Thursday, May 16, 2013

Foretravel Gelcoat Renewal

Exhausted from months of work on my Ulu Sail Project, I was getting depressed too, that I was neglecting the things I needed in my life for future progress.  Luckily for me, I had met a very handy guy Joe, a friend of a friend, who had time on his hands, lots of skills and liked working on vehicles.  Wow, a win/win!  I haven't made him rich but while I've been trying to move forward with the sail project, he is now working on projects I have not had time for.  Again, a win/win.

The glitch was, I did have to spend a LOT of time doing things within projects I handed him, that I felt needed 'my' touch( had many years of custom paint work under my belt).  So, I spent nearly 2 weeks working on the 2001 Foretravel coach augmenting what I had Joe doing.  We had fun, worked hard and accomplished much.  Also a few beers were consumed after work here and there... gosh....   but work continued the next morning/always!  Joe did many things on his own that were done extremely well and of a skill set i did not have.

#1.  I was not happy with the Gel Coat finish(the white within the color scheme of my coach-the darker colors of green and gold were painted on and clear coated-needing very little effort to make gorgeous again.)  Gel Coat can last for a half century or more...if protected.  The finish on mine had been taken care of to normal levels, which means 12 years old, it was looking OK, but not sharp.  I like sharp.  I also know how to make it so!!

And so began the exterior finish restoration of Memory Roads ll ( the big guy).

I knew when I bought the coach out in the state of Washington, that an amateur, lazy person or unskilled or under paid person had buffed and then applied wax to my coach.  It was evident by the very patchy shiny/dull Hodge- podge of reflections common to the effects given from work using the Walmart type of cheapo buffers.

 Set up scaffolding with 2 ladders and a thick Oak Plank.  Areas above horizontal blue tape was wet sanded/compounded several times, polished, then waxed with 4 coats of McGuire's paste wax.

OK, I saw it and knew immediately, that there was good material under the top layers, that could be 'worked' to make this coach look like new.  It would take elbow grease and time.  It is all about details.

 I had to 'remove' ALL wax that had been applied over the years, by compounding very....aggressively, or even wet sanding the white gel coat to get the surface down to GOOD gel coat material.

You cannot get the best shine if you do not get down to good material...that is the bottom line.

  Gel Coat is normally applied thick 20/25 mils or more in the layup of panels or boat hulls, and since this was supposed to be the final finish on 2001 or Earlier... I chose to go after the finish with  600-800 grit paper and soapy water. Cut deap and fast.. then use 1000 grit/orange compound(heavy) then white(light), then a polish or polymer, then mucho wax.

 I knew I could get down to good gel coat. But... I only found finer abrasive 1000 grit locally, so used it with a bit more elbow grease.  Bought the heavy 3m compound and light stuff online and had it shipped to me.

The DULL area/center of photo, has been wet sanded after Several...attempts for a good finish with only use of polish...  THAT did not work, so I tore thru that aggessively with wet sanding, hd compound, light compound, polish then wax.  

Having payed a detail shop back in Texas to do this job, I got them to do some of it pretty well, but in many different light situations, I could still see that poor gel coat had been waxed over by them or previous attempts.
 I understood. they worked on an hourly basis but I knew what could be the final finish on my coach and wanted it.  Nuttin' less.   my mind wanted: Great,   or the effort is not worth while....  I'm not into half ass work but do understand the limits imposed by quick and dirty caused by labor rates..  that is why I took the time, take the finishon 'my' coach, right now... back to Factory New...IF I can.

This was a personal choice.

OK. I got serious.  Went online and ordered a Makita

9227 buffer/pads,  heavy duty 3M compound, marine, 3M compound(white) and McGuire's Compound and Polish(7 bottles)  Along with this was micro fiber cloths, 4 cans of McGuire's Paste Wax and numerous other things, including daily washing of rags for nearly 2 weeks!

The final effect has me smiling!  I might later on, go back and 'tweak' 5% of the areas, but I've learned to look at these finishes in changing light conditions from morning to full to setting sunlight....before making any major changes in approach.  Taking my time and the result, looks good.

No comments: