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Now for the dumbest question(s) of all....

Hi all,

I've enjoyed reading the posts for years - learned a ton. I have a few questions on paint/gelcoat, though, that I can't seem to find - look as I might. I'll try to be brief but informative in what I'm looking for.

I'm pretty handy with tools and materials. Most of my "body work" experience, however, is with cars. I'm familiar with Bondo, paint prep, and paint. What I'm not familiar with is boat body work.

Our boat is a T23 Columbia in relatively good shape inside - only a few dings/scratche on the outside. I've sanded/painted/rewired the trailer, rewired all of the running lights/cabin lights/fuse panel etc, and just generally refurbished what needed it. My "final frontier", if you will, is the hull - the chips and repainting/re-gelling (is that actually a word?). Once the chips are repaired, I'd like to paint the bottom and (re-gel?) the topside. The paint on the hull might very well be the original 37-year-old paint, and wipes off as a powder when touched. First dumb question - what prep do I need to do to the bottom before painting?

Knowing that the boat will sit on a trailer for a good majority of the year, but may see a few weeks total in both fresh and salt water, what type/brand paint do any of you recommend? I'm looking for economy/durability, but am more worried about beehives than barnacles, if you know what I mean.

Finally, what the heck do I do to the topside? Again, it's probably the original gelcoat. We live in the desert Southwest (yeah, I know.... I sailboat in the desert - believe me, I get the looks when towing it), so the sun is intense. Is there some miracle gel for refurbishing the top, or am I looking at a complete strip and re-gel? If a full strip, how far down do I go? I imagine not all the way to fiberglass, but I don't know.

I look forward to your replies/wisdom. Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 8 Old 08-26-2009 Thread Starter
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Now for the dumbest question(s) of all....

Hi all,

I've enjoyed reading the posts for years - learned a ton. I have a few questions on paint/gelcoat, though, that I can't seem to find - look as I might. I'll try to be brief but informative in what I'm looking for.

I'm pretty handy with tools and materials. Most of my "body work" experience, however, is with cars. I'm familiar with Bondo, paint prep, and paint. What I'm not familiar with is boat body work.

Our boat is a T23 Columbia in relatively good shape inside - only a few dings/scratche on the outside. I've sanded/painted/rewired the trailer, rewired all of the running lights/cabin lights/fuse panel etc, and just generally refurbished what needed it. My "final frontier", if you will, is the hull - the chips and repainting/re-gelling (is that actually a word?). Once the chips are repaired, I'd like to paint the bottom and (re-gel?) the topside. The paint on the hull might very well be the original 37-year-old paint, and wipes off as a powder when touched. First dumb question - what prep do I need to do to the bottom before painting?

Knowing that the boat will sit on a trailer for a good majority of the year, but may see a few weeks total in both fresh and salt water, what type/brand paint do any of you recommend? I'm looking for economy/durability, but am more worried about beehives than barnacles, if you know what I mean.

Finally, what the heck do I do to the topside? Again, it's probably the original gelcoat. We live in the desert Southwest (yeah, I know.... I sailboat in the desert - believe me, I get the looks when towing it), so the sun is intense. Is there some miracle gel for refurbishing the top, or am I looking at a complete strip and re-gel? If a full strip, how far down do I go? I imagine not all the way to fiberglass, but I don't know.

Is this do-able, or am I better off trying to find the molds and laying up a new boat for all the work I'd put in to it?

I look forward to your replies/wisdom. Thanks in advance
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post #3 of 8 Old 08-26-2009 Thread Starter
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sorry for the double post

Sorry for the double post
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post #4 of 8 Old 08-26-2009
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My "final frontier", if you will, is the hull - the chips and repainting/re-gelling (is that actually a word?). Once the chips are repaired, I'd like to paint the bottom and (re-gel?) the topside. The paint on the hull might very well be the original 37-year-old paint, and wipes off as a powder when touched. First dumb question - what prep do I need to do to the bottom before painting?
It's unlikely that you'll be re-gelcoating the boat. It is possible, but getting it to match on a boat that old will be next to impossible. The bottom paint is easy, and there is plenty of advice on this board already. The search feature kind of sucks here, so I use google to find threads on this board.

I doubt that the boat was painted from the factory. The powdery texture you have now is a result of the gelcoat oxidizing. You could wet sand and buff it, but it will oxidize again shortly. If you're talking about powdery bottom paint, that's pretty normal for an ablative paint.

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Knowing that the boat will sit on a trailer for a good majority of the year, but may see a few weeks total in both fresh and salt water, what type/brand paint do any of you recommend? I'm looking for economy/durability, but am more worried about beehives than barnacles, if you know what I mean.
I always recommend Interlux Perfection. It's a little pricey, but the durability has been awesome. I rarely put out my fenders, and when I rub the dock it just wipes off with Goo Gone. My boat's been in the lake 3 years and the paint still looks new. On the deck I have a few chips in the paint, the chips that came out still have fiberglass attached to them.

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Finally, what the heck do I do to the topside? Again, it's probably the original gelcoat. We live in the desert Southwest (yeah, I know.... I sailboat in the desert - believe me, I get the looks when towing it), so the sun is intense. Is there some miracle gel for refurbishing the top, or am I looking at a complete strip and re-gel? If a full strip, how far down do I go? I imagine not all the way to fiberglass, but I don't know.
You're more likely going to be painting the whole boat. The bottom with the bottom paint of your choice. Keep in mind that some bottom paints don't like to be out of the water. If the boat stays on the trailer, you may want to skip the bottom paint anyway. It all depends on the amount of time the boat stays in the slip.

Chip repair is not done with bondo. Use epoxy such as west system or MAS with fairing fillers. This filler is generally brown and made of phenolic microballoons, so once you start you'll be painting. There are other products you can use as well, but the epoxy/fairing filler sands about the same as gelcoat so it's easier to get it straight.

I used Interlux paint products on my boat, and followed the instructions to the letter. There is a lot of advice out there, some good, some not so good. Always trust the manufacturer of the paint. Don't be afraid to call their help line either. They were very helpful both before and during my paint job.


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post #5 of 8 Old 08-26-2009
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You might try fake steel wool to remove the powder. You can get it at HOme Depot in the paint dept. I use the extra fine with dawn dish soap, then a wash with Turtle wax Zip Wax Car Wash.

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post #6 of 8 Old 08-26-2009 Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the advice! Let me see if I have it straight:

Repair chips with epoxy/fairing fillers; sand to remove oxidized gelcoat and paint with Interlux Perfection (following their directions)?

Well, I guess all that's left is to get out there and do it - I'll try to post pix and updates as I go along. Thanks again!
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post #7 of 8 Old 08-26-2009
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Wow US - that is a beautiful boat dude. Nice work.


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post #8 of 8 Old 08-26-2009
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Wow US - that is a beautiful boat dude. Nice work.
Thanks Smak. It didn't turn out too bad for a $2500 junker.

This was the best part of the boat on the day I bought it.


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