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Old 06-17-2010, 02:16 PM
Jeff d Jeff d is offline
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Gelcoat restoration experiment. Results not so good

Well. I read up on here a lot about different people's techniques for shining up old gelcoat over the course of the last week.

My gelcoat isn't very oxidized but there are quite a few scratches. It's a 10 year old boat but I'd say the gelcoat looks more like a 5 year old boat. I've seen threads here where boats that looked 100x worse that mine actually turned out looking better than mine does at the moment. I reached the conclusion that I would compound and polish the whole hull and only wet sand the scratches.

My goals are to eliminate the small scratches, minimize the larger scratches, polish off the minor oxidation and, if possible make the area where the MariStar decals used to be blend with the rest of the boat. The lower portion of the hull is an off white/light tan and the upper is black with a 1" wide tan stripe below it.

I got this buffer from Harbor Freight for $27:
http://www.harborfreight.com/7-inch-...der-92623.html

I got this pad for the compounding:
http://www.harborfreight.com/9-inch-...pad-91235.html

And this one for polishing:
http://www.harborfreight.com/9-inch-...pad-91236.html

I already had some 3M Marine Rubbing Compound like this:
http://www.jamestowndistributors.com...ogleaffiliate=

And this 3M "Restorer/Wax":
http://www.jamestowndistributors.com...storer+and+Wax

I also got some 600 and 1000 grit wet or dry sandpaper.

So, last night I decided to experiment to see if the compound and restorer/wax that I already had were sufficient. I started with the buffer on about 2,500 RPM and the Restorer/Wax. This improved the gloss and smoothness a lot but didn't touch the scratches or the color difference between the exposed gelcoat and the gelcoat that was behind the decals.

Next step was to try the compound, followed by restorer/wax. This actually turned out worse than just the restorer/wax. I ended up with a lot of swirly scratch induced haze that didn't buff out.

Next step I tried a small area where there were scratches with the 1,000 grit. With wet sanding it took the minor scratches completely off but when I followed up with the compound it couldn't take out the 1,000 grit scratches.

So, what do I need to fill in the gaps between the 1,000 grit, 3M Rubbing Compound, and the 3M Restorer Wax? Should I be using different pads on the buffer?

Thanks,
Jeff
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:27 PM
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oxberger oxberger is offline
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Jeff, I haven't started my gelcoat resto yet, but have gotten a lot of good info on here about it. What you may need to do is move to a 1500 grit wet sand then 2000 grit wet sand, then use the compound, then the restorer, then wax. From what I gather its quite a time consuming process taking care of scratches on the gel coat, but well worth the time and effort when completed. It sounds like you're right on track with the 3M stuff. Good luck. Where in the Southeast are you maybe I could help? I'm not a professional but might be able to lend a hand.
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:31 PM
Jeff d Jeff d is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oxberger View Post
Where in the Southeast are you maybe I could help?
Thanks. Baton Rouge, LA

Quote:
Originally Posted by oxberger View Post
What you may need to do is move to a 1500 grit wet sand then 2000 grit wet sand, then use the compound...
Some other threads were saying that it was easier to use a more aggressive compound that it was to wet sand with 1,000+. Supposedly there are compounds that will remove 1,000 grit scratches, I'm just not sure what that would be.

Last edited by Jeff d; 06-17-2010 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:45 PM
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oxberger oxberger is offline
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Wish you you were closer, I'd help. I'm in Murfreesboro TN. I've heard some guys mention the the heavy cut compounds, but the guys that seem to have had the best results were the ones who went with the extra labor of doing finer grit passes before the 3M compound. If I remember right, one of the resto threads for the gel coat mentioned having put in 80-90 hours to bring it back to showroom. I believe they started with 600, then went 800, 1000, 1200, 1500, then 2000, then heavy cut compound, then a regular compound, then 2 coats of really good wax. I'm probably going to have to do that with mine since it's so bad, but I bet yours could be corrected with 1500, 2000, then the 3M stuff you have. Where are the guys that have done this already when you need them?
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:52 PM
Napagary Napagary is offline
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Jeff
Believe you're on the right track. I run my buffer at 900- 1000RPM, keep it moving over the surface with a light pressure. Keep the pad flat as possible, don't tilt it or try to put pressure on a trouble spot(ie compound build-up). You will have these trouble spots tho- move away from them and come back in 30-40 seconds. Do about a 2' square section at a time, apply the compound to the foam sparingly
I use 3M Perfect II Foam polishing Glaze, also the experts say the waffle style foam pad runs cooler than the straight foam. Idea is to keep the pad and compound as cool as possible.
Don't know how to guide you on the sandpaper grit. I have used 1500 & 2000 grit on a car I painted w/ clear coat but ultimately finished it with the 3M Glaze.
Wash out the pad w/ hot soapy water each eve, etc
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:54 PM
Jeff d Jeff d is offline
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Found these videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ke5kfYz9Ybw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0whD...eature=related

That 3M Imperial Compound & Finishing Material is crazy expensive though. $49 per quart at West Marine! The Finesse It isn't cheap either.
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:54 PM
FrankSchwab FrankSchwab is offline
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I used Meguiars #49 heavy oxidation remover on mine, and it cleaned up the surface remarkably well without a wet-sand. Your 3M compound looks to be similar.

Followed up with the Meguiar's #45 polish, and a good gelcoat wax, and it looked great (except where I buffed over the decals, and removed various colors and detail that shouldn't have been removed).

I bought the same polisher as you, except I used a heavy wool pad with the oxidation remover; something like what's described here

/frank
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:39 PM
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psychobilly psychobilly is offline
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IMO from what I've been told by guys who have done this procedure is NOT to wet sand. Wet sand as last resort. Use only the 3M compound and make sure to keep it damp...
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Old 06-17-2010, 06:03 PM
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Luv2Ski Luv2Ski is offline
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Boat: 1988, ProStar 190, 351w
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I second with the Meguirs marine products. I had really good luck with them, better than 3m though which left a lot of swirling. I used this kit. In particular, the number 49 really breaks down well and it is surprising how good the shine it leaves is given the level of cutting it is initially doing. Even pressure and good speed selection is key.

One thing I will suggest is not being too afraid to go to a courser grit to get the raised letters off. My 88 had a very high raised area where the lettering was applied and I went all the way down to 400 in those areas. As new as your boat is, I doubt you will need to go to 400; however, if you are afraid to go under 1,000 you will be there all day taking out those raised spots. Also, use a pretty stiff sanding pad so that you don't follow the raised contours. I followed up with 600 then 800 (a few locations to 1,000).

<edit> For the most part I did not do any sandying, only in areas that were under graphics or needed gelcoat fixes </edit>

Then the number no 49 to no 45 and finally wax. Very happy with the results, maybe because it was horrible when I started (never buffed/waxed since 1988).

The color of the gelcoat makes a big difference. I had to work on the black a lot longer than I did the gray. While sanding use a squeegee to wipe off the water, that helps you see when you have sanded enough and can move to buffing.

Good luck!
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Old 06-17-2010, 06:04 PM
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sand2snow22 sand2snow22 is offline
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I was told by the gelcoat guy at my dealer, all scratches have to be wet sanded. Are you talking scratches or swirl marks? Rubbing compound can bring the color back, but the scratches usually remain. I had him do a nasty scratch on my boat. He started with 400, then moved to 600 and finished with 2500, before applying a Meguiers automotive compound that made it look brand new. He hit some of the smaller scratches with 2500 wet sand, finished with compound. Slower speeds for compound.

Last edited by sand2snow22; 06-17-2010 at 06:16 PM.
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