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Old 06-02-2008, 14:23   #1
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Gelcoat question

Question for the boat restoration gurus:

I have the opportunity to pick up a a boat that has had all of the hardware removed and the gelcoat scraped off of the deck. It doesn't look like the fiberglass has been exposed to the sun long enough to yellow it, and the rest of the boat is surprisingly solid and resorable. I realize this would be a big project - but being ever the ever curious glutton for punishment that I am...

My question is: what would be the problems with painting this instead of re-gelcoating? Would it destroy the resale value? Would a 2 part epoxy paint be the best way to attack this? Anyone been in a similar situation?
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Old 06-02-2008, 15:28   #2
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Deckcould be done a number of ways. A complete re-gel (expensive) or a good single part paint that has a nonskid material either mixed into or broadcast onto the finish. Interlux has a good booklet avaialble for free that addresses what products to use for painting decks. resale values are a very subjective issue, without knowing wha type of, vesselthe year and the origional price you paid it would be very difficult to answer the sale value question. Generally any good quality finish to your decks over what you +ave going on k=now would be considered an improvement.
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Old 06-02-2008, 15:39   #3
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Would a 2 part epoxy paint be the best way to attack this? Anyone been in a similar situation?
Anything you can do with gelcoat now isn't going to look like it was. With a good primer and a good paint job it can look quite good. A good two part paint would be the best I think you can do and would greatly increase the value. With some skill and luck it could look exceptional. You'll need to fair it before you primer it and it may take several primer coats and sanding to get it rally fair. Something like Awlgrip would be really nice sprayed. You can even add texture for the deck. Be nice if you could find a shed to do the painting in. Given it's all stripped down, it won't ever be easier to try this. With something like Awlgrip the surface will show blemishes if you don't do a super fair job before the paint. Hiring it sprayed isn't a huge expense if you can get the whole boat prepped and primered. That is the serious grunt work you could do. You might get some opinions on any structural work that needs completion before the fairing and primering. I would verify all the deck hardware and be sure it will attach properly.

I would tend to all the other structural things first with the idea you want to minimize and dings or scuffs to the final paint.
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Old 06-02-2008, 15:51   #4
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Deckcould be done a number of ways. A complete re-gel (expensive) or a good single part paint that has a nonskid material either mixed into or broadcast onto the finish.
Thanks - I'll look for the interlux booklet. I've used single part polyeurathane over gel-coat before, but never in the place of it. I just didn't want to attempt something that was going to get poor results (although anything on it now should be an improvement!) I guess good preparation would be the most important thing....
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Old 06-02-2008, 15:53   #5
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First, you need to understand what "Gel-coat" is.

When a FG boat is laid up in a female mold, the mold is coated with layer of resin and pigment (to add thickness & color). As this coat (which is the "gel-coat") sets up, the layers of cloth are applied to make up the hull or deck.

Now, understanding that, you can see how the "gel-coat" cannot really be re-applied. Therefore, anything that you do as a coating is really "Painting". Now, having said all that....refer back to Pblais's post.

I just wanted to add one thing. Don't make the very common mistake of coating the deck with epoxy primer then letting it sit for 6 months before painting. The epoxy primer should be allowed to thoroughly cure. Sand it, clean it and apply the finish coat immediately.

The very nature of primer is that it absorbs anything that is put on it. The better the primer, the better it's ability to absorb the next layer of coating. That includes poluted air, road dirt, oil from skin and anything else that comes in touch with it. Leaving it sit for any length of time may require sanding and primering again. Also, the Sun will degrade the primer rather quickly. It has ")" UV protection because it is designed to be covered and not exposed to the Sun.
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Old 06-02-2008, 15:56   #6
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I would also recommend it be painted (sprayed) rather than re-gelcoated. Alot depends on why the boat is in this condition - delamination of the gelcoat? If so, that makes the choice even easier as some boats were constructed with materials (epoxy resin) such as some Farrs and Mumms and the gel did not/can not properly adhere.

We did this to the deck of a Mumm36 last winter and don't want to re-live that experience but once done, it will look great if you follow Pblais's advice about fairing, priming, lots of sanding and spraying. It took a group almost the entire winter working nights to get it looking new and after a year of competitive racing, it still looks great.
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Old 06-02-2008, 16:01   #7
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Just what boat is it that you want to redo? Sometimes you can be in a position of deciding if putting a $25 saddle on a $5 horse is worth the trouble?

There sure are a lot of boat projects out there to be had. If you are going to the effort it sure would be nice to see you come out of it with a learning experience and a nice boat.
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Old 07-02-2008, 07:07   #8
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The boat is a Heritage West Indies 38'... haven't found a lot of information on these...but judging from the price of others I'm finding on the internet, maybe it is a $5 horse.
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Old 07-02-2008, 08:42   #9
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The specs would make it a decent cruising boat were it fixed up. Displacement and tanks seem adequate. Being a mid 1970's boat things like the electrical are probably not great. Deck hardware might a key thing since replacing all that plus some other major work could make this project not a true bargain but maybe a deal if you had access to facilities and time to do a lot of the work. I would say you need to sharpen the pencil and get out the adding machine before getting too far along. I saw one on Yachtworld for $34K in MD. Pictures make it look average. But what really is average? A tired mid 70's boat probably is priced right at $34K.

