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  1. #1
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    Random Orbital OK on boat gel coat?

    Arrrrrrggghhhh!!!! The internet is great, so much information, just a mouse click away...The internet is terrible, so much information, just a mouse click away

    I have the Griot's Garage 6" Dual Action polisher.

    Pads I have for it are the Griot's Orange Foam Correcting pads and the Black Microfiber with red foam backing which is considered their "fast" finishing pad.

    Product I have is Meguiar's 105, Ultimate Compound and Ultimate polish.

    Just about every video I've watched, and most of the threads I've read online seems to suggest rotary machines with wool pads. However, there were some mentions I've come across that say those cause hologram swirls in gel coat, including Mr. Mike Phillips in a recent thread right here, in this forum. If I understood that thread correctly, a random orbital with the Rupes Blue Foam Cutting Pad was suggested for that poster's issue. Here is that thread
    Polishing gelcoat makes it go dull - what am I doing wrong?

    My boat is mostly white with yellow sides. The yellow still has some decent shine, but it has some light scratches and scuffs that I'd like to try and get out. The white is rather dull, especially the horizontal surfaces above the rub rail and "interior" of the boat. There's also some ghosting in the gel coat from where decals once were. It's an 06 Sea Ray 185 Sport, if that makes a difference.

    Is the stuff I have, machine/pads/product, even worth trying, or completely wrong for my needs? I'm a total newb to gel coat polishing, and this boat is "new to me", so I'm terrified of doing something wrong and damaging something. I do, however, have some experience with cars and auto paint.

    Thanks in advance for any insight.

  2. #2
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: Random Orbital OK on boat gel coat?

    I hear your frustration and confusion - but it's time to push away from the keyboard - at least for me, (I started early already on this forum today).

    So check back tomorrow and I'll do my best to clear-up any confusion and set you on a straight course to follow.

    And "yes" - this is coming from a former boat owner that has also buffed out a lot of boats.


    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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  3. #3
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    Re: Random Orbital OK on boat gel coat?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Phillips View Post
    I hear your frustration and confusion - but it's time to push away from the keyboard - at least for me, (I started early already on this forum today).

    So check back tomorrow and I'll do my best to clear-up any confusion and set you on a straight course to follow.

    And "yes" - this is coming from a former boat owner that has also buffed out a lot of boats.


    Thank you, I'm looking forward to it.

  4. #4
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    Re: Random Orbital OK on boat gel coat?

    You can do it with the orbital but it will be a bit more work. Most use the rotary to get the worst oxidation & scuffs out and finish with the orbital. If your gel coat is in decent shape, the orbital may do what you want just fine.

  5. #5
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: Random Orbital OK on boat gel coat?

    Quote Originally Posted by emilime75 View Post


    Arrrrrrggghhhh!!!! The internet is great, so much information, just a mouse click away...The internet is terrible, so much information, just a mouse click away

    I have the Griot's Garage 6" Dual Action polisher.

    Pads I have for it are the Griot's Orange Foam Correcting pads and the Black Microfiber with red foam backing which is considered their "fast" finishing pad.

    Product I have is Meguiar's 105, Ultimate Compound and Ultimate polish.
    All good stuff. The Griot's microfiber finishing pad is a "finishing pad" in the context of all microfiber pad, not ALL pads. ANYTIME you use a FIBER pad -the individual fibers can CUT the paint. Here's what I type all the time,

    Fibers are abrasives

    So there are aggressive microfiber pads and less aggressive microfiber pads but anytime you're using a fiber pad you are cutting the surface.



    Quote Originally Posted by emilime75 View Post

    Just about every video I've watched, and most of the threads I've read online seems to suggest rotary machines with wool pads.
    That's sounds about right. The reason you see this is because in most cases, the people buffing out the boat are trying to remove oxidation.

    Rotary Buffer + Compound + Wool Cutting Pad = The most aggressive combination to CUT off or abrade off oxidation. Boats tend to be big, even a small boat is BIG if you're the guy doing the buffing. So to get the job done as fast as possible you use the most aggressive combination available.

    The PROBLEM with using ONLY a Rotary Buffer with a wool pad is you're going to leave holograms in the gel-coat. I am the ONLY guy in the car and boat detailing world that has an article on this topic. Take a read-through, don't just scan.


