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hawaiianstyln

for you WetSanding/Buffing Gelcoat Gurus

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hawaiianstyln

it's been about 8-10 years since I have had to do any gelcoat work.  I don't recall it being hard but can someone make sure my process is legit.  I removed the big wakesetter stickers on each side of the boat as I bought the new 2017 style to replace it.  After pulling off the old stickers I have some sort of very light brown highlighted tint embedded in the gelcoat from the sticker.  I've already tried to use hull cleaner/acid wash.  Tried to use heavy oxidized buffing compound, no luck.  Going the route of wet sanding and buffing:

  1. 3M wetsand 600
  2. clean/wash the area
  3.  3M wetsand 800
  4. clean/wash the area
  5. 3m wetsand 1000
  6. clean/wash the area
  7. let it completely dry
  8. Buff with 3M heavy duty compound
  9. Buff with Finesse-it II
  10. Apply wax

Am I missing anything before pulling the boat out of it's winter hibernation to tackle this project out?  The entire area that I'm working with is white which makes it easier as white is the easiest to deal with.

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saxton15

That's pretty much it.  You may want to go to an even higher grit to really smooth out the sanding marks. 

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hawaiianstyln
4 minutes ago, saxton15 said:

That's pretty much it.  You may want to go to an even higher grit to really smooth out the sanding marks. 

I also have 1500 and 2000 but wasn't sure whether to use that or not since I thought heavy duty buffing compound is equivalent to 1200+?  Exactly why I'm posting because if I can remove a step or add one in that I'm missing, I want to make sure I'm ready for this ahead of time.

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saxton15

So I did roughly the same process, but without the 600 grit.  I got to the 1000 grit and felt it looked good.  Did a heavy compound buff and it looked great.  A day later with the sun hitting where I had done the work, I noticed the grit lines.  I figured going at it with a 1500 wouldn't hurt, so I did that > heavy compound > finesse and couldn't see the lines anymore.  Not sure what color your hull is (mine is red) but it definitely showed.   Also, I was very light with the wet sanding.  I only did a few passes and with almost no pressure.   

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blk93jeepzj

I took mine up to 3000 grit.  Easier to lightly wetsand than using a buffer and compound imo. 

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saxton15

Exactly, bringing it up to the highest grit never hurts, and it gets the job done faster then buffing for hours.

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hawaiianstyln
16 minutes ago, saxton15 said:

So I did roughly the same process, but without the 600 grit.  I got to the 1000 grit and felt it looked good.  Did a heavy compound buff and it looked great.  A day later with the sun hitting where I had done the work, I noticed the grit lines.  I figured going at it with a 1500 wouldn't hurt, so I did that > heavy compound > finesse and couldn't see the lines anymore.  Not sure what color your hull is (mine is red) but it definitely showed.   Also, I was very light with the wet sanding.  I only did a few passes and with almost no pressure.   

hull and sides where the stickers were is white which helps

malibu.jpg

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hawaiianstyln

now that I look at that picture, that seems like a lot of wet sanding :(:(

 

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saxton15

haha yeah I couldn't imagine doing that much.  My area was near the rear corner along the water line.  Had a little sun spot to get of roughly the size of a playing card.

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Gavin17

If you have some serious oxidation and / or fading you may want the 600 grit.  I've never had to get that aggressive.  Work backwards in a test area first and see what you need so you're not working harder than necessary.  When I removed my decals I did 1000, 2000, compound , polish, wax.  I found gelcoat is pretty forgiving and it's easy but time consuming work.  I like a beer or two and some good tunes.  Oh and sunscreen if working outside.  I got a sunburn working on my boat in the drive way a few years ago.  I typically only wear sunscreen on the lake. 

XjFRLaF.jpg

CwpA2eJ.jpg

Edited by Gavin17

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Gavin17
6 hours ago, hawaiianstyln said:

now that I look at that picture, that seems like a lot of wet sanding :(:(

 

Yep, it will take a few sessions.  I'd hate to try and do it all in one Saturday.  I did mine over a few evenings after work.  But with a white hull he may be able to start at 2000 grit and skip a few steps..... or maybe not.  TEST!

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hawaiianstyln
1 hour ago, Gavin17 said:

Yep, it will take a few sessions.  I'd hate to try and do it all in one Saturday.  I did mine over a few evenings after work.  But with a white hull he may be able to start at 2000 grit and skip a few steps..... or maybe not.  TEST!

Hey thanks a bunch for those tips!!!!  I was really dreading the 6,8,1000,1500,2000 grit sanding.  I will try a small area on the first letter “W” with 1500/2000 and go from there.  

