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  1. #1
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    From NEGLECTED to RESPECTED! 1985 Cougar Tunnel Hull Extreme Makeover at Autogeek

    From NEGLECTED to RESPECTED! 1985 Cougar Tunnel Hull Extreme Makeover at Autogeek


    My good friend and pro detailer Russel Stender brought his customer's boat, a 1985 Cougar MTR Tunnel Hull all the way down from Jacksonville, Florida to Autogeek in Stuart, Florida for an extreme makeover.





    While working on this boat we also made a video to showcase many of the products in the Marine 31 line. There's about a dozen or so established marine brands on the market but you ever see any of these companies doing projects like we do here at Autogeek. In fact, we are the only company that holds a legit boat detailing class, at least a legit boat detailing class that you kind find pictures and videos from that shows real boats be detailed in a class environment using the Marine 31 brand of products.


    So in keeping with our history of holding classes and providing both the products and the education to go with the products, below are the pictures I was able to take during this project showing the extreme transformation from and very cool but also very neglected 1985 Cougar Tunnel Hull with the original gel-coat, to what probably is as-good or better finish than when it left the Cougar boat manufacturing company in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.




    PROCESS


    Step 1: Wash with Marine 31 Gel Coat Wash & Wax with Carnauba

    Step 2: Compound with Marine 31 Captain’s One-Step Compound & Polish with FLEX PE14 Rotary Buffers and Lake Country Wool Pads

    Step 3: Polish with Marine 31 Captain’s One-Step Compound & Polish using the FLEX XC 3401 VRG 8mm gear-driven orbital polisher with Lake Country 6.5" Force Hybrid Foam Cutting Pads.

    Step 4: Chemically strip with Marine 31 Gel Coat Prep Spray

    Step 5: Seal the surface using Marine 31 Captain's Boat Coating



    Here's the pictures, I was busy compound and polishing on the boat or shooting video with Yancy, so I don't have picture of everything but the video Yancy shot will have a lot of information and footage of technique.


    Here's late Thursday night when Russel arrived from Jacksonville, Florida


    Arrival to Autogeek in Stuart, Florida


















    Before

    Here's some before pictures under the florescent lights after we moved the boat into the garage for safe-keeping overnight.















    Friday morning - After washing outside

    After washing the boat we moved her back inside and started staging for the video and the Test Spot.







    Test Spot

    For those that might be new to machine polishing, the Test Spot is where you test out teh product, tools and pads that you HOPE and expect to work (for whatever it is you're trying to do), to one small area and then inspect the results. If the results from the Test Spot look good and/or meet your expectations then you simply duplicate the process for the Test Spot over the rest of the boat or whatever it is you're working on.

    If the results DON'T looks good, the first you'll be glad you only buffed a small area. Second you then try something else, maybe a different product, maybe a different pad, etc. You do Test Spots UNTIL you dial-in a process that works to your expectations. If you run into trouble, the start a thread on this forum asking for help, that's what this forum is about.



    Our Test Spot

    If this were my boat I probably would have machine sanded using Mirka Abralon #3000 grit followed by Abralon #4000 grit and then compounded and polished out. Because it isn't my boat I had to make a judgement call and while I think machine sanding would have been perfectly safe I also didn't want to run into a "Whoops" situation with the owner living 6 hours away. So we skipped machine sanding and used the traditional approach of compounding with a wool pad, rotary buffer and compound followed by polishing with an orbital polisher, foam pad and the same compound/polish. Below are the results....





    The appearance of 2 different colors IS how it's supposed to look, this is a fade light that is part of the color scheme.





    Here's the overhead florescent lights shining down on the hull.











    Gel-coat is polyester resin with pigment

    Gel-coat is kind of like single stage paint. Gel-coat is polyester resin with pigment. In this example it's polyester resin with multiple blue pigments. It's completely normal to see the color of the hull coming off and onto your buffing pads and your microfiber towels. Marine gel-coats tend to be much thicker than automotive paints. For this reason you can usually get more aggressive with them when doing any correction work. You still have to use common sense.





    Full speed ahead...

    After the Test Spot, Russel, Rob, (in the foreground), Jason from Lake Country and I dove in head first and starting compounding the hull.








