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95echelon

Rehabbing a 95 Echelon LX

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95echelon

Story of the Boat

The boat began it's life in Minneapolis Minnesota at Minnesota Inboard Watersports. My mother bought it for my Dad new in 1995. I spent the next 3 years wakeboarding my tail off, and got pretty decent at it (anyone remember the Flight 69? one of the first multi-directional boards...). We had the only wakeboard on the lake. 3 Years later our family moved (1998) to Michigan, this is when my father sold the boat to his sister who had kids my age, and the neglect began...

Fast forward 10 years and there is a boat at the family lake place that gets used once a summer when we visit and then is put away for the year. I had been hounding my Aunt to sell it to me for a few years with no success. The one year she kind of wants to sell it (this year) I am not in a position to buy due to other toy purchases, so I don't even ask. I think the whole neglect thing was getting to my dad and he offered up some money to my Aunt and this time she took it, pops told me that I can buy it from him when I am financially ready, and I can use it in between whenever. I think most of the motivation behind his purchase was getting the thing looking good again, he was a very responsible owner, and always kept her cherry. I have some good memories of cleaning, winterizing etc. He also may have bought the boat so my kids can enjoy it, whatever the impetus, good buy Dad!

So what does ten years of doing nothing to Gelcoat do?

In short, this (bad lighting, but i think you can see it):

IMG_3423.jpg

How to Fix A Boat this bad

Ingredients

  1. 600 Grit Wet Dry Sandpaper
  2. 800 Grit Wet Dry Sandpaper
  3. 1200 Grit Wet Dry Sandpaper
  4. 1500 Grit Wet Dry Sandpaper
  5. 2000 Grit Wet Dry Sandpaper
  6. 2500 Grit Wet Dry Sandpaper
  7. Meguiars 105 Polish
  8. Muriatic Acid
  9. Heat Gun
  10. Carpet Cleaner (for interior)
  11. Pressure Washer
  12. Collinite Paste Wax
  13. Duragloss Vinyl Protector
  14. Duragloss Aquawax (for on water waxing)
  15. Porter Cable Rotary Polisher and Lots of Wool Pads
  16. Dual Action Polisher (for waxing)
  17. Foam Sanding Blocks
  18. Masking Tape
  19. TONS of Microfibers
  20. Palm Sander and Teak oil for the platform

Recipe

Begin by washing the boat well and using Muriatic acid on any waterlines and below water pieces. This includes gelcoat as the acid will not harm gel, you never see water grime fall off so quickly it's like magic. Don't let it touch your skin though.

Remove all hard parts, seats, rails, platform, lights, cover snaps etc. Polish them and add them when you are done

Tape off the whole boat (you don't want sandpaper or polish messing up your rubrail, windows, etc.)

Start wetsanding like crazy, even pressure, over the entire boat. Do the entire boat in 600 (normally you would find the highest grit that worked, but if it looks as bad as the picture above, save yourself the effort and go straight to 600). If you have a trailer queen with light oxidation, just the polish should be fine.

Repeat wetsanding the entire boat while stepping up grits of sandpaper each time, 600-800-1200-1500-2000-2500, this will take you a LONG time.

Next start polishing the thing like crazy with the Meguiars 105 and a wool pad(one of the heaviest polishes around) but it finishes really well on the Malibu gel. Make sure you only work the polish for 15 or so seconds a panel, otherwise it will overheat and it will be a **&^% to remove.

Wax with collinite a couple of times waiting 30 minutes between coats and you have a boat that the water will sheet right off of.

I use a couple of 500 watt halogens on a tripod during the polishing stage to make sure that the polish is eliminating the wetsanding marks, sunlight works well too if you are lucky enough to have it around all day :)

We removed the decals on the back that were messed up with a razor blade and heat gun (hair dryer works, but they are kind of weak).

Since the decals undersides were virgin gel we had a good reference for when we had eliminated the oxidation. The pictures don't show it but I put a Malibu Boats car decal on the back that looks nice. I thought it looked naked before, but the mechanic at the Edge in GR (Scott T, who is a fantastic and helpful guy) liked it with no decal. Sorry Scott.

