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Old 07-22-2012, 08:23 AM   #1
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Restoring oxidized fiberglass

The topsides of my '98 boat have never been waxed at least not in the last several years and has heavily oxidized. Last year a detailer at the marina doing another boat came by and showed me what he could do. He taped off a 1 ft square area and using a buffer and wool pad brought back the shine. It took him 3 applications to do it. I have no idea what he used, but he wanted over 2000 bucks to do the whole boat.

So now that I'm in a covered slip I want to tackle the job myself. I'm considering 2 products. Buff Magic and 3M's Super Duty Compound.

I read a little about the 3M products, but have heard good thinks about Buff Magic.

The process using the 3M products goes like this: Start with the Super Duty Compound which should remove most of the oxidation, but like the detailer may take 3 applications to get a good shine. After the super duty compound next up is 3M Marine Rubbing Compound which I think is just a finer rubbing compound to take out the swirls. 3M Finess-It I think is a polish and finish with a wax.

I'm open to suggestions including a wet sanding with 1200 grit paper, but I've heard you must be very careful doing this.

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Old 07-22-2012, 08:47 AM   #2
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FWIW, I've used this Meguiar's solution in the past on a 23' sailboat. It definitely works well. And it is labor intensive.

http://tinyurl.com/cb4am24
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Old 07-22-2012, 09:21 AM   #3
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Be careful with the buffer too, a grain of sand or other grit on the pad can cause scratches fast.
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Old 07-22-2012, 01:33 PM   #4
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Tim, Here is an excellent posting on restoring gelcoat, Tips For Compound, Polish & Wax - SailNet Community . Chuck
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Old 07-22-2012, 02:12 PM   #5
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Our 4788 was completely oxidized when we bought it. It had never been waxed in 10 years.

The guys that did our exterior used 3M products on the boat. first a cutting compound, then a polishing compound, then a super polishing compound.

They spent right at 200 man hours polishing the boat and it shows.

Best $6K I've spent on the boat.
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Old 07-22-2012, 02:47 PM   #6
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Thanks guys especially Capn Chuck, I've got my work cut out for me.
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Old 07-22-2012, 02:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timjet View Post
Thanks guys especially Capn Chuck, I've got my work cut out for me.
I'm a DIY kinda guy but when my son who waxes his cars religously tole me it would take him a month to do a boat like ours I opted to hire this one out.

Keeping it up is easy now, just wash the boat every time we go out, and rub a coat of wax on twice a season.

I have a makita buffer that I used on our 28' boat. I thought my shoulders were going to fall off after using that thing.
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Old 07-22-2012, 03:00 PM   #8
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Check out the Big White products at Big White Paste Wax System offered by Finish Kare Mold Release
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Old 07-22-2012, 04:17 PM   #9
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I suggest observing this process being done on another boat if you can. You will either come away more prepared to tackle the job or decide that this type of work is better left to the pros.

I have waxed my boat in the past and have no interest in doing it myself again. It was very time consuming and hard on the body.
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Old 07-22-2012, 08:30 PM   #10
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Captain Chuck nailed it. His linked article is the best of many such on the internet. Follow his instructions and you'll have a hard time screwing up. The author mentions Presta Products. I've used 3M and Meguiars in the past; Presta is head and shoulders above them. Yeah, you'll have a few sore muscles, but it's a nice payoff to see your hull shine like a new penny. Our yard charges $30/ft for the service. How many margheritas will you be able to buy at the marina ginmill with the DIY cost savings ? (BTW, no affiliation with Presta other than as a VERY satisfied customer)

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Old 07-22-2012, 08:48 PM   #11
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A careful acid wash before cutting back will remove debris and grit which can otherwise be polished into the fibreglass.
Re 1200 grit sandpaper,I`ve heard of cars polished with furniture grade steel wool,not sure I`m game to try either. I`ve had success with 3M products removing heavy oxidisation on both fibreglass and paint. BruceK
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Old 07-22-2012, 09:02 PM   #12
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I have found Capt Chuck to be dead on with all if his ideas.
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Old 07-22-2012, 10:37 PM   #13
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I'd like to add my kudos for Presta products. Very good results and it takes less product to complete the job offsetting the higher cost.

