This is a Sea-Doo jet boat that had a close call with the bank of a river, hitting tree limbs and putting “morse code” scratches and dings down the side of the boat. Typically we can spot repair damage like this and you will never see it, but this boat was not cooperating. After several attempts at fixing the spots we decided to go ahead and spray the complete hullsides (he had dings on the other side he wanted fixed as well).
Here we have the sides with freshly sprayed gelcoat
Unlike paint finishes, most of the work is done after the boat is sprayed. The gel will have an orange peel texture to it that has to be wet sanded smooth with a series of different grit paper followed by buffing and polishing with several grades of compound.
First pass with buffer and super duty compound
To speed things up I quickly run over the hull with 220 grit sandpaper on a Porter-Cable dual action sander. I wouldn’t advise this for a novice as you can easily sand through the gel or make the sides wavy if you don’t hold it flat. If you do have a go at it, make sure you hold the pad FLAT to the boat and move it around quickly, do NOT stay in one place. The next step is wet sanding first with 400 grit then 600 grit paper. We had a wet sanding machine that made stuff like this easy, unfortunately it was dropped and broken a few days before this job, so I had to do it all by hand. After wet sanding I used a Makita variable speed polisher (this machine can also be used for grinding, one of the best tools I’ve owned) and 3M Super Duty rubbing compound to put a shine on the boat, this will show you EVERYTHING you missed!
Second sanding and polishing
After going over the boat with compound the first time you will see places that need to be sanded or sanded better. For any dimples make sure you use a block with wet sandpaper to get them out or you will have little low spots everywhere that will show up bad once the boat is finished. If you see any areas that are duller looking than the rest they need to be hit with the finer 600 grit sandpaper, you don’t need to hit them much. Once I went around and did my sanding touch-ups I went over it with the compound, this time it had a very even shine. At this point I could have buffed over the boat but being a perfectionist I went ahead and wet sanded the entire hull with 1000 grit paper by hand.
First step of final polishing
After going over the boat with 1000 grit it was time to start the final polishing process. Once again I went over the boat with the super duty compound. I made three passes around the boat until I could look at it closely and not see any of the tiny swirl scratches left from wet sanding.
The super duty compound will leave an excellent finish on the boat, but I wanted this boat to go back to the customer looking better than the day he picked it up from the dealership. To get the perfect shine I used two grades of fine compound. The first step was using 3M Finesse It, this is a very fine compound that takes out the super fine scratches from the super duty, which you really can’t see with the naked eye, but you can tell in the shine. After that I went with an even finer compound, using 3M Perfect It III.
After getting it all shined up, it was time for brand new decals and chrome raised letter insignia. When the customer first came to see the boat he accused us of swapping his with a brand new one!
Home at last
This is my favorite part of the job, getting the boat back home to its extremely happy owner!