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Author Topic:   Gelcoat Polishing Process
minimontauk posted 05-19-2003 08:10 PM ET (US)   Profile for minimontauk   Send Email to minimontauk  
I filled some dings and screw holes in the outside hull with Spectrum Gelcoat patch. I wet sanded the repairs through 600 grit. I have some 3M rubbing compound and 3M finesse-it. I tried the finesse-it on one repair, doesn't seem to bring it back up to shine. Should I sand with 800 or higher grit, or just try the rubbing compound followed by finesse-it? I have a Porter Cable RO variable speed sander with a buffing pad. The finesse-it seems to dry on the surface. It can be rubbed off with some force. Any advice on buff-out technique appreciated.
lhg posted 05-19-2003 08:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
You're not down to a smooth enough finish yet to use Finesse-it. That's the very last step before pure carnuba wax.

Continue sanding, by hand, working your way from #600 up though #1000, #1500 & #2000. Then use Mequiars #44 Fiberglass restorer, THEN Finesse-it. You'll end up with a factory gloss.

Incidentally, I just noticed Walmart is now carrying the Finesse-it II, for about $12.00/pint bottle. It's a pretty good price
for this expensive stuff, and if you don't want the quart bottle size.

David Jenkins posted 05-19-2003 08:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Jenkins  Send Email to David Jenkins     
lhg, are you recommending wet sanding or dry? Is the Meguiers #44 an oxidation remover? Does this replace rubbing/polishing compound? Will Finesse-it work fine if applied and removed by hand (with a towel)?
kingfish posted 05-19-2003 09:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
And while we're on your dime, Larry-

I've always moved up through the levels of wet sand paper to Meguiars 44 Color Restorer, then to Meguiars polish and finally to Meguiars carnauba (I haven't run out of Meguiars yet; I'll be trying your stuff as soon as it's gone). Anyway, are you saying that Finesse-it is finer yet than Meguiars 44, or would that be in place of the Meguiars polish? (Or both?)

Barry posted 05-19-2003 09:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Barry  Send Email to Barry     
Wet sand as fine as you can go. I've had trouble locally finding sandpaper finer than 600 and have found that rubbing compound or Meguiar's #49 Heavy Duty Oxidation Remover will get you there. It's just more work that way.

Both Meguiar's #44 Color Restorer and #49 remove oxidation. #49 is more aggressive. I think that 3M's Finesse-It II must be similar to Meguiar's Boat/RV Polish although I've never tried the Polish because the Finesse-It works so well.

You can apply the Finesse-It by hand but it works much better and faster with power. You put it on wet, rub until it's dry and then keep rubbing until it's buffed off.

John O posted 05-19-2003 09:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for John O    
wet sanding is the way to go. Smoother finish and less dust build up. Just did the 800, 1000,1500 compound (3M) ,Finesse, Fleet Wax.

Looks good.

bsmotril posted 05-20-2003 08:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for bsmotril  Send Email to bsmotril     
You can find the finer sandpaper at any auto parts store that carries painting supplies. Our local Pep-Boys has the finer grits.
kingfish posted 05-20-2003 08:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

I've not found 2000 locally yet either, but we have an auto repair and paint *supply* shop in town where I get 1000 and 1500. I'd be happy to pick some extra up for you and mail it your way the next time I stop in - let me know...


minimontauk posted 05-20-2003 12:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for minimontauk  Send Email to minimontauk     
The whole hull has a fine haze of scratches, about what you would expect for a 10 year old boat. The finish still has a gloss though, none of the powdery oxidation I've seen on some old whalers. If I'm sanding through 1500 grit, do I need the 3M rubbing compound at all? Will the finesse-it even out the whole finish? I don't want to create a lot of swirl marks by using the coarser buffing compound if it's really not necessary. Sorry for the newbie ignorance, but I am running out of time and my wife's patience! I spent the last two weeks of nights on my back under the boat doing interprotect sealer and bottom paint. My aching back!
David Jenkins posted 05-20-2003 04:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Jenkins  Send Email to David Jenkins     
What is interprotect sealer?
lhg posted 05-20-2003 06:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Most of the questions seem answered, and wet sanding is mandatory. I have found that using the ultra fine automotive grades up to 2000 really works fast and well, and eliminates the red rubbing compound stage, and with better results. It's really quite simple, with little effort. I get these fine grades at Pep Boys or other auto parts stores like Auto Zone.

