The Dull Boat Blues

The Dull Boat Blues Has your boat finish lost it's luster? We show you how you can end up with a boat that looks almost like it did the day it was new.

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Shining a boat

If your boat has the blues, especially if it has the dull blues, you can make it shine like a dime if you are willing to do a little work.
   It doesn't matter if your boat has a metal flake finish or is a solid color, that faded look can appear. It is usually the result of too much sunlight over a period of time, but is a problem that can be corrected. You can do it with a little elbow grease on a weekend when you aren't going fishing or during a weekday when you have the day off from work.
   Boats with metal flake finishes will require more time and work to get them back into shape, but it really is an easy task. Those with solid colors are much easier, but the end result is just what you would want. You can end up with a boat that looks once again almost like it did the day it was manufactured.
   I've talked to a lot of boat repair people over the years and one of the best I've met is Alan Dunn of AAA Fiberglass and Tackle in Grand Prairie (Texas). Alan has restored lots of boats to near their original luster. Just as importantly, he, himself, is a fisherman and will be among the first to offer advice on how you can do the work yourself to put your boat back into top shape.
   The first test to see just what shape your boat is in is to apply some wax to a particular area. If it doesn't shine the way it used to, if it looks cloudy, you no doubt have an oxidation problem. But it can be solved. All it will take is some work.
   Dunn Said that any boat with an oxidation problem should be buffed with wax. Don't just rub it on and then wipe it off with a towel. Use a buffer. If that doesn't work, apply a polishing compound and then wax it, again using the buffer. This should show an improvement, Dunn said.
   If it doesn't and the boat still doesn't shine like you think it should, you will need to do some extra work sanding. You should choose a 600 to 1000 grit sandpaper, Dunn said, and use water to wet sand the finish.
   If it has a metal flake finish, test the thickness of the first layer of clear gelcoat by, while sanding lightly, observing to see if some of the metal flake turns to a different color, such as a red metal flake turning silver. If you observe that, quit sanding.
   Sand only a small area at a time on the worst areas of the boat, and watch carefully what you are doing. "We only sand a very thin amount of it off a boat," Dunn said. "You can rub it lightly with your fingers and feel when it becomes smooth. When you get it smooth, stop."
   The next step would be to use a towel and dry the area, then apply a thin layer of compound and use a buffer. Once you get the shine and luster you are looking for, wet sand it again, then add another layer of compound and buff it once more.
   On boats with solid colors, not metal flake, use the same procedures, but use extreme caution not to sand through the colored gelcoat. Dunn said that if you notice the color is beginning to turn dark, you've gone too far.
   With any of these types of procedures, test small areas that are out of sight or not noticeable so that you do not damage the most visible parts of the boat.
   There is only so much gelcoat on any boat. If you don't take care of it, don't wax and buff it regularly, you are going to have an oxidation problem sooner or later.
   On metal flake boats especially, you can see when a problem is occurring when you begin to see the metal flake turning silver. A metal flake is simply that, a piece of metal that is painted. If it becomes oxidized, you have lost the bright paint job on the flakes of metal.

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