The Boating Forum - Acetone wash ???

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View Full Version : Acetone wash ???


sharkbait1
04-20-2007, 12:42 PM
Just got done with major upgrades and need to clean the boat. I have read other folks writing about using an "acetone wash" to clean their fiberglass boats with. I don't mean to sound dumb..... but ...... isn't acetone the anti-christ of fiberglass construction? I guess that after the stuff sets up its okay, but thought I would check with you guys that know about this kinda stuff. I have some pretty bad stains and acetone might be a good solution, but don't wanna make my boat go soft !

Thanks for any info you can give me, plus, anything you can recomend for deep cleaning gelcoat. ;?


EastCoaster
04-20-2007, 12:55 PM
I could be wrong, but I don't believe acetone can harm cured resin in any way. When prepping repairs on my project boat or surfboards I always clean the area to be repaired with acetone before making the resin and fiberglass repairs. I also plan to scrub the entire boat with acetone just before painting very soon. Maybe someone else will chime in with more knowledge of the subject than I and we can both learn something.

BajaFeeling
04-20-2007, 01:31 PM
Be careful, I turned my Kayak upside down on some blocks covered with a ragto clean off some tar on the hull with Acetone. Some of the acetone got on therag without me noticing it, I left the kayak in this position for a few hours, after turning it over I noticed a bad stain on my red deck witch I can't remove.

John

2601 Striper


Brad1
04-20-2007, 01:39 PM
I use acetone to clean around areas that I'm performing gel coat repair on. It is also helpful for removing sticky residue left by stickers that were removed.

But I would be concerned about getting acetone on sealants/caulking, or rubber or plastic components.

Reef Ranger
04-20-2007, 02:16 PM
Nope! Plain and simple, I wouldn'tdo it! The assumption that acetone won't dissolve (or haze) cured resin is a seemingly logical one, but unfortunately, it's wrong. I have used acetone for most of the purposes stated here (e.g., trying to clean stains from cured gelcoat, removing residual adhesive from decals, removing grease or wax or oil, etc.), and its simply not necessary to risk it.

There are other solvents that are perfectly effective for these applications (some, more so than acetone), and yet they're completely harmless to gelcoat (e.g.,gasoline). Whatever it is, if gasoline won't remove it, chances are, acetone won't either. The gelcoat on my 273 is super high-gloss, and I recently polished it throughout using a wax with Carnuba oil anda buffing wheel which gave me an opportunity to detect every little flaw in the surface. Nomatter what it was that I discovered, gasoline alone removed it cleanly and quickly, and it left the surfaceperfectly shiny (no hazing or frosting that you risk with acetone)! Go GASOLINE! :thumbsup:

Mr. Demeanor
04-20-2007, 02:44 PM
There is a big difference between wiping somthing down with acetone and leaving an acetone soaked rag sitting on your gel coat for awhile. I recently had to clean off melted Sunbrella material after my cover burned at the bow. I talked to several shops and every one of them recommended acetone. It was a long process but cleaned up much of the damage. Acetone flashes (dryes) very fast so it wont soften the gel unless you soak it (like leaving an acetone soaked rag in one place). When wiping with a rag soaked in acetone, the gel is dry within seconds.

Mr. Demeanor
04-20-2007, 02:46 PM
PS. I tried gas, mineral spirits, carb cleaner, and some other stuff. Nothing worked as well as acetone. The recomendation to use acetone came straight from Gary Armington, previous owner/builder of Talon boats.

Reef Ranger
04-20-2007, 03:30 PM
Mr. Demeanor - 4/20/2007 8:46 AM PS. I tried gas, mineral spirits, carb cleaner, and some other stuff. Nothing worked as well as acetone. The recomendation to use acetone came straight from Gary Armington, previous owner/builder of Talon boats.

I'm not sure that I follow this . . . you tried (and Mr. Armington suggested) using these solvents for what? Softening or removing burnt or "melted sunbrella"?If so,then there's no argument. But clearly, there is a 'big' difference between the removal ofburnt (charred) sunbrella (i.e., pyrolyzed nylon or other synthetic fabric) and the simple removal of surface paint,wax, oil or grease. There'sno comparison.

