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Repainting/Repairing 4runner Fiberglass Topper

Old 08-30-2018, 12:20 PM
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Repainting/Repairing 4runner Fiberglass Topper

Hey guys,

I wanted to ask for some advice on the best way to repair a sun damaged/faded 4Runner fiberglass top. I have never worked with fiberglass before and I am not sure what the proper steps would be to get it properly repaired and painted. Based on the texture of the top, I believe that the 'gel' coat that was on there from the factory has mostly been stripped off by the sun. If I plan on colormatching the top and having it painted in the end, is it necessary to reapply a gel coat the fiberglas before priming and painting, or would a good primer and paint be just as protective to the fiberglass?

Thanks!
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Old 08-30-2018, 01:34 PM
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Congrats on your new 4Runner. How bad is the top? Is there cracking and crazing? If so I would get a kit of epoxy from a boat supply store and skim coat the whole thing. At that point it might be cheaper to find a better used top. The stuff they sell for auto work is polyester and has bad fumes and is not as easy to work with IMO. It's cheaper though. Other wise for small damage you can probably use a little body filler keeping in mind that it should be kept under a dime in thickness. You can even cut up some fiberglass cloth or mat into threads to add to the filler if the repair needs to be thicker. To paint my top I intend to "roll and tip" satin finish Rustoleum. I've never painted the top since it's been off for two years. Look at videos on YouTube for rolling and tipping technique. I did it on a boat and it looks sprayed. If you need to restore the texture you can use bed liner and then either go with it or paint over top of it.
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Old 08-30-2018, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Nervo19 View Post
Congrats on your new 4Runner. How bad is the top? Is there cracking and crazing? If so I would get a kit of epoxy from a boat supply store and skim coat the whole thing. At that point it might be cheaper to find a better used top. The stuff they sell for auto work is polyester and has bad fumes and is not as easy to work with IMO. It's cheaper though. Other wise for small damage you can probably use a little body filler keeping in mind that it should be kept under a dime in thickness. You can even cut up some fiberglass cloth or mat into threads to add to the filler if the repair needs to be thicker. To paint my top I intend to "roll and tip" satin finish Rustoleum. I've never painted the top since it's been off for two years. Look at videos on YouTube for rolling and tipping technique. I did it on a boat and it looks sprayed. If you need to restore the texture you can use bed liner and then either go with it or paint over top of it.

Thanks for the heads up, I will try to get some good pictures of it this weekend and report back to get your opinion.
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Old 09-02-2018, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by nothingbetter View Post
Yes, it will work, but thats not what its designed for so it won't work very long.

The thing with using just filler in that crater is the size of the area being filled. Filler isn't designed with strength in mind. Anything over 1/4" thick and the chances of it cracking increase a bunch. Even more so on something as flexible as a fiberglass top. Now I know you're saying "nothingbetter, you're silly, it doesn't flex!" Oh yes it does! When the sun hits it, it expands, and when it cools off at night it shrinks, just like all the sheet metal on your 4r. It also vibrates as your cruise down the road. Too much filler is a bad thing. Polyester filler also absorbs moisture, which is bound to be in the fiberglass seeing as it was left open to the elements for so long. Moisture in the filler will make it fall off/crack/ect. There is a reason why I have multiple products listed in a certain order.

Like dropzone said, check online.
Originally Posted by slacker View Post
nothingbetter said it all ... I have nothing to add , other then , that is the correct way to do it for longevity


.
Gelcoat damage should be fixed with gelcoat. Gel coat from my understanding is just the resin with no reinforcement, most time colored.

Mine needs it, getting itchy nasty stuff on you sucks.

Pretty sure I have seen some YouTube videos of it being refilled out of a 2k spray also.

Last edited by Co_94_PU; 09-02-2018 at 07:18 PM.
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Old 09-03-2018, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Co_94_PU View Post
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Gelcoat damage should be fixed with gelcoat. Gel coat from my understanding is just the resin with no reinforcement, most time colored.

Mine needs it, getting itchy nasty stuff on you sucks.k

Pretty sure I have seen some YouTube videos of it being refilled out of a 2k spray also.
. Go online and look at West System videos. The epoxy systems are not itchy or smelly. Epoxy and fiberglass mat is incredibly strong. Gel coat is a shiny top coat. No boats are made of gel coat alone. I promise you there is fiberglass beneath it. I'm planning to put a fiberglass shell on top of a 30 year old sailboat this winter. Done correctly there is no point at which I have to sand the fiberglass. I have never gotten all itchy doing this stuff. I haven't had to use a sprayer either. I've watched them build high money fishing boats in Manns Harbor and Wanchese. NC and they use Awlgrip these days instead of gel coat. Gelcoat cracks after a few years which you can see in old fiberglass boats and our tops. I used Awlgrip on my 1972 Boston Whaler and it shines with no maintenance. Awlgrip isn't needed on our tops. They just need paint. Here's a link to a Total Boat system. It is cheaper than West but people seem to like it. https://www.jamestowndistributors.co...3A1+Epoxy+Kits If you buy from these guys go online and look for a code for free shipping. I'm on my second gallon kit from them.
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Old 09-03-2018, 03:18 PM
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What we have here is...

Originally Posted by Nervo19 View Post
. Go online and look at West System videos. The epoxy systems are not itchy or smelly. Epoxy and fiberglass mat is incredibly strong. Gel coat is a shiny top coat. No boats are made of gel coat alone. I promise you there is fiberglass beneath it. ....
Failure to communicate ..