The guys at The Edge (local dealer) were really nice, and they got our steering tightened up and some new strut bearings put in. They also gave us great info on props and towers, which sound like good x-mas presents from my wife.

We also cleaned the whole interior and protected the vinyl, replaced the drain plug, ran new lights, put in new shocks for the engine cover and storage, pressure washed the carpet and the bilge. Changed the oil, tranny oil, and plugs. The we sanded and oiled the teak platform. All interior gel was waxed and polished if needed.

The Pics The Pics!

Ok most of you will start reading here :)

This should be Red, not Pink:

IMG_3422.jpg

Top Half of the boat is done up to the polish step, a good half and half pic:

IMG_3429.jpg

Top Half Done, bottom getting debadged, you can see on the bottom port side i tried to see what polishing without wetsanding would do, some but not enough. The bottom has not been acid washed yet, but you can see all of the hardware is removed and the drain plug is ready to be replaced with a one way.

IMG_3430.jpg

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95echelon

Another Half And Half of the side this time:

IMG_3431.jpg

Now this is a nice rear end, no wax yet, just polish. Any detailer would tell you though that wax will not do much on top of a good polish. If you are applying wax and losing luster within a few weeks to a month, you need a polish:

IMG_3440.jpg

Front End polished and naked (no rails or seats):

IMG_3433.jpg

Applying the collinite with my DA polisher (takes about 2 minutes to do the entire boat with a DA):

IMG_3435.jpg

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95echelon

Maybe i should post this in the rigs sticky? We send the in-laws on a trip with my kids on the Yukon XL (our only tow vehicle) so i had dropped the boats at pops' place and we used my 1992 Acura Legend to move it around the driveway, at least it was stick :)

IMG_3437.jpg

Sanded teak is ugly without oil:

IMG_3438.jpg

Almost done, just cleaning interior now:

IMG_3439.jpg

The money shot! I would ask of you with only 3 or 4 year old boats, do they look like this on a trailer? Notice the reflections of the metal plate on the bottom and the brick on the top. And scroll on up to remember what we started with, this is why I love gelcoat.

IMG_3441.jpg

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95echelon

Finally, the Boat has come home to roost!

She looks good in her natural habitat!

IMG_3458.jpg

IMG_3457.jpg

Interior is shining too (and not just from the overexposing camera)

IMG_3454.jpg

Time for Bed, all the other boats are shaking in their boots with jealousy.

IMG_3447.jpg

The whole process took about 32 man hours. I still do some of this work on the side, a rehab like this would be 1500-2000 bucks at my normal prices. I love helping people out with detailing and finishing, so if you ever have a question, post it here or PM me.

It was so great to get out on the water in this boat without being ashamed of it. When I pulled it home from MN, I seriously considered covering it to hide all the ugly :) This boat is unique in a few ways, for one it has a bunch of options: wedge, heater, shower, computron (and it works), and an apparently rare (according to the Edge) Mercruiser 350 EFI.

Now to ditch the Skylon and go for a black titan II and some fat sacs.

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99response

Nice work, but isn't the #105 polish good to take out 1200 grit? Did you see a benefit going all the way to 2500? I've only ever gone to 1500 on colors and 1000 on the white with excellent results.

Either way nice work!

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95echelon
Nice work, but isn't the #105 polish good to take out 1200 grit? Did you see a benefit going all the way to 2500? I've only ever gone to 1500 on colors and 1000 on the white with excellent results.

Either way nice work!

It is good to take out 1200 on paint, Gel acts somewhat differently but you are right nonetheless. Since this is not a detailing forum I did not go too nuts on process, but we got the best results leaving off on 2000, not 2500. I could have easily left at 1000 or so on the white, but it doesn't hurt to do the whole thing up to 2000 either. I did not find the 105 to QUICKLY take out 1500 on color, it would, but it took a long time, it was quicker for me to sand up to 2k and then give it a quick double hit of 105 and move on. The boat will get 105 once more in spring and then move down to Hi Temp or Optimum Compound/Hyper Cut.

We hit it with the bazooka this time, the spring and fall upkeeps will be significantly less aggressive.

Thanks for the good words, good to see someone else doing polishing on here too!

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99response

I'll have to try the #105, I've always used 3M superduty followed up by diamond cut.

