Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

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mikkelkg
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Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by mikkelkg » Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:47 pm

Hi there,

I hope it's okay for a Dane to be posting in here. There is no equivalent Danish forum for sea kayaking.

I just picked up my Current Designs Prana this week and today I went for a trip for the first time. To my great disappointment I've discovered some rather extensive damages to the gelcoat on the keel strip (added by the manufacturer), and there is a place where it has also moved onto the actual hull. I haven't bumped into anything with my kayak, and it is stored indoors on padded cradles, so it's very hard for me to comprehend how the damage might have occured. Could it be a fault in the manufacturing process? I would imagine that the gelcoat would need to take a bit of a beating for it to look like this. What's your take on it?

I've already contacted the retailer, and I'm hoping they will offer to repair it for free.

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Chris Bolton
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Re: Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by Chris Bolton » Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:06 pm

You are very welcome. I am having difficulty understanding the photos; there's a cross-hatched area that looks as if it may be higher than the keel strip, or may be a bit taken out? There also seems to be a rough edge on the keel strip, and some cracks running across it. On the last photo, in the top right hand corner, are what may be voids in the gelcoat, (or water drops?). It doesn't look like the kind of damage that would have occurred from light use. A keel strip should be robust, but it almost looks like it's just a strip of gelcoat?

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Re: Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by Aled » Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:34 pm

It looks like damage from flexing rather than blunt impact or scraping. Was the boat transported on bare (un-padded) roof bars?

camanche73
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Re: Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by camanche73 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:23 am

Gelcoat hasn't bonded properly to cloth. Looks like the first layer is cloth rather than CSM? I would think it was a flaw in the layup, or pulled too early from the mould. Pretty hard to get such clean separation of the gel coat if layed up properly.

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Re: Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by mikkelkg » Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:14 am

Thanks for the replies! Good to hear your opinions on the matter.

I don't know how the kayak has been transported before I got my hands on it, but I transported it on well padded roof bars (Thule 840 K-guard). The things you can see in the last picture in the top right can corner are fortunately just water drops.

Even if I was I able to get the gel coat damage repaired for free, I worry that something similar might develop later on if it is a flaw in the layup, as you mention. The boat has come all the way from USA to Denmark, so it's very unlikely that Current Designs will ever have a proper look at the damage. Do you think it is possible for the retailer to fix it so that the flaw won't develop further later on? Or is it likely that the entire keel strip would have to be redone?

By the way: what is CSM? (I'm not that familiar with the names of all the construction materials used for a kayak ;-))

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Re: Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by Chris Bolton » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:16 am

CSM is Chopped Strand Mat, ie, typical non-woven glass fibre. I have now managed to see your photos properly (I think the direction of the light in the room where my PC is was creating an illusion with the shadows in the image - I rotated the images 180º and can understand them now!). That is impact damage, and has caused the gelcoat to flake off the underlying woven tape in the keel strip, plus a small crack running into the main hull. The gelcoat damage could either be from a light impact on badly bonded gelcoat, or a heavier impact even if it was well made, but the hull crack suggests a heavier impact, although not necessarily serious. Can you see the inside of the boat at the point, perhaps even by reaching inside with a camera? A serious impact can delaminate the inside layers.

I don't think you could do that damage without being aware of the impact. You know you haven't dropped the boat, but your difficulty will be convincing the manufacturer or importer of that. But even if you had dropped it, I don't think the gelcoat should flake off like that. I would get a price for the repair from a local boatbuilder and ask the supplier if they will refund the cost.

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Re: Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by camanche73 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:27 pm

I don't think it is necessarily impact. If the gelcoat wasn't bonded to the glass, and there was an air pocket under the gelcoat, it would crack and flake off just from tying it down on roof racks. I would expect to see more spider cracks or longitude cracks from impact. I definitely looks like there is still loose gelcoat there which you could peel away. I would keep it away from water for now!

