LAMBSWOOL polishing
bonnets, 3M Grits - either autobody shop or 3M fiberglass compounds,
Collinite or other natural CARNAUBA past wax.
Work in 2 ft. X 2 ft. sections, do whole boat before changing
grits/'bonnets. Use ONLY one grit per bonnet and dont mix bonnets.
Apply grit to bonnet, keep bonnet MOVING, dont burn through sharp
edges, etc. 600 then 1000 then 1300 then 2000 (3000 if you can find
it). Let the SPEED of the polisher do the work, = just light pressure
from you. When done and if the gelcoat isnt too badly oxidized
(internally) the boat should now be restored back to original
Then take a paste natural Carnauba wax such as Collinite Fleet Wax and
with a buffer .... FILL the pores of the Gelcoat with wax. Filliing the
pores with wax will retard future oxidation and prevent the possibility
of 'alligatoring' - microcracks. Use a bit of water with the wax when
you apply by bare hand (Ok to use a wetted sponge), then buff to
brilliance. Reapply the wax about every 6 months to keep the 'surface
drops' of water/rain forming 'tight' droplets on the surface..
Strip the 'dead' wax with caustic at least every two years and do a
very light power-buff with wax and a teeny bit of 2000 grit in the mix.
IMPORTANT.... STOP if the matting under-layer or the color of the base
polyester/styrene begins to show through .... if that happens then its
either time to spray on new gelcoat .... or horror of horrors, time to
As I stated, this is the way a boat is polished when its pulled from
its mold. Once you get a boat buffed back to shape, its easy to keep
it that way by waxing, caustic stripping every 2 years, lightly
powerbuffing yearly. Once you get back to a brilliant gelcoat, then
the upkeep is easy and quite maintenance free.
hope this helps.
In article ,
> what is the best way/product to clean up and
> restore shine of fiberglass that is a bit dull,
> i.e. the topsides of an older fiberglass boat?
> Possibly without too much polishing?
> >> Stay informed about: Clean / Polish Fiberglass?