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Old 14-11-2005, 22:54   #1
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Getting the Hull to Shine

The hull paint above the waterline is covered with something that looks like wax stains/oxidation and looks a little awful up close. I tried using some acetone to lightly wipe it off and it looks like it's working, but it only moves the stains around.

What's the best way to clean this off? What should I use to get a nice glossy look?

Is painting above the waterline a tough job? I've read a bit about using rollers then 'tipping' with a brush. Sounds tough, but is it?
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Old 14-11-2005, 23:16   #2
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Painting can be difficult if you have no experiance at all. However, the first and major drawback with painting, is the expense. So the first way to attack this problem you have, is give the Hull a "cut & polish". I suggest you use a car paint cutting compound. Try a small area by hand firstly and see if this cures your problem. If it does, then I suggest you get a cheap car polishing machine. They are not expensive. These have a polishing pad that rotate around, just incase my english isn't the same as your's
You can get gelcoat restorer/polishes which are just the same stuff in a pot marked "marine" or "Boat" inwhich they then charge you 3 times the price.
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Old 14-11-2005, 23:19   #3
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Oops, then I was ment to add, if the cut & polish doesn't make it look good, then you will have to resort to painting.
Warning Will Robinson, DO NOT, use polishes with Silicon in them. If you have to paint the hull, the silicon will become your biggest nightmare.
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Old 15-11-2005, 04:17   #4
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Try Island girl

Before going to the cut and polish, try Island Girl. We used it on our 88 Hunter when we bought it. Without removing any of the gelcoat the IG system made it shine better than new and it stayed that way for a nearly a year. After that it was easy to keep up.

IG had a cleaner that will go down into the pores and lift out the oxidation. The cut and polish will require that the gelcoat be removed to the depth of stains and oxidation. You can't do this to many times without cutting away your gelcoat completely.

The IG was amazing and it worked as asvertized. We loved it.
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Old 15-11-2005, 05:34   #5
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Clean - then Wax.

Acid* Cleaners generally work well on fibreglass hulls. Acids are typically found in toilet bowl cleaners, rust removers, metal cleaners, and kitchen and bath cleaners that remove mineral products.

~ White vinegar, a weak acid, is about 5 percent acetic acid.
~ Lemon juice, another weak acid, contains citric acid, which can be used in much the same way as vinegar.
~ Oxalic acid*
~ Phosphoric acid*
~ Hydrochloric and sulfuric acids are sometimes used in diluted concentrations in toilet bowl cleaners.

* Common in Fibreglass Stain Removers/Cleaners

~ For surfaces that are not acid resistant, clean with trisodium phosphate to remove the rust. Cream of tartar, a mild acid, may be mixed with water to form a paste rust remover.

Read the labels.
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Old 15-11-2005, 07:11   #6
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Do you mean a brown/yellowish stain at the waterline and big stain at the bow resembling a moustache?

If so, these are tannins and iron compounds that have entered the porosity of the gelocat. Simply use oxalic acid to bleach ... they will immediately disappear with oxalic acid. Then to prevent 'moustache' in the future, keep the hull waxed with a Natural brazilian carnauba wax such as found in 'Collinite Fleet Wax' - reapplied every 6 months .

To bring back the 'shine' on fiberglass gelcoat, wet sand with 2000 grit wet & dry sandpaper, then powerbuff with increasingly finer and finer grit compounds .... 800, then 1000, then 1300 then 2000 grit then wax to seal. This is the same process used to shine up a FRG hull when its pulled from its mold.
Use a variable high speed autobody shop buffer and keep it moving so you dont 'burn through' the gelcoat. Work 2ft. X 2ft. sections at a time until you complete the whole boat, then change bonnets and grit and start over, etc.
Use *lambswool* bonnets and dont mix grits on the bonnets.
Gelcoat is usually quite thick and can withstand many powerbuffings. Only when the matting layer beneath the gelcoat starts to show through should you consider to apply paint. Paint is only a 'temporary' coating and once you paint, you will paint again and again and again.

Oxalic acid is available in paint and hardware stores (wood bleach). Use gloves, goggles, etc. when using oxalic as it will rapidly absorb through your skin and do great harm to your kidneys.
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Old 15-11-2005, 07:12   #7
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Understand that gelcoat is paint. The more cleaning, buffing, polishing you do, the more paint you remove. I was told the other day by a surveyor that all boats eventually need paint, which should mean awlgrip, which means about $100.- per linear foot, or $6,000.- for a 30 footer. Fairing the hull is additional cost. Awlgrip is tough, but it scratches and is even harder to touch-up. Point is, go very slowly when making that hull look better - you may be rushing towards a bigger project with a harder to maintain result. I have not used the "Island Girl" product recommended by Captain Bil, but heed his words concerning removal of gelcoat. Even high speed wax buffing wears away the paint.