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Re: Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by Daker » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:55 pm

I would agree with others that the gelcoat has not bonded to the fibreglass woven cloth. If you get a blunt tool like a screwdriver or rounded knife and are able to flake more of it off it will really prove the point. (If doing this I would suggest videoing it so you have a record of it)

Normally if a kayak is subjected to a heavy impact you will get a central chip with cracks radiating out from that point. If you try to remove any cracked gelcoat it will be very difficult to remove without a lot of force.

Can you tell if the matting that's exposed in the pictures only the keel-strip, rather than the hull itself ?
I suspect it is only the keel-strip so assuming so the hull of the boat will be completely in tact beneath it.

It may only be that one isolated air bubble but how will you ever know for sure so at the very minimum I would be expecting a professional repair and written warranty be provided on the repair and the remaining keel strip. If the supplier / manufacturer was more local I would be asking for a replacement.

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Ceegee
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Re: Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by Ceegee » Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:09 am

While I agree that for a new boat you can expect a flawless product, kayaks by their nature are an artisanal one off, and this damage imo is minor and cosmetic and relates to the add on keel stop and doesn't compromise the hull. It seems that the gel (flow coat) cover on top of the keel strip tape has chipped off because it was not well bonded or because it got a hard knock. A bit of grease on the tape could be the underlying cause. The repair would be simpler to grind back the area and dab in a bit of white flow coat, then sand and polish if back. It will be a simple and cheap repair, the colours easily matched i.e. invisible, and it won't affect the integrity of the boat. Annoying I know, especially on a new boat, but the first day you go rock gardening you will do worse. Keel strips are sacrificial by their nature.
Cheers,
Steve C. G.

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Robert Craig
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Re: Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by Robert Craig » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:00 pm

My own keel strip has been bashed on rock, dropped, and suffered all sorts of abuse. It's worn through, and chipped. But the gelcoat hasn't flaked of as shown in the pictures posted.

Doesn't look right to me. I support the idea of trying to pick off some more gelcoat with a fingernail or a blunt screwdriver - if it's locally not attached it just needs a local repair; if it's not bonded over a large area it needs a larger repair.

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Re: Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by mikkelkg » Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:36 pm

Hello all,

Really nice with all your input. It's very interesting to read for a guy who isn't that familiar with the workmanship of a sea kayak.

I decided to look the entire boat carefully over, trying to see if there were other places in which the finish wasn't up to par. While I didn't find any similar flaws, I found quite a few other flaws which made the overall finish of the boat look somewhat poor. I ended up taking it back to the dealer, and he agreed with my assesment of the boat. He has contacted Current Designs and is currently waiting for a reply.

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Re: Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by Jim » Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:40 pm

Looks to me like the cloth that the gelcoat hasn't bonded to is the tape used for the keel strip, in which case it is the flow coat which is added to the keel strip after the tape which hasn't bonded and it won't be indicative of the bond between the gel coat and cloth over the rest of the hull, where the gel coat is painted into the mould first and the laminate made on top when it has started to sure the right amount.
Flow coat is generally a mix of gel coat and ordinary resin with some wax added to help it cure, I wouldn't be surprised if somehow that patch got contaminated with wax, or the flow coat wasn't mixed thoroughly and a pocket of wax happened to end up just there.

You say it has spread to the hull but I'm not seeing that in the photos? Are you sure it isn't all contained in the keel strip?

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Re: Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by Nick Gates » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:16 pm

That looks like a void between the gel coat and the laminate.
This usually happens on internal radiuses where the glass fibres don't reach the gel. A consolidating roller usually presses them together, forcing any air and excess resin through the woven rovings to the surface.

If it was caused by impact there would be star cracks, but the gel coat would still be attached, but cracked.



It simply needs the gel feathering around the edges and regelling. Then flat it back with a block and some W or D, and some water. Polish up!
Ummmm

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Re: Gelcoat damage on brand new kayak

Post by Chris Bolton » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:42 pm

There looks to me to be a crack in the hull in the second photo.

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