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ABA Boat Maintenance & Repair Questions and Responses

The information contained herein is the opinion of ABA member and marine mechanic Tim Harrington of Madison Marine Service, Harwich, Massachusetts. Tim is responding to a question solely based on the information an ABA member provided. Neither ABA, nor Tim Harrington, nor Madison Marine Service assume any responsibility or liability for events that occur due to actions you or others on your behalf take based on the information given in Tim's response.  You are proceeding at your own risk.

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Q. I have a 1997 Landau Pontoon Bandit. The port side pontoon has electrolysis. How can I fix this?

A. If the electrolysis is bad enough, you may need to have a patch done by someone near you that can do aluminum work. That would be the best thing to do.

If the problem is not that big, there are products that can fill after you grind out all of the corrosion. Then you would have to spray with a metal paint to match. You cannot use Bondo-type product. You need a marine composite that is compatible with metal. One product is called Duroglass, but it should only be used for superficial filling and corrosion.

Q. Leaves have left rust stains in the gel coat. What is the best way to remove them without harming the finish? Any info would be appreciated. Thank you!

A. The problem with leaves is the acidity generated during decomposition that actually stains your gelcoat. Sometimes this is tough to deal with because of the chemical reaction it has with your polyester. One product that I use that works great (to an extent) is Soft Scrub. There are many household stain removers that also work great in your boat maintenance. I would try this with a stiff brush and apply it multiple times if necessary.

Q. I recently purchased a lake home and have a dock situation that doesn't allow mooring whips. Prior to this I always kept the boat on a trailer. Any suggestions on how I can protect my boat from continuously hitting against the dock beyond adding an edge protector or boat bumpers that would only rub on the boat. Any suggestions or recommendations on covering the boat? I'm going from a trailer tie down to unsure now what to use?

Also any suggestions on keeping the algae buildup off the bottom of the boat?

A. I received your question regarding your dock problem. Docks, whether on the ocean, rivers, streams, lakes or marinas have been a source of problems since the beginning of the time. Trying to get around some of the bumper problems and the damage to composite finishes on hulls is a constant battle. There is no easy answer, you need to have bumpers and bumpers cause damage.

I do like some of the composite bumpers better because they do less damage. To try and minimize the damage, I take industrial wax (in cube form) and rub the wax in layers onto the dock bumpers. I have also made a small spring device that hangs from a dock plate. I use foam padding to cover the spring, and use a heavy covered plastic material for the exterior. I keep putting wax on during season and that also works well.

You may find some other ideas at the following website, www.tmpmarine.com.

Now about your bottom growth, there are many bottom paints on the market. You need to select a brand that fits your needs. If you want to try a lighter color you may find you will have less growth. Ponds, lakes, rivers and streams will generate and promote growth just because of how warm the water gets. During the summer when your enjoying your new purchase, take a swim around your boat with your boat brush and you will find most of the bottom growth will come off.

Q. I just bought this used 1997 18' Seadoo Challenger. It is very well taken care of and clean, except for a small 3" scrape/gouge on the keel at the centerline. It looks like the previous owner may have hit a rock or other hard object. I do not see any stress cracks in the fiberglass. The fiberglass is missing in a 3" by 1" area right on the centerline, and about 1/8" deep. Basically, the fiberglass gelcoat is gone, showing the bare fiberglass beneath. How bad a problem is this and should I be worried about further damage? How should I repair it?

A. I have received a question regarding your Seadoo. I have repaired Seadoo hulls for a local dealership so I can address your problem. First of all, this problem is not too bad and you can repair it yourself. The cost will be minimal.

If you see no stress or crazing in the area of impact, I believe you are fine. You do however have to address the problem of the gouge. Look to make sure there is no fracturing of the glass laminate (fiberglass). If it is fractured, it will look brittle or chalky. If this is the case, you need to remove and replace with laminate.

To replace the gelcoat you need to clean the area with a degreaser or alcohol. If you have a Seadoo dealership nearby, they may have some gel that matches your gel batch and year. Or try your boat products retailer.

Gelcoat is a pigmented resin, so you have to apply as such using MEKP, a liquid hardener that you use with polyester resin. If the scrape is not deep, you can also add Cabosil to your gel and mix well. You will never match the gel exact, but it will be close. Take your Cabosil and gelcoat and mix to a paste that is very smooth in looks and spreading ability. DO NOT USE TOO MUCH and do not mix more than you can use. Add your hardener drop by drop and mix well, being careful not to over mix. Before applying, tape off the area that you will be working on. A trick I use is to wax just beyond this area also. This way, if you inadvertently get some of the gel mixture on your hull, it will not stick. Apply with knife or small squeegee. Apply the gel mixture higher than your finish. You will have to sand to height and create your finish to compound and wax. Use wet sand 350 light on the patch and 1200 and higher for the finish you want.

To give you an idea of how long this should all take, I figure one and one half hours to repair gel blister the size of a quarter. That's set up, application and sanding.

There are also kits made by Sea Fit, Marine Tex and others that can help you with this project.

Q. I have a white looking film on the outside of my boat. It looks like the clear coat may be fading; the bow however looks good. How do I correct this problem?

A. From your question, I am guessing that it is oxidation from the sun's UV rays. You did not say whether you have paint or gelcoat on your boat. You mention clear coat. Maybe you mean shine. In any event, I will try to lead you in the right direction.

If you have gelcoat, you will have to use some elbow grease and compound your boat. The amount of oxidation will determine what grade compound you need. This should be done with a multiple RPM buffer.

If you have Awlgrip and/or other yacht paint, you need to check with the manufacturer or a craftsman in that field about using a micro-grade compound for paint.

I like to use 3M products. You can find them at most boat products retailers.

Q. The keel on my fiberglass fishing boat is getting worn from beaching, and landings. I have looked at things such as keel guard. Is there a product of this type that does not cost $25/30 a foot?

A. I have received you question regarding a keel guard. There are not too many other products for you to consider beyond what you have already researched. As you have discovered, the price per foot is expensive. And, additional materials for a keel guard like brass and aluminum can increase the cost.

If you are looking for a "do it yourself" answer, I can help. I have made my own keel guard for flat boats and for my own fly fishing bass. Go to a store (home center) that carries rubber or vinyl base moldings. Pick an appropriate ml. that would withstand use. Trim it and heat it with a heat gun to shape it. Install it with barge cement (shoe makers cement). I like to use this particular cement because if I ever want to remove the keel guard, it is easily removed when heated. Any residual cement left on the hull can be cleaned with acetone.

Note: I do not know how much damage you have from landings, but you need to repair the damage before you apply any protection such as a keel guard. You have to stop any and all moisture penetration to the interior of your laminates.

I hope this information gives you some alternative ideas

Q. Where can I purchase a Gunnel Rail guard for this boat? The old one is peeling off.

A. There are many resources available on your rub rail (it sounds like this is what you want to replace.) Your Whaler probably has two parts and over time has become brittle. In the past, I have restored Whalers and for restoration purposes have had to deal directly with dealerships. This is probably the most expensive way to go, but if you want an original part replacement, then go through the dealer. If, however, you're okay without an original, there are many types of rub rails at your disposal at most boat products retailers.

Remember to recaulk all your fasteners when you replace so you have no future moisture or possible moisture penetration behind your rub rail.

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