CruizinLG

Protecting my Gel Coat from Sun Damage & Oxidation

31 posts in this topic

I was warned that Red was one of the worst colors for boats, but when it's nice and shiny, it's one of our favorites.   I'm currently in the process of restoring the deep red color that the boat had when it was new.   It's a lot of work and I've been thinking about how to best protect it from sun/oxidation after I apply that final coat of wax and dock it at the marina for the summer.

I've never seen this done, but I've been toying with the idea of buying some marine grade fabric (Sunbrella or similar) and creating an 'apron' that drapes along the side of the boat that gets hit all day long by the sun.  It would have to be enough material to cover the red section and stop just shy of the waterline.  Attaching it to the boat would be my biggest obstacle.   I've thought about obtaining those 'piggy-back snaps' where one material has the typical female snap on the underside and instead of the round 'button' on the top side, it has a male snap so that I could use the existing snaps on the boat for the bow and cockpit covers to attach this apron and then snap my covers to the top of the apron when I'm buttoning-up the boat.  I don't know how easy it is to find those specialty snaps, much less what kind of a tool would be needed to attach them to the material.   

My biggest concern would be a heavy wind that occurs when I'm not around and it actually blows off, taking the bow and/or cockpit cover with it, leaving my boat exposed...but I don't know if that is likely to happen on not.  For the bottom of the material, I could add some weighted material to the bottom of the apron so that is is less likely to blow around.   I could also use bungees to secure the bottom of the apron to the dock.  It's a shallow marina in a no-wake zone that is fairly protected, so thankfully I don't have to worry about the boat moving much at all when it's docked.

Thought I'd share this idea so that others can add their thoughts about how they'd accomplish this task, or even why this may be a bad idea that I haven't thought about.  I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts on this and if you have your own ideas about securing the apron.   I realize this is going to add some time to the buttoning and unbuttoning process, so I want to make it as uncomplicated as possible.

Thanks!

 

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How about doing waxing and buffing two to three times a year instead of just once before the season starts. Two applications a year are just enough for my black gelcoat to stay in good shape.

Also, do not use strong cleaners, like SimpleGreen, to wash the hull. They suck all the wax/protectants out of the gelcoat and leave it dry and unprotected.

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DO NOT put any weights on a cover. WE just had 3 hours of about 85 mph gusts & 60 mph steady wind. Weights flapping against your gel coat ???????????? For several hours ?

Try / do  the Richard way to save your gell coat.

Never allow a cover to flap at all.

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Thanks for your replies.   I think I'll take your advice and skip the 'apron' idea and just take better care of her going forward.

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My 31 year old boats gelcoat was in terrible condition when I received it. After taking much advice on this subject from this forum, I finally got it back to where I like it. Just a tiny bit short of factory fresh. Its now at the point where all I have to do is a little rubbing compound and a good wax at the beginning of the season, and a waxing during the season. I don't bother at the end because it goes into a barn for six month with no sun.

The apron thing will eventually annoy you having to deal with it every time you want to go boating. A waxing or two during the season is much more "Zenful." It will cause you to smile while looking at it shine.

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Cruizin,  I like your idea, but its not original.  Do a google image search for "boat cover with skirt"  and you will get plenty of results.  Keeping the sun off the gelcoat is the best way to keep if from oxidizing, but i can see where the cover would get annoying and possibly do some damage in storms.  Waxing. doesn't completely eliminate the oxidation, but dramatically slows it down.  In a situation where the boat is slipped for the season, waxing could be a real pain and the skirted cover could be a real advantage. 

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You could always get your boat wrapped.  

My boat sits in an uncovered slip all year in the Vegas sun and heat (silly National Park Service won’t Lee marina build more covered slips, been on the waiting list for 6 years).  Washed and waxed a 3-4 times a year, but it is just delaying the inevitable oxidation.  I have found wiping down with Boat Bling Hot Sauce does help quite a bit.  Being based in Phoenix, they understand sun, too :)

Every year when I get my annual maintenance done I have have her detailed and polished.  But after 8 years in the sun, this year we decided to have her wet sanded as well and she looks like new again.

Up north where you are, a good wash and wax a couple of time during your season, and making sure you wipe her down after each use (as mentioned, I highly recommend Hot Sauce) and you should have no problems keeping the shine for years. 

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I made a skirt for my last boat, and I am planning to make another one for my new-to-me boat.  On the top of the skirt, it had three ropes which tied to tie to the cleats.  On the bottoms, I installed grommets every three or four feet.  I used Nite Ize twist ties to secure the bottom to the trailer.  It was very easy to put on and take off. 

I also waxed it a few times.

IMG_7129.jpg

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A friend had a red boat and did not wish to spend his weekends with polish and wax. We used Mequires heavy duty color restorer and a buffer to remove the heavy oxidation until the color was uniform. I then wet sanded with 600 grit and shot 3 wet coats of Imron clear on her and she looked as new 5 years later with just a yearly polish and waxing. Pretty extreme but factory finish was that bad.  W

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I keep the boat in my 'Boat(car)Port' during the off-season, but since that same port-side is also exposed to the sun, I think I'll make an 'apron' in the late summer/early fall before I bring the boat home.    But instead of attaching the apron to the boat, I'll think I'll rig something along that side of the boat port wall that will stay in-place (in all sorts of weather) until I decide to remove it.

