Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Repair or modification of Boston Whaler boats, their engines, trailers, and gear
Jeff
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Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby Jeff » Mon Dec 28, 2015 11:36 am

Spa Day....How do you pamper your boat?

I am often asked how to I get my boats to shine like they do even when they are 25-40 years old.
Well every year I wheel the gelcoat out with a wool wheel on a variable speed, direct drive arbor polisher (not a DA polisher) using a fine compound.


Image

A lot of people do this sure, but here is where I do something that is a little unorthodox. After the polishing, I wipe the entire boat down with gear lube...Yes, gear lube. Why? for a couple reasons. They might all be unscientific, but here is why I believe it is a good thing...

#1 I want to prevent as much cracking and crazing as possible. The gelcoat on your boat is a petroleum based product and when those oils dry out of the gelcoat, you get a dull surface and the gelcoat loses it's elasticity. The less flexible the gelcoat, the more cracking can happen. So by wiping the heavy oil onto the surface, I am letting the oils seep back into gelcoat and thus improving the elasticity.

#2 The shine, when you wax your boat, you are essentially adding oils back on to the surface to protect and add a shine to the gelcoat. But all waxes have additives to dry out so you can buff them off the surface. What's left behind is a light film of oils that quickly dries out. If it's the oils that add shine to the surface, why not just skip the chalking agents in waxes and add oil right to the surface?

My process is to use a clean terry cloth rag and a 90 weight gear lube that is brown in color. I wipe this all over the smooth gelcoat surfaces of the boat right after I wheel it out. I coat all of the surface and let it sit on there for 2-4 hours. I also clean the rub rail with lacquer thinner or acetone prior to wiping the hull, then coat the rub rail while I also wipe the gelcoat. After that I go back and buff the surface with a microfiber cloth to a shine. Once I am done with that, I am good to go and polish with a Starbrite PTFE polish (not wax) by hand once a month for the summer.

I have been doing this with all of my Whalers and the Grady as well (these pics are with my Grady). This process keeps the boat looking amazing through out the summer and I believe helps to keep the gel-coat hydrated and flexible. Oh, and the rubrail looks great too.

Hey, you might think I am crazy, this is nonsense or this is a "Snake Oil" treatment...but hey, I am going to keep doing because I feel it works for me...

My 1988 Grady White, the gelcoat was chalky when I got it 3 years ago. This is it now->
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Last edited by Jeff on Mon Dec 28, 2015 1:49 pm, edited 8 times in total.
1993 23 Walkaround Whaler Drive - 1988 190 Grady White Tournament- 1981 15' Striper (under restsoration) - Curator of Everything Boston Whaler on Instagram

Jeff
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby Jeff » Mon Dec 28, 2015 11:38 am

The shine..
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1993 23 Walkaround Whaler Drive - 1988 190 Grady White Tournament- 1981 15' Striper (under restsoration) - Curator of Everything Boston Whaler on Instagram


jackjax
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby jackjax » Mon Dec 28, 2015 10:00 pm

Good idea. However I need mine detailed by pro first.
Jude
1997 BW Dauntless 17 115hp Merc

floater
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby floater » Tue Dec 29, 2015 8:25 am

Great idea. Do you get an 'oil slick' following you around?

Acseatsri
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby Acseatsri » Tue Dec 29, 2015 9:28 am

Just curious if you do the same with the non-skid?

Jeff
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby Jeff » Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:02 am

Jackjax, It is an easy job to detail out a boat. But, if you do not have all of the polishers and want a good starting point that is easy to maintain, sometimes it is easier to pay someone.

Floater, No I do not get an oil slick. I do not do below the waterline. Also, like I posted, after letting it sit on soak in for 2-4 hours, I remove any excess oil on the surface by polishing it off with a microfiber rag.

