That’s right, its mid-week here as we will be off for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday and Friday. We did have a snafu with the winch people on the bearings we so desperately need for the small lift. I ordered them on Friday afternoon and since they couldn’t ship until Monday I ordered them overnight. I emailed the order specifying overnight, called and talked to them and specified overnight and then called yesterday when I found they were set up for ground delivery. They upgraded the order to overnight for me and then they shipped them ground from Oklahoma. What a bummer! They admitted when I called this morning that the order was marked overnight and so are sending me another set today. This puts a crimp on hauling the boats on the other side of the creek for this week.
It is cold and wet out here today but we can still haul boats on this side and there are enough to keep us busy. I guess you can’t get any wetter than wet so pressure washing is not a problem.
And I know you don’t get tired of reprints (hopefully). I feel like I need to do a bunch of new articles so I’ll have something to reprint next fall!
Making your fiberglass shine
September 27th, 2007
We have picked up many customers over the years based on our ability to polish gelcoat. If you have the proper gelcoat maintenance performed your boat will look like new for a long time. How do we do it?
The proper shine requires a combination of the right product, the right technique and time. We will discuss each of these issues independently.
The right product
We have tried many products over the years. Everyone claims they have the “miracle – less work” product and this is just not true. I have used plenty of marine “waxes” over the years, both paste and liquid, as well as automotive products. To start with, a cleaner – wax is a misnomer. As far as I can tell, there is no such thing. You need to clean before using any product or you are coating the dirt with wax and making it impossible to get off. Most of the boats we see that have not been regularly polished require compounding first. The degree of compounding is determined by the shape of the gelcoat, but suffice it to say, this step can not be skipped if you hope to have a good looking boat. This also requires the right product. For standard duty compounding we prefer 3M Imperial Compound. While this is one of the most expensive compounds, the labor it saves more than makes up for the expense of the product used. Our preferred boat polish is Aquatech High Gloss Polish. Don’t be confused by the product name. Often on cars, polish is used instead of compound. This product offers polymer protection that replaces wax and is more effective for long term shine.
The Right Technique
Anyone can pick up a buffer, and believe me, we have had some people here try who just did not have the skill level required to do the job right. You need to have the proper buffer and a good lamb’s wool bonnet on it to do the job right. If you revert to using the edge of the buffing pad, as most people are prone to do, you will not get a good job. Another tendency people have is to move too fast. If you do, you will start noticing “skipped” or dull spots. It is best to work out of the sun where you can see what you are doing without having the glare of the sun masking your vision. As I mentioned before, you don’t even pick up the buffer until you have given the boat a good bath. Don’t rely on compounding to clean the hull or you will be taking away too much gelcoat. Another tip is to work off scaffolding. I have tried waxing boats off of a ladder before and it is no fun. You tire yourself out going up and down and moving the ladder. The scaffolding allows you to flow with the hull and not miss any spots.
Based on our history of achieving the perfect shine on boats, you can pretty much allow the following amount for a 36′ boat.
1. Washing the boat, not including any aggressive cleaning such as tar removal, etc. 2-3 hours to do it right.
2. Compounding – includes time to set up scaffolding, depending on how much is needed you can figure on about 5-6 hours per side (10-12 hrs).
3. Polishing – includes time to take down scaffolding and clean up time – about 3-4 hours per side (6-8 hrs)
As you can see you will need to invest as much as 24 hours to get the hull looking perfect. And to do a superstructure on may boats is much more time intensive as it is not normally just flat surfaces like a hull. There are cabins, cabin tops, bulwarks, flybridges and hardware and windows to work around – all of which take more time.
Is this a do-it-yourself job? Maybe, but not many people have the technique or time to do what can be done at a yard. Stop by to look at some of our jobs to see what the final product should look like.
Below, we took a picture of the progress on the compounding of this boat to show the difference.