Join Date: May 2007
Thanked 25 Times in 25 Posts
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'Just a quick story and a thanks to Halekai36 for his info. I mentioned this in an existing thread, but I want to confirm/testify regarding his posted method for restoring fiberglass.
This Spring I had some black streaks that wouldn't come off the topsides of my '07 Catalina 309. I finally went at them with a new sponge and some Turtle Wax Polish. Worked great. I did all the starboard side and most of the port. As I went along, the streaks disappeared and the polish dried to a haze...this is great!....La La La. When I rinsed off the haze I discovered that ALL the shine was gone from the topsides and there were DEEP swirl scratches everywhere. Contaminated sponge? Demons? Funky polish? Whatever...pretty sure this was the stupidest thing I've done in well over a decade.
I searched Sailnet and the rest of the net for info on a fix. Most of the wisdom out there says DO NOT attempt to fix this yourself. Professional buffer polishers and rubbing compound are not for amateurs. You'll burn your fiberglass, etc.
I didn't even bother asking the marina what they'd charge to restore it. I imagine we're talkin' thousands.
I ended up using Halekai36's instructions for fiberglass restoration and followed them religiously. 'Used the Dewalt Buffer Polisher, 3M products, and sanded with 600, 1000, and 1500.
I initially simply used rubbing compound followed by polish without sanding and got shine, but it didn't begin to take care of the scratches. The idea of using sandpaper of any grit on my glass was just plain spooky and I had hoped to avoid it. But I wet-sanded per his instructions and couldn't go wrong.
Sorry, I don't have pictures of the finished job, but you know what a new boat looks like, right? That's what my boat looks like now. Positively glassy from stem to stern. No loss of fairness in the hull. Wow.
I pass this on so others, in their pursuit of shine, might access Halekai36's information. If the thought of taking sandpaper to your hull sounds radical and not a good idea for a do-it-yourselfer, I'm here to tell you that with reasonable skill and care you can turn you topsides into a mirror, IF you follow the instructions.
Loss of gelcoat was minimal, and easily controlled.
It's hard for me to put a positive spin on messing up the hull on my nearly new boat, but now I have the skills to maintain the glass anywhere on my boat. And knowing how to take dull glass and make it shiny is just plain cool. The answer is NOT in some one-step miracle product. It's a process, and it's a labor intensive process, with the right products and tools.
Thanks again to Halekai36 for posting detailed info that was un-findable elsewhere on the web, and a "go for it" for those of you who are hesitant about coaxing the shine out of your faded boat.