Unfortunately, the author of this thread did not specify what sorts of material(s) he was wishing to clean or remove from his gelcoat,but the question was about 'routine' cleaning of fiberglass,and again, I stand by the assertion that acetone (regardlesssof it's ability to solubilize burnt sunbrella), can and will frost (or haze) a high-gloss gelcoat finish. Its just plain fact. I've seen it happen on multiple occasionsand I'm confident (if asked) that Mr. Armington would agree.

prober
04-20-2007, 03:56 PM
Acetone is the most commonly used solvent for cleaning boats of heavy grease/buidup,etc. however it should only be used on tough stains that wont come off easily with standard washing. Be aware that any solvent you use will also strip any wax or protectant off and open the pores of the surface so it must be waxed immediately or oxidation will occur. Acetone does leave a white residue which may need to be polished off before waxing. If it were me, I would only wipe down the areas that won't clean up with normal washing, then buff with 3m finnesse-it and then wax. If that doesn't make it look like showroom I'll eat my hat.

sharkbait1
04-20-2007, 04:08 PM
Thanks guys for the posts. My boat is old and well used so I don't have a bright gelcoat. The guy that owned it before me didn't maintain it well. From what I gather, wash it well, then use gas, and then if it still needs more work, try a little acetone, but don't let it sit long. I know, it evaporates real fast. Will give it a try, and once again thanks guys for all the help you provide us. If the rain will hold off, I might be able to sea test her this weekend ! Been a year and a half of working to get my pilot house done.

Thanks again

Mr. Demeanor
04-20-2007, 04:19 PM
My point was it didnt hurt the gel and I was told it would not hurt the gel (if used properly) by someone with considerable knowledge. I was trying to post some first hand experience. A rare thing on most threads.

FASTFJR
04-20-2007, 04:41 PM
Works great for getting tree sap off my truck. Be using it for years

OReely
04-20-2007, 05:21 PM
No offense to the previous posters that had issue with acetone but in my experience, acetone is fine for use on properly cured gelcoat. Virgin acetone can strip wax off quickly and dries really fast without residue. Recycled acetone (often found in depot type stores, marine stores) can have impurities that leave a film.

I've been professionally building and repairing boats for over twenty years and I've seen lots of odd things happen. The color change in the kayak might have come from over or under catalyzed gelcoat or it may have stripped off some wax with oxidized gelcoat (the pigments and resins break down over time, faster with improper cure). We use about 100 gallons of acetone a week for various cleaning purposes including cleaning new boat gelcoat. Never a problem. Of course, we are careful in gelcoat catalyzation.

If your boat is oxidized, I would suggest washing then buffing with a power buffer. Wash again and wax.

CB Haws
04-20-2007, 09:35 PM
Acetone is great stuff and not as bad on your lungs as gasoline. I would never use gas for anything other then in the tank or as cheap paint brush cleaner before the mineral spirits. Acetone will not harm cured polyester or epoxy. You always want to wipe/wash the surface of fiberglass before repairs. Acetone is a great degreaser for epoxy repair work. It also removes uncured epoxy from tools and hands. I use the stuff by the gallon.

itwonder
04-20-2007, 11:57 PM
I had this discussion with an engineer from Pettit Paint Co. He said Acetone evaporates too quickly to be a really good cleaner, and it slightly softens gelcoat. He recommends Lacquer Thinner. I have used that on other projects and I can confirm it is a good cleaning solvent. Less expensive too.

Glen E
04-21-2007, 12:03 AM
itwonder - 4/20/2007 11:57 PM

I had this discussion with an engineer from Pettit Paint Co. He said Acetone evaporates too quickly to be a really good cleaner, and it slightly softens gelcoat. He recommends Lacquer Thinner. I have used that on other projects and I can confirm it is a good cleaning solvent. Less expensive too.

exactly - I have a gallon of paint thinner and a quart of acetone in my workshop....

makosteve66
04-21-2007, 12:19 AM
sharkbait1 - 4/20/2007 3:08 PM

Thanks guys for the posts. My boat is old and well used so I don't have a bright gelcoat. The guy that owned it before me didn't maintain it well. From what I gather, wash it well, then use gas, and then if it still needs more work, try a little acetone, but don't let it sit long. I know, it evaporates real fast. Will give it a try, and once again thanks guys for all the help you provide us. If the rain will hold off, I might be able to sea test her this weekend ! Been a year and a half of working to get my pilot house done.

Thanks again


from what you describe it sounds like a job better suited for rubbing compound and elbow grease. Acetone would be for a tough spot that won't come clean, but I wouldn't imagine it as "whole hull" cleaner. I can definitely see it being used to wipe down a hull as the final step in preparation for epoxy paint or for any fiberglass repairs.

By the way, over the years I have found that the best thing to clean off gummy residue (like from an old sticker) is Ronsonol lighter fluid. usually one wipe with little effort takes it right off. I then use a spray bottle wilm mild soapy water and clean the spot and dry it. Good as new.



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