For Gelcoat restoration
Get a pocket microscope from Radio
Shack, etc. and under high power look to see if the gelcoat
is NOT 'alligatored' .... looks like a dried-up mud puddle at high power. If you detect alligatoring then the ONLY recourse is to paint
the surface. If not alligatored then ....
Take 2000 grit wet and dry sand paper using a capful of diswashing detergent per gallon of water
as a 'lubricant' and with a hard rubber sanding
block begin to sand the gelcoat flat and begin to remove the old oxidized surface. Gelcoat is usually quite thick 1/16-1/8" so in most cases you can 'hog' down through the oxidized layer into good gel. The object of sanding
is to get a FLAT (planar) surface.
Get a (variable-speed) high speed auto body shop polisher with a few 3M foam (knobby polishing pad) and apply/rough polish with 3M "Perfect-it" Polishing compound. Do only a 2ft. X 2ft. section at a time, keep the bonnet moving at all times so you dont burn through the gel - use a 'light' touch as the speed is the controlling factor NOT pressure. Be very careful not to burn through sharp edges and 'round areas' of the gelcoat. High Speed Power buffing removes a LOT of gelcoat so go 'easy'.
Stop immediately if you begin to see/perceive the underlayment of polyester resin (usually green) or the appearance of the matting layer of fiberglass. If there isnt enough gelcoat or the gelcoat is alligatored; then, the only recourse is to paint. Continue doing the 2 ft. X 2 ft. sections until the whole boat is completed, then put the bonnets into a washing
machine to thoroughly clean them. Then apply 3M "Perfect-it" in the same manner in 2ft. X 2ft. sections until done. By now the gelcoat will begin to look like 'new'.
Then with a clean bare wet hand, take (paste) Collinite Fleet wax (about 1/2" dia. 'blob' and PUSH it into the gelcoat. The function of wax is to seal the micropores of the gel. Dont smear on and smear off; push it INTO the gel. Continue with 1/2" dia blobs of wax and a bare wet and until the gel begins to show a 'showroom new' shine. Then apply one or two 'smear coats' followed with a clean high speed power buff with a knobby foam pad.
If the gelcoat hasnt oxidized down deep, the above method will bring the OEM (new) shine back. This is the method used to powerbuff a NEW boat when its pulled from its mold
Every 2-3 years, STRIP out the old dead wax from the pores by using (soaking with) a caustic detergent, lightly powerbuff with Pertect-it and reapply the wax as above. If you dont strip the old dead wax, it will promote further oxidation.
Decent variable high speed powerbuffers, foam polishing pad adapters and pads, 3M Finesse-t and Perfect-it are available from most boarbuilding supply sources such as Jamestown Distributors .... www.jamestowndistributors.com
For the non-skid, simply get a medium-stiff scrubbbing brush and use Comet cleanser and a bit of water
to deep clean the textured surface ..... then WAX with one of the newer non-skid 'deck waxes'.
Power buffing is THE way to restore gelcoat to a 'showroom new' conditon. Painting is only a "temporary" coating; the wipe-on snake-oil acrylic
coatings (Island Girl, etc.) are very temporary coatings. Happy poilishing. if successful, your power-buffed old boat will be the envy of your marina.