New gelcoat restoration & oufitting pics

I’ve added some new pics to the “Gelcoat Repair and Restoration” and “Kayak Outfitting” albums I have on Webshots. These are of my recently renovated red/white Anas Acuta. I tried a few new things that people may find interesting. You can see them at:

Nice job again
I’ll be looking into that non-abrasive tread tape. It looks perfect for spare-paddle deck protection.

Is the underdeck pump holder carved minicell? I might do that on my wifes boat instead of installing rigging. Looks clean and elegant.

Thanks for all the great info and photos. Your boat modifications and repairs have been an inspiration.

Great ideas…great site
Your site has been invaluable as a guide for the restoration of my Sirius. More great stuff to consider.

Again…many thanks for your generosity…as DavidN says…a real inspiration…


Your webshots page
Regarding your Webshots pictures (in general). Not only is the quality of your work excellent, but you’ve come up with a lot of creative ideas and you do a great job of presenting it.

Good work!

More details

– Last Updated: Oct-31-04 9:04 AM EST –

Thanks to all of you for the kind words.

The tape is available through automotive paint suppliers. I haven't looked for it online, but I'm sure there must be sources. 3M makes a similar product with less texture, but I wasn't able to find a source for it when I needed it.

The pump holders are indeed minicell foam. They're a simple and effective solution. I use a 1.5" hole saw to make the pump openings (you want a snug fit, not exact size), then cut them to shape on a band saw. I made up a bunch for the outfitting workshops I run for our club.

you da’ man
nice job. thanks for doing this. I send alot of folks to your site for reference!

btw- I got the green light for CWS travels and Dog and Pony shows- ‘05! let’s get sumthin’ going around Kittery’s show!


Sounds like a plan!
Let’s discuss it more when we get closer to the show.

thick gelcoat
Brian, how thin do you think the gelcoat is say on my Walden Silhouette. Compared to a valley kayak it seems awfully thin to me and that this procedure wouldn’t work. Or would there just be less sanding?

on any boat
the gelcoat sanding is a technical aspect of the repair.

The idea is to sand down the repair blob without taking off the parent material, a very critical move. IMO, it’s better to have a bit of proud repair than a thin layer that has been sanded too mucho.

My guess is the Valley and NDK boats have some of the thickest gel-coats of any production f/g boat.


I guess I’m not savvy enough to
understand your answer Steve. My understanding from Brian’s instructions is that having a kayak with espescially thick gelcoat is better than thin so that once you start the wet sanding you’re not down to glass, and that you have plenty of material? Is this correct?

I understand that you don’t want to sand too much, but that you will need to sand some in order to achieve the desired effect.

I would rather leave the repair ‘proud’ (bodywork/ woodwork term refering to sticking up a bit) than try and get it too smooth when sanding on a thin gelled boat.

It’s a tough call when the repair material you apply is quite thick and you need to get it down to the same thickness as the original, which can be quite thin. hense ‘technical aspect’ of the process.

my personal repairs look like $#!+. I never sand 'em down much. who really cares? I get my glass repair guy (Jerry) to do the important repairs!


Just looked at our VCP boat

I think the gel coat thickness might vary across any boat as well as between types of boats. Our Aluet has a 2.5" chunk missing on the deck that I still haven’t repaired and the gel coat is definitely thicker on one side than the other. On average it seems to be over 1/16 of an inch thick though. I wouldn’t hesitate to sand carefully once. The VCP’s and NDK’s weigh more for a reason.

On the other hand, even though I want my Eddyline to look its best to sell, I don’t think I would resort to sanding. I know I could sand out all the paddle scratches and make it look showroom new, but the cost might be 1/3 of the gelcoat. I assume you have to sand to the depth of the scratches. My next boat will have some tread tape to protect the deck from the spare paddle.

Do you have any nicks that go all the way through the gelcoat as a rough indication of how much there is?

Hey looks cool…
Looks like you HAD to start w/ 320 for those.

Not trying to sound bad… next time go 320 -600- 1500 and save some work + gelcoat removed works fine. For folks contemplating doing this, 320 is REALLY aggressive (especially if the quality 3M type) it will remove material fast and the slurry you create wetsanding might not let you see a burn through 'till its too late… if just going for color restoration start w/ the finest grit you need to bring back the luster w / buffing. 1500 -2000. If gelcoat is really pretty thin suggest starting with 600 because even if you go too far you can still buff that or just touch it w/ 1500 - 2000 to get some gloss back. General rule is if you still see the same color in the valley of the scratch you can still probably wetsand + buff it out, but if it catches your fingernail chances are you will have some local sanding to do w/ heavier grit but you will still have a ‘divot’ albeit a shiny one ( good time to contemplate filling it) unless you wetsand the entire surrounding surface… and that is a TON of work. Brian have proven it is worth it though. Boat is lighter too…

Repair vs. restoration

– Last Updated: Nov-02-04 8:00 AM EST –

They are two entirely different things.

The gelcoat on my Silhouette was much thinner than on the VCP/NDK boats I've worked on, but they've been built by three different manufacturers, so there's bound to be some variation in gelcoat thickness. On a boat with thin gelcoat, wet sanding as part of a "restoration" should be done in moderation, if at all. I would start with nothing coarser than 600 grit and sand as little as possible.

When it comes to repairs, you can add as much gelcoat as necessary to match the surrounding area, provided that you haven't built up the thickness of the glass too much. It's important to avoid sanding the area surrounding the repair too much, so you don't thin the gelcoat to the point that you begin to see through it. If you do, you'll have to recoat the area and wet sand it to blend it in. It's possible for this to become a "viscious cycle", so it's best to avoid the problem in the first place.

I guess I should have…
…weighed the boat before and after sanding. :wink:

The reason I progressed through the grits more slowly than you recommend is that it just makes it more likely that I’ll remove all the scratches from the earlier grits. I’m no expert at this, so I like to leave as much room for error as possible. Fortunately, the thick VCP gelcoat allows pretty aggressive sanding.

Unfortunately, one always finds some tiny bubbles in the gelcoat that create pits in the final surface. On this boat, there are even two paint brush hairs showing on the surface. I could have sanded them out, but it would have meant removing more material than I wanted to.

that’s my point.

perfect anal retentive repairs are real tough.

not-so-perfect, proud repairs are EZ!


Yep, going with larger jumps
in grit of takes some getting used to and have to ‘sight’ the surface a couple times and just sort of ‘know’ when to change.

Wow. Brushed in gelcoat…

3M also makes
a durable clear plastic lam often refererred to a ‘clear bra’. It is used on vehicles to protect against bugs and rock chips. Much nicer than the traditional bug shields.

Make sure you lay it true and position it correctly the first time… you won’t get a second chance! Adhesive from hell!

I’ll be using it on my stripper for strategic deck protection. The film is barely noticeable and allows for the composition colour(s) to show through nicely.

It can be purchased through automotive detail shops and window tinting companies that are licensed by 3M to sell and install the film.


nice work
it’s nice to have photos and a step-by-step approach as a guideline.

I’ve used similar products

– Last Updated: Nov-03-04 5:32 PM EST –

Patco (Tyco Industries) makes a few tapes designed for abrasion resistance (aka "helicopter tape" or "leading edge tape"). The adhesives are incredibly aggressive and they're a bear to remove. I've used it on a few boats and it holds up well against sand and grit, but rocks and barnacles cut right through it. That shouldn't be a problem on a deck.

Installing it without ending up with fingerprints or air bubbles in it can be challenging. One nice thing about the black tape is that it hides a multitude of sins.