Magic Gel Coat

The ugly duckling desperately needed some love, sanding, and polishing. Amazing what will happen if you take the time to refurbish your gel coat.

The plan was to rub and polish the gel coat thoroughly last winter. But last spring was an icy spring, and we did not get running water at the marina until a week before launch. We tried the famous fordonsglans, but the result after last summer was pretty bad.

The dark blue gel coat was heavily oxidized, and she looked light blue and terrible. The gel coat of Arcona yachts is exceptionally thick. With the thick gel coat and the dark blue color, the hull oxidizes a lot especially since it had not been properly done the year before.

The gel coat is so thick, and the oxidation was so heavy I needed to cut away a large amount of oxidized gel coat to get a proper shine. Just using rubbing would take forever. Regularly I would never sand, and I know a lot are firmly against sanding gel coat. But I know that if the gel coat is so thick and that in the future we will most likely paint the hull. But we hope we can wait a couple of years before any paint job.

The initial plan was four days of sanding, rubbing, polishing and waxing. An estimate from a professional company doing polishing was two days. By doubling that I thought the time would be enough. How wrong I could be…

To cut away all the terrible oxidization, I started with first wet sanding with P500 and then a second wet sanding with P1000. The 3M FastCut is so efficient that I don’t need to sand any smoother than with P1000.

After sanding, I rubbed a total of three times. The first two with 3M FastCut and a wool pad and the third time with 3M FastCut and a foam pad.

In the photo below you can see the difference of the gel coat on the right after sanding and two rounds of rubbing. On the other side of the tape, the gel coat is untouched other than a simple wash, and it is nothing else than just heavy oxidation.

The get rid of all the marks from the polishing machine I had planned to use the 3M’s medium and fine rubbing/polish. But even though I used a lot of water from a spray bottle it kept burning and sticking to the hull.

Most likely this was due to the hull not being adequately washed inbetween. With newly waxed boats just next to me I didn’t want to use a power washer and heavy cleaners. I had to settle with just water and microfiber towels in between rounds of rubbing.

To properly protect against further oxidation I added a thick layer of wax and left it sitting over the night. It’s a hard work removing the thick layer of wax. But if it adds some extra protection it is worth it.

I exceed the original plan of four days by far. In total it took me six and a half day from nine a clock in the morning until the sun went down around eight in the evening. Hope I feel it was worth it in the fall.

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