From: (LMoore124) Subject: Re: Gelcoat repair tips needed (oops) Date: 31 Aug 1995 00:12:44 -0400

Original question:

>Well, I managed to put the first chip in the gelcoat of my new boat.  It's a
>small but deep (aboout 3/4" around, maybe 1/2" deep) gouge in the top at the
>very front edge of the bow.  Fortunately, the dealer gave me a container of the
>gelcoat mix from the boat, so color match won't be a problem.  I'm running out
>to Overton's to pick up some hardener at lunch today.
>If anyone has any experience with a repair of this kind, I'd appreciate some
>feedback...  How do I prep the area for filling?  How do I sand and polish the
>repair afterwards?
>The one thing I already know is not to run into the dock next time. :(

The first chip or ding is always the fardest to get over.

I'm a Correct Craft dealer (Nautiques) and here's the short version of how we do it in our shop.

First, get some 220 grit automotive type sandpaper and smooth the edges of the chip. Sand about 1/2" all the way around the spot to help it blend. Next we clean the entire spot with acetone or comparable resin thinner. BE CAREFUL! acetone will dissolve tape stripes and ruin vinyl.

Next we use masking tape to mask off an area about 6" around the chip to protect the good gelcoat. Tape very close the chip but not down in it.

Next we mix the gel with a thickner (Cabosil or polyester - available at any auto paint store) so it is just thick enough so it will not sag or run. Too much thickner makes it hard to spread. MIX UNTIL VERY SMOOTH - NO LUMPS.

Now add the hardner to the mixture. Most companies say to use 1.5 - 2.5% hardner. In the real world we add about six drops to about a tablespoon full of gel.

WORK FAST NOW - the gel will "kick off" in about 5-10 minutes depending on temperature. Use a plastic squeege (or a piece of thin cardboard) and fill the chip. Press the gel into the chip firmly to get all the air out. Drag the squeegee across the patch to recreate the basic shape. BE SURE to build te patch up higher than the masking tape because gel shrinks about 20% as it hardens. If you don't it will shrink and leave you with a little crater. Once you have built up the patch we recommend you leave it alone overnight to cure.

After it has cured use the 220 grit paper and a hard rubber sanding block to start cutting the patch down to the same height as the original surface. The masking tape will prevent you from scratching the good gel underneath. When the patch is almost down to the proper height you will start to sand into the tape. Now remove all the tape ad switch to 400 - 500 grit paper and sand the patch down so it is exactly the same height as the good gel. Next switch to 800 - 1000 grit and sand the patch and an area about 2 -3 inches around it to help blending.

After all this is done use a good heavy (red) rubbing compound to get rid of any scratches you still see in the patch and surrounding area. Switch to a fine (white) rubbing compound and polish the entire area. Finish with a good wax.

Sometimes this is easier said than done! Seriously, if you have any air bubbles or junk in the patch just grind it out and patch the patch using the same method.

Let me know how it turns out and feel free to call with questions.

Lee Moore
The Ski Club, Inc
800 245-2754
"Gotta Eat - Gotta Ski"