Paint and Varnish advice please

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Paint and Varnish advice please

John Tompkins
This post was updated on .
It's many a year since I had to paint and varnish a boat, but I recently acquired a Blandford Foam Crest (plywood)and want to give it a few coats over the winter.

Can anyone advise what paints and varnishes are good these days please?
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Re: Paint and Varnish advice please

Keith Muscott 1516
Administrator
Hempel gloss and their traditional varnish is good, judging by their performance on the 1907 lifeboat Charles Henry Ashley, which we spruce up each winter when it's off the water. We use Hempel because we get it free from them, but that's beside the point. It's good. Their varnish manages the impossible by going on thickly but the brush strokes flat out as you go. 

I have also used International Toplac recently, and that goes on really beautifully by brush, undercoat and Toplac gloss. Really nice finish. However, they only guarantee those looks for three years.

I presume that your boat has already been painted / varnished and it's unlikely that you know 'what lies beneath' – hence my suggestion of trad finishes that use white spirit solvent, so you can't really go wrong – unless the dreaded water-based piddle has been used, of course. Use a blow lamp to test for that if all else fails. Oil-based paints bubble readily; emulsion paints don't. If your boat is clinker-built (unlikely if a PB design, I know) then you can only use oil-based paints because of flexion.

My own choice over the years (starting with bare plywood or GRP) is without question the International two-pot 'Perfection' system. The Hempel two-pot range seems to be as good, but I haven't used it long enough yet to be certain.The International two-pot varnish is incredible stuff. I had the sad experience recently of seeing a plywood boat I sold back in 2000 that had been left outside without a cover to accumulate rain water over at least one winter. The boat was ruined by water-induced rot everywhere inside the tanks. I wiped the salt off the gloss on the hull and it positively shone. A buffing-up with an electric polisher would have achieved wonders. Neither had it lifted anywhere. 

The varnished transom revealed dark patches of damp underneath the varnish because the wood was saturated, but it hadn't lifted either, because it seems to penetrate the wood, has incredible adhesion and it is TOUGH. The paint jobs on this hull were applied by me thirty years ago, by the way. The hull was sheathed with CSM and polyester resin first, and I couldn't find it lifting anywhere, either, which seems to indicate that it's primarily how you apply stuff that counts. I have photographs of all this, of course. These two-pot systems are expensive, naturally,  but the gloss coat on that boat has cost £1 pa if the paint cost £30 a 750cc  tin back then in 1988. It didn't. It lasts a long time. Hempel two-pot varnish dries like a clear cellulose finish. International is a light honey colour and more viscous. I prefer the latter; again I haven't used the Hempel version long enough, but it goes on well and dries fast.

Before you can buy Perfection paints and varnish mail order these days, you have to say online that you are a professional, because the nannying EU regulations don't believe that amateurs can look after their health and take simple precautions. No big deal, just lie. The International PRO range that has just been launched with the intention of replacing Perfection coatings is not likely to be anywhere near as durable, by the way.

I will now hand over to the puritanical element in the DCA who will tell you to sand it all down to bare wood and then apply a zillion coats of extremely expensive Scandinavian oil, basically the same as  Danish Oil, and finish off with one that dries gloss. If your fingers aren't bleeding from under the nails when you've finished you're not doing it right. Repeat this top coat every year, after extensive rubbing down. It will keep you off the streets and out of trouble in the dark winter months... If it was good enough for Oliver Cromwell's tender it's good enough for you. To be fair, it is possible to do 'invisible repairs' to the gloss coat to get rid of scratches, etc, but best to resist them in the first place. And it does look really good on the 'modern traditional' lapstrake plywood designs. Which is why they all look the same.

