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Author Topic:   Gelcoat cracks – Interior - Extensive – Repair technique
willgard posted 11-28-2003 10:12 PM ET (US)   Profile for willgard   Send Email to willgard  
Many 60’s & 70’s vintage Whalers suffer from extensive interior gel coat cracks. I have been searching the Repair Forum but have not been about to locate a tread for the technique of resolving this particular issue. There are far to many small cracks to consider grooving and filling each crack and wholesale removal of large areas of gelcoat seems extreme. Your input or direction to a relative tread is appreciated.
JayR posted 12-01-2003 06:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for JayR  Send Email to JayR     
I too would like to hear of any experience repairing this type of damage...


BillB posted 12-01-2003 09:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for BillB  Send Email to BillB     
There has been an enormous amount of discussion regarding this type of repair.

I would suggest using the site search function and look for "stress cracks" "spider cracks" and gelcoat repair.

Here's a link to one the many threads I just turned up with the above searches:


JayR posted 12-02-2003 06:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for JayR  Send Email to JayR     
Large scale gelcoat removal and filling each crack by grooving was mentioned above. That is all a search function comes up with. At least that is all I am finding.

Is that the only way? With all the new epoxies out there one would expect there to be a very thin/runny type that could be wiped on to fill these hair line cracks. That in turn would allow for a thin spray of new gelcoat.


Guy Winslow posted 12-03-2003 09:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for Guy Winslow  Send Email to Guy Winslow     
I also have some short, shallow hairline cracks on the interior bow section on my 83' outrage and would be interested in a good fix.
bradenton_whaler posted 12-03-2003 06:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for bradenton_whaler  Send Email to bradenton_whaler     
Has those who used the Awlgrip primer experienced prolonged success in eliminating the "spider cracks". I have been told that the primer acts as a filler for those types of cracks caused by age.
willgard posted 12-05-2003 01:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for willgard  Send Email to willgard     
I am in the middle of experimenting with different methods of resolving this gel coat age crack problem. I will report after I have a successful coat of primer applied.

I will further identify the type of extensive cracking that I have described for those fans of early 13' Whalers. When you see one on the roadside for sale and you stop to take a look, but the first impression is being very sad to see the interior covered with thousands of very small cracks. It must be caused from sitting in the sun for 30 or more years. I must not have been wearing my glasses when I purchased this one last year. Now that I finally have the time to work on her I was surprised at how much prep work will be required before I can apply Awlgrip. The gunnels and vertical surfaces are OK, but all other horizontal smooth surfaces are covered with cracks and require some method of filling. Most of these effected surfaces adjoin non skid which adds another degree of difficulty in fairing. There must be hundreds if not thousands of these old Whalers just waiting for some TLC and a new lease on life. I have been very surprised not to have found more relative information on this forum or FAC.

jettycat posted 12-11-2003 11:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for jettycat  Send Email to jettycat     


I have been in the same situation as many,
I was told the best way to deal with the cracks, aside from
dremell all cracks and fill.
Use a RHINOLINER type product, thick, grips, color coated for your desire and tough, Cheap and easy. It is what I am going to do. Repairing 1000 cracks doesnt seem fun.

