Power Tools for Restoring Gelcoat

Inexpensive polisher waxes the Waxmaster.

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In our test of acrylic-type gelcoat restorers, we polished one panel on a 1972 Oday Javelin with 3M Finesse-It II and waxed it.

Practical Sailor has long prescribed Finesse-It II ($20)for polishing, and the final gloss matched the panel with the best acrylic “miracle cure.”

Waxmaster Power Tool

We also tried various polishing tools fitted with wool buffing pads: the Waxmaster ($30), the drill-mounted 3M Superbuff wheel ($17); and a 7-inch variable-speed polisher from Chicago Electric ($30).

The anemic Waxmaster was a waste of money for this job. The 3M Superbuff worked, but the drill didn't like continuous-duty use. Although its no match for a pro-grade dual-action polisher, the Chicago Electric polisher (made in China) is a bargain for this work. Just be careful not to remove too much gelcoat. For more gelcoat maintenance tips, see “Offshore Log: Gelcoat Maintenance,” at Practical Sailor.

Also with this article...
Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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