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TOPIC: Best way to fix hairline cracks in deck

Best way to fix hairline cracks in deck 18 Jun 2009 12:39 #1

  • jwilse
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Hi all .
I am new to BOC and have a 1987 bayliner trophy . There are afew small hairline cracks showing up in the deck . The deck is not soft at all yet and I would like to get after this before I have bigger problems to deal with .
Any input on best way to fix this would appreciated .
Thanks,
Jwilse

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Best way to fix hairline cracks in deck 18 Jun 2009 16:05 #2

  • ishiboo
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I am no expert on fiberglass/gel coat repair, however from what I've learned getting ready to have mine done it's best to grind out the crack making it "V" shaped, and then fill slightly higher than surrounding area. Toss some mold release on a piece of plastic and apply over the patch.

When it's all done you can take the plastic off and sand in progressively finer courses until it matches the rest of everything.

I had a professional boatbuilder quote me $350 for time/materials for filling about 10-15 small hairline cracks. While this seems like a lot of money to me it would take me at least 3 times longer than him, I'd pay a lot more for the raw materials and I'm a consultant so any time I spend working on labor-intensive tasks like sanding I could be working to pay someone else to do it :)

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2005 Crownline 316 LS "The Lucille"

Best way to fix hairline cracks in deck 18 Jun 2009 16:17 #3

  • whiskywizard
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Ishiboo's advice above is right on. I saved a detailed description but can't recall the source. It had to be pretty credible or I wouldn't have saved it!

GELCOAT REPAIRS

The next time you are cleaning and waxing your boat, take the time to look for small cracks, scratches and chips in its gelcoat. If your boat is more than a few years old, you’ll probably be surprised at the number you find.

The Diagnosis
Most scratches and chips in gelcoat result from impacts with hard objects (winch handles, downrigger weights, 15 lb. Lobsters) and are not cause for concern, but if you find a series of cracks, take a minute to inspect the area more closely. If the cracks radiate from the base of load-bearing equipment, like a cleat or stanchion, there is probably a problem with the installation that deserves attention before repairing the gelcoat. Solving it might be as simple as shifting a load from undersized equipment, or installing a larger backing plate to spread the load over a wider area. If cracks appear at important joints or intersections in the cabin or deck, however, they might be the sign of an underlying structural weakness that needs to be examined. You might consider hiring a marine surveyor or having a qualified boat maintenance worker take a look at the problem to ensure that it isn’t serious.

The Repair
Before you begin, wash the area with soap and water and rinse it thoroughly. If the surface is oxidized, restore it with a rubbing compound so you’ll be able to match its colour accurately. Once the surface is clean and dry, mark off the repair area with masking tape.
Next, gouge out small, narrow cracks (and scratches that are too deep to remove with rubbing compound) until they are wide enough to fill with gelcoat paste. A miniature grinding tool like a Dremel is ideal, but the sharp point of a can opener will work too. (If you don’t open the crack, you won’t be able to force the gelcoat into the repair area or expose enough surface area for the repair to adhere.) Then sand lightly with 220-grit sandpaper. After sanding, thoroughly clean the area with acetone to remove the sanding residue and any waxes or other contaminants that might interfere with the bond between the damaged surface and gelcoat. Be sure to provide adequate ventilation and proper protection for your skin and eyes whenever you work with acetone.

The next step is to match the colour of your existing gelcoat. Start with a white or neutral gelcoat paste (not resin) and begin adding tiny amounts of coloring agent. Mix several test batches of gelcoat and pigment, add hardener and allow them to cure (gelcoat changes colour during the curing process). Once you’ve found an acceptable match (an exact one is nearly impossible), mix a final batch using the same ratio.

Next, using a putty knife, fill the areas to be repaired with the paste you’ve mixed. Force out any air holes and be sure to overfill, as gelcoat has a tendency to shrink as it cures. When you are finished filling, seal the repair off from the air with a PVA curing agent or a piece of Saran Wrap or wax paper – gelcoat does not cure properly when exposed to air.

Once the gelcoat has fully cured, sand the repair smooth (wet sanding works particularly well with gelcoat). You can start with 220-grit sandpaper and, for a really slick surface, finish with at least 400- or 600-grit. Finally, apply a coat of high-quality marine polish and your repair is complete.
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Regards
Whiskywizard
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Best way to fix hairline cracks in deck 18 Jun 2009 16:41 #4

  • ishiboo
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Reading that reminds me of one other tip I have heard, which was you can mix the color up WITHOUT the hardener and apply it to the top of some existing gelcoat to see if the color matches. Once you get the right match you can add the hardener and go. Not sure if this is 100% exact as it seems to be the hardener could slightly change the color, however it seems like it'd provide a pretty good match.

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2005 Crownline 316 LS "The Lucille"

Best way to fix hairline cracks in deck 18 Jun 2009 17:06 #5

  • jwilse
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Thank You folks very much for the info. I believe all my cracking is on the topside and floor areas and there aren't to many so should be able to fix them ok .The only one that concerns me a little is where the owner before me had driled the transom
two small hair lines run about 6 inches from the old holes . (nothing mounted there now). But it is below the water line . I have inspected the rest of the hull area and see nothing. as I said most all are top side. one area seems to be from a cannon ball being dropped on it .
Thanks,
jwilse

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Best way to fix hairline cracks in deck 18 Jun 2009 19:35 #6

  • Monterey10
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Craig Capitola Village, CA
1988 Bayliner 2556 (BoatAsaurus)
1996 Trophy 2352 (Mystic)

Best way to fix hairline cracks in deck 18 Jun 2009 19:55 #7

  • ishiboo
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Capt trolley's will fix water ingestion for now but will probably not stop the crakc from getting any further. Also it's good if you live in a climate that freezes so the water doesn't freeze in the cracks. However a good gelcoat fix will look a lot nicer and last longer :)

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2005 Crownline 316 LS "The Lucille"
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