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PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 1:26 pm 
Site Rank - Deck Hand

Joined: Thu May 27, 2010 10:09 am
Posts: 3
I have a 1973 Hobie 16 that needs lots of TLC. The hulls seem structurally sound, no delam or soft spots, but they haven't been cared for well, painted multiple times (with crappy paint), etc. So, I want to refinish them so they look good. I will only be using the Hobie in a lake. It might stay in the water for the whole summer (as I don't really have a beach to pull it up on, and I don't have a trailer for it).

I've read every thread on this board that I could find on the subject, and after doing so I am more confused than ever.

I started by sanding all the paint / crap off, and then faired the bottom smooth. Sadly, I used West System Epoxy to do this, which now seems to be a poor choice (as some people report getting gel to stick to West epoxy is impossible, but others say that as long as it's all cured / cleaned well and sanded to key, it will work). What's done is done, though.

So now I'm trying to figure out what to use as a finishing layer that will look nice. It seems the options are gelcoat or paint.

Gelcoat sounds like it can be a pain to work with, but I'm willing to undergo pain. Getting gel to stick to the epoxy sounds like it may be a challenge, but multiple posters suggest it will work as long as it's all cured, the amine blush is washed off, and the surface is prepped correctly.

Paint sounds much, much easier -- and I'm certainly willing to consider it. However, most paints that people talk about using (Awlgrip, Brightside, etc) are topside only and not recommended for bottoms that will remain submerged. Apparently as long as the boat stays in the water for no more than 24-48 hours you'll be fine, but any more than that and it will bubble. I guess I could use plain old bottom paint -- but my experience with that in the past (grew up ocean sailing, painted many bottoms) is that it doesn't look very good, and it's relatively toxic which I would like to avoid in the lake.

I had definitely decided to try for gelcoat, then read more here and got nervous. I saw the thread by Reefingbuddha (and I am in awe of his graphics, now wondering if I'll have my artistic daughter try something like that for me), and read the thread to the end where his boat is toast. I'm assuming his problem was more structural with the boat and not the actual finish. If my refinish attempt fails it's not the end of the world, but I'd rather get this right the first time.

So, looking for help/advice. Gelcoat or paint or is there something else I've missed that I should consider? If there is a paint that can be used below the waterline and looks good (even if it isn't as durable as gel) I'd definitely consider it. Or, tell me to man up, buy the gel, and get to work!

PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:09 pm 
Site Rank - Admiral

Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:29 pm
Posts: 226
Location: North Bend, WA
I panicked with the thought of using Gelcoat as well. I built a wooden canoe using West Sytem epoxy and learned to clean the amine blush from the cured epoxy with each coat. I was preparing the canoe for varnish and bought the best varnish money could buy for my cool canoe. The varnish never dried!!!! :shock: The only answer I received from the varnish supplier was to strip the varnish, clean the amine blush and revarnish. :evil: I was ready to kill. This must be the same way with gelcoat!

I recommend cleaning the epoxy well to remove any possible trace of the amine blush that will FU your gelcoat job. Maybe even call West System support for their input on best chemical to do so. I know warm water and plastic brillo pad generally takes it off, but I would be sure. Then....

I followed everyone's recommendation and even called Jeremy (thank you!) for support questions prior to starting the project. Here is my to-do list after completing my glassing repairs;
1) Purchase cheap HVLP paint sprayer from Harbor Freight or cheap auto store, approximately $20.
2) Purchase enough Acetone to clean your tools. Gallon or more.
3) Purchase your gelcoat. I used gelcoat from Fiberlay in the Seattle area, mainly because they are local, but it works! I used the gelcoat with the wax mixed in so it cured on its own! I think this is key as well as FRESH batch of gelcoat. Don't purchase from large marine store like Karl B. did and never dried.
4)Sand the whole area smooth first with 18" board air sander with 120 grit to fair the hull.
5) Sand with orbital air sander.
6) Tape area with masking tape and masking paper to cover upside down hull. (I only completed a bottom job)
7) Clean hull with Acetone. Make sure to only wipe one direction and make sure it is clean. I mean more acetone and wipe two to three or more times to make sure. This will be your only chance and you do not want to have any contaminants on the hull.
8) prepare to spray, meaning have respirator, goggles and gloves.
9) mix no more than a pint of gelcoat and spray. It took me about 2-3 minutes the first time to get the spray pattern right.
10) spray until you are out of gelcoat. In my case it was almost 5 coats of the bottom of the 21SE. I was going on thick also. Do not let dry between coats. I more or less just started spraying and never stopped.
11) clean quickly with Acetone. Make sure your spray gun is clean or throw it away.
12) Remove tape and masking paper and let cure. I let cure 48 hours as I had time.
13) I then used the orbital palm sander with 180 sand paper to smooth tape ridge and knock the high points off. This was easy as I already had a faired hull.
14) I did not sand with finer grit. I used buffing compound and buffer to melt/shine the gelcoat. Other than being brighter white that the original you cannot see the blend line.

