Advice on repairing/maintenance of fibreglass canoe hull

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by Phil Canoe, Aug 27, 2017.

  1. Phil Canoe
    Joined: Aug 2017
    Posts: 4
    Likes: 0, Points: 1
    Location: Australia

    Phil Canoe New Member

    Hello, new user and new canoe enthusiast here.

    Yesterday I bought a second hand fibreglass canoe. My aim is to take out my wife and son on short day trips on tranquil waters for a bit of a paddle. The rest of the time the canoe will be stored at my house under a roof (dry).

    I'll start by saying I know basically nothing about maintenance of a canoe and I'm not very knowledgeable about DIY.

    The canoe I bought is a 16ft fibreglass Roseco (Australian manufactured) canoe built around 1985. I took it out on the water today and it was fantastic. The fibreglass shell looks to be in great condition, however there is some damage to the gel coat (I think that's what it is?) on the hull, and some spider cracks and splintering on the inside. I am currently concerned about the hull - the inside can wait. I am looking to get the hull fixed up for as cheaply as possible.

    Here is the canoe with my son looking very happy about it:

    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/gEbIdKJ

    There are some cracks, holes and splinters on the hull. Here are some pics:

    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/tSH8bZh
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/sBTgZ34
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/SgU2Lke
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/4w13yXn
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/ACQGIJd
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/nmkXBzx
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/4BKLQjP
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/6kitwbu
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/WFPtBn6
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/5RS1tgb
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/0PAC6r3
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/b7HXk1X
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/EBLvWej
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/VOqQ6ku

    There are also these small nicks on the bottom, I think they may be from stones?
    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet http://imgur.com/Sh7jaqu


    Firstly, I think that this damage would not really effect the use of my canoe, and I could leave them if I wanted? If someone could clarify that would be great.

    However, I am keen to fix the hull up, as I think it would look nicer and perhaps last longer, I'm not sure.

    From some googling and reading forums, here is what I think I should do:

    1) For the holes and larger cracks I should fill them with something called Bondo (??) or use a gel coat repairer (something like this: 500gm Gelcoat Putty kit - Fibreglass Repairs (White) - FREIGHT PER DESCRIPTION | eBay http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/500gm-Gelcoat-Putty-kit-Fibreglass-Repairs-White-FREIGHT-PER-DESCRIPTION-/141092452897?hash=item20d9c3fa21:g:3NYAAOSwyjBW8daF). I could use this but I think it is expensive: 3M Marine Premium Filler gallon 46006 3M Solutions for boat owners, marinas, boat builders and industrial ship builders http://3mmarine.com/3m-marine-premium-filler-46006.html

    2) For the spider cracks I can ignore them or perhaps use this: MagicEzy Hairline Fix (Repair Gelcoat Cracks on your Boat, RV, Jet Ski & more) | eBay http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/MagicEzy-Hairline-Fix-Repair-Gelcoat-Cracks-on-your-Boat-RV-Jet-Ski-more-/252669761755?var=&epid=1061070259&hash=item3ad44a98db:m:m7u-PpJhiN0v7HGK2CZ7Q0Q

    3) I could re-do the gel coat, however that would be a lot of work and expensive, and probably beyond my skill level. The majority of the coat is still looking good, so instead I think I should paint the hull with a marine paint like Rustoleum: Marine Coatings Topside Paint Product Page http://www.rustoleum.com.au/product-catalog/consumer-brands/marine-coatings/topside-paint I've read that you should use topside paint on Canoes as they are not in the water long enough to require underside paint. Is that correct? One person said that you can just use paving paint on canoes to save money? Something like this: White Knight 1L White Heavy Duty Ultra Pave https://www.bunnings.com.au/white-knight-1l-white-heavy-duty-ultra-pave_p1540598 Would that work?

    Some advice from you pros would be appreciated!

    Thanks

    Phil
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2017
  2. ondarvr
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    Location: Monroe WA

    ondarvr Senior Member

    The short answer is you don't need to do anything to it, just use it, you'll add a bunch more minor damage like this quickly while learning to use it.

    The cheap and easy way to fix some of it is to go down to the hardware store and buy some white epoxy putty to fill the small nicks and scratches, and don't touch the spider cracks.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2017
  3. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    I agree. All that is cosmetic damage.
     
  4. Phil Canoe
    Joined: Aug 2017
    Posts: 4
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    Location: Australia

    Phil Canoe New Member

    Thanks, this is all great advice and definitely makes me feel good about my purchase. I realise that it is not totally necessary but I want to paint the hull anyway. I will use expoxy putty to fill the small holes and chips, I will sand it down with wet and dry paper, and then I am going to paint it with a white gloss epoxy enamel paint. It will cost me about $80 AUD and it will get the hull looking fabulous and it should make it last longer.

    Thanks for all the advice.
     