I Im starting to get prepped.  Ive only ever used wool pads specifically the middle one in the pic and never had to use foam. Newbie with the foam. Aligning that sticker will take some time im thinking

1E0D1FA1-096F-4378-98FC-EA20B17D903A.jpeg

8BA11A51-126E-440A-87D7-7DE4EE66D6F3.jpeg

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MadMan
16 minutes ago, hawaiianstyln said:

 

8BA11A51-126E-440A-87D7-7DE4EE66D6F3.jpeg

You're going to need a heck of a lot mote sandpaper than that.

Also, a few years ago I brought back the gel coat on a '93 Sunsetter.  It was very oxidized, ended up starting with 320 grit, otherwise I would have had to sand forever with the finer grit.  My method was to wet sand with the 320 until the material I was removing turned from white (the oxidation) to red (the real gel color).  Then move on to the finer paper.

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Michigan boarder

I went heavy on mine years ago, I think this was 400 grit.  Basically same as above, sand until I got the right color.  Then work my way back up from there.

 

5955374fce4e1_wet_sandingresized.jpg.fa14315cf7b7423c6f4f3959f815c9aa.jpg

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hawaiianstyln

Thing is i have no oxidation like that, i just have no idea how embedded that leftover discoloration is in the gelcoat leftover from that wakesetter sticker.  Im really hoping i just need 1500 and 2000

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MadMan
10 minutes ago, hawaiianstyln said:

Thing is i have no oxidation like that, i just have no idea how embedded that leftover discoloration is in the gelcoat leftover from that wakesetter sticker.  Im really hoping i just need 1500 and 2000

That would sure make things easier.

One more thing, a coat of wax just basically hides problems by filling in small scratches. So, if you want to evaluate your progress, don't wax it, in fact wash off any residue left over from  the buffing compound with soap and water.  It should shine without the need of coatings such as wax, if it doesn't, you need to sand/buff more.  After you're all done, and it looks good, you can wax if you want to (but not before apply any decals).

Edited by MadMan

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carguy79ta

yep the key is do your work and check your progress, dont' wax or seal until you are satisfied with your work.  also when doing cars a very bright LED flashlite helps to identify swirls that need to be buffed out.

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boardjnky4

I wetsanded mine last year and still have some minor sanding marks. I need to try and hit it with 1500/2000 grit again this year.

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hawaiianstyln

Confirmed that 1500 grit didn’t do squat just now🙁🙁 it was a good trial run to make sure i had a good process to buff back the shine.  I do see a few light scratches after buffing but maybe that is because i didn’t use 2,000 after 1500.  Next i will try 1,000 unless you all think i should go right to 800 since 1500 didn’t do squat??

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hawaiianstyln
5 hours ago, carguy79ta said:

yep the key is do your work and check your progress, dont' wax or seal until you are satisfied with your work.  also when doing cars a very bright LED flashlite helps to identify swirls that need to be buffed out.

Luckily i installed extremely bright 8’ LED strips in the garage and its clear as day where the scratches would be. Sometimes the LED lights show TOO much imperfections hahahhahaaa

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hawaiianstyln

Called local gelcoat shop and he knew right away what it was. When stickers get burnt into Gelcoat its called “UV Ghost” and cant give an estimate because nobody knows how deep it is until you work on it.  Hopefully when i hit it with 800 it comes out and do it myself

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Gavin17

As long as you have time you can diy.  Just keep going more aggressive until it goes away. Then work back and get rid of your sanding marks. Lots of good info here. You'll be fine. 

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OSUMike

Has anyone only removed the barbed sticker on these years of the wakesetter?  Leaving the “Malibu” and the “W”?

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formulaben

I did it a couple years ago.  A heat gun on low(!), a plastic scraper (like for dishes) and some goof off or adhesive remover did the trick.  If you can get a good start and pull gently after heating a good portion of the sticker it will just continue to pull.  If it gets too cold or you pull to hard/fast it will break.  I followed up with adhesive remover then buffed.  I initially planned to do the same as you but went full naked.  It looks much better IMHO.  If you're not sure just take a picture and photoshop your boat without the stickers.

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hawaiianstyln
Posted (edited)

is "3M super duty compound" suppose to put swirls in your gelcoat?  I thought it would buff to shine, maybe that is just standard compound that buffs to shine with no swirls??  I used the proper wool pad (clean).  I freaked out and was able to get it out with standard Maguire's compound then hit it with some Finesse IT II.  Sucks because I thought I could used the Super Duty Compound to get out light level scratches and not have to wetsand but the swirls freaked me out so I stopped using it.  Also using the proper technique and switched my dewalt to 800 rpm.

 

 

Edited by hawaiianstyln

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