I recommend reading this whole section to help you fully understand the basics of fiberglass maintenance and repair . You can use the links below to quickly access certain information.
If you need to ask the crew a specific question please email the CREW . If you are happy with our answers or you found the information in this site helpful and would like to help me cover costs and expand this site faster please make a donation through pay pal below . Believe me it would be very much appreciated and besides the crew are complaining I haven't fed them . Thats not true I fed them yesterday . Cheers Boatcando guy.
Sooner or later most every boat owner will have to deal with chips, dings or scratches. In this section I will discuss easy methods of repairing these types of damage. Usually the hardest part of these repairs is the color matching in the final coat of whatever you apply. Quite often a slight color difference will be invisible once the boat is cleaned and waxed. Your job may not quite be as good as the pro's but will be close to 80-90% as good at about 10% of the cost. Now thats my sort of percentages.
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There is so much to know about fiberglass it's not even funny. For the purpose of Boatcando I will briefly explain the basics. Fiberglass is made of two main materials.
1) Liquid resin.
2) Glass fibers.
Either one of these by themselves is not an effective boat building material but when combined they have more tensile strength for there weight than steel.
There are two main types of resins.
More than 95% of boats are built of polyester as it is a lot less expensive.
Epoxy resins are more expensive but are a lot stronger. They are usually used in performance when strength and lightness is an issue. With polyester boats you can use a polyester or epoxy putty to repair small chips. If there is already repair putties on that area and you don't know what they are go with an epoxy putty. Epoxy putties will stick to other putties but a polyester putty will only stick to polyester. Marintex is an epoxy putty and is excellent for small repairs because it sticks to pretty much anything. If you use an epoxy putty you cannot use gelcoat as your final coat as it is a polyester product. Best to use an epoxy primer then a good marine grade topside paint for best results.
Repair small chips + scratches
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In this section I will discuss a basic method for repairing small chips and dings in a fiberglass boat.
1) First clean the ding with a good residue free solvent eg. acetone. Also wipe down the surrounding area.
2) Mask off the area's to be repaired.
3) If you have a production boat it is probably made from polyester resin. This means you can use either a polyester repair putty like ( evercoat formula 27 ) or an epoxy putty like ( marintex ).
If you are unsure of the boats construction or there is existing putty there and you do not know what it is, stick to marintex. The only downside to marintex is you cannot put gelcoat on it where with formula 27 you can.
4) Mix the putty you have decided to use and using a putty knife fill the ding. If possible try to completely fill it and even have extra material above the surface. By doing this you are trying to do the repair in one fill.
5) Wait about 10 minutes the pull off the masking tape and discard.
6)Allow to dry , usually overnight then remask area and sand by hand or small hand sander with 180-220 grit sandpaper. Try to sand so it is as perfect as possible to the surrounding hull. The masking tape will help you to not scratch up the good paint surrounding the dings. If there are still hollows in the putty that you are not happy with apply a second coat. Once the putty is sanded properly and smooth most people will be happy with the improvement the repair has already made. Some people will go for an even better look by either painting or gelcoating the repair or even a good rubbing compound followed by a wax can make repairs almost invisible. Even if you can still see it slightly you have to remember that the goal here is to seal the damage and vastly improve the looks at a fraction of the cost to hire a pro. So you should pat yourself on the back. Also the more you work with repairs the better you'll get. I'm not saying you should deliberately ding it so you can practice but come to think of it that would be a good excuse for the damage. I hope this section will help you feel for-filled. Cheers boatcando guy.
Restoring faded fiberglass
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Restoring faded paint/gelcoat
1)Give the boat a good wash.Be aware of local regulations for using soaps, even a good fresh water wash will do.
Method one for easy + good results
The easiest way to get a substantial improvement on the paint is to use a good cleaner/wax combo.I recommend 3m color restorer or McQuires equivalent.An electric buffer is easier but it can be done by hand with a bit of elbow grease.Only do small area's at a time no more than 2'x2'.Don't let it dry.I like to apply it with a designated cloth then buff till it shines with a good buffing bonnett.I know the 3m color restorer has a uv block in it.If the product you use doesn't you will have to do a 2nd pass with a wax that does.
Method two for great results
Wash boat off with ON/OFF by Marykate.Follow directions for use carefully as its powerfull stuff.And Don't drink it!!!Do an experimental area 2'x2' with a medium rubbing compound and see if it cuts the oxidation off, if not got to a heavier one.After compounding the hull put on a coat of (3M FINESS-IT ll)Then final step is to put a good quality wax or polish on.Two I like are 3m paste wax and starbrite polish with teflon (the one with the gold label)Hopefully your boat is looking great by now.If not you might have to talk to a pro about options.
