View Full Version : Struggling with my gelcoat, looking for advice!!

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04-15-2008, 10:54 PM
Hi all! Just joined the forum looking for some advice...

I have a 1988 Wellcraft (hence my username! so clever), with a red hull over white. As you can see from the photos, the red has loads of oxidation. The past several days, I`ve been spending TONS of time and effort (and $$) trying to even this out and restore the color and gloss. I`ve been focusing on the port side only, hoping I`ll perfect my technique for the startboard side and cut my work time down accordingly.

Here`s what I`ve tried...

- Wetsanding with 600, then 1200.

- Then, compound using 3M Super Duty Compound

- Then, polish using GelCoat Labs fine cut polish (from properboatcare.com)

Doing this all with a 1750 RPM, 11amp rotary buffer (Milwaukee 5460-6). Also using Wool compounding pad for the compound, and a softer wool pad for the polish. I have foam pads, but I haven`t tried those yet (difference?).

Here`s what I`ve accomplished... There`s certainly a big improvement, but my current state is very uneven. There`s areas of nice color, mixed with areas of splotchy oxidation. It doesn`t look right. I`m terrified to wet sand too much and wear out the gel coat... is this a real risk? Should I wet sand differently? Different grits of sandpaper? So many variables!

I`ve included some pictures. First, the shots of where she stands now, after what I`ve done above.







And here`s a couple shots of the starboard side, so you see what I`m up against...



I`d really appreciate any advice, thanks for looking!

04-17-2008, 01:33 PM
Sometimes in that situation I found that changing pads more frequently helps reduce the splotchy effect. I just did a 35` 5th wheel it took 12 CCS Foam pads. Or change compound it might react better with the gel coat.

04-17-2008, 02:38 PM
Hard to see in the pics. The done side does look a lot better. The boat is 20 years old, not sure if it can be brought back much more.

Your approach is very aggressive and should show the max you can get out of your gel coat.

X-Kote would make it look better, not sure if anyone does it in your area.

04-17-2008, 05:27 PM
Id try an AIO, like Opti-Seal or even Klasse AIO with a wool pad cutting pad. I use One Shot, by Mark V, on a lot of gelcoated RV`s because I can get it local. As Salty said, its 20 year old fiberglass. Looks much better than you started with, thats for sure

04-17-2008, 08:22 PM
Have you tried IMAR yacht polish? Dont know if it would take care of heavy oxidation though.

04-17-2008, 08:31 PM
did you see this?


04-18-2008, 02:55 PM
Sometimes in that situation I found that changing pads more frequently helps reduce the splotchy effect. I just did a 35` 5th wheel it took 12 CCS Foam pads. Or change compound it might react better with the gel coat.

Thanks for the tip, I will try a clean pad on the area I`ve worked on already, and see if the splotchiness is better. I have changed compounds, to 3M Super duty, with no apparent change. The compound just doesn`t seem to do much at this stage.

What`s remarkable is that, with some more aggressive wet sanding, compounding, polish, and Klasse AIO, I`ve gotten the area ABOVE the rubrail (the red part) almost perfect. It looks quite beautiful, actually. But i just can`t seem to get the freeboard to match! No matter what I do, some whitish areas still persist, even though they are actually glossy! So bizarre...

Salty... I realize the pics don`t do it [in]justice... In a couple of them though, if you look closely, you can see that especially the lower part looks white. In reality, that whiteness is vastly more obvious. I could definitely agree with you that it`s hard to get much more out of this fiberglass. perhaps it`s just too far gone to make perfect. Nonetheless, I keep trying!

Warlockid... I`ve already have the Klasse AIO. I`ve used it on the aforementioned areas above the rubrail to preserve that non-oxidized shine, but I don`t think it will add much to areas that already have oxidation. I applied it by hand, though... can this be applied by machine? I also have foam polishing pads that I haven`t tried yet...

RDAVEX7... can`t say I`ve tried that, but I`m trying to avoid spending more $$ on experimenting. Thanks all the same.

