to be sanded with medium-grit sandpaper.
If you’re dealing with a few long cracks
that are separated by an inch or more, you
can sand each one individually; otherwise
sand the entire area of cracking. Sand the
fiberglass down until there’s no shine left,
so you know the gelcoat’s surface has been
removed. In the case of very fresh, shallow
crazing, sanding alone may remove some or
all of the cracks.
STEP 4 PREP THE AREA FOR
FILLING AND PATCHING
Once all the cracks have been ground away
with the Dremel, re-sand the area with the
sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges
or burrs. Wipe away all of the sanding dust
and ground fiberglass bits, then wipe down
the entire area with the rag dipped in solvent
again. It’s very important at this stage to
ensure that the surface is completely clean
STEP 3 GRIND OUT THE CRACKS
Fit your Dremel with a silicon carbide or
tungsten carbide bit, in a bullet or cone
shape. Using the highest speed possible
(bits turning at lower speeds tend to grab
and rip the gelcoat, causing chips and splinters instead of a smoothly ground surface),
start at one end of each remaining crack
and grind all the way to its other end. You’ll
need to grind down through the crack until
you’ve exposed uncracked gelcoat or fiberglass beneath the surface, but don’t try to
rush this part of the job; let the bit and its
speed do the work, as opposed to applying
a lot of pressure. It’s usually best to run the
Dremel along each crack lightly then go back
and do it again, as opposed to trying to grind
deeply on the first pass.
STEP 5 FILL AND FINISH
Using gelcoat paste, add a coloring agent to
match the color of your gelcoat, if necessary.
Most gelcoat pastes are available in white or
neutral colors, but straight out of the can
they rarely match aged gelcoat. Remember,
gelcoat can change color slightly as it hardens, so to match it exactly you’ll need to mix
a test batch or two, allow it to harden on a
piece of cardboard, and then compare the
final color against your existing gelcoat. Also
remember that the new gelcoat will fade at a
different rate than the rest of the boat, and a
few years down the line, the difference may
When you’re satisfied with the color Boat US #899322 10/13/11 12: 13 PM Page 1
match, mix a final batch and use it to fill the
cracks and cover all sanded areas. Make sure
no air bubbles or gaps are left in the cracks,
and use a plastic resin spreader, putty knife,
tongue depressor, or similar object to smooth
out the surface. When you’re satisfied you
have a good, smooth surface, cover it with
plastic wrap to allow it to cure completely.
(Some gelcoat repair kits will include plastic
film for this purpose because gelcoat paste
must be sealed off from the air to cure 100
percent). Caution: Always ensure adequate
ventilation when working with fiberglass gelcoat — the fumes may be harmful!
STEP 6 FINISH THE SURFACE
After the gelcoat has cured, wet-sand it
with fine 220- to 240-grit sandpaper until
the surface is almost completely flush and
smooth; then gently wet-sand it with a
super-fine 400-grit sandpaper, and finally,
with ultra-fine 600- or 800-grit sandpaper.
Clean the surface, then wax and/or polish
it with the same product(s) you use on the
rest of the boat. Then stand back and admire
your work. Good job! You’ve made your boat
look better, and prevented potential future
problems at the same time.
Lenny is BoatU.S. Magazine electronics editor.
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Title 39, United States Code). 1. Title of Publication: BoatU. S. Magazine.
2. Publication Number: 59 540. 3. Date of Filing: October 1, 2011. 4.
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Publisher. Managing Editor: Ann Dermody, Same Address as Publisher.
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Pickett Street, Alexandria, VA 22304-4606. 11. Known Bondholders,
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percent or more of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgage, or Other
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to Filing Date (Net Press Run): 508,034. 1. Paid/Requested Outside-County Mail Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541: 494,505. 2. Paid In-County Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541: None. 3. Sales Through
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