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Old 23-06-2012, 08:30   #1
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How to Tell if its Gelcoat or Paint ?

Im about to repaint our ranger 29 sailboat from the deck edge down to the keep. trinidad SR bottom paint and I am pretty sure I would like to use a 2 part epoxy paint for above the water line for its durability and shine. I have to first determine what I am painting over though because all of the 2 part paint manufactures say it can go on over properly prepped gelcoat or another 2 part but not a single part paint. Can anyone help me determine what I have? It's got several old repairs above the waterline that really bug me so I have to do it and do it right.
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Old 24-06-2012, 09:46   #2
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Re: how to tell if its gelcoat or paint?

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Im about to repaint our ranger 29 sailboat from the deck edge down to the keep. trinidad SR bottom paint and I am pretty sure I would like to use a 2 part epoxy paint for above the water line for its durability and shine. I have to first determine what I am painting over though because all of the 2 part paint manufactures say it can go on over properly prepped gelcoat or another 2 part but not a single part paint. Can anyone help me determine what I have? It's got several old repairs above the waterline that really bug me so I have to do it and do it right.

Pour some T0008 on a scrap of rag and put it against the hull, then tape saran wrap over it. Let it sit for an hour. If the paint lifts it's one part. If not it's two part or gelcoat. Personally I can tell at a glance. Is their any orange peel? If it is totally perfectly peel free it is probably gel. Use a primer over gelcoat, it is often full of pinholes and porosity that will cause a problem if you don't prime first. You very likely have gelcoat, otherwise any repairs would be perfectly matched and not visible.
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Old 24-06-2012, 10:09   #3
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Re: how to tell if its gelcoat or paint?

Thanks a lot. I will do that. Can't hurt anything. There isn't any fisheye in it anywhere. The finish is about perfect other than a bunch of deep scratches and old repairs that don't match right. I can still see the outline of the epoxy job under some places. I wonder if I should strip it all down from the toe rail to the keel before repainting? I hope I don't have to but I will if that means doing it right.
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Old 24-06-2012, 10:36   #4
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Re: how to tell if its gelcoat or paint?

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Thanks a lot. I will do that. Can't hurt anything. There isn't any fisheye in it anywhere. The finish is about perfect other than a bunch of deep scratches and old repairs that don't match right. I can still see the outline of the epoxy job under some places. I wonder if I should strip it all down from the toe rail to the keel before repainting? I hope I don't have to but I will if that means doing it right.

Almost certainly gel. Whatever you do don't remove it. You can paint it or learn to color match and restore it. Painting it will be much easier, but then you have to paint again every ten years or so (as long as you use good paint that is).
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Old 24-06-2012, 11:00   #5
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Re: how to tell if its gelcoat or paint?

If you are going to repaint ... then why not just scratch the thing and so discover what it is?

BTW if it is paint it is often very easy to tell this at the edges, fittings, etc.. Also, paint work tends to remain shiny over long time while old gelcoat turns very dull unless it has been waxed pretty recently.

Most old boats with white/cream hulls are gelco anyways.

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Old 24-06-2012, 15:20   #6
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Re: How to Tell if its Gelcoat or Paint ?

I know it came with a gel coat exterior. I have all of the receipts I think from the day it was made in 74 and I can't find one for repainting the hull. Just the bottom and deck. They used awl grip on the deck. I'm not all that fond of it since it was just done 8 years ago and used pretty lightly since then. The hull was extremely chalky when we bought it last year. I waxed it out to a great shine but I still have a couple deep scratches and 4 old repairs that bother me. The one on the bow is into the fiberglass. I really need to fix that. When the last owner took me out on it before buying he tried shifting into reverse at half throttle and thankfully just stalled the engine but it climbed up on the fuel dock and gouged it pretty good. Those kind of scars are just embarrassing to a sailor ya know. I really appreciate the advice here. As always this forum comes through with the best. Thanks again.

Oh, I'm looking at petite Trinidad sr bottom paint and same brand 2 part paint for the hull. We dock it at a marina in port aransas Texas so it's sub tropical and stuff grows year round on it. It's got 8 year old micron 66 on it now. It's in pretty sorry shape but still working. No blisters but a few spots that peeled off on the bottom coat. Lots of deep gouges on the leading edge of the deep keel on it. It's a 5 foot draft which gets interesting in our bays and icw.
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Old 24-06-2012, 16:08   #7
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Re: How to Tell if its Gelcoat or Paint ?

ugh. My rule is if it ain't painted it don't get painted. I can live with chalky gelcoat, but have no interest in adding hull painting to either of our old plastic classics. One of ours is a ranger 23 from 72. The gel seems ok, and looks fine with a wipe on finish to shine it up a bit.

Are you SURE you want to paint that sucker?
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Old 24-06-2012, 16:45   #8
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Re: How to Tell if its Gelcoat or Paint ?

It's either that or redo those old repairs up front and hope they match better and the scratches in it. To better understand me just look at my first two ships that are now museums in your state. The USA midway and USA Iowa. Old habits die hard. We looked a lot better when they were still active ships if you can imagine that.
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Old 24-06-2012, 18:46   #9
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Re: How to Tell if its Gelcoat or Paint ?

Find a really good pro and pay him/her to do some gel repairs, 4 repairs should cost you 4-5 hours of labor (depending on size obviously). Make clear up front that you expect a perfect match, if they seem hesitant or don't want to gaurantee it that's not the right person. Then wet sand and polish the whole hull, and it will look new again.
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Old 24-06-2012, 23:40   #10
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Re: How to Tell if its Gelcoat or Paint ?

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It's either that or redo those old repairs up front and hope they match better and the scratches in it. To better understand me just look at my first two ships that are now museums in your state. The USA midway and USA Iowa. Old habits die hard. We looked a lot better when they were still active ships if you can imagine that.
Ah, well I try to never let the perfect get in the way of the good enough.

Perfume on a pig and all that ; -)

But I do understand that folks, such as yourself, enjoy gilding the lilly. And I ALWAYS enjoy looking at other people's lillies. I just don't want one for myself!
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Old 25-06-2012, 18:44   #11
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Re: How to Tell if its Gelcoat or Paint ?

As said above, find some 2 part reducer (just "borrow" some from a neighbor - there's bound to be some out there somewhere) and do as suggested above. (Interlux Perfection is reduced with 2333N).
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Old 26-06-2012, 14:08   #12
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I don't recommend a 2 part epoxy for above the water line. Epoxies are not very good at keeping their color and gloss over time. A 2k polyurethane would be better. I used awl grip on my boat. It's been on there 4 years now and still looks excellent. I spent 8 years in the coating industry so speak from experience.

I would practice the tip and roll method if you are unable to spray.
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