rogerme posted 12-12-2003 05:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for rogerme  Send Email to rogerme     
Down here in Florida the cracks in old Whaler gelcoat are extensive-it looks like gator skin. I find sandblasting to remove lose gelcoat, then fill with your favorite fairing putty to be the only solution.
beachboy posted 12-18-2003 09:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for beachboy  Send Email to beachboy     
I purchased a 1969 13' whaler and had the smae delema. I wanted the boat to be origanl but that was some stuff that had to go. I hate it when people paint there boat to make them look better whne in fact it only does so for a fews years. After taking my boat to get a couple of wholes fixed I talked to the boat guy and found that paste that does similar to what you want. The paste is like sandpaper and wont pix the biggest of cracks but it does take a thin layer is elcoat off making the blue newer and wome stress crack eliminated.
willgard posted 12-20-2003 09:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for willgard  Send Email to willgard     
I am reporting my progress in resolving the interior age crack problem on my 1973 13’ whaler. I have now applied and sanded my second coat of Awlgrip 545 brushable primer and am ready to apply my first topcoat of Awlgrip. Prior to applying the primer I applied one coat of a specialty epoxy product used in the restoration of rotten wood. It is made by Smith Co. and is probably similar to “Git Rot” only much thinner. I learned of this product from a company specializing in restoring vintage Chris Crafts. This epoxy was “water like” in viscosity and was able to penetrate the very small cracks. The two coats of Awlgrip epoxy primer were then able to completely fill then. After finish sanding the hull interior has the appearance of being original which has been my goal. I have been able to maintain the original none skid surface. Some of the other methods mentioned above of addressing this problem would have negative effect in preserving the nonskid as original. I will apply the Awlgrip topcoat next week. My only concern is if the cracks will reappear after some hard use. In time I shall see.
Sal DiMercurio posted 12-22-2003 12:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
The main problem of filling those cracks with an after market coat is matching the color.
As you know Whalers aren't white & the coating your using is for Chris Craft boats that are white.
It could end up looking worse then before with white streaks over the desert sand color.
willgard posted 12-22-2003 06:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for willgard  Send Email to willgard     
Sal....I was prepping for Awlgrip. The epoxy product I used was semi clear, similar to the West product. I applied the first Awlgrip top coat today ( “Egg Shell White” ) and so far the results are very encouraging. Looks like new again with no sign of the age cracks. If the weather holds I may have the second top coat completed tomorrow. With the exception of doing cosmetic repairs to a relatively new boat, I have never been a fan of gel coat. In this case, where I am doing a complete renovation on a 31 year old hull, Awlgrip made the most sense. Worst case, I will have 8 years life before I need to worry about re-coating. At that time the prep time will be a fraction of what I have to do now. Then, I light sanding and one top coat and I’m good for another 8 years.
kaflanigan posted 12-23-2003 12:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for kaflanigan  Send Email to kaflanigan     
Do you have any before and after pics?
JayR posted 12-23-2003 12:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for JayR  Send Email to JayR     
Is the Awlgrip a spray application? You mentioned weather.... are you doing this outdoors?
willgard posted 12-23-2003 06:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for willgard  Send Email to willgard     
I have “snap shots” from before but no close-ups of the age cracks. I have taken some more detailed shots in progress. When complete I’ll make then available to anyone interested. I am working outdoors, near Jacksonville FL. I would “kill” for a controlled environment to work in. With winter weather (temperature and precipitation) in north Florida I have a 2 or 3 hour window to apply product outdoors. I had planned to apply top coat today but a very small shower around midday canceled that plan. I am brushing Awlgrip products. I should mention that I am also painting my 36’ sailboat simultaneously with the same color. Doing both at the same time allows me to economize product. My next weather window for applying topcoat is Friday. When complete I’ll post some photos.
dragsmack posted 12-29-2003 08:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for dragsmack    
how do you sand the interior without sanding off the nonskid? what kind of sander and grit--I have a 16/17 with same problems!
willgard posted 01-02-2004 08:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for willgard  Send Email to willgard     
Dragsmack….I addressed the smooth and non skid areas separately with a different prep and application plan. The non-skid was well oxidized and need little sanding. Before applying one coat each (on just the non-skid areas) of Smith Co. epoxy primer, Awlgrip primer and Awlgrip topcoat, I lightly hand sanded with 220 grit. The topcoat for the non-skid was “Moon Dust” with flattening agent added. It was rolled but not tipped to keep it flat. Sanding will remove the detail edge from the nonskid so care needs to be address here. Compared to new there has been some lose of detail, but then there were wear areas from equipment and gas tanks before I started. The final result is far preferable to a gross over-coating of resin. Good luck with your project.
Paint Legend posted 01-12-2004 03:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Paint Legend  Send Email to Paint Legend     

I finished restoring a 1965 13-footer that was headed to the land-fill. I had tons of damage, stress cracks etc.... I dremeled out the big cracks, squeegeed west over the rest (after pressure washing and allowing to dry), 545, and buried it in a few heavy coats of High Build, 545, and then topcoat. To be honest the results were better than I anticipated. The only cracks I've seen reoccur to date (only 1 summer of use) are where the transom meets the hull sides at the stern. I'm sure some more will return, I started the restoration 2 years ago, so I'm pleased with the results. Sounds to me like your going to have a nice boat.


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