Basics of caring for fiberglass boats

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by pawsplus, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    OK--so my new boat will be my first glass boat. :) I won't be picking it up for a few months, but I want to learn all I can about how to care for it. UV protectant? What brand? How often? I've heard that they should be waxed?? With what? How often?

    There is no shop here that does fiberglass repair. This worries me, and my main plan is to treat the thing with kid gloves so I never NEED someone who does fiberglass repair. But is there anything I can learn to do myself?

    Thanks! :)
     
  2. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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  3. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Paws:
    A new composite kayak is a big investment, so I understand your desire to keep it in good shape.
    However, try to USE the boat and not worry too much. One big difference between 'glass' boats an plastic boats is that glass boats are very repairable, and the repairs can be done by 'amateurs' .
    My recommendations:
    1) Protect your boat from UV. This means keeping it under some sort of sunshade/cover - a shed or even a good awning will do. This will reduce gelcoat chalking and other damage. IF you did leave your boat out in the sun a lot, you could still bring it back to 'like new' condition with a few hours of work with polishing compound. I've bought a few very neglected Mariner glass kayaks where the gelcoat 'came back' with a bit of buffing. The good news for you is that NDK boats usually have pretty thick gelcoat!
    2) Use 303 Protectant (or ArmorAll or another rubber/vinyl protectant from the auto store) on the hatch covers to help keep them flexible. (BTW, make sure those covers have tethers...). Consider tucking the covers inside the boat when it's stored, to prevent any mold or mildew in the compartments, if there's any moisture at all inside. You may need to put a screen/netting over the openings to keep insects out.
    3) Washing your boat is nice, but I'm not convinced it makes a lot of difference in terms of 'damage'. A quick rinse should do, especially since you do a lot of paddling in fresh water. Keeping the hull clean and shiny - you can put car wax on it if you want, IMO - will keep crud from sticking to the hull and slowing you down.
     
  4. Kayak Jim

    Kayak Jim Paddler

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    Waxing can be detrimental in a rescue operation if it makes the hull more difficult to hold on to.
     
  5. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Thanks! I am hopefully having a special kayak shed (basically short and shaped like a kayak) that I can slide the boat in and out of (on foam padding!). Current boat hangs in the carport ceiling but (1) new boat is too long for that--if I put it there I will be unable to use the back of the carport for all the stuff I currently need to use it for; (2) I worry that the cords might break and it would fall; (3) it's too visible there to thieves. The little shed can be locked. Working to get a quote from handyman. Anyway, it will be out of the sun. And I figure I can put some of those RV moisture guard things in the shed to keep down the humidity in there. :) Eila is going to be a VERY spoiled boat.
     
  6. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Tethers on the hatch covers -- current boat has them but my memory is that new boat does NOT. Can I do that myself? It seems not, without putting holes in the boat. Should I see if Sea Kayak GA will do it for me before I pick it up?
     
  7. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    If you are having a shed built, you might as well make it big enough for a couple (at least) of kayaks! :)
    And a bit longer than your Pilgrim might need, also.
    About the foam padding - most foam is quite 'cling-y' and not that easy for sliding. Some carpet scraps stapled around 2x4 supports work well. Another possibility - which I've also used - is to make 'rollers' from metal conduit with PVC pipe slid over.
     
  8. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Some hatch covers have an exterior 'tab' with a hole for a tether (or a tab that you can drill a hole into) which can then be attached to the deck lines.
    Most covers also have an 'inside' tab with a hole for a tether, which can attach somewhere under the deck.
    Some boats (not your NDK, I think, which generally have a blob of filler and glass over inside bolt ends) have exposed bolts/nuts on the inside (if the hatch rims are bolted on, or if deck fittings are bolted through) where you can add a tether attachment.
    It's a pretty easy job to epoxy an attachment tab (it can just be a cord or webbing loop saturated in epoxy) or padeye under the deck - and it doesn't show, so a good spot to practise. :)
     
  9. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Is this an issue when the boat has good perimeter deck lines?
     
  10. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Carpet sounds good. I can barely afford the shed I'm planning--and I CAN'T afford the boat. So I'm not about to get another. This will just be something about 2 feet tall and 18 feet long. With a locking door at one end. Nothing fancy!
     
