Compounding Gelcoat

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Staff member
Feb 20, 2006
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Philadelphia, PA
Although I wax my boat several times a season, the sun is starting to take its toll on the gelcoat on the front/sides of the cabin. My next project to tackle will be to compound and then polish. I have don't have much experience with compound so advice is welcome. I plan to use 3M heavy duty compound and apply it with my Porter Cable radom orbital buffer. I am not sure whether to use the wool pad or the orange pad to buff. I an told the wool is a more abrassive cut. As for polishing I will use Starbrite Teflon. Ok guys am I on right track? If not please help.

I used the 3M product that you are talking about, several years ago, on my old Mako. Be careful, as you can thin the gelcoat right out.
Here's the biggy: wear a good, professional grade breather/mask.
I didn't and almost killed myself, seriously. Bad stuff to inhale.
When I bought my boat she had been sitting under a tree for quite some time. When I washed her the first time, the water that rolled off of her looked like coffee... :(

The gelcoat was in equally bad shape, having been neglected for most of her life. :(

In my case I used a Makita 9227 high-speed buffer with the wool pads and Woody Wax Finish Restorer.


I think it worked pretty well.


After getting the gelcoat right, I used Collinite past wax, again applied with the Makita.

As already stated... go easy and don't get too agressive too fast. Once you get the feel of the buffer and the particular brand of compound that you have selected, the job will go much easier. The key is to not go too agressive too soon. :wink:

Good luck... You can do it. All it takes is patience.
Don't get in a hurry, and you can make her new again.

She still looks good this, her third season (with me).

Terry and Kevin - thanks for the replies. Kevin the only part of the boat that has lost some of its shine is the front of the pilothouse. The rest of the boat looks new. I plan on compounding this weekend (weather permitting). I will be using a Porter Cable random orbital buffer. I will heed you advice and go very slow with little pressure at first.

I spent the better part of today compounding and waxing. I used the 3M polishing compound and the gelcoat came up great. I used a Porter Cable random orbital buffer with a wool pad. I then applied Starbrite Teflon with the foam finishing pad. Kevin thanks for for the great advice as always. Here are a few pictures.


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Saw the guy from "Flitz" on Shipshape TV today. I have used Flitz on and off for the last 15 years to clean/polish stainless. Looks like he has expanded his product line and started marketing Flitz as a fiberglass/lexan/isinglass cleaner and polisher as well, plus added a cleaning pad designed to be used with a portable drill.

Just wondering if anyone has experience with his polishing 'ball' or has used Flitz to restore oxidized gelcoat?

-- Tom
I have used Flitz to remove oxidation, as I had some sample tubes given to me, so they were handy. But to me it wasn't any more effective than that 3M stuff in the little tub ... and Flitz, by volume, was like 2-3x more expensive.
Kevin - Thank you for the compliment. Some how you are my motivating factor for these types of projects. Your tips and advice are always appreciated. Now that she is nice and clean, I can't wait to get her dirty!