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Old 15-11-2005, 07:31   #8
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Capt Lar -
That surveyor really doesnt know what he's talking about. If gelcoat is kept sealed and is occasionally caustic stripped to remove old dead wax there is no reason iin the world that it can last 50 years and continue to look brand new. Oxidation deep down into the pores is the ageing culprit that destroys gelcoat. Once the oxidation process goes deep into the gelcoat and causes 'alligatoring', then and only then should one consider to use paint.
Paint, any paint, used on the topsides WILL eventuallly lift off the surface. Doent matter if Imron, Awlgrip, Interthane or the finishes used on the $$$$$ mega-yachts .... moisture will eventually permeate beneath the paint and lift it. Once you paint you cannot use a cover, cant stay heeled on a single tack for more than a day or so .... or you will accelerate the 'lifting' destruction. Been there, got the T shirt. If you carefullly read the tech specs. on ALL topside paints, you will eventually find the teeny print cautions: .... do not use in wet environments or allow the paint to become immersed, do not shrink wrap .... What? how do you do that on a boat !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If one keeps the gel sealed, occasionally flattens the surface with wet sanding and powerbuffing there is no reason in the world that a 30+ year old FRG boat cant look liike it was brand new. If you have small areas of 'thinning' or gouges, etc. hire a gelcoat artist to repair and/or respray the gelcoat ... for a repair that 'lasts'.


The Island Girl and other acrdylic coating systems will eventually fail ... and you will eventually have to flat sand and strip/fill the pores anyway. BTW If you use Island Girl or other acrylic coatings .... apply extra coats, then flat sand them and power buff for an even more brilliant shine !!!!!!
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Old 15-11-2005, 08:09   #9
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ccmumbo,

Contact Irwinsailor, he did a post a while back about this exact same problem and had great results. I don't remember exactly what he did but if you contact him I am sure he will help you out.
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Old 15-11-2005, 08:40   #10
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Island Girl

IG is an annual waxing system not a paint or linear urathane finish like some others that are known to discolor or peal.

Do not Sand over the top of it. The gel coat conditioner lifts the oxidation out of the pores and the top coat seals and brings up the shine.

It doesn't peal off but needs to recoated every year like any other wax. We used it on our 88 hunter and the results were awesome and it lasted for a year. After the first year it was just a matter of cleaing and adding more coats. IG can be removed with cleaners and doesnot have to be sanded off.

If it just a case of bringing the shine back and not removing scrtaches I would recommend the Ig and just polish the areas that need abrasives. The more your cut and polish the thinner your gelcoat gets. If you fail to seal the Gelcoat or get all of the oxidation out it will just come back up in the gelcoat.

http://www.islandgirlproducts.com/

We love it and it works as advertised.

Try it before thinking of repainting or doing a complete buff, because you still need to protect after the buff or the same problems will occur.
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Old 15-11-2005, 09:31   #11
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Richhh - I do not know the right answer here, but I need to figure this one out. I hate Awpgrip. Once you do it, you will be doing it every 6 years. I don't think I've seen a 30 year old boat with original gelcoat that did not look bad. I do understand that how the boat was treated over the years has a huge affect, as does the quality of the original gelcoat, but even so, while I want you to be right, I need more info. Can you refer me to any articles or sites that really get into the specifics ?

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Old 15-11-2005, 10:27   #12
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I dont have any resource articles for you. What I stated is just personal experience over the past 35+ years.

For paints, I prefer to use the Interlux 800 or 900 series acrylic/urethane copolymers .... easy to spray and unlike Awlgrip or Imron are easily repairable and able to be easily power-buffed back to brilliance. These paints are available for 'pros' only, but if you scream and shout or know a distributor you can get them. They are SUPER expensive. They do need a self-contained breathing system for protection when you spray .... I just stay 'upwind' and use a large amount of thick pads over my respirator so as to avoid/trap the dangerous liquid aerosols - most pros that I know do the same thing.

I can spray, roll and tip and can even use a brush .... but after alll these years of eventually failed paint systems I really prefer gelcoat restoration over ANY coating. If you have a small pressure pot sprayer with a complete set of nozzles you can even easily spray gelcoat if you thin it down enough, besides if you make mistakes just like paint you have to wet-sand and buff when youre done anyway. Im still learning to spray gel ... so I dont need to do too much 'final finishing' .... but no one can deny that gelcoat lasts a hell of a lot longer than any paint.

