Gelcoat color retention

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Gelcoat color retention

Postby JohnH on Sat Jul 06, 2019 1:25 pm

It seems that the majority of Ranger Tugs have dark gelcoat colors. In my experience with other boats, such colors usually fade or chalk after a few years in the sun. Does RT have some sort of superior gelcoat? Do RT owners buff, polish, and wax more frequently than most? Is there some other secret to preserving the dark colors (other than Imron, Awlgrip, or some other coating)?

I am interested in responses from owners who leave their boats in the water for the entire season and who live between the upper Chesapeake Bay and the southern tip of Florida.

-- John
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Re: Gelcoat color retention

Postby dclagett on Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:13 pm

I am on the Choptank River in Cambridge, MD and we leave the boat in the water April through mid November. We purchased the boat used when it was 1.5 years old. The dark blue and tan gelcoat were already starting to fade and chalk when purchased. This year I had the boat professionally waxed and buffed in early May hoping it would last until mid season. By mid June the cabin & cockpit tan and blue eyebrows looked like they have not been waxed in years. The hull has held up somewhat better although it is quite porous which shows white dots all over the surface. When I find a spare $10K I will have the boat painted.

I would say the quality of gelcoat on our RT is somewhat below average at best. The best boats I had for gelcoat were on both Regal boats I owned that had a dark blue hull and trim. The worst gelcoat boat I have owned was a red Cruiser’s Yacht.

This has been my experience with the 8 fiberglass boats I have owned.
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Re: Gelcoat color retention

Postby Trisailor on Sat Jul 06, 2019 6:39 pm

Hi John,
My R27 is in southern California so we have the same constant sunlight issues you refer to. There are a lot of posts on this site about the fading gelcoat on our boats. I'm looking into wrapping my boat, (see my post re wrapping). In response to my query about people putting skins on their tugs a gentleman posted about ceramic coatings that online show r eat promise. Some have painted with awlgrip or other linear polyurethane paints, also with good results. I was working up to the skin approach, but in light of the ceramic suggestion will explore that further before making a decision. Cost wise the skin vs ceramic are close and end up real close to the cost of having a detailer buffing/waxing everything 3 months or so. 3 months seems to be about the average length of time a wax job lasts in our sunny clime.
v/r Brian
v/r Brian
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Re: Gelcoat color retention

Postby BB marine on Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:37 am

Unfortunately Gel coat fades. It is disappointing when a three season boat sitting next to a 10 season boat has more fade. The question is why? In most cases one owner takes care of the finish and the other doesn't. In some cases the boat manufacture applies the gelcoat inconsistently or uses inexpensive gelcoat with less additives that reduce the finish from fading. Bottom line they are all going to fade some faster than others. We have a Blue hull Cutwater. A 5K upgrade for the colored hull. I knew that fading is going to be more noticeable with a color hull (dark Blue) but it looks great when clean and polished. Does the blue fade more than the white ? Yes but not that much more the white is just not as noticeable.

My disappointment with The Cutwater blue hull came in the winter of 2018. My boat was sitting next to a 47' SEA RAY 2008 black hull that spent 7 years in Miami. The new owner just brought the boat up to use on Lake Michigan. The 10 year old boat had a better finish then my 2 year old boat. My 2 year old boat is in storage 7 months every year and waxed at the beginning and mid season. Why is that? I have no factual reason but I would guess better application and better product used during the build.

I am very particular about the finish on the hull, decks and topside. I yearly remove all water spots from the hull (lime away) then apply a Marine 31 polish compound followed with a coat of Marine 31 protectant/wax, then all season clean the boat with Chemical Guys soap and follow up with a wipe down of Chemical Guys spray protectant. So far it is still looking good but I still can't compete with the finish on the 11 year old Sea Ray. We Tug and Cut owners may have boats that fade but we also have the boats that everyone admires. As many Tug and Cut owners say. Compromises!!!
Brian Brown
Cutwater 26
BB marine
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Re: Gelcoat color retention

Postby NorCal on Sun Jul 07, 2019 12:02 pm

We have a 2016 R31. I have been working on this issue for over a year now. The boat was in the Northwest for a couple of years and now it is in the SF Bay Area. It is the Ranger Grey. First year and a half were great. After that, gelcoat maintenance has been ugly. The dull chalky gelcoat drives me nuts. I like having a shiny boat.

I have tried all types of products to keep it looking nice. Nothing has worked for more then a couple of months.

I worked with a company out of florida with a high end ceramic coating. They said it would last at least 18 months. Unfortunately it lasted about six. I am back to the same chalky problems. The worst areas are the brows on the bridge and propane locker.

I spoke to the gelcoat manufacturer that Ranger used. I was told that the best solution is really paint. There just are not any good UV inhibitors that are EPA legal any more. I guess all the high end yachts are going to paint now as well.

Part of the problem is when you buff out your gelcoat there are oils in the buffing compound that fill in the micro pores in the gelcoat. So you think you are into clean gelcoat, but you really aren't. Once those oils evaporate the process starts again. The Gelcoat rep said best approach is to color sand with 1000 grit wet dry sandpaper to get to clean gelcoat and then polish and wax. But this is an aggressive approach and a few rounds of this and you will be through the gelcoat.

I wish I knew the answer. Hopefully somebody can figure it out.

I have made sunbrella covers for my brows so I don't have to look at them and more. I may repolish them up and see how long it lasts with the sunbrella cover.

Of course I can't do that for the whole boat.

That has been my experience.

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