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Old 06-18-2012
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Gel coat microcracks

My 68 Ericson Crealock has microcracks on lots of surfaces. How do I repair or what to paint with to cover them up.
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Old 06-19-2012
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Re: Gel coat microcracks

I have had this on two boats of that era, including the one I have now. There is no permanent
cover-up fix. I have tried a number of different approaches but nothing works as a permanent fix. You can epoxy prime with high-build but in a few years the cracks will reappear. The only way to really fix it is to sand off the gelcoat completely. Back in the 60s they did not formulate resins for the different expansion rates of gelcoat and underlying glass which is, as I understand, the reason for this. So, live with it, cover it up every few years, or start sanding
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Old 06-19-2012
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Re: Gel coat microcracks

I spoke to both West Syetem and MAS Epoxy about this a few years ago. They both had suggested using a penetrating epoxy resin to saturate the cracks and then start with the various primers and paints.

My understanding is that there are basically two types of cracking, stress cracks which is generally a form of fatique and which will come back unless reinforced. The other form is a chemical break down of the gelcoat which occurs in gelcoats of all eras since gelcoat is unreinforced and made more brittle by the addition of pigment.

The problem is generally worse in the non-skid areas due to the variation in thickness but most visible on flat surfaces, like cabin sides. I like the sound of something like the KiwiGrip non-skid since it is slightly elastic.
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Old 06-19-2012
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Re: Gel coat microcracks

I have tried all that. I think the problem must be that the cracks are so thin that there is no way to clean them effectively. If they could somehow be cleaned out with solvent so that a bond could be made with epoxy, it might be feasible. I have tried multiple soakings with acetone, soap, pressure, etc. Nothing seems to be able to get down into those microscopic fissures to get them clean. I've tried squeegeeing in West, different primers...all ineffective in a couple of years. I did my decks with Kiwi, which is incredibly tough stuff and have just noticed this spring that some hairline cracks are appearing in that now after 3 years. It seems like the only real fix is to sand off the gelcoat which is a job I don't have the motivation to tackle just for appearance sake.
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