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Gel Coat Rehab: A Novice's Approach

Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:08 am
by Beerspitnight
We bought our 1989 MONTAUK 17 four years ago via Ebay from a gentleman in southern New Jersey. It was a slightly surreal experience as we completed the purchase while living in Beijing (where we still work and live for 9 months of the year). I remember placing the bid before going to bed one night, and then checking the site when we woke up the next morning to see that we had won the auction.

My father and father-in-law drove to check out the boat and take possession of it. The boat was in good condition at the time, but was in need of some cosmetic work. That first year, however, we did very little work to the boat and instead spent our time riding it around the bay.

I decided after that first season that I wanted to make the boat's appearance more presentable.

The next summer I refinished the teak as it was half-covered in varnish and was looking rather tired. I pulled all of the wood off of the boat, stripped it, sanded it, cleaned it, and oiled it.

I decided that my next big job would be to rehab the outer hull, and that I would it tackle it during our next summer break. This was because the gelcoat was very dull and heavily oxidized. There was also a good amount of orange discoloration that was unsightly.

That was two years ago as last summer I spent a majority of our break in Bangkok taking courses towards an additional certification. The boat sat at my mother-in-law's house under shrink wrap in waiting.

We arrived in New Jersey last Wednesday night and, thanks to jetlag, I was up at 5am on Thursday and started working on the hull.

Below is a short narrative of that work, and pictures that detail the progress.

Tools and Supplies Used:
Plastic Sheeting
Variable Speed Buffer from Chicago Electric (Harbor Freight)
On & Off Hull/Bottom Cleaner
Green 3M tape
600 grit 3M Imperial Wetordry sandpaper
1200 grit 3M Imperial Wetordry sandpaper
Presta Gel Coat Compound
Presta Ultra Cutting Creme
Meguiars #9 Swirl Remover
Collinite #885 Fleet Wax
3M Compounding Pad #05711
3M Polishing Pad #05713
Foam Application Pad (for wax)
Microfiber Rags
Sanding block

I did a bit of research on the best way to bring the shine back to the gelcoat and settled upon a method that was outlined on another forum.

Decal Removal:
Before I started cleaning the hull I used Goo Gone to remove the lettering and decals as they were all very tired looking. This took some time and some patience. I used both a plastic putty knife and a straight-edge razor blade to remove the decals. I found the putty knife worked well with the registration numbers and letters, but not with the "Boston Whaler" and "Montauk 17" logos. For those decals I had to use the razor blade.

Hull Prep:
I started with the port side of the boat. My first task was to cover the bottom paint with a strip of plastic sheeting to protect it from the On & Off Hull/Bottom Cleaner that I would first use to clean the hull. This proved to be an annoying step: The wind was blowing hard from the NW, which left me and the boat exposed to the wind, and the green 3M tape that I used to secure the plastic to the top edge of the bottom paint would not hold. I used multiple sections of plastic and cut small semi-circles into the plastic in an attempt allow the wind to pass through. I applied the On & Off with a scrub brush and let it sit for a few minutes as per the instructions. I then hosed off the hull. The On & Off took off the orange discoloration.

After going through the process of taping plastic along the bottom paint edge for the port side, I decided to skip that step for the starboard side. I did so for a few reasons: I needed to sand and repaint the bottom of the boat, so preventing the On & Off from getting onto the bottom paint was not necessary. And the wind was blowing so hard that my attempts to keep the plastic in place where futile. Also, when I started working on the starboard side I applied the On & Off with a sponge instead of a scrub brush. This allowed me to be a bit more deliberate and strategic with the application of the On & Off gel.

Wet Sanding:
I started wet sanding with the 600 grit paper and then moved to the 1200 grit paper. I put some dish detergent in the bucket along with water and used that to wet the sandpaper and to remove the gel coat dust that accumulated as I sanded.

After wet sanding, I used Presta Gel Coat compound with the buffer and the 3M compounding pad #05711. The 3M #05711 compounding pad didn't fit onto the buffer backing pad as snugly as I would have liked; the compounding pad flew off the backing pad a few times.

Once I finished with the get coat compound I started working the hull over with Presta's Ultra Cutting Creme. For this step I used the 3M polishing pad #05713. This pad fit nicely onto the backing plate of the buffer and did not detach itself from the backing plate the way that the 3M compounding pad #05711 did.

I then used Meguiars #9 Swirl Remover with the 3M polishing pad #05713.

When I finished this last step I was expecting the hull to be glossy with a high shine. I was slightly disappointed to see that the hull was not as glossy as I had hoped. I chalked this up to being a compounding and polishing novice. With that being said, the gel coat looked much better than it did before I started working on it.

It took me close to eight hours to compound, polish, and glaze the entire boat.

A childhood friend owns a local print shop in Point Pleasant, NJ called Blazing Visuals. I contacted him and asked him to make a new registration decal for the boat. I sent him both the "Boston Whaler" logo and the "Montauk 17" and he designed a few options for the registration decal. I also asked him to print out the "Boston Whaler" and "Montauk 17" decals. He wasn't able to find the same Boston Whaler logo that I had on the boat, so we used an updated version.

After the decals were installed I applied the Collinite #855 Fleet Wax. I applied two coats to the hull, and additional coat along the water line. My initial disappointment in the glossiness of the gel coat dissipated once I finished applying the wax and then buffing the hull. The hull shines and I am very happy with the results.

The images below, and in the next two posts, show a progression of the work that I completed.

I welcome commentary on my approach and the outcome of my work.

Re: Gel Coat Rehab: A Novice's Approach

Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:09 am
by Beerspitnight
More pictures. They are posted progressively.

Re: Gel Coat Rehab: A Novice's Approach

Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:09 am
by Beerspitnight
More pictures. They are posted progressively.