BigJimZ28... I did see that post, and studied it carefully. It looks like he did multiple compoundings, in addition to some pretty aggressive wetsanding. He got incredible results! I`m wondering if it was a bit easier to restore being that it was yellow (lighter color), so oxidation doesn`t show as badly. Red is supposed to be the worst (yay!). My boat shines, but the color is just so uneven...

Thanks for the tips so far, keep `em coming if you have any more ideas!

04-19-2008, 10:52 PM
I don`t know why I`ve never posted in this sub-forum before, but I STRONGLY suggest buying Aquabuff. It will save you hours with and is very easy to use. I don`t have very good before/after pictures, but I`ll give you what I have.

Stripe of boat before

http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/9720/boat004cr0.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Stripe and hull after Aquabuff 1000 and 2000 (No LSP yet)

http://img208.imageshack.us/img208/1955/boat007sb8.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

04-20-2008, 08:53 AM
Try the Megs #49 Heavy Oxidation Remover - pretty effective with an orange pad, but requires multiple passes. I would use it with a heavy vut pad or even wool.

04-20-2008, 11:24 PM
I would break out a white wool pad and Megs #4 heavy cut cleaner. Once done that step I would clean it and X-Kote it.

I did this one in Vegas last Aug on a training seminar.


to this


04-21-2008, 07:51 AM
I will chime in with my 0.02c worth.

It may be me, but I wouldnt wet-sand that boat. Your finish is already 20years old, wetsanding may be taking away what little gel-coat you have left. I`ve worked on boats my entire life, and on situations like that, I like to coat the boat in #7 Megs and leave it overnight. Then come in with a strong AIO like Klasse or Duragloss Marine polish to remove the oxidation, Then coat in #7 again. Then apply your favorite marine sealant.

Glossy McGlosserton
04-22-2008, 03:51 PM

This weekend I`ll be starting on my 25 y.o. sunfish--white, but badly oxidized.

Unclear how #7 would help here as it is a pure glaze with no abrasives, or so I thought. Can you explain how it helps get rid of the oxidation? Or is is just re-hydrating the oxidation or something like that?

04-23-2008, 09:31 PM
Nice Wellcraft. You can keep trying some different products, but I don`t think you are going to get the results you are looking for. There comes a time when you have done as much as you can with the gel coat to bring it back and it seems like you are very close to that point. You can try using a polish with oils in it to temporarily improve the appearance, but thats the only suggestion I can give you on top of what you have already done. If your going to be keeping the boat for a while, look into getting the hull painted or re-gel coated.

Here is my old 23` Wellcraft Nova that I brought back from the dead with 3M Super Duty compound, followed by Finesse it II using wool pads. Never got it to the point where I was happy but it looked 1000% better than what I bought it.


04-24-2008, 06:09 PM

This weekend I`ll be starting on my 25 y.o. sunfish--white, but badly oxidized.

Unclear how #7 would help here as it is a pure glaze with no abrasives, or so I thought. Can you explain how it helps get rid of the oxidation? Or is is just re-hydrating the oxidation or something like that?

IME, it kinda soaks in and re-hydrates the paint/gel-coat and makes oxidation much easier to remove.

04-27-2008, 08:27 PM
Moutee, your results are impeccable!! Unfortunately, I`m at the point of no return on trying new products. I`m going to do the best with what I have (a couple different rubbing compounds, some polish, flitz metal polish, and Klasse AIO), and focus on my technique with the rotary buffer.

I did my deck today (all white), and the results were EXCELLENT. White is clearly much easier to shine up than red. I was blown away. Afterward, I just stood there and stared at my work, mystified. Can you tell I was happy??

Unfortunately, the red just won`t get there. I`ve pretty much accepted it. That said, I`m going to continue with the careful wetsanding and compounding of the rest of the red, and make sure I cover everything with the Klasse for protection. I will then follow up routinely with a good polish and paste wax over the summer.

In addition, I was so blown away by the white today, I`m going to step up my efforts on the rest of the white (the area just above the rubrail all around the boat is white). I`m going to attempt to remove the pinstriping (gotta track down one of those rubber wheels), and then go at it as I did the deck. If I can get that white shining that nicely all around, my boat will be a head-turner! I will be sure to post completion pics!