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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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Old 02-01-2008
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Gelcoat repair.

I own an early 70’s fibergalss 24’ Cal T/4 and I have some fine hairline (spider web-for lack of a better term) cracks in the gelcoat mostly in the areas of compound curves. I have never worked with gelcoat nor have I worked with fiberglass. I am interested in doing the repair myself, mostly for the experience. How does a person go about fixing fine hairline (spider web) cracks in the gelcoat? A simple step by step explanation would be helpful, or if you can recommend a book on the subject I would be interested in as well. I checked out several books from the library but they weren’t really very helpful.

Last edited by Northbeach; 02-01-2008 at 05:01 PM.
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This Old Boat by Don Casey has a good discussion of how to do it. It also discusses more in-depth repairs like the crazing you discussed. Gel coat may not be the answer for these. I'd read it and then decide.

Good luck with your project.

LH
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Unhappy Why is it I can't post pictures?

I tried to attach several .jpg pictures of the gelcoat cracks for reference but I was not able to do this. Why is it I can't post pictures, as a picture is worth a thousand words?
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Northbeach-

The photo posting on Sailnet is basically broken. I highly recommend you get a picasa or flickr account and then post your photos there...

Picasa

Flickr

Then use the yellow linked photo icon in the toolbar to link to the posted photos.
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Link to hairline cracks in gelcoat pictures - I hope

I think this is the link to the flickr pages I just set up for the pictures I couldn't upload here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/23466638@N08/
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I think those look fix-able, but you need to fix the cause along with cosmetics. Make sure you have good backing plates behind them and that the fittings themselves aren't being overstressed.

Anyone abe to fix similar cracks in diamond pattern non-skid? If I carve the cracks open, I have no chance at restoring the pattern to match the rest of the deck.

Thanks!
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What I have seen done for the diamond pattern is to take a wax or clay mold of an existing undamaged section and use it to press a pattern in place on the new gel when it begins to dry. The guy that did it also then used a razor blade to make the cuts in the diamond pattern a bit more deep and real looking. Tedious but it came out quite well.
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Another possibility is to order a Gibco flex mold. They make a lot of the non-skid patterns for many of the boat manufacturers. Another option is to make a silicone or fiberglass mold of the non-skid surface, and then use that with mold release to cast the replacement gelcoat.
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I'm going to try to use plaster to copy my pattern, use mold release and fix some nicks and chips in the nonskid this year. I'll let you know how it turns out.
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I found this on the Boat US page.

"Don Casey Tip #15
Gelcoat Crazing

If the surface of your boat looks like a cracked eggshell, the gelcoat is suffering from crazing (sometimes called alligatoring). The easiest repair method is to sand the surface heavily and roll on two coats of epoxy primer followed by two coats of two-part linear polyurethane. The epoxy fills and seals the cracks, and the polyurethane restores the color and gloss.

If you don't want to use paint, you can grind away most of the crazed gelcoat and replace it with a fresh application of color-matching gelcoat paste. What won't work is to "paint" over the crazing with new gelcoat. The gelcoat will bridge the cracks rather than filling them, and the crazing will soon return.

By the way, localized crazing (as opposed to all over the boat) is almost always due to flexing of the underlying laminate. In this case, you must stiffen the affected area before you can successfully repair the crazing."
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