It’s your bowrider’s third year since you bought it, and you are thinking of giving it a makeover. As per the plan, you start by removing the transom ladder from the stern.
As you unscrew the bolts and take off the ladder, what you see leaves you second-guessing your makeover idea. An unappealing view with four rusty drilled holes lies before your eyes, ruining the appearance of your boat’s stern.
So should you put the ladder back on and forget about the makeover? No, you don’t.
In this article, you will learn how to fix a drilled hole in a fiberglass boat through a foolproof step by step guide. Along with it, I have put down some helpful tips at the end to assist you in the process. Let’s start!
Fixing A Drilled Hole In A Fiberglass Boat: Step by Step Guide
To begin, you need to gather a few supplies and tools first. You are likely to find most of them at home already, but there are few essential supplies you need to purchase.
Materials you Need
- Fiberglass boat repair kit by west system
- 180, 400, 1000, and 1500 grit wet sanding paper
- Un-hesive 3M 5200 sealant and adhesive remover
- Some acetone and rust neutralizer spray
- Gel coat patch paste by spectrum color
- Scouring pads
- Rubbing compound
- Marine polish
Equipment & Tools
- Duct tape
- A pair of scissors
- A ziplock bag
- Soft cleaning cloth ( you can use clean rags too)
- Electric Buffer
- Plastic scraper
- Safety respirator
- Clear packaging tape
- Measuring tape
- Vacuum cleaner
- Terry cloth
- Graduated measuring cup (in oz) and mixing sticks
Step 1: Remove Sealant and Rust Stains
- Cut a ziplock bag open to make two little square pieces that will cover the hole and around four inches of the surrounding area.
- Tape it on the drilled hole area by applying duct tape on the sides and bottom while leaving the top side to create a pocket.
- Spray the un-hesive sealant remover in the pocket, and leave it to work for 30 minutes. Repeat the spraying and leave it for another 30 minutes to loosen the sealant completely.
- Remove the plastic pockets and scrape the sealant off by using a plastic scraper. Work a small section at a time.
- Take the help of a scouring pad by spraying it with the sealant remover and rubbing it on the surface to scrub off the sealant.
- After all the sealant is off, spray a rust neutralizer on a clean scouring pad and rub it on the drilled hole area (this will clean the rust).
- Lastly, rub some acetone on the surface and dry with a clean, soft cloth to clean the area.
Step 2: Hole Preparation
- Measure the removed screws’ length with a measuring tape (to find out the depth of the drilled hole, here they are 1.5 inches long).
- Measure the diameter of the holes (here, we have a quarter-inch hole diameter).
- Select a drill bit size that will fit tightly in the hole, and put a collar on the bit at a distance of 1.5 inches from the tip to avoid drilling past the hole’s depth.
- Wear your respirator and eyeshield before you start drilling.
- Drill a little at a time and feel for any sharp edges or loose Gelcoat with your finger.
- Once done, place the hose of a vacuum cleaner directly on the holes to vacuum out the dust and debris.
- Clean with acetone and dry off with a soft clean cloth in the end.
- Apply duct tape on the borders of the drilled area on all four sides to protect the surrounding boat surface.
Step 3: Mixing and Filling of Epoxy Resin
- Put on protective clothing and a neoprene apron.
- Open the fiberglass boat repair kit and wear the disposable liquid-proof gloves that are provided with it.
- Open the 205 hardener and 105 resin packets with the help of scissors and empty them into the provided mixing cup (the quantity is pre-measured, so make sure you empty the entire contents)
- Stir gently by using the mixing stick, for about one minute.
- Quickly add a small amount of 406 adhesive filler to the mixture and stir gently to incorporate. (If you’re not quick enough, the mixture may start to gel)
- Keep adding the filler till you have ketchup like consistency in the mix.
- Then, fill the provided 12 cc syringe by removing the piston from the back and adding the mixture to it with the mixing stick’s help.
- Fill the drilled hole with the mixture thoroughly, and put a clear packaging tape on top of the hole.
- Let the epoxy cure for about 24 hours.
Step 4: Applying Gel Coat
- Remove the clear tape and wet sand the filled hole with 180 grit paper.
- Prepare the gel coat paste by mixing one ounce of gel coat and 10 to 12 drops of catalyst in a graduated measuring cup. (Make sure to wear gloves before you do this)
- Apply the paste with the help of a mixing stick on the filled hole and surrounding area. The layer shouldn’t be too thick or thin.
- Allow it to cure for 24 hours for best results.
- Then, wet sand the area with 180 grit sandpaper, moving to 400, 1000, and 1500 eventually.
- Remove the duct tape and clean the area with a soft cloth soaked in warm water followed by a dry cloth.
- Then, with the help of a terry cloth, apply the rubbing compound on the areas.
- Use another terry cloth to apply marine polish to the area.
- In the end, use the electric buffer to get a shiny professional look. And you are done!
- Use a countersink drill bit to create a conical wall in the hole, to help epoxy bind well.
- Don’t let the epoxy resin come in contact with your skin or eyes. Always wear a full-face respirator that shields your eyes too.
- Soaking the sandpapers 15 minutes before use will give better results.
- Dip the sanding papers in warm water frequently when sanding to prevent clogging.
- If the drilled hole is half an inch in diameter, inject the mixture in layers allowing one layer to cure before moving to the next. This prevents overheating of epoxy.
Now that you know how to fix a drilled hole in a fiberglass boat, you can bid farewell to your boat painter and do the job at home, in a budget-friendly way.
It may cost a little to purchase all the tools, but you can use those in the future as well, saving you money in the long run.