getting gel coat from the factory

-- Last Updated: Jul-08-08 12:17 AM EST --

hello all. recently, while reading posts, i've noticed the frequent mention of repairing boats by using gel coat and the difficulty/customer service challenge, in getting matching gel coat from the factory.

i've worked for years in outdoor retail, and recently for a few months in a company that specializes in industrial plastics and paints for the marine business, including all resins and gel coats and thought i would pass on my perspective.

gel coat is bought in large quantity, to mass produce boats, and is rather difficult to work with, being designed to be sprayed into a mold, into which a boat is made. it is rarely decanted into small quantities, and never in a custom or unique colour. it would be far too costly and difficult for a boat maker to do so.

buying small quantities (pint) of white, and tinting it is not especially difficult, but does take patience and practice. this is what you should expect to do if you have a repair and you feel strongly about matching the colour of your boat.

i make this posting, because i have learned that it is a very unrealistic position to expect that any canoe or kayak manufacturer is going to send you some gel coat for your paddlecraft. they don't have it. it's not unlike calling and asking for some fiberglass. they aren't going to cut some from the rolls they have and send it to you. it is a challenge for sure, but if you own a custom coloured canoe or kayak, you will have to bear with an off colour gel coat repair, or have to mix and match your own, which is doable. don't waste your time going to the company, they just can't help you with it, and you will only end up frustrated. more and more, i have come to recognize, that unless you have a serious warranty issue, there's just no merit in trying to deal with a boat manufacturer for repairs.

Gel coat hard to work with?
I’ve never found gel coat repairs difficult in the least.

Some manufacturers are nice enough to offer matched gel coat repair kits, a la Bell.

In my experience, it is always a good idea to call the manufacturer. Not expecting them to solve all your problems, but to offer whatever info or advice they can give. Sometimes you might even get a nice surprise.

But in the long haul, yes, learning to mix your own is a great skill. Maybe hard to perfect, but getting it close enough is pretty easy.

relative to paint
dealing with waxed, vs unwaxed, catalizing and the like and the fact that it won’t self level makes it challenging for some home repairs.

Another plus for QCC !
I have a small bottle of red Gel coat sitting in my boat cabinet that they sent for my wifes boat, (free of charge).

She got a couple of bad scratches on it, and I offered to pay for it, and it came free.



Actually, We and Others Do!

– Last Updated: Jul-08-08 8:19 AM EST –

Placid boatworks has sent gel, Kevlar and peel ply to customers and friends who are not customers for repairing their boats. We have printed instructions for gel and composite repair.

I am sure this holds true for most committed manufacturers; and know that it does for Hemlock, QCC, Swift, Vermont Canoe and WeNoNah. I am sure there are others I do not know of.

P&H will ship you 4oz of the exact color of your hull. They request the serial number of your boat and know exactly what color it is.

They have to send it from England because it has a short shelf life. It cost $20.

P&H ships their other skegs and stuff from Ashville.

Denver and Dave helped me out.

So, if you have P&H it’s your best option.

What about other boat companies like Impex?

And even though I thanked Charlie
by a private e-mail I’ll thank him again here.

He sent me (and I don’t even have a Placid Boat Works boat) some peel ply and pre cut pieces of kevlar).

It’s nice to have some of the old school individual boat builders still around that are in this for the love of the sport.

Thanks Charlie!



Gel coat from Manfactures
Wenonah quickly sent me gel coat and parts for a canoe repair. Charlie Wilson has been supportive to many with free peel, pieces of kevlar and advice. There are still supportive companies and dealers that run contrary to the trend of “screw the customer once you have their $”.

Jon, the owner of Collinsville Canoe and Kayak in CT, offered to repair a kayak rudder on a kayak he didn’t sell, of a brand kayak he didn’t carry, for free to help out a local paddler. This is the type of store we should all support with our business. There are other supportive stores, find the one in your area and give them your business.


It is NOT to much to expect
a builder to sell repair supplies. It would take a worker less than 10 min. to fill enough small bottles of gelcoat and cat.fill a weeks worth of requests.

This is called SERVICE and if they do not want to supply good service they should not be in business.

NDK may also do it
The dealer I bought from says she will get me some gel coat from them and yes, they do need the boat’s serial number.

Great River Outfitters/ Valley
sent me what I believe was pigment to have gelcoat repairs done on a Skerray. GRO was willing to answer repair questions but I had a boat shop waiting to do the work so didn’t avail myself of that assistance. They said that since they are a Valley distributor and don’t make the boats, they don’t always have the right pigments available and then would recommend the boat shop do it’s own mixing.

I don’t know one boat builder
who doesn’t love the sport. Not one - big, or a one person shop in USA or abroad.

So Jack, buy a Rapidfire and you and
Charlie will be even.

Epic Doesn’t Provide Gelcoat

– Last Updated: Jul-08-08 4:51 PM EST –

I requested some gelcoat from Epic about two months after purchasing an 18X from them. They said because the boats were made in China they couldn't provide me with any. I didn't really understand if couldn't meant wouldn't. I then asked if they could provide me with any information on the gelcoat tint and they said they would try to put something together next year (that was back in 07).

It seems like a lot of other boat manufacturers are providing gelcoat for their customers but it doesn't seem Epic does.

not too much, true
from my former and limited time with a canoe manufacturer, it definitely isn’t too much to ask to purchase a bit of gel coat for a repair. insisting that it should be free won’t get you anywhere with customer service.

one thing that can be an issue is the catalyst - MEKp is a hazardous material according to many shipping companies and the USPS, so there are manufacturers out there who’d rather not or can’t pay the exorbitant fees to ship 1 oz. of catalyst when it can often be found at your local auto parts store or marine repair shop; their catalog/web descriptions, prices, and shipping instructions should all indicate that fact.

but when you contact the manufacturer, please be polite and descriptive with the type of repair you’re doing - after all customer service is going to try and help you, but doesn’t have your boat in front of them to see for themselves. Emails get lost in spam filters all the time, so when you call because you haven’t gotten a response, don’t be nasty about it.


If I can unload that unused Bullitt
I would just possibly have a birth for one!

  • Putting a dining room addition onto the house right now, and I don’t want to put an additio on to our one year old boat barn



good advice

– Last Updated: Jul-10-08 8:00 PM EST –

Great post above from bkuhn. Just buy the MEKP locally and save yourself the hazardous shipping, and save the manufacturer a little time they could spend doing what they do best.

Personally, I don't understand why anyone would try so hard to get gel coat from a boat manufacturer. Once a boat has been used for awhile, the sun will fade it and it won't match. I'm in the "close enough" group for matching, and frankly OEM gelcoat on a used boat would fall into this group - regardless of how much work it took to get it. I've seen amazingly good professional work, to the point that you wouldn't even know anything had been done to the boat. It just takes a good eye and patience.

Gelcoat? What’s that? Is it really a
repair material, or some sort of cosmetic?

Never had any trouble getting it. Getting it to match is another matter. Call the boat maker and they will usually ship it to you. VF

Kudos to Impex
… responded with a phone call to confirm shipment.