Refinishing an old kayak?

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by WPFix, Aug 13, 2012.

  1. WPFix
    Joined: Aug 2012
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    Location: Buffalo NY

    WPFix Junior Member

    Hello, I recently picked up an old 1970's P&H fiberglass kayak that needs a little TLC. Boat is sea worthy now, but I want to do some work to it. I want to add another layer of fiberglass to the hull to make it stronger. Since it only weighs 35lbs currently, any added weight would not really be an issue. The gel coat is pretty beat up, and there is a soft spot in the fiberglass currently. My plan is to sand off all of the gel coat down to raw fiberglass, use plyester resin and 6oz cloth, sand and then gel coat.

    I have never worked with fiberglass before.

    Labor and time spent are not an issue. I plan to do this over the winter, in my garage, and use this info I learn here to build a kayak from a mold next winter.

    So, a few questions...

    Does this seem practical?

    Can I get away with sanding down to fiberglass, and adding another layer? Will it stick?

    Can I just add gel coat to the outside, or do I need to wet sand, reapply ect ect? I want a white hull, and maybe refinish the deck in black.

    Suggestions? Thoughts? Am I insane?
     
  2. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    alan white Senior Member

    Re-gelcoating is a bit overkill. Paint might be a better option where the boat is older and won't apprecciate in value enough to warrant the work. The soft spot should be fixed (epoxy is a good choice there).
    You could add another layer of glass but as you said, the weight goes up.
    It's going to be a labor of love in the end, and not a practical use of funds. It's assumed you aren't trying to turn a profit, but you'd like to learn some things and have a nice finished product.
    Grinding off gel coat is going to leave a rough and uneven surface. A substantial amount of fairing will need to be done before glassing.
    What exactly needs to be done depends on the particular condition the hull's in. Photos will help.
    What is the pedigree of the boat? Is there Kevlar in the layup?
     
  3. WPFix
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    WPFix Junior Member

    I was actually planning on hand sanding rather than grinding. The boat is a P&H Tourer 2. Originally designed as a white water kayak, I added a fixed skeg on the rear and it paddles awesome. Very fast. At 14the feet and 35lbs, a little added wight wont hurt. I also plan to add a water tight bulkhead and cargo hatch behind the seat. Given how fast and stable it is, I dont mind the extra work. Its faster than most of my friends touring and sea kayaks believe it or not. I want to go with gel coat for a more durable finish as well, because I plan to keep it for quite a while. I will get some pocs up tonight and as far as I can tell, no kevlar. Sorry if this post is tricky to read, I am on my phone right now.
     
  4. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Hand sanding the gel coat is a career in itself, reconsider your options on this point.

    The added weight will hurt preformance and load capacity to some degree, especially once you start adding bulkheads too.

    Gel coat is difficult for the novice to apply well. Paint is more economical, much easier to repair, touch up, etc., plus is novice friendly too.

    Adding an additional layer of fabric will not add much strength, nor much stiffness, especially if using polyester resin.

    What are you trying to achieve with your modifications to the hull shell's thickness in real terms?
     
  5. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    alan white Senior Member

    You'll find that a 14 ft boat is a good performer for the average person, due to the waterline length being ideal for average paddling. That 35 lb weight is also ideal for cartopping alone.
    I've done similar jobs on canoes. A decent porch and deck enamel will hold up for years and will be easier to touch up annually compared to touching up gel coat, Take advantage of the current gelcoat's smoothness. You have before you an easy job if you listen to those who have done this before. A couple of Saturday afternoons.
     
  6. WPFix
    Joined: Aug 2012
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    WPFix Junior Member

    My goal is to make it a bit stronger. The bulkhead is to make a water tight gear compartment. I was thinking another layer of fiberglass would also shore up any other weak spots in the hull I have not noticed. There are a few dings in the gel coat in the hull, but it sounds like sanding down the iffy areas, using epoxy and then paint. Also epoxy on the inside where the soft spot is. Does that sound better? Is there a spcific type of paint I should use on the hull?

    Also, there is a crack on the top deck where part of the glass is sticking out a little. Should I push it back in, epoxy the inside, sand the outside down, epoxy, smooth and then paint? I would like a slightly glossy finish. What do you think?

    And finally, being an older boat, the fiberglass on the inside is getting itchy. Would throwing down some paint or maybe spray in bed liner stuff help with that, or do you have other sugestions. Also, I will have pics up after I shower, finally back to my computer.
     
