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Topic: Diy glass yaks tips, Ouch!  scraped or dropped your ride?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Capn Jimbo Offline
The Godfisher

Group: Super Administrators
Posts: 1712
Joined: Jan. 2004
Posted: April 26 2017,14:05

Lissen up...

Things aren't nearly as bad as you think.   While plastic yaks are cheaper and not as pretty, they certainly are tough.   But it won't be long before you get scratched by mangroves, oyster bars and the like, not to mention those of you who have had to drag your kayak over a bit of concrete or a rocky shore.   Still, scratches - short of deep gouging - are not really a problem and add a bit of lovely mojo to your SOT.

Glass is different.

Glass will last a lifetime and there is no doubt there is nothing as stunning as a brand new, mirror finish.   Those who spend upwards of $1800 or more tend to be meticulous.   But no matter how much care you take, all kayaks will end up scratched or dropped.    While a plastic kayak will tend to rebound, a glass yak is different.   The glass is tough and will flex - but - the lovely gelcoat is brittle and may crack or even shatter on collision with a rock, dock or drop.

So what to do?

Simple.   If it's a new $2000 glass yak you will swear, cry and curse the godz and be tempted to go to a boat repair shop and pay insane money to have it professionally repaired and color matched with new gelcoat.  Boat repair shops laugh at any repair under a thousand or two.  In my opinion, a true waste of money.   This is exponentially true if your ride is used - it simply is not worth it.

Better to accept your kayak's new mojo and karma and DIY it.   You can do a surprisingly good job for very little money.   It may not be as pretty as you'd like but your repair will be very easy, competent and waterproof and with the a nice fish decal to seal the repair it will even look good!

The first question is why even bother?

Truth be told, and unlike a moored or docked yacht, a kayak is not in the water for long.   You go out for a few hours on the weekends, and the rest of the time the kayak is stored in your garage or under a tarp and will dry out.   You could choose to do nothing, as many kayakers do.  But since the repair is so easy, I don't recommend that.

Next up is - you read it right - Bondo!  Yup, this is a repair that has been successfully used by hundreds of kayakers!  Read on...

Almost all of us who've owned an old car know good old auto Bondo.    Just sand away the old paint and/or rust, to maybe a half inch around the damage, and fill the dent with bondo, sand an feather  Most of us would have sprayed a bit of primer and bought a spray touch up to hopefully match our car's color.   It won't be a perfect match - the paint is likely faded or hard to match, but hey - it stops the rust, looks decent and it's an older car.  Easy peasy.

Now for the surprise:  Bondo is water resistant and ordinary body filler is commonly used in the boat repair business to finish the repairs and to smooth the surface.   Don't believe me?   I worked with the boyz at Boatworks of Ohio as they restored my Columbia 26 sailboat.   It was simple.   They'd make a repair, grind to provide a rough surface, smooth on plain Bondo to fair the repair, and either paint or gelcoat as desired to seal it from water.    Just like a car - bondo, then paint to seal.  

A kayak is no different.  Grind or sand well to lower the surface, all the way to the glass if necessary.  If the gelcoat is cracked but not loose you can also open up the cracks (to create an indented "V").   The Bondo needs a surface to grab onto.   So if you don't grind down to the glass, be sure that the surface is roughened, and that any gelcoat cracks are "vee'd" out to receive the Bondo.

Then it's the same:  fill and smooth, a bit higher than needed, and use a cheese grater file or tool to bring it down before it is completely hardened.   Let dry as per the instructions and sand down.   Don't wait a day, as the Bondo gets very hard and sanding is a lot more work then.  

Now how about finishing?   Bondo is water resistant - which for some of you is just fine, but it should not be left in the water 24/7.   Although you think this is fine, I don't.   Finishing the job right is super easy...

All you need to do is to tape off the area, and spray or brush the the area with a polyurethane paint to make it waterproof.   Since your repair will probably not match all that well, I suggest what most kayakers who have done this repair do: find a nice fish decal (I used a sailfish) to cover and seal the repair.  (Bondo also sells 100% waterproof fiberglass repair kits, but these are really designed for severely damaged or holed fiberglass:  unnecessary here and harder to use).

Bottom line:  ordinary Bondo automotive body filler is often used used to fill and smooth marine surfaces and although it is water resistant  I highly recommend a bit of paint or a cool fish decal to completely seal and waterproof the repair.   Total cost:  less than $20, and well within the capabilities of most sentient yakfishers.   It works.   Unless you are made of money, avoid the boat repair shops.   It's a kayak, not a $100,000 racing boat. .

Easy peasy.   But there's other ways...

The 3M company (Bondo) also offers a slightly more expensive solution for marine use designed for gelcoat damage.

3M Marine Premium Filler

3M Marine Premium Filler is a water resistant vinyl-ester filler designed for fiberglass repair work above or below the waterline. It is ideal for repairing decks, hulls, and other fiberglass components. It can also be used to treat gelcoat blister damage. Premium Filler features a unique and easy to sand formula designed with 3M Scotchlite Glass Bubbles. Available by the pint, quart, or gallon.

This product runs about $70/quart, $30/pint and is much easier to sand than epoxy.   Although slightly more water resistant than Bondo auto filler, it's still wise to seal with a little paint or my choice - an attractive fish decal - to seal and waterproof the repair.

And there's more:

Marine-Tex® Epoxy Putty:  sells a white or gray repair "putty".  This stuff is epoxy-based, designed for below water use and as they put it "handles like putty, hardens like steel, sands like wood".   Often used for surface damage or gouges down to the glass.   The anal retentive will rejoice in that it is tintable, but don't count on a color match. BTW, this stuff is expensive ($90/quart!) - but fortunately it is sold in a 2 oz kit at $15.  It is considered waterproof, but you'll still need to use the fish decal, lol.

Last, but not least...

Duraglas:  Per the company "The original, premium all-purpose reinforced body filler. Repairs rusted-out areas, holes, tears and cracks on metal, wood and fiberglass. Combines resin and chopped fiberglass, giving Duraglas superior strength over ordinary plastic fillers. Can also be used with fiberglass cloth to cover large holes in a fraction of the time it takes to weld in a patch. Rustproof and waterproof. With White Cream Hardener.".

Best of all is the price at $25/quart!   Stronger than ordinary Bondo, way less expensive than 3M Marine or Marine-Tex,  easy to apply and work, and waterproof.  Perhaps the best of all for the DIYer's out there.   But trust me...

You'll still be using the fish decal.  Trust me...

Tight lines,
Capn Jimbo

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