Most gelcoats are fairly thick and for most applications you can hog-down into gel. Just be sure you dont wind up wearing it all away and start seeing the matting layer start to show through.

For color matching gel, simply *think* black, red, green, yellow when adding very small amouts of the tint ... slowly work up to the 'hue' that you need. Hell if you dont add the catalyst you can screw around all day (in bright sunlight) making the teeny color corrections until you get it right. Take a golfball or egg sized amount of white gel and mix in the color on a glass plate with a putty knife. Occasionally spread the tinted gel (no catalyst added) onto the surface and see if you agree with the hue, if not scrape off back onto the plate and keep adding color or white until you get it right .... when ready, add catalyst to the mix and trowel on, etc. Be sure to bleach the original gel with oxalic, etc. first and before color matching, etc. so that you have the 'true' color/hue of the OEM gel.

If you're over fifty, get a younger person to agree on your color matching as old farts usually cant perceive 'red' very well. Be sure to wear a good respirator as the harmful effects are cumulative .... cough, cough.

My personal 'rule' nowadays is if I cant see the beginnings of alligatoring in gelcoat with a pocket microscope or dont see any matting layers beginning to show through, I'll color match the gouges, etc. and then wet sand then powerbuff. 95 times out of 100 you can bring back ANY gelcoat to 'showroom' condition .... just takes sweat equity, a powerbuffer and elbow grease.

My 32 year old Pearson still looks close to the day the dealer delivered it.... the owner after me kept up the occasional power buffing and waxing.

My personal advice is if the gelcoat is still there. not allligatored and thick enough ... simply repair it and buff the hell out of it. When the underlayment FRG starts to show through, then its time to paint or respray with gelcoat.

Hope this helps.
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Old 15-11-2005, 11:14   #13
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OK - So I will add a hand held magnifier to my amateur surveyor bag. I have never seen a surveyor inspect a hull this closely, but it makes sense. "Alligator" means crazing, or small cracks in the gel coat - yes ? Let me ask if you have a method to treat crazing in decks (more common than hulls) and also dings in cockpit that expose the glass - typically edges of hatches and the sort ?

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Old 15-11-2005, 11:33   #14
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Rich is on the right track.
Firstly, I thought the origninal poster was talking about a paint surface anyway. But what ever...
Gelcoat is NOT a paint. It shouldn't be considered as such. I think what the surveyor was trying to suggest was that it does a similar job as a paint, in protection of the substrate and that it does have a finite thickness. However, Gelcoat is much much thicker than a Paint systems top coat. Thus, the damaged surface can happily be cut away to reveal a good solid surface underneath, without a worry of wearing it compleatly away.
Yes there are many acids that will perform a stain removal process, but none of these will remove wax, nor the old UV damaged surface. I am only presumeing CC has wax on the hull as this is what he described in his post. Maybe it's not. But if a solvent and a detergent won't shift what ever it is, then cutting is the only way.
Cutting compounds are the onlyway to get rid of the UV damaged surface on either Gel or paint and allow the systems to carry on in their protection. NEVER sand either of these, UNLESS you intend to paint. Even the fine grits tear the surface and allow UV to penertrate deeper intot he surface and also the surface becomes more suseptable to absorbing stains.
The disadvantage with paint over gelcoat, is that it is a much thinner film and greater care is required. However, it is possible to get an excellent shine and restoration that will buy you a few more years before the inevitable recoat is required.
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Old 15-11-2005, 15:22   #15
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Wheels, "gel coat is paint" are my words, not the surveyors. Gelcoat is, by my understanding, resin that is made to cure without air, sprayed or brushed into the mold and then cover by layers of cloth and resin. I refer to all surface coatings as "paint". It comes from my time in the trades. Varnish, urethanes, poly's, acrylics, epoxys are all paint in that they cure out to form a solid surface coating as opposed to oils that do not harden. They cure by different reactions, but the end result is a durable covering of finite thickness that protects what it covers.
My question really centers on whether or not gelcoat can be protected from the elements indefinitely. If the answer is yes, then perhaps I should not think of it as a paint, since most paints are more sacrificial in nature.
Awlgrip is as thin a protective covering as you can get. It looks great when new, but is, IMO, too susceptible to scratching. If gelcoat is so good, why are some very expensive boats now being built new with awlgrip finish. Is this due to the fading problems with darker colors that originally plagued dark gelcoats ?

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