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  #1  
Old 07-30-2008
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Painting question

I have just bought a 1973 Venture sailboat. My son and I took her out last weekend and everything seems to be in good working order. My only problem thus far is that the paint is severely faded. It is a light blue and appears to be original paint. I've tried to use rubbing compound and wax and all I accomplished was losing about 6 hours of hard work and sweat.

The boat really needs a paint job, but I don't think the investment value justifies paying over $1500 to get it sprayed. I could paint it with a brush but I'm afraid that it might not look good. I've seen people try to paint their car with a brush and it is obvious and it looks awful. Has anyone painted their fiberglass boat with a brush? How did it look when completed? Do you have any advise for me?

I would love to paint above the waterline with a high-gloss royal blue, repaint the topside white, and either leave the bottom light blue or use anti-fouling paint there. My thoughts were that if I used a very high quality marine paint and a real china bristle brush with all of the strokes in the lengthwise direction, it may not be noticeable that it was brushed. Or at least maybe it would appear like a faint wood grain.

I would rather leave it as it is until I could put more money into it than to have it turn out looking bad, so I'd really like some guidance from someone who has tried this already.

Thanks for your time and knowledge!
Happy sailing!
Chris
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What you want to do is roll and tip the boat, rather than using a brush. If you do a google search for roll and tip, you'll find a lot of information on it.
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If you check the Interlux paint web site, they have a couple of good articles on using the roll and tip method for painting. Of course they do from the Interlux paint perspective.
I've been doing some painting on my boat in the past year with this method and been getting very good results.
yachtpaint.com - the website of International and Interlux paints
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Interlux has very good tech support. I'd try giving them a call, they should be able to give you some tips. I have it in the past, brush paint a boat. It requires liberal use of the interlux brushing liquid added to the paint. Also requires a specific technique. They have a lot of info in the color selection guide available at all retailers. I used Interlux Toplac paint that has GREAT shine to it, but not as durable as their Brightsides paint. A 2 part paint would be much harder. Not that hard to get good results, but you'll be redoing it every few years. (2-5)
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It's not paint, trust me I know since I have a '76 V-21 sitting in my driveway. It's gelcoat and you just got the wrong compound or tried to do it by hand. Get the 3M machine rubbing compound to cut it first and follow with a good glaze. The chalky white haze will come out and she'll be a nice Robin's Egg blue again, for a while anyways. The white is actually an off white color when buffed out and looks like a light ivory.

Edit: Use a good low RPM buffer like one from Sears, no high RPM stuff or you'll burn the gelcoat. Keep it wet as you rub out the nastiness and be prepare to sling it everywhere. Do spots that are about 18" square and run the buffer against a screwdriver to clean the pad every couple of times. Typically, a concentric swirl with about three rings from the outside to the center of the pad is enough. Buff it until all traces of material are gone. Follow with the glaze afterwards to get a real high gloss finish.

Last edited by CharlieCobra; 07-30-2008 at 08:48 PM.
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CC is right...the finish currently on the boat is most likely the original gelcoat. It might be salvageable...it might not be. Halekai has a good post on restoring faded and badly oxidized gelcoat that might well be worth attempting prior to paint. The main reason I say this, is once you paint, you're basically stuck painting thereon.
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Clean it up with 400-800 wet dry paper, using the least abrasive possible to remove the oxidation, ie..the highest number that will do the job. You're polishing and cleaning gelcoat which deteriorates in UV light over time. While it oxidizes it loses it's original nice smooth surface, which is what gives it it's shine, and microscopic pits form in it resulting in a dull finish even after the oxidation is removed.

So you can polish all you want but chances are that you're going to either burn through the gelcoat or end up with a clean but dull finish.

After you've used the wet-dry paper, which you should always use wet, apply Poli-glow to the topsides and you'll be amazed at the shine. It'll probably last you about two years will little effort and you can put six coats on a 21' boat in about 30-40 minutes.

I've an older boat also, 1973, and have resisted painting her for years. I use the Poli-glow and she looks great. If you're going to paint I recommend that you use nothing but the best, such as an Awlgrip or an Imron. You want durability with appearance. Repainting, in my opinion, just offers the opportunity to screw up one more facet of the boat's finish each time you do it. And, once you paint a boat it's over-you'll always be painting your boat. You won't have to read to far around here to find people painting their boat every few years depending upon paint product chosen.

Halekai does indeed have some impressive wax jobs out there and they're great if you want to invest that amount of time-basically each year. With the Poli-glow you can get this project down to a 1-2 hour exercise annually.

You can find Poli-glow at MyBoatStore.com and it runs about $60 for a 32oz. kit and that's sufficient to do about six or seven coats on a thirty foot boat. Best "miracle" product I've ever found. Don't use it on your decks as it will make them so slippery you cannot stand up, but you can use it everywhere else. Practical Sailor magazine rated it very highly.
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If you do end up painting it, there's a recent thread in the "General" forum - I'm sure he'll give you some tips.
Here's the link
Progress! Finally!

you also may want to check out Pearson Triton #381 Glissando | Restoring, Maintaining, and Cruising a Plastic Classic on the Coast of Maine

But I'd try and get he gelcoat back first

Tom
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Thanks

Thanks for all of your help. I like the idea of restoring the gel coat, but the more I look at it, the more i realize there are some gouges, cracks, and scratches that will need to be filled and sanded. I doubt I could match the gel coat color.

I think I'll plan on painting her over the winter months. Maybe since its trailered I won't have to paint it again too often!

Thanks again!
Chris
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For what it's worth, Practical Sailor also has an article on painting this month. It's well worth reading.

BTW, trying to put on any dark color rolling and tipping doesn't work very well. I'm not sure why, but the color doesn't seem to come out evenly, and the dark paints, with more pigment (I guess) are more prone to sagging on vertical surfaces.

If you are indeed working with gelcoat, then I agree with Sway. Wet sand it with 600, then 800 grit wet or dry paper. WET SAND IT! Use a bucket of soapy water for your sandpaper. It'll help the keep the paper from loading up, and it will remove all of the old waxes, polished, road oil, etc. Then get after it using a good buffer at no more than 1800 RPM, with a good bonnet.

Try and work in the shade if you can to keep the temperature down. If it's as oxidized out as you describe, I'd start off with 3M Super Duty rubbing compound, then after getting a start on the shine, I'd switch to 3M Imperial to bring it up the rest of the way. If you want to be fanatical, you can do it with 3M Finesse It. Then put on at least two good coats of wax. 3M or Collinite. I personally have had rotten luck with McGuire and Mother's waxes.

Don't even bother with the combination polish/waxes. Like most compromise products, they don't do either very well.

BTW, I've done what you're doing, but on a 56 foot boat. It took me three days to sand the really bad areas, compound and wax the hull. (long days... )
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