  11. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    It's OK for the boat to sit on its bottom, right? On the carpet?
     
  12. Kayak Jim

    Kayak Jim Paddler

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    Less of an issue but I'd rather have all the help I can get.
     
  13. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Tons of good advice, already. Decades of use each glass boat. Only four basic rules:

    1. Store it dry, out of direct sun. UV will fade the color.
    2. Treat it with a fresh wipe of 303 every other trip or so, after a soap and water rinse. Renews the plasticizers, and also helps keep it shiny.
    3. Avoid wax (the 303 is enough). Makes repairs tedious, when needed, and yes, a waxed boat truly is a PITA in rescues.
    4. NEVER apply silicone-containing products to any part of it. Worst material possible when reglassing is needed.
     
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  14. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Well, there's room for lots of different approaches to boat maintenance. I wouldn't ever put 303 or ArmorAll on fiberglass. It's good for keeping rubber and vinyl soft., though.
    That's a very good point, and a desirable goal - silicone will interfere with bonding epoxy or gelcoat for repairs, and definitely cause 'fisheye' problems if you ever try to paint your boat. If you do wax your boat, try to find a wax without silicone. Most auto polish/wax products don't have a very clear list of ingredients, so it can be a bit tricky. Really, soap and water will keep your boat shiny enough. If it starts to get a bit dull looking, use something like Turtle Wax Polishing Compound to clean it.
    xturtle-wax-polishing-compound.jpg.pagespeed.ic.HNd8s-CvSQ.jpg
    Any competent repair person or painter will clean the boat with an autobody 'wax remover' product; it will take care of silicone residues (and 'protectant' residues as well!).
     
  15. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Yes. Glass boats won't deform in shady storage if there's reasonable support- say resting on the flat sides of 3 carpeted 2 x 4s (You should put supports near the ends as well, but the Pilgrim likely won't rest on them because of the rocker).
     
  16. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    John, what is the reason for your concern about using 303 on fiberglass? I agree Armorall is a poor choice. Somewhat different formulations.

    There are a couple variants on 303; I believe one is for fabrics and the other is for rubber, plastic, and polyester- and/or vinylester-styrene copolymer composites, aka fiberglass. Not sure about epoxy/glass composites.
     
  17. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Dave:
    I haven't looked into the formulations at all.
    Just from experience using 303, ArmorAll, Mother's Back to Black, and AutoGlym Vinyl and Rubber Care they all seem quite similar...except for price...but I understand you can get 303 in large containers if you look.

    I only started using those products once I got warned about caring for hatch covers. When I first discovered ArmorAll in the 70s, I did the interior of my car with it...well, I started with the tires and then worked my way inside, across the dash and finished up with the steering wheel...I just about killed myself next time I drove the car!

    I completely ruined the paint job on a car once by using a 'miracle rejuvenator liquid polish' - turned it all blotchy, so I'm leery about putting any of those liquids on gelcoat. But, I must be mistaken about 303 if you have been using it with success, and I recall that your chemistry background is deeper than mine.
     
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  18. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Hahahaha! Armorall is really foul stuff ... not surprised a full wipe on the interior was a toxic experience.

    I do not know from nothin' about the details of the two formulations ... just going on the experience of others ... beginning back in 1996 or so, when the scuttlebutt was Armorall had silicones in it, and 303 did not. The former ate up latex seals, and 303 did not, lending credence to that, and I have just stuck with it ever since, preferring to restock just one refurb juice. I doubt Armorall has silicones, these days.

    There is probably something better these days.
     
  19. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    I'm confused. So I can't just lay it down on the flat floor of the shed? I need carpeted 2x4s? Why is that?
     
  20. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Sorry - I was thinking of a more primitive shed style - sort of a mini 'pole barn' with no floor is how I built mine. So I had to add 2x4 crosspieces to support the boats, and I covered those with carpet.
    If you are going to add a floor (pressure-treated plywood or concrete?) to your shed, you can just put down some carpet and slide the boat in. Actually, if the floor is bare (unpainted) plywood, you don't need the carpet at all - just slide the boat in. It gets hot there in the summer, right? -Make sure you have very good (screened) ventilation top and bottom. You don't want to build a 'kayak oven'.