The superduty does great on oxidation and sanding marks, but leaves the surface pretty swirled up.

-Chris

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95echelon
I'll have to try the #105, I've always used 3M superduty followed up by diamond cut.

The superduty does great on oxidation and sanding marks, but leaves the surface pretty swirled up.

-Chris

Yeah I use some 3M too, and their perfect it and ultrafina are both great. A friend brought some 105 over when i was testing process on this boat and i was hooked to see a non-diminishing abrasive polish that finished so well. I bit the bullet and bought it, unfortunately it's 32 a quart, but i did the whole boat with a half quart or less.

One off topic aside here too, it was very strange - and nice - to working on a toy these days that did not have "made in china" stamped all over it. I think every piece i saw was made in the USA. Kinda nice.

Edited by 95echelon

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Stuart

THANKS!!!!

I have been looking for some help with my 94 Echelon, it is also red and has the same issues your boat had. (not quite as bad but still irritating. I'm going to give your recipe a shot in a few weeks. I have scoured the net for months trying to find a way to make this boat like brand new and am excited to give it a try. Thanks for the post.

-Stuart

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skier92

The effort you put into your post speaks volumes of what you put into the boat. Great info, Fantastic on both!

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rugger

Excellent post. thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge

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JayHoy

The boat looks sweet man!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know your pain I have spent the past two weekends,wet sanding,compounding and waxing my 93 echelon. The end results were worth all the hard work,sore hands and costs of materials.

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pennery

This is a great post... I have a question about wetsanding though and I am having a tough time getting the sanding marks out of the parts that I sanded... I went up to 2000 grit sand paper. Should I try 2500 grit? Will the polish take the marks out?... I would like to do as little polishing as possible...

Thanks

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Michigan boarder
This is a great post... I have a question about wetsanding though and I am having a tough time getting the sanding marks out of the parts that I sanded... I went up to 2000 grit sand paper. Should I try 2500 grit? Will the polish take the marks out?... I would like to do as little polishing as possible...

Thanks

I did this to my new purchase too, and I'd recommend stopping at 2000. I stopped at 1800, and from there the polishing took out everything else. I did 800 grit, then 1500, then polished a LOT, then wax.

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pennery

Thanks for the reply.. I think I need to so some polishing.. I can still faintly see some of the sanding marks but it sure does a great job getting the scratches out... Still a work in progress..

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95echelon
Thanks for the reply.. I think I need to so some polishing.. I can still faintly see some of the sanding marks but it sure does a great job getting the scratches out... Still a work in progress..

Sorry for some reason the forum unsubscribed me from this post, i just caught a lot of the replies. Thanks everyone!

Pennery,

What rotary are you using and at what speed for the polish? What polish are you using (they recently changed megs 105 to a much lighter polish not so suited to gel), if you are using the new 105 then i might try something heavy from menzerna, or even some megs heavy cut. Also, the pads make a difference, i found that a cheapie wool like pad from autozone worked well, but i went through a half dozen before finding one that i liked, when i get home i can look in the basement and find the part number if it helps.

Don't give up, the hard part is done, it's frustrating finding that final polishing solution that works but it pays off. I will PM you my email and phone number if you want to chat about it some more.

-Charlie

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georgia_dawgs08

Man that boat looks like new, that should give everybody hope that no matter how bad it gets, some hard work and elbow grease can bring it back. With the boat being stored for that long every year, there was sure to be some mildew and various stains on the interior vinyl, what did you use to clean up the seats and all, from what the pictures looked like, they looked great too!

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95echelon

Seats are mostly elbow grease, I have a half dozen various products that I try and find the one that works best. In the worst cases, you have to go to diluted outdoor bleach, and be sure to dress the vinyl in a moisturizing protectant when it dries, and rinse extremely well. I am actually going to put this boat up for sale soon. We have a surprise baby on the way and will need something bigger. If anyone is interested in a shiny 95, shoot me a PM with an offer.

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Woodski

Great post, much appreciated. Also, nice work and a great looking boat!

I have a 94 that is actually in great shape, never sits in the water and gets towel dried every time so it stays looking very nice, but with any boat of this age maintenance is key. These are awesome boats, particularly for slalom and footing (which someone should have been doing in the first two lake shots of great glass!). Since all the work was done on the trailer, did you do anything on the hull where the hull rested on the bunks? You commented on the actual process, I would be more than interested in any process tips / documentation you would be willing to post.