  7. WPFix
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    WPFix Junior Member

    Pictures of the boat should be attached to this post, I will show pics of the two main issue areas as soon as I upload them off my phone.
    First pic is of the boat when I first got it. Second is after I got it home just before I started working on the skeg. Last is of the fixed skeg on the rear, that took it from a WW boat that would spin out with any type of forward momentum, to an arrow.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Why do you think it needs to be stronger? A single layer of cloth, even biax wouldn't make an appreciable difference in strength. It would be a measurable amount, but again, not enough to warrant the trouble, weight, cost or effort.

    Truck bed liner is quite heavy. This alone could add several pounds to the boat. Sanding and paint is the cheapest way to handle the itchies. Use a building primer and sand this smooth after a few coats. Top coat with a good quality paint. I'd recommend Rustoleum marine polyurethane as a good quality, step up from porch and deck enamel.

    You could make a "drop in" water tight compartment, with lid, all out of 'glass, very light, though a bulkhead is an option too.

    It's hard to tell about the scratch on the top without a picture, but usually when you see fibers, you have some broken or separated laminate in the area, which also should be addressed. This usually mean grinding the area back until you see good, solid laminate, filling the ground out area with more fabric and resin, fairing it smooth then paint.
     
  9. WPFix
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    WPFix Junior Member

    I was thinking of adding another lYer of glass because there are alot of rocks in rivers here in WNY. Though may not be required if it will not add much strength. Sanding, washing priming and painting sounds good. What exacly is Top Coat, and would that go on before or after the marine enamal?

    Here are some more pictures. First is it on my garage wall. Second is the crack, located in the black stripe and the third is the "soft" spot in the hull, located under my right knee when sitting in the boat. It looks like the previous owner did a sloppy patch.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Abrasion resistance is what you need, more then strength. Xynole would be a very good choice, but it will add a good bit of weight.

    In all probability, you just need to fix the dings, make her smooth and paint.

    Top coat is anything that you'll see. Primer is an under coat.

    For a primer, I'd use an epoxy, just because it sticks so well. Most primers have fillers added so you can sand them smooth and bulk up very shallow imperfections. Once satisfied with the surface, a top coat goes on. This can be house paint (not very durable on the outside of a kayak), a hard alkyd (oil based), a single part polyurethane (my recommendation) or a two part polyurethane (bring your first born to the cashier). You could clear coat over the top coat, but it's not necessary. There are marine paints and industrial paints that are very tough. Acrylic house paints are inexpensive, but not very durable, though could be used inside the boat with good success.
     
  11. WPFix
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    WPFix Junior Member

    So sand the hull to smooth and rough it up, add epoxy where needed, smooth and paint for the outside? I am assuming epoxy on the outside after sanding down the bad spots, and on the in side wbere I can reach would work OK? Thanks everyone for the good info. Probably saving me alot of money and time, so I just wanted to say thanks now. I REALLY appreciate the help. I am definately going to recomend this forum as "newbie ***** friendly" haha.

    As for the bulk head, I was going to use thin plywood. Can I just epoxy in place, and epoxy over on both sides or is another method/material better? And will I have to do anything to the edges of the hole for the deck hatch after I cut it?
     
  12. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    One idea I have seen for a hard shell kayak bulkhead is a 1.5 inch thick layer of polyethylene foam (white) that is cut to shape like a tight plug, and than use latex or polyurethane adhesive caulk to seal it in from both sides. for what ever reason it is easy to remove later and will not transfer stress to the skin of the kayak as a rigid plywood bulkhead will (many factory kayaks with rigid bulkheads develop stress cracks eventually around where the bulkheads are located, and I have seen the hull fail because of it).

    sounds like you have otherwise good advice. Good luck.
     
  13. WPFix
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    WPFix Junior Member

    Petros, I like that idea, and I have heard the same thing about rigid bulkheads.
     
  14. pauloman
    Joined: Jun 2010
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    Location: New Hampshire

    pauloman Epoxy Vendor

    I just finished (days ago) the 2nd or 3rd restore of that exact kayak model - given free to me about 15 years ago. It was so sun damaged the fiberglass was coming off and causing folks who touched it to get 'fiberglass itch'.....

    I too added the skeg which looks a lot like yours to make it track in flat water...

    Your fix is fiberglass cloth - (3 inch wide tape) with epoxy on the inside for any areas you think need reinforcement.

    for the outside - optionally prime with solvent thinned epoxy or aluthane mcu if gel coat appears weathered and chalky (most likely).Then cosmetic repairs with 1 part exterior putty from the hardware store. When smooth, re-prime again (this also 'seals in' the putty etc.). Then hardware store enamel paint.

    paul oman
    progressive epoxy polymers inc.
     

  15. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    alan white Senior Member

    Paul, what do you mean by exterior putty?
     
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