W - this past week I've been doing just that, but the Mequier's Oxidation Remover wasn't working (or my Polisher wasn't working properly - see note at bottom of this post), so I started something I've never done before; wet-sanding.   I bought 600, 1000, 1500, and 2000 grit paper.   I successfully removed all of the oxidation with the 600 grit.   Now when I run water over the side, the red Gel Coat looks GREAT....but as soon as it dries, it looks 'white-ish' from the sanding - I hope this is normal.  I'm half-way through using 1000, and will continue with a pass with the 1500, and then the 2000 to try to minimize the sanding marks (all by hand, using a rubber sanding block)....before polishing and waxing.   I'm planning to use Collinite 885 paste wax instead of the Mequier's Wax that came in the kit.

Note - I bought a Porter Cable 7346 Random Orbital Polisher/Sander 2 years ago, and this is only the 2nd time using it.  I'm only using it with the Mequier's Marine Restoration Kit that includes the Oxidation Remover, Polish, and Wax.....I'm not wet-sanding with it.   I purchased a 8-pack of Chemical Brothers Pads when I bought the Polisher.  But when I use the Polisher, the pads won't spin and just vibrate in the 'random orbital' motion.   I'm not putting a lot of pressure against the boat.   It seems like the only time the pads will spin is when I hold the unit in the air and turn it on when it's not against anything.  I can actually hold the pad between my thumb and finger, turn the polisher on, and it won't spin.   It just doesn't seem right to me, even though I've read that they are designed to stop spinning if TOO much pressure is applied.  I ended up sending it back to the company for warranty repair on Thursday, but I'm worried that they will return it, and say that it's working fine.   It seems to me that if I was working on a horizontal surface, the polisher would stop spinning under its own weight....which can't be right.   But this is how it worked right out of the box, so I'm hoping I just got one that got shipped without actually passing the Quality Control process .

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That's exactly how a random orbit is supposed to work so likely they will reply as you said.  The buffers action is due to the spindle being slightly off center so it moves in a very small circle around which the whole pad orbits, the pad only spins slightly by it's own inertia, not from the buffer spinning it.  Random orbits are great for wax and polish, but due to the small movement, aren't as aggressive.  The offset to them not being as aggressive is they are much safer to use (virtually no swirl marks).  A true buffer can do a lot of damage in the hands of someone that isn't experienced, ie. burn the gel coat.  I have the exact same buffer you have and they are very good for what they're intended.  If you're having to remove much however, it may not be aggressive enough.

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11 minutes ago, SG Boater said:

That's exactly how a random orbit is supposed to work so likely they will reply as you said.  The buffers action is due to the spindle being slightly off center so it moves in a very small circle around which the whole pad orbits, the pad only spins slightly by it's own inertia, not from the buffer spinning it.  Random orbits are great for wax and polish, but due to the small movement, aren't as aggressive.  The offset to them not being as aggressive is they are much safer to use (virtually no swirl marks).  A true buffer can do a lot of damage in the hands of someone that isn't experienced, ie. burn the gel coat.  I have the exact same buffer you have and they are very good for what they're intended.  If you're having to remove much however, it may not be aggressive enough.

So my wife is right...... I AM an Idiot!    :lol:

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I only knew because I've had that buffer for 15 years or so as well as several orbital sanders.  On the high speed, an aggressive pad (different colors have different densities) and some compound it might do it.  I know I've taken several scuffs our of our boats over the years.

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19 hours ago, CruizinLG said:

I keep the boat in my 'Boat(car)Port' during the off-season, but since that same port-side is also exposed to the sun, I think I'll make an 'apron' in the late summer/early fall before I bring the boat home.    But instead of attaching the apron to the boat, I'll think I'll rig something along that side of the boat port wall that will stay in-place (in all sorts of weather) until I decide to remove it.

W - this past week I've been doing just that, but the Mequier's Oxidation Remover wasn't working (or my Polisher wasn't working properly - see note at bottom of this post), so I started something I've never done before; wet-sanding.   I bought 600, 1000, 1500, and 2000 grit paper.   I successfully removed all of the oxidation with the 600 grit.   Now when I run water over the side, the red Gel Coat looks GREAT....but as soon as it dries, it looks 'white-ish' from the sanding - I hope this is normal.  I'm half-way through using 1000, and will continue with a pass with the 1500, and then the 2000 to try to minimize the sanding marks (all by hand, using a rubber sanding block)....before polishing and waxing.   I'm planning to use Collinite 885 paste wax instead of the Mequier's Wax that came in the kit.

