Refinishing a fiber glass hull, questions!

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by Kmmcreynolds, Sep 6, 2020.

  1. Kmmcreynolds
    Joined: Sep 2020
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    Location: Aurora, CO

    Kmmcreynolds Junior Member

    Hey all, I took on a boat project to take up time during the winter months, and I am fully aware I might have tons of work.

    I have a 1978 Ebbtibe Bass Fishing boat, and the fiberglass hull has a few scratches, nicks and dings here and there, which I am confident on the process of patching up.

    My slight lack of confidence and questions are related with what to do next. There is a fair amount of oxidation on parts of the hull, which I believe I will need to use a heavy duty “oxidation remover” to take care of this. I assume this is step one. At that point, I think I am safe if I put a new layer of wax on it, and I should be good to go?

    Is this correct?

    With that said, Is it possible/okay to put a NEW layer of say, white gel coat on once I use the oxidation remover? Is this an easy way to change the color of the boat, to a simple white?

    I know it’s time consuming, definitely some money, but like I said it’s a good project for me.

    Any thoughts on the absolute basics of what must happen? And is it okay to place a new color of gel coat on top of old gel coat without issues?

    FYI the current color is a faded gray.
     
  2. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Welcome to the Forum KMM,

    I think that you are trying to make more work for yourself than is necessary.
    As an initial effort, try just buffing / compounding the hull - ideally with an electrical powered buffing machine. You can try doing a small bit by hand first perhaps, but this is hard work, and not as effective.
    You will probably be surprised by how much of an improvement you can get by just doing this.
    If you really want to change the colour, then the easiest way is to re-paint it, with 2 pack polyurethane or acrylic car paint, sprayed on.
    Treat it in the same fashion as if you are 'doing up' a car.
    But this is still a lot of work.
    Try filling the dings first, and buffing it up a bit, and then simply enjoy using it. It sounds like the rest of the boat is fairly sound structurally?
     
  3. Blueknarr
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Blueknarr Senior Member

    Welcome
    As always those missing pictures would be worth a few esseys.

    In general
    Wholesale gelcoating is a major pia for those who haven't been initiated.
    Most find paint less intimidating than gelcoat

    Both paint and gelcoat will require heavy sanding which will undo any previous polishing
     
  4. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    As Blue Knarr says, a photo is worth a thousand words - can you post a few please of the boat, outside and inside?
    As she is 42 years old now, have you thoroughly inspected the inside - are there any soft areas on the floor, and does the hull flex anywhere?
    If it is all in good condition, then excellent!
    But if you have not yet surveyed the inside carefully, be prepared for a few surprises possibly.
     
  5. Kmmcreynolds
    Joined: Sep 2020
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    Location: Aurora, CO

    Kmmcreynolds Junior Member

    thanks so much!

    For starters...When buffering, would you recommend a simple oxidation remover? Or simply use a rotary buffer? I assume I would need something as I use the buffer?

    I will definitely take a few good pics when I return home tomorrow. I have done my best to “inspect” everything, and from what I can tell the hull is in good shape, but I’m by far no expert.

    the more I think, I will likely avoid any sort of paint, just clean it up a bit. Make sure it’s all clean and solid.

     
  6. Kmmcreynolds
    Joined: Sep 2020
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    Location: Aurora, CO

    Kmmcreynolds Junior Member

    The floor board, the top part was rotting out, I removed all of that and got to solid foam, which was hard as a rock, dry, seemed just fine. I plan on replacing that layer of wood floor, but will keep it simple.

     
  7. Kmmcreynolds
    Joined: Sep 2020
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    Location: Aurora, CO

    Kmmcreynolds Junior Member

    I found one pic on my phone that might give clues to the hull. As you can see (please correct me where wrong) it appears the hull has oxidation on it, and I will need to do some sort of buffering.

    when I get home, I will take a pic of the bottom section, in my limited opinion, it seems like the bottom is in much better condition (minus the dings and stuff), as it was out of the sun much more.

    Also, some staining on the hull, which I will need to clean up. I think the previous owner attempted a poor spray paint job on the top part (like where your arm might rest), as it’s clearly a different color than the side and bottom, but the picture might not show that?

    Sorry for the poor quality pic.

