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Old 09-27-2013, 04:44 PM
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Retoxtony Retoxtony is offline
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Gelcoat cracks?

Just looking for some feedback here. I've always been under the impression that ANY amount of gelcoat cracks are unacceptable, yet over the last few weeks when I ask a seller about cracks or fiberglass work that needs to be done I've had a few people tell me they have "a few small cracks that are perfectly normal". On Wednesday I drove 4 hours to look at a Malibu that the seller told me had only a few small cracks around the windshield base. I figured for the right price I can have them fixed. Once I got there the boat had cracks 10-12 inches long in numerous places. I was unhappy and he couldn't understand why. He said they were perfectly normal.

So am I being unreasonable to expect to find a boat with no cracking? I'm not that experienced with boat shopping so I don't know if i'm off base here.
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  #2  
Old 09-27-2013, 04:52 PM
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AlbertaSurfer AlbertaSurfer is offline
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Gelcoat continues to cure and shrink over it's lifetime. I'd have to think spider cracks are pretty normal. I've got small cracks in the gelcoat all over the place.
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Old 09-27-2013, 07:14 PM
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Retoxtony Retoxtony is offline
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I had some spider cracks on my 205 near the seat bases in the bow. Those don't really concern me. But the boats I've inquired about are far beyond little spider cracks. Not really old boats either. The Malibu I looked at was an 06.
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Old 09-27-2013, 09:45 PM
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Rossterman Rossterman is offline
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Seems to be more prevent on malibu's. there are a number of posts on there about significant tel spider cracks posted there. Our 205v has a couple of small ones where the bow seat meets the floor that aren't really noticeable.
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  #5  
Old 09-27-2013, 10:23 PM
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Gelcote does not just crack on its own. There is always fiberglass damage underneath the gelcote cracks. If you were to grind away the cracked gelcote to the bare fiberglass you would find the source of the cracking. That must always be addressed with repairs before applying new gelcote.

When looking to buy a boat some cracks around tower feet are an indicator that repairs and reinforcement are needed. Minor cracking in areas like the dash or gunnels are not dangerous but will require repairs. However, if you see cracking of gelcote in the hull this is an indication of damage to the fiberglass that may affect the structural integrity of the boat. This may be from weak or rotten stringers on old boats, abuse from over loading the boat or beaching, or even an impact.

Run away.
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  #6  
Old 09-27-2013, 10:45 PM
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AlbertaSurfer AlbertaSurfer is offline
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I wouldn't say that cracks are always caused by fiberglass damage. Gelcoat doesn't flex, so spider cracks can result from flexing of the hull. People run much more ballast than some boats are designed for, so spider cracks begin to appear, but not nescisserily fiberglass damage. That said, cracks can't be brushed off as not having damage underneath. My hull, for example, has spider cracks on the transom where the transom straps wrap around the bottom of the transom. Obviously that's from the straps squishing that corner for 15 years and there very well could be damage underneath even though the hull isn't warped. Cracks along the gun whales, bow seats, drivers seat, etc can be from flexing in the hull and I wouldn't worry about damage. Spider cracks wouldn't stop me from buying a boat, it could be a bargaining tool.

Last edited by AlbertaSurfer; 09-27-2013 at 11:11 PM.
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  #7  
Old 09-27-2013, 11:05 PM
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ttu ttu is offline
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alberta, I will have to agree with you 100%! skipper, I have owned a 2002 Moomba Outback and a 2005 Supra SSV22 and had numerous issues with both having gel coat cracks. neither of the boats ever ever had any fiberglass issues just gel coat. Moomba was under the front seats in the bow and the supra was around all the tower mounts.

my 07 has 450 hrs on it and not a single crack yet. I will say when I switched from skiers choice boat to mc I could tell a huge difference in hull flex. also noticed a lot in Malibu.
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  #8  
Old 09-29-2013, 03:35 PM
Skipper
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The photo below shows the back of a ski boat with numerous cracks in the gelcote:
Name:  cracked gelcote.jpg
Views: 651
Size:  135.6 KB

This photo shows what it looks like with all of the gelcote removed. Wow, the cracks in the fiberglass mirror the cracks in the gelcote!Name:  cracked fiberglass.jpg
Views: 651
Size:  121.3 KB

The defense rests...
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  #9  
Old 09-29-2013, 04:54 PM
bigmac bigmac is offline
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Gelcoat is harder than the underlying fiberglass resin and it will crack easier. Any stress points could easily crack gelcoat for some distance without affecting the integrity of the actual fiberglass. Having said that, forces strong enough to crack the gelcoat could be strong enough to damage underlying structural fiberglass. Radiating cracks from an impact point or a windshield, cleat, or tower mounting point would raise some questions in my mind.

I don't think gelcoat cracks always mean fiberglass damage, but they could and is certainly worth a deeper inspection. I had a buddy that developed a lot of cracks around the base of the tower on his X-10. The dealer actually sprung for the repair and intentionlly ground down to fiberglass to inspect. It was pristine. That was in 2004. Ten years later of pretty intense tower use, still looks like factory new. Tower is solid, no cracks.
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Old 09-29-2013, 04:56 PM
bigmac bigmac is offline
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Gelcoat is harder than the underlying fiberglass resin and it will crack easier. Any stress points could easily crack gelcoat for some distance without affecting the integrity of the actual fiberglass. Having said that, forces strong enough to crack the gelcoat could be strong enough to damage underlying structural fiberglass. Radiating cracks from an impact point or a windshield, cleat, or tower mounting point would raise some questions in my mind. My brother in law on had windshield snaps drilled on his Glastron. He got little cracks radiating out from almost all of them.

I don't think gelcoat cracks always mean fiberglass damage, but they could and is certainly worth a deeper inspection. I had a buddy that developed a lot of cracks around the base of the tower on his X-10. The dealer actually sprung for the repair and intentionlly ground down to fiberglass to inspect. It was pristine. That was in 2004. Ten years later of pretty intense tower use, still looks like factory new. Tower is solid, no cracks.
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