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Old 22-06-2011, 10:36   #1
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Epoxy on Gelcoat Cleanup - Possible?

Hello:

I recently recored a cockpit seat and accidentally got expoxy on the gelcoat which I tried to wipe up. However, apparently I didn't clean it well enough and now there is a yellow stain on the smooth and antiskid gelcoat.

My question is if there are any recommendations on how to clean up the yellow epoxy stain without damaging the gelcoat?

Any help is appreciated...

Thanks,

Andrew
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Old 22-06-2011, 19:10   #2
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Do you wax your gelcoat?

I usually clean up "spilt" epoxy with a sharp chisel, but then, I'm not the most boat proud of people.

The thing to remember about epoxy is that most of them have poor peel strength, so that if you can get a sharp (I'm thinking chisel, but other tools may suit better) blade under the epoxy edge it may just flick up, scrap by scrap. It would be important to take your time, using almost imperceptible pressure so that the gelcoat is not scratched. The flat back of the chisel would need to be in line with the interface between the epoxy and the gelcoat.

If there are blobs of epoxy between the antiskid it may be possible with a fine diamond point on a Dremel tool to abrade away most of the epoxy (no need to go through to the gelcoat) and then to flick the remaining epoxy off with a very sharp knife ( a Stanley knife may work).

Taking your time and getting a "feel" for the job is essential. In this case patience could be more than its own reward...

If the gelcoat has been waxed recently this could make it easier.
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Old 22-06-2011, 19:18   #3
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Re: Epoxy on Gelcoat Cleanup - Possible?

In one word......Paint and polish.
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Old 22-06-2011, 19:26   #4
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Re: Epoxy on Gelcoat Cleanup - Possible?

I have heard that if you catch it early (i.e. before it dries) that denatured alcohol will take it off without damaging the gel.

If it has dried then, as Boracay said earlier, slow work with a razor blade might be the only option.
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Old 22-06-2011, 19:36   #5
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Re: Epoxy on Gelcoat Cleanup - Possible?

Once it has cured? If the gelcoat was waxy or dirty, the epoxy won't bond well, although rubbing probably helped it bond. Other than trying to polish it off mechanically...your best bet might be to let sunlight and UV work on it for a while and then see if you can peel it. Solvents just aren't supposed to work on epoxy once it has cured.
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Old 22-06-2011, 22:43   #6
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Re: Epoxy on Gelcoat Cleanup - Possible?

Thanks folks. It may be a summer project to try and peel it away but my guess is painting is likely in my future if it really bugs me. It is as I thought.
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Old 22-06-2011, 22:56   #7
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Re: Epoxy on Gelcoat Cleanup - Possible?

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Thanks folks. It may be a summer project to try and peel it away but my guess is painting is likely in my future if it really bugs me. It is as I thought.
Nothing simpler. Heat gun and a soft scraper. It will come off without a trace. Just wand the heat gun until the epoxy begins to easily scrap off. If will get there long before you overheat the gel coat.
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Old 22-06-2011, 23:27   #8
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Re: Epoxy on Gelcoat Cleanup - Possible?

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Once it has cured? If the gelcoat was waxy or dirty, the epoxy won't bond well, although rubbing probably helped it bond. Other than trying to polish it off mechanically...your best bet might be to let sunlight and UV work on it for a while and then see if you can peel it. Solvents just aren't supposed to work on epoxy once it has cured.
Ditto!

And I wouldn't use a heat gun. Gelcoats are polyester based and could blister if not very careful. I work with epoxy almost on a daily basis, weather permitting.

If it's a really thin coat you might try some paint remover on it just long enough to make it soft and then scrape it off with a razor blade, then clean off the rest of the paint remover with paint thinner. (Paint thinner will soften gelcoat too.) And then use some rubbing compound's to finish and polish out the gelcoat.

If it were bulging up like a droplet, then it would probably just pop off with a razor blade. Epoxy, polyester & vinylester will not stick well to un-preped surfaces.
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Old 23-06-2011, 06:24   #9
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Re: Epoxy on Gelcoat Cleanup - Possible?

Ahh, some light at the end of the tunnel. I willl consider both of those options (may be do a small test to see which is better/safer). Thanks.
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Old 23-06-2011, 06:50   #10
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Re: Epoxy on Gelcoat Cleanup - Possible?

I use white vinegar to clean things when working with epoxy. Uncured epoxy turns into a milky white liquid that can be easily rinsed off and allows the reuse of syringes, mixing containers etc. Also good for getting it off of your hands.
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Old 23-06-2011, 09:54   #11
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Re: Epoxy on Gelcoat Cleanup - Possible?

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I use white vinegar to clean things when working with epoxy. Uncured epoxy turns into a milky white liquid that can be easily rinsed off and allows the reuse of syringes, mixing containers etc. Also good for getting it off of your hands.
Humm! I'll have to give that a try here in a couple days, when it stops raining again.
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Old 23-06-2011, 10:04   #12
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Re: Epoxy on Gelcoat Cleanup - Possible?

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Nothing simpler. Heat gun and a soft scraper. It will come off without a trace. Just wand the heat gun until the epoxy begins to easily scrap off. If will get there long before you overheat the gel coat.
Excellent idea.
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Old 23-06-2011, 10:09   #13
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Re: Epoxy on Gelcoat Cleanup - Possible?

On the flat surfaces, you could use a sanding block and 320 grit wet n dry paper. Only sand the epoxy area, try to avoid the gelcoat. Once the blotch gets thinner, change up to higher grits and a smaller block. Keep it very wet. Eventually you will get it down to where the epoxy becomes so thin you need to use the paper on your finger tip and are using upwards of 800 grit. Once its all gone, polish. A very gentle touch is needed. But it can be done. Just take your time and work slowly.

Getting it off the anti skid is harder. If its a crosshatch molded pattern you could try using riffle files and then sanding sticks with very fine grit wet n dry on it. Then polish.

If its a pebbles surface, I have no idea. I'd say sand it flat and try to refinish with gelcoat and grit. Perhaps that Interlux additive for paint.


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Old 23-06-2011, 10:49   #14
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Re: Do you wax your gelcoat?

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I usually clean up "spilt" epoxy with a sharp chisel, but then, I'm not the most boat proud of people.
I’ve also had some luck with using a chisel to get it to pop off. I like the control of the handle (flat screwdriver can be used for small jobs too). Works well in places you didn’t intend to epoxy (i.e. drips), but maybe not so well at edges of work area that were actually prepped and has better bonding, although the latter can work too if minimal scratches are acceptable (then polished out). Can also work on some nonskid, again if it wasn’t prepped then the nonskid should have poor bonding too, but removing scratches will be harder (but they’re also less obvious). An important point is that often the blade doesn’t need to get between the epoxy and gelcoat but just into the mass and then lever up to (hopefully) get it or a portion to pop off – the epoxy has better adhesion to itself than the (un-prepped) gelcoat – so minimal scratch potential.
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Old 23-06-2011, 12:48   #15
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Re: Epoxy on Gelcoat Cleanup - Possible?

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Originally Posted by vintageray View Post
I use white vinegar to clean things when working with epoxy. Uncured epoxy turns into a milky white liquid that can be easily rinsed off and allows the reuse of syringes, mixing containers etc. Also good for getting it off of your hands.
I use the white vinegar too.
The only drawback is you smell like a box of french fries!

The only luck I've had getting cured epoxy off of anything is heat but you have to be very careful with it.
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