Note - I bought a Porter Cable 7346 Random Orbital Polisher/Sander 2 years ago, and this is only the 2nd time using it.  I'm only using it with the Mequier's Marine Restoration Kit that includes the Oxidation Remover, Polish, and Wax.....I'm not wet-sanding with it.   I purchased a 8-pack of Chemical Brothers Pads when I bought the Polisher.  But when I use the Polisher, the pads won't spin and just vibrate in the 'random orbital' motion.   I'm not putting a lot of pressure against the boat.   It seems like the only time the pads will spin is when I hold the unit in the air and turn it on when it's not against anything.  I can actually hold the pad between my thumb and finger, turn the polisher on, and it won't spin.   It just doesn't seem right to me, even though I've read that they are designed to stop spinning if TOO much pressure is applied.  I ended up sending it back to the company for warranty repair on Thursday, but I'm worried that they will return it, and say that it's working fine.   It seems to me that if I was working on a horizontal surface, the polisher would stop spinning under its own weight....which can't be right.   But this is how it worked right out of the box, so I'm hoping I just got one that got shipped without actually passing the Quality Control process .

Wrong machine for what you are attempting to accomplish. A polisher is just that, used to polish with a product like Mequires #45 on a well maintained surface, followed up with wax. You need a direct drive rotary buffer used for heaving compounding of automotive finishes. Think of it as a low speed 7" grinder, as the random orbit machines like the one you bought are just not aggressive enough. You have the right product with the color restorer, but you need to follow up with the same machine and Mequires 45 marine polish and a soup plate type bonnet until you achieve the perfect shine. Don't be tempted to wax too early in the process as those products only preserve what is accomplished with the polish. By wet-sanding you have damaged the surface film, but it sounds like it was toast before you started. The wrap around wool bonnet for the buffer is ok for wax, but aggressive work with compounds and polishes are best accomplished with the tight twisted soup plate buffer head. Power is the key, not speed so run the machine on slow/low as you want repetition and pressure, without unnecessary heat build up. The good news is, Gel Coat is much harder to burn than automotive paint, just stay off of sharp edges and keep moving. Here is a nice pad that will fit a 7" direct drive professional buffer, both available at Amazon.

Uxcell 24.3cm 9.5" OD Vehicle Car Wool Buffing Polishing Pad Buffer

Hi-Spec 10A Heavy Duty Rotating 7” Buffer Kit – Variable Speed Switch, Constant Speed Switch & 2pc Soft Wool Buffing Pads - Buff & Polish Car Bodies, Spots & Detail Car Auto Paint, Boats

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44 minutes ago, Wingnut said:

Wrong machine for what you are attempting to accomplish. A polisher is just that, used to polish with a product like Mequires #45 on a well maintained surface, followed up with wax. You need a direct drive rotary buffer used for heaving compounding of automotive finishes. Think of it as a low speed 7" grinder, as the random orbit machines like the one you bought are just not aggressive enough. You have the right product with the color restorer, but you need to follow up with the same machine and Mequires 45 marine polish and a soup plate type bonnet until you achieve the perfect shine. Don't be tempted to wax too early in the process as those products only preserve what is accomplished with the polish. By wet-sanding you have damaged the surface film, but it sounds like it was toast before you started. The wrap around wool bonnet for the buffer is ok for wax, but aggressive work with compounds and polishes are best accomplished with the tight twisted soup plate buffer head. Power is the key, not speed so run the machine on slow/low as you want repetition and pressure, without unnecessary heat build up. The good news is, Gel Coat is much harder to burn than automotive paint, just stay off of sharp edges and keep moving. Here is a nice pad that will fit a 7" direct drive professional buffer, both available at Amazon.

Uxcell 24.3cm 9.5" OD Vehicle Car Wool Buffing Polishing Pad Buffer

Hi-Spec 10A Heavy Duty Rotating 7” Buffer Kit – Variable Speed Switch, Constant Speed Switch & 2pc Soft Wool Buffing Pads - Buff & Polish Car Bodies, Spots & Detail Car Auto Paint, Boats

+1

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Thanks guys!   I continue to read confusing / conflicting information regarding the Porter Cable unit that I have; that it should spin unless too much pressure is applied....which is why I thought I had a defective machine.  And I explained to the P-C customer service rep what was happening when I called about warranty service - you'd think they would be better trained on their products - I could have saved myself the hassle of sending it back if they had just said that's the way it should work.

Wing - you got me nervous when you said I have now 'damaged the surface' - I hope not to the point of being unable to bring it back to a glossy appearance.   :-/

I have ordered a new rotating buffer, pads, and some additional polish....and will attempt to bring the gel coat back.   Thankfully, the other side of the boat has been saved from sun damage, so I'm only working on the one side.   I'll just need to polish and wax that side once I finish destroying the port side.

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2 hours ago, CruizinLG said:

Wing - you got me nervous when you said I have now 'damaged the surface' - I hope not to the point of being unable to bring it back to a glossy appearance.   :-/

What you have s normal after 600.  Once you get up to 1500+ it should be a lot better.  You may want to ho as high as 2000 or more.  Then after you polish it the shine should come back.  Wet sanding means wet, don't hold back on the water!  And if you can, use bottled water.  Hard tap water will not work as well.

 

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