How can I fix (at least sort of) lost fiberglass from hatch cover? - SailNet Community

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Old 07-01-2011
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How can I fix (at least sort of) lost fiberglass from hatch cover?

Hello, I am new to this forum. My husband and I just bought our first sailboat - it's a 25' 1977 O'day. We got it for under $3000 so of course it needs some work, although structurally I think it's in pretty good shape.

I have a few questions about how to repair some items. The first is the hatch cover. This is the biggest problem with the boat. The fiberglass has worn off on part of the hatch cover, so you can actually see the glassy-ness of it. Sorry, I don't know the correct terms just yet. We just bought it last night, so I don't have a good pic, but I got this still from a video I took. How can I paint over this, or repair it in some way?

Picture Attached

Other questions I have, if anybody doesn't mind answering are:

There is some rust around some screws on the inside of the cabin. What should I use to remove that rust?

The windows aren't cracked, but they seem to have sort of stress fractures, but on the inside, you can't touch them. Is there any way to reduce the look of that? I'm not sure if they are fractures, I don't know how to describe it. You see it a lot on old sailboats, the windows just aren't really clear.

Any other thoughts on how to clean up an old fiberglass boat?

Thank you!
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Old 07-01-2011
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You need to buy Don Casey's book "This Old Boat" and work your way through it. Might need to re-gelcoat the hatch cover or paint it. Rust on screws in cabin may mean you have deck leaks that need to be fixed. Portlights may need replacing and rebedding. Get the book. First you need to make the boat safe to sail and take it out and have fun with it. Otherwise it will be a neverending project and you'll lose interest. Observe the 10' rule, if it looks good from 10' away its fine.
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Old 07-01-2011
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Survey said? Hope you did not buy it without lifting it out of the water for a bottom inspection!

The hatch edge can be remade but it's best done off the boat. The broken edge needs to be feather edged about 3" or so. epoxy cloth soaked cloth is glued on with epoxy. use a piece of semi rigid vinyl to give it form until it hardens. After, you build it up with more cloth and filler, grind and sand to make the same as the original edge. The gelcoat (cream color unique to Oday) is hard to match with gel coat kits. Paint may be the better option. epoxy cannot be left exposed to sunlight

All the non skid needs to be cleaned with strong cleaners and fine scrub brushes, there's a diagonal pattern you should follow when scrubbing it. If it's really badly oxidized you may need to use super fine waterproof sandpaper to clean it up. 600, 800, 1000, grit. 1000 grit is close to the same as most rubbing compounds although you can get papers up to 3000 grit. I've had no luck removing rust stains. The windows are crazed, best to replace.
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Last edited by deniseO30; 07-01-2011 at 08:39 AM.
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Old 07-01-2011
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Sounds like on the hatch cover that your not missing fiberglass, but the gelcoat has been rubbed off - Not a big deal to repair. As mentioned prevoiusly - Don Casey's book is a good start.

For that repair - the hardest part is the gelcoat matching - you can give it a try yourself, but after many years of trying to match gelcoat on my boats, I have given up (I dont have the matching gene). Take the hatch to a gelcoat shop - You likely have something near where you are - Doesn't have to be a marine fiberglass shop - You can even ask you local hot-tub dealers where they would go - or have a good boatyard do it.

Then its a simple matter of sanding the surface with 60 grit, thinning the gelcoat with Acetone or Styrene to about 2 parts gel to 1 part thinner (which is much more then recommended by the gelcoat mfg, but its never caused me problems), and using a Preval sprayer to spray it on. Let it sit for about 20 min or so for the Acetone or Styrene to evaporate and the gelcoat to begin to kick. Cover it with PVA mold release (also sprayed with a Preval (thin the PVA with water about 1:1). Let it sit overnight, wash off the PVA with water and then begin sanding starting with 120 and moving up through 1000, followed by compounding and polishing.

Its pretty easy and the hatch is a great starter since you can get it off the boat - You will have plenty of Gelcoat left over for the other touchups as well.

If the hatch has a non-skid pattern on it - thats a bit more challenging to get right - There are ways to do it, but you may want to think about just sanding the area smooth if it wont cause a hazard for slipping.
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Old 07-01-2011
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+1 on the book recommendation.

If the hatch cover is the biggest issue with the boat, you made a very good purchase. Do a little gelcoat repair to get it to an acceptable look. Rust on the screws below deck is more serious. Don't try to get the rust off. Try to find the cause. Take off whatever deck hardware it is holding, seal the hole and re-bed it. Do it in time for all the deck penetrations (lots on this on the book, also google mainesails guide for bedding deck hardware with butyl tape, better than Casey's method). Crazed port lights will need replacement. Not too big of a job. Again, the book will help a lot there.

More important than all, go out sailing. Don't let the repairs, especially cosmetic ones, burn all your money/energy.
1978 Gulfstar 50'
Clark Sailing Dinghy 10'
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Old 07-02-2011
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Wow, thank you everybody for the great responses. I will definitely look into getting that book, and I really appreciate the informative responses for everyone!
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