  5. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    If you can avoid paint, you'd be better off. I paint hulls all the time, but no paint is going to be as tough as the gelcoat that's already there. Consider instead, cleaning the crap out of it, maybe making some minor/modest repairs/touch ups, then buffing what's left of the existing gelcoat, to a fine luster and call it a day, learning to live with some of the character and patina she's developed over the years. Yeah, paint will look great for a while, but canoes and kayaks by their very nature, tend to get beat up and dinged quickly, so this pretty paint job will have scratches and nicks in no time.

    Food for thought . . .
     
  6. Phil Canoe
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Location: Australia

    Phil Canoe New Member

    Thanks. But surely I wouldn't be removing the gelcoat? Just roughing it up a bit with wet and dry paper, and then painting over the top? Won't that make it even stronger?
     
  7. ondarvr
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    Location: Monroe WA

    ondarvr Senior Member

    Why would paint make it stronger
     
  8. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Yeah, paint isn't going to add any strength or stiffness. It's also a lot softer than the gelcoat. You can likely buff up the gelcoat to a pretty nice luster and touch up the bad spots as required, possibly with more gelcoat (difficult to color match for the novice, but possible). Simply put, gelcoat is the toughest coating you can put on that canoe, with LPU's, single part polyurethanes and modified alkyds being far down the hardness list (in the order shown) for paints, in terms of toughness and durability.

    Try it, you can always go back and wet sand in prep for a paint. Start with a 3M 1,000 grit pad, moving up through 3,000 or even 5,000 grit. This is some elbow work, but after the pads, hit it with some wax free polish and see how it looks. I'll bet you'll find it looks so good that wholesale painting isn't as necessary as you currently think and only some small spots need attention, which can be done with a touch-up paint brush (artist type) and some paint or even gelcoat. After the touch up, you can buff these areas, making it even prettier, blending the repairs into surrounding areas.

    My point is, I make these types of repairs all the time and wholesale painting, which is the usual client request, when they first turn up at the shop is often not necessary. Only 10% of the time do I end up actually painting the whole boat. The first thing I do is take out the buffer, put some aggressive cutting compound on it and test, on a small area, usually right in front of the customer, so they can see the difference it makes. 5 minutes with the buffer and some cutter, is all it takes most of the time for this demonstration. This said, I currently have two boats here in need of full up exterior paint, but this is unusual and one could probably live with a good buff out instead, but he wants a color change.

    Try the buff out first, it's cheaper and you'll quickly find out if the the project is worth a bunch of expensive paint, thinners and other supplies. Lastly, how good of a painter are you? If you want it to look like a factory job, you'll have to spray on an LPU (read hundreds of dollars, per gallon paint) and it will not be as tough as the original gelcoat, but will look nice, for a while.
     
  9. Phil Canoe
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Location: Australia

    Phil Canoe New Member

    Thanks for all this fantastic information.

    The reason I thought I should do some sort of coat is due to all the scratches and nicks on the side, and also the tiny holes from the fibreglass/gelcoat hydrolysis on the bottom of the hull. I was thinking it would keep the water out.

    Isn't it important to keep water away from the aramid fibres on the inside?

    I'm going to use epoxy putty on all the little nicks and holes, and that is grey. If I don't paint it I'll have little grey bits everywhere.

    The canoe is old and so I don't think a paint match will work very well, I think I'll just end up with patches everywhere. It looks ok in the pictures but in real life the white looks really faded. But as you have said, a buff will probably improve that.
     
  10. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Clean, compound and buff first, then see where you stand. Many of the scratches will disappear and the whole thing will look much better, possibly enough to let you overlook some imperfections. Once you have a clean and buffed up base to work with, repair and touchup decisions are easier. White epoxy is available, but this will have to be painted unless stored without UV (sunlight) hitting it.
     
  11. ondarvr
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    ondarvr Senior Member

    As PAR said, just use white epoxy, if you leave the epoxy in the sun it will discolor over time, you could use a gel coat repair kit, it will hold up better in the sun, but it's not as tough as epoxy. Paint doesn't protect the canoe from water, paints don't make good water barriers, they make it look better for a while and protect the surface from UV rays. Plus the canoe will be in the water for such short periods of time that the water will have zero effect on the laminate.
     
  12. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Look, we do this sort of thing all the time. Clean, buff and polish first, then access what you have to work with. You might find it looks good enough or that the elbow grease necessary, isn't worth the bother. On the other hand, you might find you just have to fix it right, at which point you still have a few different options, but you don't know which, until you get it clean, buff it out and polish her up.
     

  13. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    SamSam Senior Member

    I don't think those are hydrolysis holes, they look more like air bubbles that were left in the wet laminate and the gelcoat has broken there. That's related to hasty construction.
    It doesn't have aramid fibers, just regular fiberglass, and that looks to be chopped or mat.
     
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