Acseatsri, No, I only do the smooth areas of the hillsides and interior. I just clean the non-skid. I know some people who really like using woody-wax on their nonskid.
1993 23 Walkaround Whaler Drive - 1988 190 Grady White Tournament- 1981 15' Striper (under restsoration) - Curator of Everything Boston Whaler on Instagram

floater
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby floater » Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:40 am

What do you use to polish the gel coat prior to the oil application? I have a DA Porter Cable and use Finesse II but would like to try something else. Thanks

Jeff
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby Jeff » Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:46 am

Floater, you can see in the photo above, I use a Direct Drive Dewalt variable speed polisher with a good wool wheel. It is the fastest and easiest way to get a deep long lasting shine. The Porter Cable DA unit is great for cars, but despite what others here say, I think it is too small and underpowered to really do the job for a hull. I have one and only use it for tight areas on the interior that the Direct Drive unit can not get into.

For the compounds, I use 3m or Meguires products. I use fine -> medium cut depending on the project. Heavy cut if the hull has no shine.

If you are not getting the results you want with the DA and Finesse it, try stepping up to a heavier cut of compound.
1993 23 Walkaround Whaler Drive - 1988 190 Grady White Tournament- 1981 15' Striper (under restsoration) - Curator of Everything Boston Whaler on Instagram

Jeff
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby Jeff » Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:55 am

Floater,

Here is a run down of the Meguiars products. I use all of the Mirror Glaze Compounds. All of the compounds are in the tan colored bottles.

For 3M Super Duty is the heavy cut and Perfect it is the medium cut. Finesse it is only for surfaces that are already heavily polished.
Last edited by Jeff on Tue Dec 29, 2015 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1993 23 Walkaround Whaler Drive - 1988 190 Grady White Tournament- 1981 15' Striper (under restsoration) - Curator of Everything Boston Whaler on Instagram

floater
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby floater » Tue Dec 29, 2015 12:24 pm

Great info thanks.

Binkster
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby Binkster » Tue Dec 29, 2015 1:48 pm

Jeff, I'm confused. In the title of your thread you say you are using snake oil, but then you go on to say you are using gear oil. Which is it? Ha ha. OK, sorry, just an old guy joke.
When your done is there enough gear oil left on the surface to attract dirt? Doesn't soap and water wash the oil off?
rich

Jeff
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby Jeff » Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:01 pm

Rich, the surface of the gelcoat feels a little tacky for a day or so and might collect particulate in the air, the fuzzies from the cottonwood blooms are a pain, but I just wipe the hull back down.

When I wash my boat, rarely use soap. Mostly just water, a scrub brush and a microfiber cloth. I use Krud Kutter or simple green in the splashwell / motor areas but that is usually it. If I want to use soap to wash, I use a Meguairs Gold Glass car soap that is made to not strip oils and waxes.
1993 23 Walkaround Whaler Drive - 1988 190 Grady White Tournament- 1981 15' Striper (under restsoration) - Curator of Everything Boston Whaler on Instagram

crbenny
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby crbenny » Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:43 pm

Jeff,
Gear oil is all about film strength, additives, and creating a wedge between moving parts so I'm wondering why you chose it instead of Penetrol which, I believe, is designed to soak in/penetrate in and restore the oil base for surface appearance.

You know, there are many repairs/procedures for repair of damaged gelcoat and very little about prevention of crazing. I'm glad you broached the subject..

Chris

Jeff
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby Jeff » Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:55 pm

Chris, I guess it is just a personal thing that I have just never liked Penetrol.

I use the gear lube because if it's viscosity. I tried other lighter weight oils and found that gear lube was the only one after a few hours that kept a uniform film over the surface. Others would start to bead up.
1993 23 Walkaround Whaler Drive - 1988 190 Grady White Tournament- 1981 15' Striper (under restsoration) - Curator of Everything Boston Whaler on Instagram

oysterman
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby oysterman » Tue Dec 29, 2015 8:29 pm

How does it last in saltwater?
Boat looks nice!

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John_Madison CT
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby John_Madison CT » Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:00 am

If you apply Woody Wax to a hull, you'll see similar results. But a lot more money than gear oil.

Jeff
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Re: Keeping Gel-Coat shiny and flexible. My Snake-oil treatment

Postby Jeff » Wed Dec 30, 2015 10:03 am

Oysterman,

Not sure, I live in the freshwater paradise.

John,

I have never used the Woody Wax, but I know people like it.
1993 23 Walkaround Whaler Drive - 1988 190 Grady White Tournament- 1981 15' Striper (under restsoration) - Curator of Everything Boston Whaler on Instagram