After the #2000 sanding, the Meguiars 44 can be used, then Finesse-it, which is a micro finishing compound, barely abrasive at all. It can be used by hand in tight areas, but otherwise an orbital buffer is required. Barry's instructions on using it are also on the bottle. This process leaves no swirl marks at all.

I have found with gelcoat, never use anything stronger than necessary. Once a boat is detailed and waxed, future polishing may only require buffer applied Finesse-it and wax to get rid of light oxidation. I have never seen an oxidation removal job that #44 won't handle. It's actually pretty strong stuff, and brings a boat back fast.

jimh posted 05-26-2003 05:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
A nice presentation of the finishing techniques mentioned here is available in Taylor Clark's wonderful article published in the Reference section of this website.


minimontauk posted 05-26-2003 08:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for minimontauk  Send Email to minimontauk     
Well, it's done at last. Hours of wet sanding through 1500 grit, 3M rubbing compound, then Finesse-It. I thinks it looks pretty good. Next time, I'm buying a buffer. My Porter Cable RO 5" sander with buffing pad worked, but very slowly. Thanks for the advice.
AC posted 03-27-2004 11:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for AC  Send Email to AC     
#1500 and #2000 wet sandpaper seems like overkill to me. I stop at #1200, then 3M rubbing compound followed by wax.
Legobusier posted 03-28-2004 07:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for Legobusier  Send Email to Legobusier     
My brother used furniture grade steel wool (very fine) for one of these steps.....not sure what it would replace in the above process, but his is:

Furniture steel wool, acetone, rubbing compound (3M) wax.

Anyone else use a similar method or is this something new?

JayR posted 03-28-2004 12:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for JayR  Send Email to JayR     
eBay can be an easy inexpensive source for 1000 - 2000 grit wet sand paper.

I bought some that way and it was a steal compared to the local paint supply auto shops. 100 sheets for just a fews bucks.

JayR posted 03-28-2004 12:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for JayR  Send Email to JayR

About a buck a sheet.

JayR posted 03-28-2004 12:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for JayR  Send Email to JayR     
30 cents each! What was I thinking???? Damn medications!
jimh posted 03-28-2004 12:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
My recollection is that ACETONE was specifically NOT RECOMMENDED as a cleaning solvent for gel coat resins.
Tom W Clark posted 03-28-2004 01:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

It may be that somebody does not recommend acetone, but I have used acetone extensively on all my Whalers and Taylor's as well. I have yet to see ANY ill effect caused by it.

HAPPYJIM posted 03-28-2004 01:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
Here's another source of sandpaper. I bought 5 full sheets of 1000 grit for $5.99 at the store in Norfolk VA but not listed in the catalog.

mobcat posted 03-05-2010 08:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for mobcat  Send Email to mobcat     
Tips For Compound, Polish & Wax
it seems it's that time of year again so I'll pre-post before the questions begin flying:

[What followed here was a cut-and-paste of someone else's work, without attribution, and without the excellent photographs that were included in the original. I have deleted this article because the fellow posting it clearly did not author it--jimh]

ram49 posted 03-26-2010 07:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for ram49  Send Email to ram49     
Can someone tell me how to get sos pad scratches out of gelcoat on my boat I had a person clean it and he used sos pads to remove algea off of it.Thanks
dburton posted 04-02-2010 06:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for dburton  Send Email to dburton     
My local Walmart has 2000 grit sandpaper in the automotive section. The sheets are cut into 1/3 size. Maybe not ideal for some but readily available.


wldrns1 posted 04-07-2010 07:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for wldrns1  Send Email to wldrns1     

Wow! Did you type that all at once or is it an Annual Copy/Paste???

Printed it here before lost over the CW horizon. Thanks!

Tivoli posted 04-15-2010 09:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tivoli  Send Email to Tivoli     
Actually, mobcat's verbiage was borrowed from a poster on

I think the author is due credit.

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