Keith




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Re: Paint and Varnish advice please

John Tompkins
This post was updated on .
Thanks Keith that's pretty comprehensive. I like the sound of Hempel Gloss, the simpler the better ( I dont do complicated well these days). It's stitched ply as you guessed, rather like a Mirror but with a pointed bow and an extra foot in length.
I knew of it's existence but I have never seen another, on or off the water. I got the plans but then this one came up and it's in such good condition it wasn't worth building one. It looks like it hasn't been used more than half a dozen times.
 John T
www.johngwynant.blogspot.com
www.jtsphotoblog.blogspot.com

    On Monday, 10 September 2018, 14:04, Keith Muscott 1516 [via DCA Forum] <ml+s2354559n1413h76@n4.nabble.com> wrote:
 

 

   
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Re: Paint and Varnish advice please

Keith Muscott 1516
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There are of course many more examples of really top-notch paint manufacturers out there than the two I mentioned, and I trust that a couple of their adherents will argue their corner on here. I do read the articles on them in Water Craft and other publications. Epifanes varnish always gets excellent support, and the gloss does too, for instance. But when you're giving advice you need to stick with what you know personally. I have some experience with Sikkens products too, and I like them.

Hempel Gloss is good stuff! It would lend itself to being diluted with solvent and laid on thinly, over a few coats, because it's pretty glutinous straight out of the tin. If you can imagine what it's like painting a lifeboat when your hand is operating above your head for a lot of the time as you are covering the topsides, even up on stools and ladders, then you will see that excellent coverage and its reluctance to produce runs and drips is important (as long as it's laid on with plenty of brushing, then finished off lightly). 

It's versatile, though, and I used it to repaint the RNLI insignia on the bows quite successfully. Vibrant colours and doesn't fade noticeably. If you want to email me offsite I'll send you a photo of the bows when we hauled the boat out of its barn at the start of this season, ready to be launched, A small boat usually painted upside down is a different proposition from an LB. I'd be tempted to dilute it somewhat to get a really good finish over 2/3 coats.

Sorry to sound off about two-pot systems, but there is still a reluctance to accept any paint with the word 'polyurethane' in its title, as a lot of us recall how the early one-pot stuff was awful, and peeled easily. International Perfection is very like the modern paint on cars (iso-cyanate), and it lasts as well. (I forgot to say that it should always be laid on with a brush, as the solvent dissolves sponge paint pads, and it should never be sprayed by amateurs, only in a proper pro environment. In fact it's illegal to do so).

I even appreciate the need for the exotic oils and I understand its devotees, but it's good to be challenged; makes you think! But you have to really enjoy the process of laying on all those coats. So many oiled finishes become neglected and bald grey patches result, which become depressions when they are sanded to bare wood, resulting in a real dog's breakfast.

Keith



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Re: Paint and Varnish advice please

John Tompkins
This post was updated on .
I use oil on the gunwale rails of my sailing canoes, it's good to just give the woodwork a clean then wipe it over with oil. mine have lasted for 15 years so far without a problem. But the ply of the Foam Crest cant be treated like that because of the barrier caused by the glue.
It's good to get a recommendation from someone who has used it rather someone who has just read about it.
I don't have your email, mine is canoesailor@btinternet.com  John T
www.johngwynant.blogspot.com
www.jtsphotoblog.blogspot.com

   
 

 
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Re: Paint and Varnish advice please

Keith Muscott 1516
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Fair comment about the oil. And yes, I can see that the glue barrier might be a problem. 

Mind you, I've got some 6mm 5ply Robbins Super Elite here and I've just measured the layers. The outer veneers are at least 1.25mm. In fact I think one is 1.25 and the other closer to 1.5mm. You'd be going some to get oil through that, surely? Has anyone oiled different timber samples and sawed through them later to measure the depth of penetration? Does it actually get very far? That would be a good comparison of different oils. (And I would buy a tin of Danish Oil from my local hardware store and throw that in the mix!)

By the way, you can't email me your email address from the Forum – it simply appears as 'hidden email'! Security! You'll find mine top left of page 2 in the journal, second down. (I've just noticed your blogspot addresses have appeared – I'll try them.) 

One other point about replying to posts; if you don't delete the post(s) you are replying to before you send your reply, they will appear all over again on the page. Fortunately I can get on there and edit your posts!

