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topic 9237

Stripping old paint from glass fibre prior to repainting


Q. I am in the process of restoring a glass fibre car body. If there are any ways to prepare the surface for painting other than sanding off all the old layers of paint I would like to know. Current advice is that you can not use commercial paint strippers because they attack the gel coat but that all traces of old paint must be removed by sanding.

I would welcome any tips that could make the preparation for painting less laborious.

Russell Collins
- Melton Mowbray, Leics., UK


A. Hi Russell!

Are you l00% SURE that commercial (or non-commercial) paint strippers will attack the gel coat?

After all, the paint was an air dry type, lacquer in ye olden days, and surely some reasonably strong solvents will attack/remove it.

The gel coat, on the other hand, is entirely different. It is part of a process where a catalyst is needed to get it & the rest of polyester (I assume) resin to cure.

So why then will a commercial paint stripper 'attack' the resin?

One is reminded of the adage


May I suggest you TRY a paint remover, a regular one (there may be specific high performance commercial strippers that I know naught about). And if that works, let the know. OK?

Lastly, Squire, even if you had a finish that was very slightly rough, that would be an advantage when it came to painting! Believe me! You might anyhow have to use some 000 grade sandpaper to roughen up the surface to get a super adhesion. OK?


freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

(It is our sad duty to
advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).

Reliant Robin & Kitten Service Manual
from Abe Books



Q. Hi nice to know I'm not alone!
I also am fearful of using paint stripper on my Reliant Kitten glassfibre body and am about 3 parts through sanding off a previous brush paint job(enamel).
Although its a pig of a job - dust is the worst - it gets everywhere including up your nose even with a mask on - I am pressing on and will have completed in about a month.
My next question is then what to do?
I toyed with the idea of spraying yacht enamel although I now favour spraying cellulose.
Any experiences out there?

Bruce Harding
- Wimborne, Dorset, England

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