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Tom Wood 08-26-2000 08:00 PM

Gelcoat Repair
<HTML><!-- eWebEditPro --><P>My 1978 Cal 2-29 has developed little dime size chips or ulcers in the fiberglass that take out the white part of the glass, leaving just the darker unfinished glass beneath. How can I fix this?</P><P>Dave</P><P><STRONG>Tom Wood responds:</STRONG></P><P>Dave:</P><P>You've got a tough one there. Without seeing it first hand, it sounds like the&nbsp;gelcoat is delaminating from the skin coat.&nbsp;Gelcoat is rather brittle, becoming more so with age. The underlying fiberlass, while certainly strong, does have some flexibility. This creates a situation where a hard surface is coated over a more flexible one, and as they age, every little stress shows up in the harder material—in this case the gelcoat.</P><P>My guess is that when the boat was built, the&nbsp;gelcoat was allowed to cure just a tad too long before the skin coat was laid into the mold. This made a poor bond between the&nbsp;gelcoat and the fiberglass—good enough for 22 years of service, but now the piper has arrived. The weak spots will probably continue to "pop" off in dime-sized pieces as the bond continues to weaken&nbsp;every time the area around it is stressed. That can be from as little as a foot tread.</P><P>How to fix it? If you insist on always having a Bristol appearance, get a&nbsp;Dremel tool, acetone, rags, putty knife,&nbsp;gelcoat paste in a matching color, a sander, electric buffer, sandpaper, and buffing compound—oh, and don't forget the wax. Grind out the chip to roughen the edges and base, making sure that the rest of the adjacent&nbsp;gelcoat is in good condition. Clean out with acetone, activate a dab of gelcoat, and press it into the bare spot firmly and evenly. After it cures, sand and buff to blend with the rest of the area—re-fill if low spots remain, repeating the process. Wax when finished.</P><P>Now, if you can stand a less than perfect boat for some period of time, fill in the same way using a polyester filler like America's Cup, or an epoxy filler like Marine-tex, following the same procedure. After you feel like you have enough blotches on the deck, have it painted for a brand new look. But don't be surprised if the first dime pops up a month after you paid good money for a paint job.</P><STRONG><P><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD height=8>&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=center><A href=""><IMG height=48 src="" width=320 border=0></A></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><P></P></STRONG></HTML>

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