    Some background... I got the boat and trailer for free, with full knowledge I might reach a point where I can’t fix something.

    but I enjoy learning new things and stuff like that, so it’s a fun adventure for me!
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    I have never done this, specifically for this purpose, but how does a going over with a high pressure water blaster, act to remove the weathered, powdery layer off the gelcoat ? Certainly worth an experiment, but the cheap, relatively low pressure machines might not be strong enough.
     
  9. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    I would visit your nearest automotive supply store, tell them what you are doing, and ask for suggestions as to what would be the best compound to use, to bring back the shine on your grey hull.
    Do you have access to a polisher / buffing machine? If not, maybe rent one for a day or two, rather than buy one?

    Re how you have taken up the floor - apart from the solid foam underneath, are there any longitudinal stringers or transverse frames visible? If there are, they might typically be timber that has been overlaminated.

    Even if the hull is oxidised on the outside - this is just cosmetic, and it is not going to affect the strength or seaworthiness of the boat. I can't see any staining or obvious oxidation in the photo, but the main thing is that it is in one piece, and no holes visible - and the fact that you were given it free (even a trailer as well) is an added bonus!
     
  10. Kmmcreynolds
    Joined: Sep 2020
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    Location: Aurora, CO

    Kmmcreynolds Junior Member

    Mr. Efficiency, I will research that!

    bajansailor, thanks for the advice!!! I will do just that! I was considering buying a rotary buffer on amazon, as they are not too expensive, least for one that I would think would get the job done, but perhaps renting one is a good idea? I found a black and decker model for like 50 bucks, I will need to research how good that is compared to a rental, I wouldn’t mind having a buffer tho for future use.

    I will take your advice, and simply try to polish the shine back before I do anything crazy!

    As for the floor, the wood floor came off fairly easy, not too difficult, under that, within the foam, there are two clearly to identify wood frames (I assumed wood) that run the long way (from front to back), that seem to add support, FYI.

    the back section, I removed the gas tank to inspect better, and every seems sturdy, but for all I know, I will run into a surprise or two.

    thanks so much for the advice!!! I might add a new picture in a few weeks just to show how it all went.


     
  11. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Please do take some more photos now, including inside the boat showing the foam and the two longitudinal stringers that you mention, and post them - the more the better!
    Have you tried sounding the transom? It most probably has a plywood core, and if water has got into it, then there could be rotten patches.
    It has to be very sound and strong, as it has to support the engine, and stop the engine from trying to climb into the boat when you are travelling at speed.

    Re the gas tank, is it aluminium, and was it under the floor, with foam all around it?
     
  12. Blueknarr
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Blueknarr Senior Member

    The photo was too of resolution to show oxidation on my screen.
    High pressure washing will do more harm than good.
    Without knowing exactly how bad the oxidation is I can only give worst case advice. Feel free to skip the first steps if it isn't that bad. Remember you have lost some gelcoat and will be removing more.

    -scrub with oxylic acid (navel jelly works well)
    -wet sand with 1000 grit
    -heavy duty compound (oxidation remover) power buffer with a wool bonnet. Working wet
    -polishing compound. Foam bonnet working wet
    -paste wax microfiber bonnet working dry haze

    The "elbow stain" is probably an old gelcoat repair that wasn't color matched

    Good luck

    Edit
    My bad
    Navel jelly is phosphoric acid.
    Davis sells a jelly form of oxylic acid otherwise it usually is sold in crystals as w"wood bleach"
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2020
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  13. Kmmcreynolds
    Joined: Sep 2020
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    Location: Aurora, CO

    Kmmcreynolds Junior Member

    I really appreciate the advice everyone! Later today, I will do my best to get better pics of the hull, to see if that helps clarify the condition, as well as some other pictures if desired.

    I did find a pic of the gas tank, before removing it (so I could check under it and clean it all out). Again, not the best picture.
     

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  14. Kmmcreynolds
    Joined: Sep 2020
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    Location: Aurora, CO

    Kmmcreynolds Junior Member

    I attached the “best” pictures I could take using my phone. If these are not good enough, it is what it is! I really appreciate the help!

    for the side, I took 3 pictures (gradually moved inward), then I took one from the front, looking under at the bottom.
     

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  15. Blueknarr
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Location: Colorado

    Blueknarr Senior Member

    Try the following surface tests

    Rib cotton balls on surface
    If cotton balls shread then there is little hope of reviving without adding clear gelcoat.
    Rib fingers along surface.
    If it feels like glossy magazine paper, then pollosh.
    If it feels like regular copy paper, then heavy compound
    If it feels like denim pants, then start wet sanding
     
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