Fiberglass/Gelcoat canoe repair

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by FieroFixer, Jul 12, 2012.

  1. FieroFixer
    Joined: Jul 2012
    Posts: 5
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    Location: United States

    FieroFixer Junior Member

    I've had this canoe since about 1997 when I graduated high school. It was a custom made boat I bought from a campground where they had a guy making these from his own mold. It looks a lot like a Great Canadian and I've always loved how it tracks and how fast it moves on rivers - way better than your typical Rolalex Old Town... I took it down the Battenkill river last year and it took a horrible beating. Had I known beforehand how shallow and bony that river was I would have neverrrrr taken this canoe down it.

    The canoe was "fixed up" about 3 yrs ago by a family friend who painted the bottom with who know's what... had to spend a few hours sanding it all off to get to the original gelcoat underneath which had lots of tiny stress cracks and as I sanded opened up some bubbles.

    As of writing this I am getting very close to finishing my repair / refinish.

    Here's the pictures - please forgive the hack job! I know I should have masked off the gunwales, I thought I could be careful but brushing Gelcoat in the sun is quick work... That's what dremels are for :)

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  2. midnitmike
    Joined: Apr 2012
    Posts: 257
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    Location: Haines and Juneau

    midnitmike Senior Member

    An excellent pictorial tutorial of a canoe repair! Well done. The one shot I wished you would have included...backing and filling that large hole.

    MM
     
  3. FieroFixer
    Joined: Jul 2012
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    Location: United States

    FieroFixer Junior Member

    There's a few things I wish I'd taken pictures of...

    backing the hole, used some saran wrap and a some really tough heavy duty tape that around here they call "EB Green" because I guess they use it on submarines down at Electric Boat in Groton CT... The filler was a bondo type of stuff I'm not sure exactly - I'll find out from the guy that helped me with it when I see him.

    I used filler over the fiberglass patches and all the tiny bubble holes and scratches to make the surface all level and smooth with the original gelcoat.

    I'm brushing on new Gelcoat with wax (it was way cheaper and readily available at Defender Marine) I'm about coats now and having to sand between each coat. I've just about got all the thin spots covered. The best part is since I'm doing it outside and usually in the evening after work, I wake up in the morning to a bug graveyard stuck to the newly cured layer of gelcoat. When I'm done I'm going to get some lettering and put "Sandy" on the side of the boat :)

    I've read a few times that gelcoating and sanding a canoe just isn't done in a driveway, and not brushed by hand. I just want this post to show what can be done by a hack in his valuable spare time.
     
  4. midnitmike
    Joined: Apr 2012
    Posts: 257
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    Location: Haines and Juneau

    midnitmike Senior Member

    Yeah the downside to using a brush to apply gelcoat is all that darn sanding. Once you get most of the brushmarks sanded out you've taken off a lot of the gelcoat, so you have to add another layer. Spraying gelcoat isn't a cure-all for the sanding dilema, but it does help some by cutting down on those deeper brush strokes thereby reducing your overall workload.

    If there is a bright side to all those layers of gelcoat...your neighbors can thank you for thinning down the bug population.

    MM
     
  5. FieroFixer
    Joined: Jul 2012
    Posts: 5
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    Location: United States

    FieroFixer Junior Member

    Yes... trying to resist going for the "smooth finish" while sanding, keeping in mind those brush marks will fill in on the next coat. Just sanding enough to take down the high parts and remove the wax.
     
  6. HydroRocket
    Joined: Jul 2012
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    Location: Minnesota

    HydroRocket Junior Member

    When using gelcoat would it help to paint it with a roller instead? I am trying to learn a bit more on glassing with a gelcoat top coat for my build I have planned. What is the final step when gelcoating? 600 grit wet sand?
     
  7. FieroFixer
    Joined: Jul 2012
    Posts: 5
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    Location: United States

    FieroFixer Junior Member

    Finished the boat and took it up on the Saco River in Maine for it's first float. Overall it did great and it really glided through the water nice. Unfortunately after the trip I did find some new cracks where the boat flexed a little (from stepping in and out of the canoe)...

    So for next spring... I think I'm going to strip the inside of the boat and take out all the old paint and get it down to clean fiberglass... then lay in a couple layers of new glass over the areas that flexed. (maybe even look into adding some ribs) Then epoxy the entire inside, then paint with a good epoxy based paint, and I think that will stiffen the hull up a bit so the gel wont crack.

    Next time I do gel, I think I may try using a roller... and use the gel without wax so I can put on a few coats without having to sand until the end.

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  8. FieroFixer
    Joined: Jul 2012
    Posts: 5
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    Location: United States

    FieroFixer Junior Member

    I sanded 600 grit... then wet sanded 600... I couldn't find anything finer to sand with. After that I waxed the hell out of it.
     
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