    Here's Russel compounding the side of the hull...









    Here's Jason from Lake Country machine compounding hard on the sides of the boat...










    Here's Rob, as in RobHarleydetailer.com machine polishing the sections I compounded...













    PIZZA BREAK

    Can't buff boats without fuel









    Staining and Oxidation

    The sides of the hull were not only oxidized but they also had a lot of staining from contaminated water. You can see the staining and the oxidation in the below before and after pictures.













    After buffing out the entire boat it literally changed colors as you'll see in the AFTER pictures.







    Oxidized Diamond Plate

    Diamond plate boat trailer fenders are pretty common and un-coated aluminum oxidized easily. To remove the oxidation we machine polished using a wool pad on a rotary buffer with the Marine 31








    Aluminum Polishing Tip

    Once you use a wool pad to polish aluminum,

    A: Dedicate this pad for ONLY polishing aluminum moving into the future.

    B: Don't EVER WASH IT - Use it until you feel you've obtained all your money's worth and the write-it off.








    Here's the area I polished - the polish residue is still on the fender.






    Here's the residue wiped-off...







    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member - Certified Detailer - Skills Validated Detailer - IDA Recognized Trainer
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  3. #2
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: Remove Oxidation - Install Ceramic Boat Coating - 1985 Cougar Tunnel Hull Extreme Makeover at Autogeek

    Continued....


    Final Results!

    And here are the results. I wouldn't say the gel-coat came out perfect but remember, it is 34 years old. Most recognized car clubs consider a car to be antique after it is 25 years old, I'd say this boat qualifies for antique status.























    Time to head for home...

    I met Russel early Saturday morning so he could hook-up and haul the boat home. It's easily 3 hours plus back to Jacksonville, so getting an early start is the best plan.










    There she goes....






    Thank you to everyone!

    Huge thank you to Russel for taking his time to drive the boat down from Jacksonville and then help out with the project from start to finish.

    Thank you!


    We would also like to thank Jason from Lake Country Pads and Rob the Harley Detailer for all their hard work to transform this boat from neglected to respected.

    Thank you!

    A big thank you to the owner also for trusting Autogeek with his very cool race boat! Thank you!




    Yancy and Nicole
    Also a huge thank you to Yancy our Creative Director for all his hard work behind the camera and also to Nicole our new Social Media girl for lending a hand with this project.

    Thank you!








    Cougar Boat Manufacturing For Sale

    To prep for this project I called the owner of Cougar Boats, Bernie. He was great to talk to. Now days he's living in Albuquerque, New Mexico and owns a salsa business. He told me he would like to sell the molds for all his various size and type of boats. If you're reading this and you would like to venture into the boat building business he's pretty easy to find via Google or you can reach out to me and I'll be happy to put you into contact with him.


    Thanks for reading! Any comments, questions and/or feedback is always appreciated.



    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member - Certified Detailer - Skills Validated Detailer - IDA Recognized Trainer
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  5. #3
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member - Certified Detailer - Skills Validated Detailer - IDA Recognized Trainer
    Mike Phillips Facebook Page
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    Mike Phillips Detail Files YouTube Playlist
    Sign-up for Mike's Tips & Techniques Newsletter


  6. #4
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: Remove Oxidation - Install Ceramic Boat Coating - 1985 Cougar Tunnel Hull Extreme Makeover at Autogeek

    I was cleaning the garage and found a huge pile of Wool Dust Bunnies that had collected together to form a pile. I guess safety in numbers?






    That dust you see isn't dust - it's old, oxidized gel-coat we compounded off the hull.





    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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  8. #5
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    Re: From NEGLECTED to RESPECTED! 1985 Cougar Tunnel Hull Extreme Makeover at Autogeek

    Awesome turnaround Mike and gang!

    What an amazing difference from the before and the beutieful clear and reflectioned finish afterwards. I bet with the smoother hull it's even faster in the water too LOL. The write up and pictures as always top notch.

    Thanks for shareing your work Mike!

    / Tony

  9. #6
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: From NEGLECTED to RESPECTED! 1985 Cougar Tunnel Hull Extreme Makeover at Autogeek

    Quote Originally Posted by SWETM View Post

    Awesome turnaround Mike and gang!

