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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 08-05-2009
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Exclamation Gelcoat Cleaning/Restoration

Just got an old Hobie Cat as payment for a debt owed to me. The boat looks like it's in pretty remarkable condition with the exception of very dark discoloration below the waterline. I have a feeling this boat sat in the water for upwards of 10 years without cleaning.

I have attempted to use a diluted solution of bleach water but it only slightly takes it out.


Any suggestions? Short of repainting? I am looking for something simple I can apply to remove the stains and get this boat at least looking somewhat new.

Thanks everyone,
Justin
Lafayette, CO
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Old 08-05-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matthjus View Post
Just got an old Hobie Cat as payment for a debt owed to me. The boat looks like it's in pretty remarkable condition with the exception of very dark discoloration below the waterline. I have a feeling this boat sat in the water for upwards of 10 years without cleaning. Any suggestions? Short of repainting?
The Hobie Forum might have tips ( Hobie Cat Forums • Index page )

There's another bunch of cat sailors at BeachCats ( TheBeachcats.com - Catamaran Sailing ) and ( beachcats : Beachcats, sailing beach catamarans. )

Much will depend on what the stain is - algae, motor oil and gasoline scum, mineral deposits, mildew. Each takes it own cleaner - there's nothing universal.

From my experience CLR works on some mineral and organic stains, but keep it away from any metal trim.

Scrubbing Bubbles works on other organics. Spray it on a dry hull - water lessens its strength - let it work about 15 min. before rinsing.

Oxalic Acid (wood bleach) will remove rust. A mild form comes in the cleanser Bar Keeper's Friend and you get the mechanical action of a mild abrasive too.

You can run through different levels of mechanical abrasives from Bon Ami hard soap granules up to Ajax with powdered silica (sand).

Beyond that you are into rubbing out or even wet-sanding back the gelcoat layer to try and find unstained material. Gelcoat is simply fiberglass resin without the glass fibers and with colorant for a cosmetic top coat. It's laid on 10x thicker than paint so you get a little room to sand down some. If you hit the fiberglass underneith, that's all she wrote - epoxy primer and paint is the last resort.
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Old 08-05-2009
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TSP tri sodium phosphate. at your local hardware store in the paint section. Wet with water, sprinkle on, wait, scrub lightly, rinse off.
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Old 08-06-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matthjus View Post
Any suggestions? Short of repainting?
Dan has some good suggestions. But one thing you should know - Hobies are not like most other fiberglass boats. It is not standard for one to be painted at all, because they are not meant to be left in the water. So if you are right and it was in water for 10 years, you probably have other issues besides staining to deal with. You need to be concerned about hull delamination. Where on this board we talk about hulls blistering, a Hobie will likely delaminate. A Hobie hull is a sandwich of two thin layers of fiberglass separated by a foam core. This sandwich gives the hull its rigidity and strength - kind of like plywood. Osmosis will delaminate the layers and cause 'soft' hulls. You should test your hulls for this (all over - but especially the stained areas) by manually pushing firmly all over the hulls. Any springiness indicates delam. A little bit isn't a death sentence and can be repaired. A lot over a large area isn't worth fixing. There is a lot more info on the Hobie company forum. Good luck!

Last edited by ottos; 08-11-2009 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 08-06-2009
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If none of the above works for you try a solution of muriatic acid (HCl) and water. Leave it on the hull for a few minutes then rinse off with a hose. Don't get it anywhere near any kind of metal fittings or your skin and eyes.
Marinized version: On Off by Mary Kate products.
Land based version: available in most big box stores as Muriatic Acid, used by masons for cleaning concrete etc.
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Old 08-10-2009
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Well, I took the boat to a local guy who does gelcoat repairs to have him look at the hull. He said it is in pretty good condition but he'd charge me $250 to clean the discoloration

I tried a combination of a few cleaning agents but then looked at a toilet cleaner called "The Works" which has muriatic acid as well as some degergents. What the gelcoat guy said would take $250 and two full days of work took me 5 bottles of "The Works" at $1.00 each.

The stuff works great! There was a dark brown staining from algae, and what looked like about 1 mm of hard water stains, like calcium deposits on about 50% of the wet area. All I did was soak the affected areas in "The Works" and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then a high pressure hose and repeated the process. Then soap and water, rubbing compound, and a light coat of wax. Good as new!

$250? No way! $5.00 and an afternoon of drinking beers in the sun? Hell yes!
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