Repair: refinishing a fibreglass canoe

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by walter23, Jun 25, 2011.

  1. walter23
    Joined: Jun 2011
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    Location: Victoria BC

    walter23 New Member

    I realize this is not exactly boat building, but as I am interested in one day building my dream boat, but am not yet ready, I thought I would take on a relatively simpler project to get my feet wet.

    This is a simple canoe restoration. It's an old fiberglass canoe with a hull that seems to be in fairly good shape but needs some repair - it has been repainted and crudely patched in a couple of spots (fiberglass tape and epoxy *over the paint*). The paint is cracking and peeling, both inside the hull and outside. The underlying original finish (gelcoat I presume) is also not in very good shape. It also needs new gunnels, but that's a different issue. First I must fix the hull and the paint job. It's a nice hull shape and I believe it will make a really nice canoe if I fix it.

    So.. what tool should I use to sand the old finish (and some of the crude fiberglass tape patchwork) off? Orbital round sander? Something else? I don't mind buying a tool for this because it will probably be useful in the future when I try building something from scratch.

    What, exactly, should I use to re-cover the fiberglass? Gelcoat? What is that and where do I buy it? And what should I use to fill the cracks in the keel (I assume epoxy).
  2. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    Welcome, Walter.
    Put a coarse sanding disk on your drill and grind the bad patch back down to the original damage. Orbital sand the rest of the boat with fine. After that you can do a proper repair with epoxy/fiberglass cloth, then fairly sand the repair and re-paint.
  3. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Invest on a good DA/orbital sander. Poor tools will frustrate you and won't produce good results. It is difficult to give you advice without at least some photos. If it is only the paint that is peeling, sand to the gelcoat. If the gelcoat is cracking, sand to the laminate. If the laminate is cracking, laminate over it with a 4oz cloth.
  4. walter23
    Joined: Jun 2011
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    Location: Victoria BC

    walter23 New Member

    Great, thanks. Is gelcoat something you purchase in ready-to-go form, or is it a mixture that you need to prepare yourself - like epoxy resin + pigment?

    Can you apply gelcoat over partially stripped gelcoat or do you need to clean it up right down to fiberglass before applying it? I think there are regions of gelcoat that are okay but I'd like to strip down the bad parts for minor repair and then apply a uniform coat on the whole thing.

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

    Don't consider gel coat as something you can do. You can, but it's a rare driveway repair person that can do even a half way decent job of it. Once the gel coat is shot (sounds like yours is) then painting is the next option.
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