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Old 11-25-2014, 02:18 PM   #1
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Restoring gelcoat to a brand new shine?

My 17 foot Escape has about 200,000 kms on it and is looking old and scruffy. I have tried waxing with minimal results. I have spoken to Escape who tell me that gelcoat is part of the original manufacturing process and can't be sprayed on afterwards. Does anyone know how I can restore the original shine? Is it a do-it-yourself project, or should I go to a professional, and if so who do I go to?
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Old 11-25-2014, 02:28 PM   #2
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My 17 foot Escape has about 200,000 kms on it and is looking old and scruffy. I have tried waxing with minimal results. I have spoken to Escape who tell me that gelcoat is part of the original manufacturing process and can't be sprayed on afterwards. Does anyone know how I can restore the original shine? Is it a do-it-yourself project, or should I go to a professional, and if so who do I go to?
Gelcoat can be sprayed on afterwards, but I would not recommend this as it is cost prohibitive and takes a ton of prep work -- like refinishing a car. There are a number of products designed to restore the gelcoat gloss and remove oxidation. Here's a good one:

Meguiars Fiberglass Restoration System, boat restoration kit, boat polishing kit, meguiars boat polishes
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Old 11-25-2014, 02:48 PM   #3
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Gelcoat can be sprayed on afterwards, but I would not recommend this as it is cost prohibitive and takes a ton of prep work -- like refinishing a car. There are a number of products designed to restore the gelcoat gloss and remove oxidation. Here's a good one:

Meguiars Fiberglass Restoration System, boat restoration kit, boat polishing kit, meguiars boat polishes
Thanks. I appreciate this. Is waxing and refinishing temperature sensitive --- can it be done in really cold Canadian temperatures or should I do it in California?
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Old 11-25-2014, 03:04 PM   #4
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Thanks. I appreciate this. Is waxing and refinishing temperature sensitive --- can it be done in really cold Canadian temperatures or should I do it in California?
I would highly recommend doing it in Texas instead, maybe at Robert's place.
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Old 11-25-2014, 03:17 PM   #5
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That Meguiars sounds like it will do a fine job, but also sounds like a lot of work.

You could try 303 Aerospace Protectant and see if it makes it shiny enough for you. But it will not give you a like new high gloss finish - (although I have read about using it in combination with a buffer to get more shine restoration.)
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Old 11-25-2014, 03:26 PM   #6
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I would highly recommend doing it in Texas instead, maybe at Robert's place.
Sure, c'mon down! Labor is not included though.
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Old 11-25-2014, 03:27 PM   #7
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I've seen pros restore really dull and oxidized boat hulls to a mirror finish but I doubt an owner would have the time and patience to do that much work.

The alternative is paint. But that's a pretty subjective decision. I can say that any boat owner that has ever had their boat sprayed loves the ease of care and wouldn't willing go back to gelcoat.

At the Moab meet there was an old Uhaul that had been painted. Looked like a million dollars.

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Old 11-25-2014, 03:35 PM   #8
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I've seen pros restore really dull and oxidized boat hulls to a mirror finish but I doubt an owner would have the time and patience to do that much work.

The alternative is paint. But that's a pretty subjective decision. I can say that any boat owner that has ever had their boat sprayed loves the ease of care and wouldn't willing go back to gelcoat.

At the Moab meet there was an old Uhaul that had been painted. Looked like a million dollars.

Ron
I dunno. Painting is expensive, and the thing about fiberglass trailers is they tend to flex a little. I've seen fiberglass that was painted with the wrong coating have a tendency to crack. Restoring the gelcoat on fiberglass is a ton of work to be sure, but with a dual-action rotary polisher it can be restored in a day. Once completed, the regular maintenance with 303 or a good wax will prevent it from happening again. I have a Porter Cable 7424XP and it does a fine job polishing my vehicles. For around $150 and some 'work' he could have it looking like new.
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Old 11-25-2014, 04:32 PM   #9
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I wouldn't paint a gelcoated trailer while the gelcoat is still serviceable - if nothing else, there's probably no going back. On the other hand, my motorhome has paint (factory-applied over the same gelcoated fiberglass that serves as the final finish without the paint option), and it is certainly easier to maintain than gelcoat. It is a big decision to go with paint, and a big surface to paint.
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Old 11-25-2014, 04:38 PM   #10
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Lot of people have had success regaining the shine on their oxidized gelcoat fiberglass RV's by using a floor finishing product. Grab a BIG cup of coffee and check out this thread: Check this out NOT Poliglow...Time will tell.. - Fiberglass RV
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Old 11-25-2014, 05:26 PM   #11
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I had good results using ReddMaxx pro polish on a 5 year old f/g Eggcamper, see attached...
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File Type: jpg DSC00882.jpg (170.2 KB, 32 views)
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Old 11-25-2014, 05:35 PM   #12
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Using a floor wax / polish doesn't mean that you can now walk on the trailer roof.
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Old 11-25-2014, 07:25 PM   #13
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I've seen fiberglass that was painted with the wrong coating have a tendency to crack. .
Yah, and I've seen trailers painted with house paint and a roller But seriously the right paint on gelcoat works just fine. The real issue is when and if the gelcoat has gotten to its' own point of no return. Things like major chips etc. and areas worn thin by using abrasive products also come into the decision.

As long as the gelcoat is in good condition it's probably worth putting some sweat into it and seeing the result.

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Old 11-25-2014, 07:35 PM   #14
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If the oxidization is really bad, but the gelcoat is is good shape, 600 grit wet sandpaper will remove the oxidization nice, and leave it ready for a buff and polish. The gelcoat is relatively thick. I have tried it on this badly oxidized 3800 year old Trillium I am rebuilding, and it is amazing the colour it brings out.

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Old 11-25-2014, 07:49 PM   #15
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It's almost older than dirt but still in pretty good shape given its age!
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Old 11-25-2014, 08:05 PM   #16
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The gelcoat is relatively thick. I have tried it on this badly oxidized 3800 year old Trillium I am rebuilding, and it is amazing the colour it brings out.
"The gelcoat is relatively thick." That's the nitty gritty of the issue. I've seen gelcoat that has been abraded by abrasive cleaners to the point of transparency. Some people can't resist the quick fix to make black stains etc. go away easily but all gelcoat isn't equal and if there's a thin area and abrasives are used you might end up in a paint situation.

"3800 year old Trillium" , man, I knew fiberglass lasted a long time

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Old 11-25-2014, 08:38 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by rb5511 View Post
My 17 foot Escape has about 200,000 kms on it and is looking old and scruffy. I have tried waxing with minimal results. I have spoken to Escape who tell me that gelcoat is part of the original manufacturing process and can't be sprayed on afterwards. Does anyone know how I can restore the original shine? Is it a do-it-yourself project, or should I go to a professional, and if so who do I go to?
You would have to get the wax off if you want to try 303 Aerospace and see if that helps.
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Old 11-25-2014, 08:41 PM   #18
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I have tried it on this badly oxidized 3800 year old Trillium I am rebuilding, and it is amazing the colour it brings out.
So, that would be about the same era as the one Moses used while shepherding in the desert, yes?
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Old 11-25-2014, 10:48 PM   #19
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I found a way to do it thats fairly easy and lasting on my oxidized Casita. Pm me if you are interested and want to work with a very common but a little hazardouse (but safe if you are cautious) solvent.
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Old 11-25-2014, 11:09 PM   #20
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So, that would be about the same era as the one Moses used while shepherding in the desert, yes?
Really, really good dating....
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