Randy
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:12 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by timjet View Post
The topsides of my '98 boat have never been waxed at least not in the last several years and has heavily oxidized. Last year a detailer at the marina doing another boat came by and showed me what he could do. He taped off a 1 ft square area and using a buffer and wool pad brought back the shine. It took him 3 applications to do it. I have no idea what he used, but he wanted over 2000 bucks to do the whole boat.

So now that I'm in a covered slip I want to tackle the job myself. I'm considering 2 products. Buff Magic and 3M's Super Duty Compound.

I read a little about the 3M products, but have heard good thinks about Buff Magic.

The process using the 3M products goes like this: Start with the Super Duty Compound which should remove most of the oxidation, but like the detailer may take 3 applications to get a good shine. After the super duty compound next up is 3M Marine Rubbing Compound which I think is just a finer rubbing compound to take out the swirls. 3M Finess-It I think is a polish and finish with a wax.

I'm open to suggestions including a wet sanding with 1200 grit paper, but I've heard you must be very careful doing this.
There's reason this person quoted $2,000 to restore your gelcoat. It's hard work. Very hard work. Extremely hard work. Also, it's not all in his labor. Even if you manage to do the entire boat and even if you manage to do a "professional" looking job, and even if you don't hurt the boat or yourself, you will spend a couple hundred dollars in materials, pads, etc. And you'll have to spend a couple hundred dollars on a good polisher.

I paid $650 to have my boat compounded and waxed a couple years ago by a guy who was just starting in business for himself after being a helper for other people. It took him three days to do my boat and after he finished, he changed his mind and took a job somewhere.

My point is - think about this before you decide that it's too costly to have a pro do it. You might want to have it done professionally the first time, then just keep it up yourself.
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:17 AM   #15
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I`ve heard of cars polished with furniture grade steel wool, ........
I would not consider steel wool to polish a boat. I would not use steel wool anywhere on a boat.

Why?

Because steel wool leaves behind tiny pieces of steel that will rust and stain whatever they are left on or embedded in. Steel wool cannot even be used on furniture if you're using a water based finish. It will rust.
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Old 07-25-2012, 01:50 AM   #16
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My boat, launched in 1980, looked pretty dull. I tried all sorts of polishes, even did part of the flybridge in 2000 grid wet paper. Then I bought some fibreglass cleaner and some wax, and with a little elbow gease, made it look like it was only 10 yrs old, instead of... The magic stuff I bought is called Collinite, and it was only about $20 a bottle. It took 2 bottles to do the whole of the house. A year later, it still looks good.
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:55 PM   #17
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If you do this job yourself it is extremely important to be careful not to compound through the gel coat on edges and on curved surfaces. A good professional will know this and make sure to use very light pressure in these areas.
I use a professional cleaning company to do the many boats that come to the boat yard for sale, it is very hard work that takes skill, but the results are great.
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Old 07-27-2012, 11:17 AM   #18
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My 86 Sea Ray was like yours. You could run your hand across it and it would turn calky white.

Here is the process I used and it also lessens the chance of burning it with a buffer.

1. Wash area with a boat soap and rinse very well.
2. Start with a small area and apply Turtlewax "polishing compound by hand and work in in. Remove before it drys with a good cotton cloth. You will actually need two cloths as you will find it will get fll of compound after awhile.
3. Buff out by hand using a micro cloth.
4. After you get an area done, take your buffer (set it about 1200 RPM or medium speed) with a heavy sheep wool pad and polish the area paying attention to run the buffer back and forth. Apply a little pressure, but let the buffer do the work for you.
4. You may have to repeat this process one more time but I found that that it will bring the shine out.
5. Apply a good polish/wax. When dry wipe off with a micro cloth and buff with the procedures above.

I use these products:



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Old 07-27-2012, 12:01 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwidman

I would not consider steel wool to polish a boat. I would not use steel wool anywhere on a boat.

Why?

Because steel wool leaves behind tiny pieces of steel that will rust and stain whatever they are left on or embedded in. Steel wool cannot even be used on furniture if you're using a water based finish. It will rust.
Don't ask me why I know you're right....! Also, silicone based products are not allowed on my boat.
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Old 07-27-2012, 12:36 PM   #20
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Don't ask me why I know you're right....! Also, silicone based products are not allowed on my boat.
I have several slip neighbors who welcome silicone products on their boats!
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