I recently picked up an old slalom kayak. It's about 20 to 25
years old and very light. The material is Kevlar and it appears
like there is little or no finish on the hull (the deck has a
finish that appears to be gel coat). Maybe there is a finish on
there that's not obvious to the eye?! Any advice for putting on a
new finish ? I'm not trying to make this thing look pretty,
just seal and protect it so I can get a few years of use out of it.
See links to pics:
Try buffing in some 303 Bob
I’ve sold 2 boats recently that where both well weathered, one was a royalex canoe and the other a kevlar canoe. The Royalex canoe guy buffed in 303 with a car buffer for a while and the hull finish literally looked new! I recommended the same procedure to the guy who purchased the Kevlar canoe (skin coat), which looked pretty faded and kinda chalky. The kevlar looked glossy after he buffed in the 303 for 2+ hours with an auto buffer. I actually was pretty suprised at the results that both accomplished by buffing in 303. I usually use 303 on my own kevlar skincoated boats, but have only rubbed the 303 in with a cloth. I’m looking to buy an auto buffer of my own as there is a major difference in the results using the buffer over a hand rub.
If that is a slalom kayak, the outer
layer of the hull is E-glass or S-glass. Slalom kayaks almost always keep the Kevlar inside where it does the most good, and where it will not fuzz from hull wear.
I have resurfaced boats by rolling on a few layers of West Epoxy. But I don’t recommend this unless your boat is quite fuzzy. It adds weight and is a whole lot of work.
Another approach might be to find a high-quality, hard spar varnish and use it on the hull (not the deck). I would prefer this to 303 because it really seals the outer laminate and provides a thin ablation layer for friction. An epoxy paint selected for hardness and high quality is a possible option.
However, maybe your goal should be to make the boat as sound and safe as possible, and then enjoy it as much as you can. Check to see that the front and rear walls are securely mounted, that the seat and its hangers are sound, and that the cockpit rim is not in danger of cracking. Carefully remedy any problems. Ignore the outside of the boat. If you get “hooked” by rocketing around in a slalom boat, you may soon be shopping around for a used Galasport.
Buffers are single minded and sloooow
If you have a good tool place by you, check out the Sander/Polishers as a quality, more versatile tool. Even the 39.00 one will give you more options for working on boats and projects and work 10X faster than the autobuffer thing.
The real thing that matters is the pad(s).
Purchase these @ the autobody or marine stores.
Ferro and 3M probably the most common.
Generally they are 8"
There are smaller 6" ones that you can be creative and adapt to a drill motor too.
To seal and protect
A high quality Marine Varnish might be able to do that. Also should hide the chalky look from age and many of the scratches.
Thank you all for the input