I have an older boat, a 1968 Spencer, and I want to fix her up, but I'm not sure how to go about it. She has several coats of paint that have chipped through and need to be filled before painting. Should I use a gelcoat to fill these areas or some kind of putty, or auto body bondo?
Thanks for getting in touch with us. If you'll be painting over the surfaces that you repair, there's no need to use gelcoat; a simple polyester-based putty like bondo will work fine. You can find most of the information you need for repairing dings, restoring gelcoat, repairing fiberglass, and applying paint in various articles here at SailNet. You might want to start by looking at Don Casey's Rebuilding a Damaged Boat. You might also want to consider purchasing a good, comprehensive DIY resource like Don Casey's "This Old Boat," which is available in the SailNet Store.
Best of luck with your restoration project.