Basic fiberglass repair
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In this section I will dicuss some simple methods to repairing small to medium size holes in fiberglass . If you are reading this you probably have some fiberglass damage which as bad as that may seem , fiberglass is about the easiest material for an inexperienced person to be able to fix effectively . There are many methods to repairing fiberglass . In this section I will cover a couple different methods that are easy and will provide very high strength . Fiberglass is nothing more that glass fabric saturated with either an epoxy or polyester resin .
Preparing the hole
Get yourself a tyvek suit , safety glasses and a good respirator along with a box of disposible gloves ( preferably resin proof ones ) . Now you are ready for so much fun you'll hardly be able to stand it . If the damage has happened from an impact there is usually more delamination that you can't see . We need to cut it all out . To help you find out how far it has spread get a plastic handle screwdriver of some sort . You tap the hull with the base of the screwdriver with the tip pointing straight out from the hull . Solid laminate has a sharp sound while the damaged stuff will sound more hollow . Cut it all out till only solid fiberglass is left . After you have cut out the damage and tidied up the hole you have to decide on a method to repairing the hole .
Here are some general guidelines .
If the hole is 3-4 inches or smaller and above the waterline you may choose to repair from the inside the boat . To do this you have to make sure you have good access to the back of the hole with room to use a grinder . It's nice to be able to do it this way as you can back the hole from outside the boat with a waxed backing shaped as close as possible to the shape of the hull . The backing can be either taped in place or braced some other way , some poeple even use screws then repair the damage left behind by the screws later . With this method you can lay up the repair the same way they built the boat in the mould ie gelcoat first followed by your layers of cloth/matt/resin . If you choose this method stick to all polyester products ie gelcoat , polyester laminating resin and polyster filler for fixing any imperfections (eg evercoat formula 27) . Another advantage of doing it this way is that when done you will only have a small surface showing on the hull to finish out . Regardless of whether you repair from inside or out side the hull , follow these simple guidelines .
1) Before starting make sure you use a good respirator, goggles and gloves. Wipe down really well the area to be worked on with a dewaxing solvent (eg interlux 202) and plenty of fresh rags. If you don't the wax will end up in the bottom of the grinding scratches and weaken the initial bond.
2) With a disk sander loaded with 36 grit bevel from the center of the hole outwards. Bevel at a ratio of 12 times the thickness of the hull. So if the hull is 1/4'' thick we go 1/4'' x 12= 3'' so we will have a gradual bevel from the center of the hole outwards a distance of 3''. Wipe the newly ground material with isoprophl alcohol or laquer thinner.
3) If working from outside the boat put a good layer of paste wax around the outside of the hole so any resin that might get on there wont stick. Also tape a sheet of plastic below the hole so any run off will go onto the sheet instead of running all the way down the hull.
4) If working from outside the boat you will need to put some backing behind the hole. If you can get to the back of the hole from inside the boat you can prop a waxed piece of formica or thin plastic up against the hole for backing. If you can't get to behind the hole you need to get a little creative. I like to cut the backing material in half then reassemble behind the hole holding it in place with a stick and piece of wire as in picture. Ensure you have enough room under the brace to work at your layups. Usually about 3'' unless you have got fat fingers.
In this case the backing material will be staying in place so it must be a thin flexible material that wont rot.
5) Next we pre cut all the pieces of fiberglass. The amount will depend on the thickness of the hull. Aproximately one layer for every 1/32'' of hull thickness. The first 2 layups will be cloth, then alternating layups of matt-cloth till done. The first layup will overlap the hole by 1/2'' all the way around then each layer after that will be 1/2'' larger all the way around than the one before.
If you are working from inside the boat with a waxed outer backing and are going to use polyester laminating resin and gelcoat, now is the time to apply about 20 mils (1/32'' is about 30 mils so slightly less than that) of gel coat. You can check the thickness with a tooth pick. Once the gelcoat has set up but is still tacky we can start with our first 2 layups of cloth. First thoughly mix the laminating resin and catylst and apply a thin coat to the gelcoat. Lay the first 2 pieces of cloth taking care to work out any air bubbles. Allow to set slightly then start applying your alternating layups of matt and cloth. Only do 4 layups at a time so as not to generate too much heat. Allow each 4 layer layup to kick for a 1/2 hour or so then apply another 4 layers. Continue till layups are flush with the hull. If you need to stop for the day and you have been using laminating resin , no problem. If you were using finishing resin you will need to dewax and sand prior to continuing your layups again. If you have been using laminating resin you need to spray the last layup with PVA mould release to ensure cure. Once cured we will be ready for fairing any imperfectios out then prime and paint. Remember if you used polyester resin you can fair with either an epoxy filler or polyester filler, but if you fiberglassed with an epoxy resin you must use an epoxy filler.
For priming and painting go check out my paint section.
I hope the information provided helped make an improvement in your boats appearance. Most people find the more they work on their boats the more
they realise they don't have to pay someone to do most do these jobs.
Keep learning ,cheers boatcando guy.