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Old 01-03-2009, 09:28   #1
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FRP surface cleaning

I've been looking at companies offering services to revive faded gelcoat. I think a lot of us with more mature boats would love to be able to hire someone to come out and restore that shiny look with an application of cash rather than sweat. Or at least would like to hold off on applying paint a little bit longer.

One of the companies has responded with a quote. They have two options: a 'traditional' cut-polish and wax, and an unidentified 'eco-friendly' cleaning/polishing process which is their flagship treatment.

I don't want to jeopardize future deck work by finding out their propriety cleaning/polishing is a silicone finish. At the same time I know that cut-polish is just sanding off part of the very thin gelcoat. What is the 'best-practices' for restoring a fibreglass boat surface?
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Old 03-03-2009, 20:45   #2
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I have done a fair amount of research on this subject since I am going to do it myself. Check out Maine Sail's post under the "Gel Coat Restoration" topic in "Construction, Maint and Refit" section. He's posted some pictures of his work and they're good enough for me. Here's his quote:

"The Cliff Note Version:
Steps:
#1-Clean the hull with an acid base cleaner like FSR or On & Off to remove tannin staining.
#2-Wet Sand by hand 600 then move up the grits to P1000 (only if severely oxidized other wise start below)
#3-3M Marine Super Duty Rubbing Compound (use a wool 3M super buff COMPOUND grade pad)
#4-3M Finesse It (Use a foam 3M #05725 pad)
#5-(OPTIONAL STEP) Meguiars #9 Swirl Remover (professional grade automotive product tan bottle - Use 3M #05725 pad)
#6-Collinite #885 Fleet Wax Paste Version- or any top quality carnuba paste wax"

The people I read advise staying away from silicones, teflons and other synthetics as they are hard to remove down the line. I got most of my information from the article mentioned above as well as several auto detailing sites (and they are working with substrates much thinner than gel coat).

Since you'll probably shell out $20-30/ft (or more), I would have a detailed discussion with the yard on what's going to be done.

Good luck.

Dave
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Old 03-03-2009, 20:55   #3
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Paint it!??
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Old 04-03-2009, 00:20   #4
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I second the process described by Dave incl. the wet-sanding. You don't have to worry about the wax with teflon: it'll be gone before you know it ;-) Ah, not fair, it's actually better than regular wax but not so much as it sounds. Silicone must be prevented at all cost.

At some point however (like the hull on Jedi unfortunately) the gelcoat is just shot, porous all the way through. At that point you must sand it off and choose between new gelcoat or paint. I would advise paint anytime. If you're no fan of polishing or painting hulls, I would advise a good 2-part LPU paint. Good car-paints included in possible choices as they are 2-part LPU too (but they have no thinners/reducers for rolling/brushing like Awlgrip offers... spray only).

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 04-03-2009, 00:46   #5
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My experience has found that it comes down to the age/condition of the gelcoat.

If it's not too old or sun beaten it can be polished out with a power buffer and very fine abrasive. Some automotive paint shops carry some good products, which have been discussed in previous threads.

If the gelcoat is in good shape I'd recommend the polish treatment other wise good marine paints, like Inertlux for example, do hold up to a fair amount of abuse. Although, the sheen will only last a couple years just as a polished gelcoat.

But the labor is the same, sand for paint or polish the gelcoat until it wears out, which it will do over time.

The sun is the biggest killer of finishes! ........................................_/)
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Old 04-03-2009, 09:33   #6
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Excellent comments and much needed advice here! Thanks to all who've responded so far.

The quoted price was approximately $23 per foot (for a rather small boat, of course) for the magical green clean and shine treatement, and $12 for the cut and polish. Both prices seemed a bit 'off' to me, the former should logically be less than the latter since the effort is dramatically less (can be done floating in one day, supposedly), and the latter seemed rather less than I had predicted.

I think this is like reefing: if you think you should reef, reef. In this case, I wonder if I should walk away, so I will.

Which means I'll be calling around for more quotes on a cut and polish... ::sigh::
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Old 06-03-2009, 07:21   #7
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I have purchased a Poly-Glo kit for a gel-coat polish to use from the rubrail down to water-line. Do any of you guys have experience with this stuff?
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:26   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dakno View Post
I have purchased a Poly-Glo kit for a gel-coat polish to use from the rubrail down to water-line. Do any of you guys have experience with this stuff?
Dakno,

I used Poly-Glo for several years on Insatiable I with pretty good results. Our gel coat was extremely porous, being nearly thirty years old. Cutting/polishing didn't really do very much due to the porosity, but the polymer coating laid down by the Poly Glo seemed to fill in the pores and leave a reasonably shiny coating that lasted about 6 months in the tropics with full-time cruising exposure to abuse. At that time a simple wipe-on of another coat or two did restore the shine, and this could be accomplished in the water (albeit with some acrobatic dinghy work!).

IMO, this product offers good value and an economical option to folks with aging gel coat. It does NOT make it look as good as waxed "young" gel coat, though!

Cheers,

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Gladstone Qld Oz
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