View Full Version : Holograms in gel-coat boats by Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips
04-21-2014, 02:00 PM
Holograms in gel-coat boats by Mike Phillips (http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/marine-31-boat-detailing-classes/79440-holograms-gel-coat-boats-mike-phillips.html)

The boat detailing industry is so far behind the car detailing industry as far as quality of finish being produced. The issue is one of the same issues we deal with in the automotive detailing world and that is....


Oxidized gel-coats require wool pads, rotary buffers and aggressive compounds to remove the oxidation in a time-efficient manner due to the size of marine craft and the difficulty in doing this type of work.

Here's an example
The owner sent me this picture and in the picture with the boat on the lift the condition of the boat doesn't look too bad, that is to say, the boat looks pretty good.


Let there be light!
Now with the boat in our studio and some light placed on her, a new story emerges...


Here's a shot showing three lights, the first light is the flash from my camera, the second two lights are flood lights.


Holograms in gel-coat
The below picture is a full size section cropped out of the above resized picture. The lines you see running back and forth across where the flash from my camera is lighting up the side of the hull are holograms from a rotary buffer.


Light from the flood lights...
In the below shot I have my camera flash turned off but you can still easily see the holograms in the black gel-coat finish.


Cropped out section from the above picture
The below picture is a full size section cropped out of the above resized picture. The lines you see running back and forth across where the flash from my camera is lighting up the side of the hull are holograms from a rotary buffer.


My comment....

The issue or big picture with the holograms in the boat world and boat detailing industry is that so many boats are large, at least larger than your car and when they become oxidized the fastest way to remove the oxidation is with a rotary buffer, wool pad and an aggressive compound. The results from this combo is you can restore a shiny, clear gel-coat but leave behind holograms.

Removing the holograms requires at least one to two more steps.

If you're the boat owner buffing out your own boat then your time is your money and you can choose to remove the holograms or live with them.

If you're paying someone to detail your boat, you can choose to pay them for the extra steps required or live with the holograms.

No boat detailing person or company is going to work around your boat with a second or even third machine polishing step for free. Time is money and there's also the issue of,

Pad wear - Pads wear out and a savvy boat detailer will build this into his cost.

Product use - Doing more steps, besides taking more time also requires more products and if the goal is a swirl-free finish then better products and better products that don't leave swirls costs more money.

The big picture and solution all comes down to education. Educating both the boat owner and boat detailers.

My guess is the majority of the market will always be willing to live with the holograms because most boats are white so they don't really show up and because historically, most boat owners won't pay for quality work due to the time and thus cost involved.

But for all you boat owners that own boats with medium to dark colored gel-coat finishes, or if you own a boat with a painted finish, including some boats with custom finishes using the same types of basecoat/clearcoat paint technology used for automotive application, if you want a hologram free finish you're going to have to step up to the table and either educate yourself on how to do the job the right way or hire boat detailers that have the right education to do the job correctly.

This post is just a start down the road of educating these two industries....


Mike Phillips
06-27-2018, 11:28 AM

Never shared the link to the full write-up for the boat in the pictures in the first post of this thread.

Of course we fixed it! Here's the link, before pictures are on page 1 of the thread, beauty shots are on page 3 of the thread.

How to wetsand, cut and buff a gel-coat boat (http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/pictures-autogeek-s-car-week/79542-how-wetsand-cut-buff-gel-coat-boat.html)


Mike Phillips
01-28-2021, 01:38 PM

The process I teach in my boat detailing classes creates a 100% HOLOGRAM-FREE finish.

Next class in March 5th and 6th

More info here,

Marine 31 Boat Detailing Class - March 6th & 7th, 2021

And here,

TRAINING BOATS for the 2021 MARCH Boat Detailing Class

Still working on confirming the second boat but I guarantee you - it will be HORRIBLE CONDITION.