    Holograms in gel-coat boats by Mike Phillips



    Quote Originally Posted by emilime75 View Post

    However, there were some mentions I've come across that say those cause hologram swirls in gel coat, including Mr. Mike Phillips in a recent thread right here, in this forum. If I understood that thread correctly, a random orbital with the Rupes Blue Foam Cutting Pad was suggested for that poster's issue. Here is that thread

    Polishing gelcoat makes it go dull - what am I doing wrong?
    So what I teach and practice in my boat detailing classes, (the only hands-on boat detailing classes on Planet Earth), is to


    1. Machine sand instead of cut with rotary - it's faster and more effective
    2. Use rotary buffer to remove sanding marks
    3. Use orbital polisher with RUPES blue coarse foam pads to remove holograms and create a show car finish on a boat.


    All of the above assumes you're using GREAT abrasive technology for steps 2 and 3 otherwise who knows what the gel-coat will look like. I use and show the Marine 31 Captain's Compound and it works flawlessly every time on every boat and I can prove it as I photo document all my boat projects and classes. (no one else does this so there's no proof or history)



    Quote Originally Posted by emilime75 View Post


    My boat is mostly white with yellow sides. The yellow still has some decent shine, but it has some light scratches and scuffs that I'd like to try and get out. The white is rather dull, especially the horizontal surfaces above the rub rail and "interior" of the boat. There's also some ghosting in the gel coat from where decals once were. It's an 06 Sea Ray 185 Sport, if that makes a difference.
    We did a Sea Ray last year, you can find the link to the write-up here,

    Boat Detailing Training - Before & After Pictures - The MOST DOCUMENTED HANDS-ON Boat Detailing Classes - Autogeek - Stuart, Florida





    Quote Originally Posted by emilime75 View Post

    Is the stuff I have, machine/pads/product, even worth trying, or completely wrong for my needs? I'm a total newb to gel coat polishing, and this boat is "new to me", so I'm terrified of doing something wrong and damaging something. I do, however, have some experience with cars and auto paint.

    Thanks in advance for any insight.

    Here's what I would try,

    Use the microfiber pads first with the M105 on the high speed setting of your Griot's G6

    Inspect the results - it's possible this will remove the oxidation and leave a beautiful finish. You can get away with microfiber cutting on hard paints and also on HARD gel-coats and gel-coats tend to be fairly hard.

    If it looks good stop hear and seal her up.

    You can go a step further and test the M105 with the foam pads you have but my guess is they "may" dull down the results of the fiber pad. While these are "cutting" pads they are on the soft side of the spectrum. The coarsest pads I know of in foam are the RUPES blue foam pads.

    I even have an article on them, but keep in mind, I'm not a YouTube Influencer, so take anything I say or type with a grain of Cyber Salt.


    Mind Blowing - Rupes Blue Foam Cutting Pad and Zephir Gloss Coarse Gel Compound





    I've never tried M105 on gel-coat because I've always used the Captain's Compound BUT M105 does use great abrasive technology so give it a test and see if it works.



    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member - Certified Detailer - Skills Validated Detailer - IDA Recognized Trainer
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  6. #6
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    Re: Random Orbital OK on boat gel coat?

    I had to go to Marine 31 heavy oxidation remover with a microfiber pad to remove the oxidation off my gelcoat.

    Then I came back with Meguiars heavy cut compound with an orange foam pad to finish it.

    All using my Groits random orbital. It did take a while though.


    Sent from my iPhone using AGOnline

  7. #7
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    Re: Random Orbital OK on boat gel coat?

    Thank you for the tips.

    Mike, I tried a small test spot as you suggested, the Griot's MF finishing pad with the M105 on high speed. Only tried it on the yellow below the rub rail, and it did pretty good. Shine didn't improve all that much, hardly any, really, but it did remove some of the scuffing where the bow roller makes contact on the trailer. Maybe my expectations are a bit high, the sides of the hull are already pretty shiny.

    I didn't have the time to try it on the white, vertical surfaces and don't want to rush anything. Those are the areas that will really tell the story, as they're where I have dullness in the gel coat

    Will report back when I do have the time to try.

    58LesPaul, was that M105 you used with the orange foam pad? And was that the Griot's orange foam pad?

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