You commented on the Computron not working, poke around on the site, a couple of guys have fixed their Computrons. I am actually looking for the display module for my boat, it was built w/o that but has all the wiring/switches.

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95echelon

Great post, much appreciated. Also, nice work and a great looking boat!

I have a 94 that is actually in great shape, never sits in the water and gets towel dried every time so it stays looking very nice, but with any boat of this age maintenance is key. These are awesome boats, particularly for slalom and footing (which someone should have been doing in the first two lake shots of great glass!). Since all the work was done on the trailer, did you do anything on the hull where the hull rested on the bunks? You commented on the actual process, I would be more than interested in any process tips / documentation you would be willing to post.

You commented on the Computron not working, poke around on the site, a couple of guys have fixed their Computrons. I am actually looking for the display module for my boat, it was built w/o that but has all the wiring/switches.

I had fixed the computron and then there was an issue involving the wifey and some bad wiring that killed it once and for all.

As for the bunks. I clean the whole bottom of the boat with muriatic acid. My in-laws lake place is 1 mile away from a launch, i put the boat on the trailer crooked, then clean with acid, then put it crooked the other way, do the same thing. Hose it down and protect the hull, then put it back in the lake...

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Lieutenant Dan

I had fixed the computron and then there was an issue involving the wifey and some bad wiring that killed it once and for all.

As for the bunks. I clean the whole bottom of the boat with muriatic acid. My in-laws lake place is 1 mile away from a launch, i put the boat on the trailer crooked, then clean with acid, then put it crooked the other way, do the same thing. Hose it down and protect the hull, then put it back in the lake...

Do you use straight acid? I'm ignorant here.

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95echelon

Do you use straight acid? I'm ignorant here.

Yes, Muriatic acid had Zero reaction with Gelcoat, if memory serves me correctly it mainly reacts with organics. It's been used for decades on lower units. It's harmful to your skin and lungs, so use rubber gloves and a respirator.

Take a look at any hull cleaner, they are pretty much 100% Muriatic Acid, only they charge you 4x as much. This does nothing to shine the gelcoat, it just removes water deposits, etc. Great for boating in rivers, etc, where sediment can be an issue.

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jk13

Rehabbing old boat (and thread as well). What effect does muriatic acid have on asphalt? The garage (concrete) is too small to access all areas of the boat, so we'll be doing this outside in the shade. From everything I've researched, I need to:

1) Use rubber gloves and a respirator.

2) Wear old clothes and shoes or get coveralls.

3) Cover the trailer in plastic.

4) Remove trailer tires and put jackstands under it.

5) Some say use brushes instead of rags, I assume to keep your rubber gloved hands further away.

6) Work in small areas and rinse often.

I was planning on wetting the asphalt, covering with plastic and wetting that too.

Anything I am missing?

Biggest concern right now is the asphalt, anything else? Will it eat the plastic?

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jwp

95echelon, this might be a stupid question, but I am planning to do this project on my boat this winter and will only be able to work on it a couple times a month. Will it hurt for the boat to sit at the various stages of repair for a week or two? Like say I wet sand it one weekend, and then come back next weekend with finer paper for the next installment. Or if it sits for a couple of weeks sanded before I get the chance to polish it. I can't think of any reason that it would not be okay especially if it is sitting inside all of the time. What do you think?

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Michigan boarder

95echelon, this might be a stupid question, but I am planning to do this project on my boat this winter and will only be able to work on it a couple times a month. Will it hurt for the boat to sit at the various stages of repair for a week or two? Like say I wet sand it one weekend, and then come back next weekend with finer paper for the next installment. Or if it sits for a couple of weeks sanded before I get the chance to polish it. I can't think of any reason that it would not be okay especially if it is sitting inside all of the time. What do you think?

I can chime in on this, I did a very similar project. And I would actually recommend doing it the way you suggest, as that way you will have patience and so it properly taking breaks in between. It won't hurt the gel coat a bit as long as it is stored indoors.

Post pictures! I wish I would have like 95E, I just didn't take the time.

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