I thank my lucky stars when I hear the nightmare stories, but I think being overly anal about the preparation is the key to all fiberglass and painting projects. Follow directinos exactly and you should do fine.

Good luck :D

PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:17 pm 
Site Rank - Old Salt

Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2004 7:46 pm
Posts: 1457
Location: Santa Cruz
I am like a proud dad after reading what you wrote...even got a little tear. :lol:

Great work, bro.

Sail Revolution
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 4:44 am 
Site Rank - Old Salt

Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:15 am
Posts: 495
Location: Saint John, NB Canada sailing on Washademoak Lake
I'm also considering refinishing my hulls this winter. How much gelcoat is required to spray both hulls (top and bottom)?

1978 Hobie 16 Keoke, sail# 36 84

PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:30 pm 
Site Rank - Captain

Joined: Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:09 pm
Posts: 55
If you go on the west systems website there is all kinds of information that specifically deals with gel coating over their product. Mostly sanding once the aforementioned blush sets in and i believe they recommend another product they sell.

As far as how much gelcoat is needed to recoat two hulls? I would assume that depends on the number of coats your put down. I believe i used around 1.25 gallons per hull on mine and that added up to 9-10 coats. I used the gelcoat product of off which seemed to be of good quality and price. At the every least it sprayed much better then that crap you find at west marine which I tried before finding the much cheaper alternative online. It also allows you to mix in the wax for the final coat so you don't have to sand and prep between coats if you do it all at once.

PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:23 pm 
Site Rank - Captain

Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:07 pm
Posts: 51
I just went with 3m premium marine filler, sanded down the stupid anti slip mark things. I filled the low spots leveled it out then skim coated the whole surface with as little as i could. After a few sandings and skim coatings it finally flattened out and filled in. Then paint with the "roller paint" or $50 paint job method using pro rustoleum paint and thinner. I can repair it with more filler whenever it gets dinged up then just paint over and sand for repairs.

If it is going to stay in the water you will need some kind of bottom paint though.

To get everything to "bond" just use 80 grit and clean it real well with acetone and a tack cloth after each sanding. The mechanical bond is almost as strong as the fiberglass so don't worry about the epoxy issue. West System is one of the lowest amine blush epoxies on the market. The truth is soap and water can wash off the stuff that forms on epoxy so a good sanding and cleaning right before application will make sure it sticks good.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 4:39 pm 
Site Rank - Captain

Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2010 10:12 pm
Posts: 36
I would try to avoid at all costs keeping your boat in the water. Because my 81' was kept in the water (the definition of rode hard and put away wet) it got osmosit blisters. So now during my restoration I have to drill out 15 or 20 blisters with a countersinking tool, let them dry out for days and then fill them back in. And that is the shortest way to put it.

Am I way off on this?

82 H16 project complete

PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:15 pm 
Site Rank - Old Salt

Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:58 am
Posts: 592
Location: Knoxville, TN
Ditto on keeping it in the water. I left my Sea Ray, a good quality powerboat, in the lake one summer so my wife could use it while I was away. Big mistake! Lot's of blistering, not to mention all the slime the grew on the bottom that only came off after applying huge quantities of elbow grease. Don't do it.

Mark Van Doren
H16 Seabreeze #112205 (Richard Petty Signature Edition)
H14T Fantasia #47787
San Juan 28

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