Glass Sundowner GelCoat to Skin-coat??

Looking for repair suggestions . . .

I just acquired a 1988 Wenonah Sundowner with fiberglass and gel-coat layup as a fixer-upper. It’s definitely seen better days. I needed something to leave at my land for lake canoeing that would paddle nicely and not be likely to be stolen.

Most of my repair has involved drilling out and replacing the many loose rivets, replacing a broken front seat, and sanding, oiling, and re-hanging the yoke. That’s the easy part.

Unfortunately, the get-coat had cracked in several places (non-structural damage) and the previous owner put several large, ugly, and unecessary brown patches onto the white gel-coat. I am trying to decide what to do with these.

Options I had considered:

  1. Leave it as-is.
  2. Sand off the brown and repair with auto body putty and spray paint as recommended by Cliff Jacobson.
  3. Sand off the gel-coat, re-epoxy the outside, and make a skin-coat boat out of it. This would

    shed some extra weight and possibly make this 75lb canoe more useful for wilderness travel.

    What do you all think about this? Especially converting to a skin-coat? Would it be possible to easily remove the gel-coat and make it look nice? What would be the easiest way to remove the gel-coat? How much would this weaken the structure of the canoe? How much weight would this remove?

    All help is appreciated. Thanks!

Leave it

– Last Updated: Nov-18-09 7:26 PM EST –

You're going to find it very difficult to sand the gel coat off an entire boat, and even if you do it's not going to be even in the least. You could easily sand through layers of fiberglass.

Also, epoxy will not weather well. It will probably be flaking off in short order. If you're leaving the boat out on your land, the protection of the gel coat is desirable.

If you like you can do cosmetic repair, but again you're leaving this boat out (and don't want it stolen), so I think as long as it paddles well, leave it alone.

Roll on some porch paint

I rolled epoxy on two ww boats. It stays
on pretty well if you don’t hit things much, but it would not make a good replacement layer for gelcoat. (My boats were never gelcoated, but had gotten fuzzy from wear.) Epoxy is UV sensitive and so would need paint or varnish. Rolling on epoxy and sanding it level is very time consuming.

I recommend that you just remove the ugly patches. The boat won’t look that great, but ugliness is a theft deterrent.

Just yesterday, I repaired one

– Last Updated: Nov-19-09 10:18 AM EST –

using a similar method as your step "2".

It was on a white gel coat hull that had been patched with some sort of ugly (sh-t brown) epoxy-like substance in a bunch of places.
I sanded it down to a very smooth surface, and then used about four coats of automotive white spray paint.

About four years ago, I dropped my QCC off the roof of my truck when I was unloading it, and punched a few holes in the bow, right through the white gel coat, and the above method was described to me by the late "Phil" from QCC, but where the gel coat was off, he recommended using two part epoxy as a filler/finisher and then the white spray paint over that. In the places that are on the very bottom of the hull, the paint my wear off if you scrape it over sand, but you can just re-paint it as required.
On other places it has stayed on perfectly.

If you do use this method. After applying the epoxy, tape a piece of plastic, (like as used in overhead projectors - or equal) over the it, and the next day it will peel right off, and the epoxy is as smooth as a babys butt and requires no sanding.


I second Cliff’s suggestion…

Re-do the patches ?

– Last Updated: Nov-19-09 2:43 PM EST –

If they were slapped on as it sounds I would be there was little to no prep work prior so the 'patches' will probably flake right off with a razor blade allowing you to start over.

Guys, UV stable epoxys have been out for years now.

Edit, Forgot ... Sanding off then applying epoxy will be an excercise in frustration, ruin the boat and it will be heavier. don't believe it , try it : ) ... You would be better off simply wetsanding and buffing ... The boat would be marginally lighter and look great.

Trouble is, Pat , we don’t know which
epoxies are UV stable. When last I read, West was still recommending something be painted over their epoxy to exclude UV.