I can't bring the Foam Crest to mind and it's annoying me. I'll have to visit the Clark Craft site again...

Keith







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Re: Paint and Varnish advice please

Keith Muscott 1516
Administrator
In reply to this post by John Tompkins
That's interesting. The 'hidden email' message appeared in your post that joined my normal email list. On here I can read your email address. Obviously I've been stupid. I'll send you the pic in a minute.
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Re: Paint and Varnish advice please

Roger Barnes 936
In reply to this post by John Tompkins
I never varnish anything external anymore. Too time consuming. Put on 2 coats of International Woodskin and then get on with your life...

On 10 Sep 2018, at 12:09, John Tompkins [via DCA Forum] <[hidden email]> wrote:

It's many a year since I had to paint and varnish a boat, but I recently acquired a Blandford Foam Crest and want to give it a few coats over the winter.

Can anyone advise what paints and varnishes are good these days please?


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Re: Paint and Varnish advice please

John Tompkins
Thanks Roger, I got some Woodskin. I was wondering if there had been any advances in varnish or clear coverings, this looks like the answer. I might use it on my wood canoe paddles as well. What I need now is some parana pine or similar to replace the gunwales, Robbins say it's not available but people are still advertising it.
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Re: Paint and Varnish advice please

Keith Muscott 1516
Administrator
Why Parana pine, John?

Even at its best it is liable to dramatic warping. If you are going to use pine for gunwales, Douglas fir is the one to go for, surely? It's often used for spars, as it's strong, but it's also heavy – that's no drawback for gunwales, though.

Keith



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Re: Paint and Varnish advice please

John Tompkins
Interesting Keith, I have had Parana pine gunwales on my open sailing canoe for over 20 years without any problems at all and it is still going strong. When we used to build canvas and wood Kayaks in the 50s and sixties we used parana pine and had no trouble and we built a lot for boys clubs and the Soar Valley Canoe Club. So naturally when I want gunwales for my dinghy I turn to the wood I know and have had experience of.
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Re: Paint and Varnish advice please

Keith Muscott 1516
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Fair comment. Going by my experience of it, it's a bit brittle and can warp not just in one direction but two simultaneously. If it's being offered here and there, despite Robbins telling you that it's unobtainable, obviously you'll examine it closely to see if it's like the stuff you've used rather than the stuff I've had experience of!

Apart from other considerations, I thought it was endangered and so taken off the market – I'll check on that one.



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Re: Paint and Varnish advice please

John Tompkins
I've never found it brittle, but some yards sold some odd woods as PP.  I saw some wood years ago on a building site that was claimed to be PP, it was being used for treads on stairs and I wouldn't have lit a fire with it, it was rubbish.  

We always went for straight grain, close grain, knot free.  An inch wide gunwale isn't wide enough to warp across the grain likewise the stringers on Kayak frames. We often bashed the canvas in on technical whitewater, but I only remember one incident where the frame of a kayak got smashed. We were surfing at Penmaenmawr  and one of the lads got dumped off a wave, straight onto a rock. He couldn't sit down for a few days.

Robbins were saying that it had been taken off the market because it was endangered.

But the Russians have muddied the waters by saying the have masses of it ready to cut. It's buyer beware as usual.
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Re: Paint and Varnish advice please

Keith Muscott 1516
Administrator
Yes, I can imagine. Russian Parana Pine. That's a new one.

The obvious signifier is the blood red stripe going through the creamy yellow (at its most picturesque). I do have a couple of decent-looking short boards here, about 4ft by 6ins, which I salvaged last year from my father's workshop, and some other bits of my own from years back, but it's been a long time since I saw it for sale in a woodyard. 

Any I've used has never had knots in it, one thing in its favour. If you think of the typical 'monkey puzzle' trees in gardens, the boughs do tend to be high up, with good runs of clear bole below them. Any brittleness I found was at the edges of sawn ends, where you had to be careful when working them.