As promised, here, although somewhat later than at first planned and promised, are my thoughts on the Shurhold polisher. I have also included a set of pictures of the process that I went through following the Shurhold instructions and using products that they supplied along with the machine.
Buff Magic is the abrasive buffing compound which removes surface oxidization and small scratches. This is followed by the Pro Polish, which, as the name suggests, gives the surface a shine and which for most purposes is as far as you need to go, but for the Rolls Royce finish and a bit of extra shine you can follow this up with Serious Shine, which does seem to make the surface slicker and even a little bit shinier.
This is the back end of a 30-year-old fiberglass kayak that I used as the test subject. It was very tired, scratched and dirty looking.
First I rubbed on a little Buff Magic. You can add the buffing compound directly to the buffing pad or you can do as I am and apply it to the boat with a rag; an old towel works great, as does a clean paintbrush. The compound is rubbed into the gelcoat with the compounding pad. It’s larger than the backing pad by a fair bit to which it attaches with velcro. You have to get it centered on the backing pad or it vibrates badly. The best way is to place the pad down and lower the machine onto it lining everything up by eye. The machine speed is adjustable and for the compounding you need the slowest speed which is about 2500 rpm, any faster and the compound is flicked everywhere. An apron or overalls, eye protection and gloves are a good idea.
After the buffing, things looked much better but Pro Polish brings back the shine. I followed the instructions on the bottle and spread a little onto the boat with a damp rag; you don’t need much. I then used a lambswool bonnet (or you can use the black Pro Polish foam pad), increased the speed a little and polished the boat until the shine came through. I could have stopped at this point as the boat looked a thousand times better. But as Shurhold also supplied some of the spray polish called Serious Shine, I applied with a microfiber cloth when I had finished with the electric buffer. This made a boat even a little shinier and it felt much more slick to the touch. When I poured some water onto the surface it ran right off. In contrast, a boat that is not polished will hold water on the surface.
All in all the test was a complete success. Buffing out a seriously tired gelcoat on a 40 footer would be slow work with this tool but for smaller boats and projects or for regular yearly maintenance I think that many boat owners could do a lot worse than own one of these Shurhold polishers which are a fraction of the price of most.
By Mark Corke
Mark is a boat surveyor, freelance journalist and photographer. He was formerly senior editor with Sail and Deputy editor of Boatworks Magazines. He has also built several boats, the most recent of which is a 26 gaff cutter that he enjoys sailing along the coast of Maine. He is currently working on a book about marine surveying with fellow judge Norm LeBlanc due to be published in the fall of 2010. He also runs a popular DIY boating Web site, www.onboardwithmarkcorke.com. He also is the world record holder for the fastest there and back crossing of the English Channel in a kayak.