So exactly how much oxidation and abuse of gelcoat is too much abuse? How do you know when it's to far gone to restore it?
The reason I ask is because I see LOTS of gelcoated boats being painted, in the same color for that matter, that could have clearly been "restored" for thousands less. With the price of Awlgrip hull work between $150.00 to $300.00 per foot depending on prep work required why don't more folks re-condition gelcoat?
To show what can be done I needed a primo abuse case and I found one. A neighbor of mine had a 9 foot sailing dinghy that has been sitting upside down, uncovered and unprotected for the last 19 years. His kids now grown and gone last used it in the late 80's. I gave him $200.00 for it (I plan on restoring it for my daughter) and rolled it home yesterday.
I have yet to find a fiberglass hull I can't make shine yet I hear many complain that gelcoat can't be restored at a certain point. While that may be true,I have yet to find that point..
Yesterday, I pressure washed the hull then wet sanded beginning at P600 then moved to P1000. Today when I got home from work I busted out my buffer and began compounding. I used a 3M compounding grade pad, Makita 9227C buffer and Presta Ultra Cutting Creme compound..
As you can see even the MOST neglected gel coat can shine again. There is no wax and I have not yet polished it just compounded..
Before and After: