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natew 06-19-2006 05:50 PM

Newbie Looking for fiberglass advice
Forgive me for not being a sailor but I know that most of you guys are the best at doing repairs so I thought I'd ask here. I searched through the posts and couldn't find what I was looking for so links or advice is greatly appreciated!
Here's my story:
I've got an old fiberglass canoe that I want to repair as a project to kill some time and to get the hang of things. What I started with was the fiberglass and then some genius decided to plug some holes/cracks with clear silicone (bought this from and auction for $20) Anyway, I've since removed all the silicone and sanded down the outside with an 80 grit paper. I still have a number of small scratches around the outside area that I need to fill with something and then about 6-8 holes through the hull that I need to patch with a fiberglass kit. I want to fix the holes and such and then gelcoat the whole thing. I've read the article on gelcoat and feel good about that but I'd like some advice on the fiberglass/scratch repair. I want to do this right so it looks really nice and professional so I don't care how much time I have to spend. Money: I'd like to stay under $100.00 for materials (remember small canoe) anything in the realm of advice, things to keep in mind, and/or links would be appreciated!

hellosailor 06-19-2006 06:04 PM

Check out West System Epoxy, they make some of the best materials and have outstanding technical support (free, you just pay for the phone call) AND they have booklets and videos available if you need them.

Forget about gelcoat, you need regular epoxy and fiberglass and "regular" patching. If you want to disappear the damages, and bring them back to full strength, typically you grind them out so the surface tapers at a 1:12 taper down to the hole (i.e. if the hull is 1/16" thick, you taper out 12/16" around it) and then you build up the area with fiberglass and epoxy. Then finish it after all the work is done, which probably would mean repainting the canoe with a two-part urethane paint.
West can walk you through all the details, if you want a truly "better than new" result, that's how to get it. Under $100? Don't think so. You can't buy a canoe for under $100, much less the materials to refinish it. That might buy you materials to repair the damages properly--but not enough to refinish it as well. Maybe $200.

natew 06-19-2006 06:11 PM

thanks for the response. I'll check them out. You don't think a gelcoat will work though? I love that high sheen.... can I gelcoat it?

Faster 06-19-2006 07:44 PM

You can, but you'll have to sand/buff/polish the gelcoat anyhow because it's not coming out of a polished mold. You'll get better results repairing and fairing the canoe, then priming and painting with a good 2 part polyurethane paint.. There are versions for spraying, and for brushing or rolling, all of which can get good results, especially on a small job like that. However as noted above, it won't happen for $100.

Good luck.

sailingdog 06-20-2006 12:14 PM

I'd second hellosailor and faster on this. Gelcoating isn't the best way to go for the repair. The West system is excellent. One thing to be careful of is that silicone is extremely pervasive and difficult to remove completely. Sanding often just embeds the silicone into the sanded substrate, and makes the epoxy far less likely to bond completely. There are some products specifically designed to remove silicones and their residue, which might be well worth using before going ahead with the epoxy.

natew 06-20-2006 12:26 PM

Anyone have tips and tricks for when I'm fiberglassing? I.E. filler mix ratios etc... I think since this is my first project I'm going to keep it cheap and just get 2 high quality patch kits for about $50.00 and a gallon of some white clear coat and try it. If it fails miserably I don't really care since it is my first try and I don't forsee a $20.00 canoe being worth $300.00 to restore *L* I appreciate everyone's advice and insight though and will keep that in mind for future projects... I am also aware of the fact that I probably sound like a complete idiot for attempting to do this the way that I'm thinking but I'll try and keep everyone posted with pictures and such.... hopefully I can get it done in about 2 weeks.

What's a good product to use on removing silicone? I didn't even think of it embeding...

natew 06-20-2006 12:34 PM

I just did some research further about the poly paint and I see why you guys are suggesting it... I also see now why you say that I'm not going to pull it off for $100.00 *L*
What do you guys think will happen if I attempt to gel coat it? is it going to fail miserably? look like crap? or will it last for maybe a summer or something? If the gel coat goes to $^^#@ can I use the poly paint over the top of it? (after prep of course...)

sailingdog 06-20-2006 12:41 PM

CharlieCobra 06-20-2006 01:06 PM

If ya go the gelcoat route, watch your sanding depth when finish sanding. Ya don't wanna expose the edges of the old holes.

natew 06-20-2006 01:16 PM

all of my sanding is going to be done by hand with a block and a low power palm sander intially.... I've gone over half the boat thus far with the block/palm sander and that has seemed to work fairly well for removing the old paint and junk after I scraped it clean. Then I'm using a semi stiff wire brush and some soft scrub to get the dirt and grit out of the little scratches. Next I plan on picking up some prep stuff to remove the silicone (as mentioned earlier) and any built up stuff and lay in the fillers and fiberglass. After the fiberglass is in there I'll attempt to feather it out and blend it to as level as possible without comprimising strength.
Does that sound like a good process/approach or am I missing something?

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