Random oriented fiber mat is what is used in these, actually in just about all structural fiberglass and resin structures, ever sat on a park bench or school chair and wondered why you got an itchy bumm? yep gelcoat worn thru, fiberglass exposed. Same as working with fiberglass insulation. It's really.not.good for you. On a similar note USE PPE, you really don't want to acquire an epoxy allergy.

Thanks for the extra links! The boat guys have vast quantities of knowledge and hands on with this stuff :bow:
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Old 09-05-2018, 05:53 AM
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I was finally able to get some more time on the new 4Runner over the long weekend. Here are a few pictures of the top. Curious what you all think of the condition:

The texture if very rough!




Last edited by mbomberz1; 09-06-2018 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 09-05-2018, 10:10 AM
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Edit

EDIT: Pictures work now!

Last edited by old87yota; 09-06-2018 at 11:07 AM. Reason: Pictures work!
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Old 09-05-2018, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by old87yota View Post
Pictures are not working at the time of this post.

Did they show up yet? They should be up, I used the direct upload to yotatech.com feature instead of trying to link out to my google photos (which has some sort of bandwidth cap i think). Thanks for the heads up!
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Old 09-06-2018, 03:33 AM
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Originally Posted by mbomberz1 View Post
Did they show up yet? They should be up, I used the direct upload to yotatech.com feature instead of trying to link out to my google photos (which has some sort of bandwidth cap i think). Thanks for the heads up!
Still Google links, here is a snippet of the URL.
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/
It's not a bandwidth limit, it's a permission issue they might show up (depending on your album settings) if we were to login to Google but this makes us work to help you..

You can help us help you by, you save the image to your pc, you then attach the photos "from device/PC". They will then be stored on the yotatech servers.
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Old 09-06-2018, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Co_94_PU View Post
Still Google links, here is a snippet of the URL.
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/
It's not a bandwidth limit, it's a permission issue they might show up (depending on your album settings) if we were to login to Google but this makes us work to help you..

You can help us help you by, you save the image to your pc, you then attach the photos "from device/PC". They will then be stored on the yotatech servers.
I think I spaced out when I uploaded them and just pasted them directly into the text field of the post. I just uploaded them to the post now using the inset image feature. Sorry about the confusion, should be fixed now!
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Old 09-06-2018, 07:06 PM
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Much better, well images anyway. That's pretty typical for exposure damage after all these years

You can seal it with a polyester or 2k doesn't matter which type, brand(topcoat, gelcoat, awlgrip), or application (spray, brush, roll) method (to me, it's not my profession or something I do on a regular basis).

I would go with 2k (epoxy), pretty sure thats what it was originaly done with. You do not want to use a filler (Bondo, everkote ect), these are poly/2k with inert solids. What is important is you get it dry(fiberglass wicks moisture), sealed (glass covered to several mils), then preped for the topcoat of your choice. Keep in mind that's a lot of flat surface and a gloss coat will show any waves, it's why you mostly see them with hammered or other textured finish (the man hours of sanding).

And yes that's definitely exposed glass avoid touching it, unless your into that sort of thing.
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Old 09-07-2018, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Co_94_PU View Post
Much better, well images anyway. That's pretty typical for exposure damage after all these years

You can seal it with a polyester or 2k doesn't matter which type, brand(topcoat, gelcoat, awlgrip), or application (spray, brush, roll) method (to me, it's not my profession or something I do on a regular basis).

I would go with 2k (epoxy), pretty sure thats what it was originaly done with. You do not want to use a filler (Bondo, everkote ect), these are poly/2k with inert solids. What is important is you get it dry(fiberglass wicks moisture), sealed (glass covered to several mils), then preped for the topcoat of your choice. Keep in mind that's a lot of flat surface and a gloss coat will show any waves, it's why you mostly see them with hammered or other textured finish (the man hours of sanding).

And yes that's definitely exposed glass avoid touching it, unless your into that sort of thing.
Thanks for the reply. And no, touching exposed glass is not my kinda thing! I am pretty paranoid about fumes/inhalents and honestly the whole idea of refinishing it is making me uneasy about the process.
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Old 09-07-2018, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Nervo19 View Post
. Go online and look at West System videos. The epoxy systems are not itchy or smelly. Epoxy and fiberglass mat is incredibly strong. Gel coat is a shiny top coat. No boats are made of gel coat alone. I promise you there is fiberglass beneath it. I'm planning to put a fiberglass shell on top of a 30 year old sailboat this winter. Done correctly there is no point at which I have to sand the fiberglass. I have never gotten all itchy doing this stuff. I haven't had to use a sprayer either. I've watched them build high money fishing boats in Manns Harbor and Wanchese. NC and they use Awlgrip these days instead of gel coat. Gelcoat cracks after a few years which you can see in old fiberglass boats and our tops. I used Awlgrip on my 1972 Boston Whaler and it shines with no maintenance. Awlgrip isn't needed on our tops. They just need paint. Here's a link to a Total Boat system. It is cheaper than West but people seem to like it. https://www.jamestowndistributors.co...3A1+Epoxy+Kits If you buy from these guys go online and look for a code for free shipping. I'm on my second gallon kit from them.
The gel coat is the outer layer of a fiberglass structure. Co 94 was not implying the entire thing was made from gel coat. In a female mold, the gel coat is the first layer applied.

You don't want to use epoxy resin if there will be a gelcoat applied either. You can get gelcoat additives for the epoxy, but it'll be pretty expensive compared to just applying a gelcoat. Epoxy resin doesn't sand very well. It's too tough. There are additives to make it more sandable, but it'll have to be painted and that's more steps. Just doing a colored gelcoat would be the easiest and cheapest.

​​​​​​

Last edited by TheBFA; 09-07-2018 at 10:05 PM.
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