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post #1 of 6 Old 05-15-2008 Thread Starter
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Shiny Fiberglass

'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.
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post #2 of 6 Old 05-15-2008
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Yep, sandpaper helps. Using high-grit sandpaper I was able to buff the starboard side of my boat, removing at least some of the weird paint-like substance that PO used to cover up "dock rash". Dock scratches themselves were really not that bad, and if PO only used the same method - the boat would have looked good as new, but too late for that now. As it stands, proper sanding can achieve quite a bit even on essentially damaged gelcoat.
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post #3 of 6 Old 05-15-2008
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Glad I could be of help!

I can't figure out why you had such deep scratches though, unless you dropped the sponge and tried to re-use it? By the way NEVER use a kitchen type sponge for compounding, polishing or applying a wax and always use a dedicated applicator pad in either terry cloth, microfiber or foam. Sponges are and can be VERY, VERY abrasive!!

I use either these Zymoil pads or the similar foam applicator from Meguiars.

They are available from any auto parts supply store.. Was it a Turtle Wax compound??

P.S. Turtle Wax is worth about a 1/100th of what you actually paid for it and that was not much...

Rule number one of polishing & buffing

Rule #1 If it hits the ground it's DONE! Put it away and DO NOT touch it again until you can wash it.!!! This includes rags, foam waxing pads, terry cloth and compounding and polishing pads!!

-Maine Sail / CS-36T

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post #4 of 6 Old 05-15-2008
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Congratulations! Halekai really put some wonderful stuff together for us. Doing the hull is my #1 priority for next season. This year has been full of other maintenance items.

How long did you spend restoring your shine?

It's better to have your enemies inside your tent pissing out than outside your tent pissing in...
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post #5 of 6 Old 05-15-2008
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I'll join the Halekai-restoration-bandwagon. I, too followed most the steps religously, save the wet-sand (if I find myself looking at some extra time next spring, I'll probably put some sandpaper to her.) I am VERY pleased with the results.

Thanks for the great instructions, bub!
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post #6 of 6 Old 05-15-2008 Thread Starter
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How long did it take? I didn't keep track, but I'd guess 40ish hours maybe.
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