It's not easy to compare them without really going over the condition of the critical items but a fixed up 38 ft boat with decent gear could be worth $100K or more. If you compare the alternatives you can get a better idea of what all your labor might buy you.
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Old 07-02-2008, 12:43   #10
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How much to you want to spend and/or how hard do you want to work? This will determine what you should do. Re-gelcoating is out of the question, given it will never look as good and it is expensive. Your option then is paint. A one part paint will look good for few years and then it will look like crap...sorry to say. Brushed on paint on a fiberglass boat looks like hell in my opinion...but if that is fine then it would be the least expensive way. Your next option, (more expensive yet better looking), would be to spray on a one part. Your most expensive option would be to spray the entire boat with an epoxy barrier coat, fair out the boat with an epoxy fairing compound and then have it sprayed. The fairing cannot be done in one step...you will be sanding-fairing-sanding-fairing multiple times. When it looks perfect or near perfect you could have it sprayed with a marine grade LPU like Sterling or Awl-Grip. This is expensive but it would make for a perfect and durable paint job.

How much you want to spend and how hard you want to work is the answer to your question.
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Old 07-02-2008, 14:54   #11
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How much to you want to spend and/or how hard do you want to work? This will determine what you should do. Re-gelcoating is out of the question, given it will never look as good and it is expensive. Your option then is paint. A one part paint will look good for few years and then it will look like crap...sorry to say. Brushed on paint on a fiberglass boat looks like hell in my opinion...but if that is fine then it would be the least expensive way. Your next option, (more expensive yet better looking), would be to spray on a one part. Your most expensive option would be to spray the entire boat with an epoxy barrier coat, fair out the boat with an epoxy fairing compound and then have it sprayed. The fairing cannot be done in one step...you will be sanding-fairing-sanding-fairing multiple times. When it looks perfect or near perfect you could have it sprayed with a marine grade LPU like Sterling or Awl-Grip. This is expensive but it would make for a perfect and durable paint job.

How much you want to spend and how hard you want to work is the answer to your question.
Have you ever seen a boat that has been rolled & brushed....well???

It takes a little practice but once you develop the technique, it is very hard to tell that it wasn't sprayed. Now, I'm not talking a $50K spray-job but I have seen jobs done that I would never have believed it if I hadn't seen it done before my own eyes.

I bought a CT41 (as investment) while I was in Hawaii (for $10K). Another boat in the moorings had rolled & brushed his boat so he came over and gave me some pointers. We painted the entire hull, in the water, in one day. You could tell the improvement in out technique as we moved along. That's why I say to practice first. By the time we did the cabin top & cockpit, it truely looked like a good spray job.

We used a top quality LP paint. I rolled the paint on with a 9" (small diameter) fine roller (top quality). My wife followed right behind me (literally by seconds) and tipped off the roller marks with a 3" (high quality) varnish brush. The timing of the brush is the critical part because you only have about 45 seconds before the paint starts to tack and looses it's liquidity. The paint leveled perfectly and had a sprayed gloss finish. We painted the entire boat in 4 days (including the masts).

I'd hate to tell you how much we sold that boat for....at auction.....It looked like a brand new boat. I overhauled the engine, replaced the rigging and varnished the teak.
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Old 07-02-2008, 15:45   #12
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Now, I'm not talking a $50K spray-job but I have seen jobs done that I would never have believed it if I hadn't seen it done before my own eyes.
A $50K spray job is actually a $47K prep job. Above it is referred to as "multiple times fairing". "Multiple" can be a big number when paying by the hour. The idea of getting some old dinghy for practice is not an uncommon suggestion. Most of painting is acquiring the "touch" be it art on the wall, the car, the porch, or your little brother. You have to move at the right speed and minimize the brush stokes.

The key to good spraying and making the big money is knowing the humidity and adjusting the mix to suit the weather. You don't generally get that good without a whole lot of dinghy practice. Picking the day matters for an armature.

It's OK to do the prep job and bring in a pro to shoot it. You don't want to purchase the gear to do it yourself.
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Old 07-02-2008, 16:54   #13
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[quote=Kanani;132374]Have you ever seen a boat that has been rolled & brushed....well???

/quote]

Yes I have and I have done it myself with Awlgrip when someone beats their oceanographic equipment against my transom. I can make it look okay. I have had 20 plus years of either brushing on or rolling on Awlgrip to fix other peoples booboo's on my nicely sprayed on Awlgrip hull. I also know when to do this weather wise. Please don't tell me though that it looks anywhere near as good as Awlgrip that has been sprayed on....with its mirror finish. The brushing second part is different from the spray-on second part as well as the ratio of the reducer and type that can be used....its different bottom line.

You also notice that diesel exhaust sticks much better to rolled on as to opposed to sprayed on Awlgrip?...I have. The transom of my boat sometimes looks like a dirty diaper after being out all day long...except where the Awlgrip paint was sprayed on. Obviously, rolled on Awlgrip must have micropores or some other chemical or physical property that allows grime to stick better.

One of the decisions with painting a boat is how well the coating is going to hold grime.
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Old 08-02-2008, 08:38   #14
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Re-gelcoating is out of the question, given it will never look as good and it is expensive.
Hmm, my boat just had all the external gel-coat redone and it looks great.
1) prep good. 2) spray gel coat. 3) sand with 1000 grit wet sandpaper.4) polish to high gloss shine.

The hard part is matcing the color.
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