A new lease of life

Plenty of pol­ish and slathers of el­bow grease work won­ders on a tired hull

Motorboat & Yachting - - Ourboats - Email aaduken­quiries@mmm.com for more in­for­ma­tion

The hull of my Jean­neau Cap Ca­ma­rat 6.5 WA, Kipper, has a hard life. Liv­ing on a swing moor­ing with a ton­neau cover for pro­tec­tion, the top­sides are ex­posed to sun, wind, rain and spray dur­ing the sea­son with no way of giv­ing them a proper wash on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Mix in the odd scrape from the vi­ciously spiky pier where I of­ten col­lect guests, and it’s safe to say the of­fer from 3M to send some­one down to treat the hull with its new range of pol­ish and wax couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time.

The new prod­ucts are part of 3M’s Gel­coat Fin­ish­ing Sys­tem and in­clude a boat wash, two com­pounds for medium or heavy ox­i­di­s­a­tion, a pol­ish for less ma­jor degra­da­tion, and a wax. All of them have been de­signed specif­i­cally for gel­coat and claim to stay wet­ter for longer on the pad so you spend less time reap­ply­ing and more time el­bow-greas­ing. Pol­ish­ing a hull is a stren­u­ous enough task at the best of times, so any­thing that makes it even a lit­tle bit eas­ier sounds good to me.

Marc from 3M came down to the yard with a trea­sure chest of pol­ish­ers, san­ders, pads and bot­tles of prod­uct in the boot of his car. Given the level of the hull fade, de­spite the at­tempts at a wash/cut/ wax treat­ment of my own us­ing prod­ucts from the lo­cal chan­dlery, Marc opted to use the most po­tent heavy-cut­ting com­pound. It’s al­ways in­ter­est­ing to see how pro­fes­sion­als use the prod­ucts, and the first use­ful tip was to ap­ply the com­pound di­rectly on to the ma­chine pol­isher’s pad and use this, in the locked po­si­tion, to spread the liq­uid around on the boat’s hull. It saves you hav­ing to switch tools too of­ten and means you can spread a gen­er­ous amount of com­pound with­out it spray­ing ev­ery­where when the pad starts spin­ning. The boat’s hull was al­ready per­fectly clean from my pol­ish­ing at­tempt so there was no need to use the boat wash on this oc­ca­sion.

There is no pro tip to avoid the next bit though, which is get­ting stuck in and work­ing the com­pound into the hull with the or­bital pol­isher. It’s hard work, but the added lu­bri­ca­tion of this com­pound does at least mean that you’re not stop­ping and start­ing too of­ten and can get a good por­tion of the top­side done with­out reload­ing the pad.

In an­other bid to save time, the medium com­pound and light pol­ish in­clude a wax in the for­mula that leaves a shiny sealed coat­ing and saves a step in the process on hulls that aren’t badly faded. On Kipper, we needed the con­cen­trated heavy com­pound to re­store the badly faded coloured gel­coat, and a sep­a­rate once-over with the wax to get the best fin­ish pos­si­ble on the old girl in the time we had.

We only spent the morn­ing com­plet­ing the work with a pair of pol­ish­ers but the end re­sult was re­mark­able. We could have done two rounds of com­pound pol­ish­ing to boost the re­sult but the im­prove­ment was so marked from our start­ing point that it wasn’t deemed nec­es­sary given the lit­tle scuffs and scrapes that will have to be treated by a gel­coat spe­cial­ist at some point any­way.

True tes­ta­ment to the qual­ity of the 3M prod­ucts is the fact that the process was no dif­fer­ent dur­ing my pre­vi­ous pol­ish­ing at­tempt. I had washed, cut, pol­ished and waxed but the re­sult didn’t even come close, as you can see in the be­fore and af­ter pic­tures.

It’s not cheap – the 946ml bot­tle of heavy com­pound re­tails at £30 and we got through a fair bit of it – but Kipper now looks (al­most) as good as when she emerged from the fac­tory nearly 20 years ago, and I look for­ward to show­ing her off in what is hope­fully go­ing to be a great sea­son. Jack Haines

Oc­ca­sional scratches aside, Kipper’s top­sides are re­stored to their for­mer green glory

Jack gets to work ap­ply­ing the heavy com­pound to a sec­tion of Kipper’s top­side, fol­lowed by a wax to seal in the shine

The un­pol­ished side (left) is dull and chalky; the pol­ished side (right) is rich and glossy

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