    What an amazing difference from the before and the beutieful clear and reflectioned finish afterwards. I bet with the smoother hull it's even faster in the water too LOL. The write up and pictures as always top notch.

    Thanks for shareing your work Mike!

    / Tony

    Thank you Tony for commenting. With over 300 views it's kind of sad, at least to me that no one seems interested enough to even make a comment? Takes time to do the work, take the pictures and then do something with them that will endure time. So THANK YOU for taking the time to comment.

    I sent the link to this thread to a number of "Captains of Industry" so to speak so they could see their tools, pads and people in action. I also sent the link to the owner of the Cougar Boat Manufacturing company. Most of these people are not "forum people" so while I'm sure they will enjoy the pictures and the write-up we'll never see anything from them.

    As for the boat, Russel read this and like it, I replied to his e-mail and asked him what the owner of the boat thinks, looking forward to hearing what he has to say.


    I shared with Russel that when I had my Sanger Drag Boat, kind of like this boat but probably launches harder and runs faster on the water, that every 2-3 years I would completely take the boat apart, EVERYTHING came apart. Then I would get some Semi Truck Tires and get a few buddies over and we would lift the boat off the trailer and place it upside down on the tires. Then I would compound, polish and seal the bottom of the hull with Meguiar's #20 Polymer Sealant. After that, flip the boat back onto the trailer and meticulously re-install all the running gear and the motor. I would use all brand new grade 8 and grade 5, American made nuts and bolts with lots of nylon lock nuts.

    Assembling the boat myself, re-installing each nut and bolt that holds everything together gave me the confidence and the courage to take the boat and just NAIL IT! There was only one time I didn't take my Sanger over 100 miles per hour and after 20 years, that's a LOT of high speed fun on the water.






    Anyway, that's what I suggest for this Cougar Tunnel Hull. After this boating season is over, take that thing completely apart and completely clean and then re-assemble it from scratch with all brand new high quality nuts and bolts. While it's apart, flip it over and correct the bottom of the hull and then apply a ceramic coating to it.

    The peace of mind if worth it.


    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member - Certified Detailer - Skills Validated Detailer - IDA Recognized Trainer
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  11. #7
    Senior Member machz's Avatar
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    Re: From NEGLECTED to RESPECTED! 1985 Cougar Tunnel Hull Extreme Makeover at Autogeek

    Nice job of recovering a very cool boat. I love some of the old fiberglass race boats. Great job on the write up as well.

  12. #8
    Senior Member RTexasF's Avatar
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    Re: From NEGLECTED to RESPECTED! 1985 Cougar Tunnel Hull Extreme Makeover at Autogeek

    The results are simply incredible. Thank you to all the folks that made this thread possible for powerboat fanatics like myself to enjoy. I was hoping to see a custom boat cover for the trip back up north but I guess not. Pity.

    A stock 150 bolted to the transom would be a handful on that rig. I can't even imagine that 300 with its jack plate and custom prop. My one time running a tunnel @ 80+ with throttle to go almost resulted in a blowover as I passed under a bridge......I threw those pants away

    I fully agree that cleaning and sealing the hull would complete the hard work put in so far. He might even pick up a few MPH on the top end.
    Rick....now in North Texas

  13. #9
    Senior Member briarpatch's Avatar
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    Re: From NEGLECTED to RESPECTED! 1985 Cougar Tunnel Hull Extreme Makeover at Autogeek

    I have a question...for the wash process....why use a wash product with carnauba in it if you knew you were going to compound and polish it? Is that because the only two wash products in the McKees line are made/sold that way?

  14. #10
    Junior Member SuperSportJoey's Avatar
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    Re: From NEGLECTED to RESPECTED! 1985 Cougar Tunnel Hull Extreme Makeover at Autogeek

    What a turn around It looks great! Thank you for the detailed write up, I definitely learned a thing or two.

    Iím just getting into boat detailing and my first boat I did was an 2006 28ft Eliminator Daytona cat. If i knew how to post a picture I would!

    Iíll have to give the marine 31 lineup a try for my next boat detail.


    Sent from my iPhone using Autogeekonline mobile app

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