Painting a 17' Century Resorter

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by MacSuibhne, Jul 2, 2009.

  1. MacSuibhne
    Joined: Jul 2009
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    Location: San Antonio, TX

    MacSuibhne New Member

    First off, I'll state for the record that I am a complete beginner at this. There, record stated.

    So. A few months back I was asked to hand-letter the name and numbers on a boat some friends were restoring for a client. They were new at this, so they just kind of have been approaching the whole project haphazardly. Within a few days, my part had been expanded to include painting a design all around the outside of the boat (to hide damage a previous restorer had made with a belt sander), as well as what we'd already agreed on. But, when that was almost finished, the boat was vandalized by a screwdriver wielding ex...which brings me to my question:

    I now have to paint almost the entire outside (hull?) of this dark mahogany boat completely black. What is the recommended technique? I've told them that my expertise lies nowhere near boat-painting, and still it seems to be resting on me. So, now I share the burden of knowledge with y'all. What kind of paint should I be using? For the lettering, I was previously told that as long as I used an oil-based paint, I'd be fine. Does that hold for such a large project, though? And, since I'll be doing this alone, I'm assuming the 'brush-and-tip' method is completely out. That said, there was so much scaring done to the wood that he's told me he wants 6-8 coats of paint. Is this reasonable? I know he's already planning on putting as many coats of poly on after I finish my part, and 6-8 coats just seems madly excessive under that. It seems to me that I'll need to rent a paint sprayer to do this evenly-- and I've only got experience using a sprayer with latex paint on the outside of my house. Boat ≠ house.

    Any guidance? For the curious, here's a link to what's been done with the boat so far -- the newest photos showing some of the damage. I'm being told that I need to have a materials list ready for him in the next week. Bah!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/buileshuibhne/sets/72157618610517653/

    Thanks in advance to anyone with pointers.
     
  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Fill in the damage areas. You're not going to do this with paint, unless it's many coats of blocking primer. Don't use Bondo or other automotive filler, they don't work on wooden boats. Then paint the boat.

    If you're having issue with roll and tip techniques, there a few on line videos that will explain it. It's very simple, produces great results and is worthwhile if you don't want brush strokes in the work.

    Typically I like 3 to 4 coats of primer and at least 2, preferably 3 to 4 top coats. Any more paint then this isn't helping and could actually cause problems because of the coating's thickness.

    Don't paint anything over the top coat. Use a high quality paint. Oil, acrylic, LPU's polyurethanes and epoxies all have good and bad points to consider. A good marine oil paint will suit your needs well.
     
  3. Jimbo1490
    Joined: Jun 2005
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    Location: Orlando, FL

    Jimbo1490 Senior Member

    The sign and lettering business made a switch to computerized vinyl decal cutting plotters 20-25 years ago. I was in that business at that time. This does not mean they never use paint; for the best durability, like for a boat or airplane, paint is till the ticket. But now when you use paint, you simply cut a special vinyl decal called 'paint stencil', apply that decal in position and then apply the paint. At some point the stencil is removed and the finished lettering is revealed.

    Any local sign and graphics shop can make stencils for you, with their existing vinyl cutting plotter *BUT* most do not bother to carry the stencil material because they never use it; decals are their whole business, typically. So you may have to either call around to find a shop that has some stencil vinyl in stock or buy a roll yourself (it's the cheapest possible vinyl decal material) and bring it to a shop to get your design cut.

    If you try to use normal vinyl decal material as a stencil, you will run into problems removing it as the decal material has a very aggressive adhesive that's designed to be permanent. It's also way more expensive than stencil vinyl.

    Jimbo
     
  4. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    Location: maine

    alan white Senior Member

    Black paint in particular, though any dark paint, heats the wood up more than lighter shades. It's a high maintainance color. Planks tend to cup when the outside surface warms up faster than the inside surface. Moisture moves away from the outside towards the inside, and it is moisture that keeps the wood cells from shrinking.
    White, on the other hand, is a much better color for solid wood. if this boat is in Texas the effect could be even more pronounced.
    That boat should be covered whenever it's not in use, though sometimes that's not possible due to the boat being kept in the water.
    You might mention this to the owners before they are absolutely settled on black.
     
  5. MacSuibhne
    Joined: Jul 2009
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    Location: San Antonio, TX

    MacSuibhne New Member

    Thank you all for your responses, and my apologies for taking a few days to get back to you.

    PAR: As far as I understand, the last of the damaged areas are being filled in right now, and whatever was purchased was done so at an employee's recommendation. I can only hope what was suggested was appropriate. As far as the roll-and-tip technique is concerned -- I was led to believe it was a much more intensive process, and I see no problem with doing that myself, having just spent the past half hour watching multiple videos.

    You say don't paint anything over the topcoat? As in, nothing whatsoever -- no poly, absolutely nothing? I'm only asking to be 100% certain, because this is the #1 thing I know this guy is planning to do -- and if I'm going to tell him it's a bad idea, I need someone to tell me exactly why. I assume it has something to do with the expansion/contraction of wood, but I'm no boat man.

    Jimbo1490: Thanks for the suggestions. In order to get all the ornate scroll-work on there already, I'd ended up making my own stencils using a stiff sheet of clear plastic and some adhesive spray (which I was careful to apply and peel on a scrap piece of wood a number of times before putting it against the boat). I have been, however, thinking of sanding off what I'd previously done and trying it again with a vinyl resist, to avoid going back and repainting the stencil-lines. I myself don't have access -- but I do a lot of sandblasting, and have used vinyl printers before as a form of resist for my glass. Seems it'd do just as well for this. Glad to know it's a tried technique.

    Alan: He is, unfortunately, very set on a dark color. Originally, it was supposed to be the bare, stained mahogany -- but after all the damage done and the scarring left behind, paint is a requirement. Now, I'd pointed out that with painting the boat, we could now go with any colors he wanted -- and dark is what he wants.

    A good thing, I suppose, is this: The boat is apparently not going to be in the water often, used mainly for show, and has already had a custom cover made for it. This thing should -- if I'm understanding his intentions right -- only see the sun/water a few hours a month. I hope that'll make up for the color choice.

    -----------------------------------

    Now, I have one more question for y'all. The original plan for this boat had 1) them stripping/sanding the boat down to the bare mahogany, then staining it, 2) me coming in behind them and using oil-based paints to add scrollwork/numbers/lettering to the sides, and then 3) they would come back in and poly the entire boat with 6-8 coats. The idea was to keep the majority of the boat stained and with only painted-on accents. Would this have worked? I know I've seen stained boats on the water, and you can definitely find them online -- but is this not practical for some reason? I ask because they're now wanting me to do the same process in reverse: the majority of the boat painted black, with my patterns 'drawn in' the negative space -- like voids in the paint that would show the undamaged wood beneath. If nothing at all should be applied over the paint, how would the exposed stained sections of wood stay watertight?

    Sorry for the barrage of questions, guys. With no experience, I just need more help understanding all this than I'd expected.

    -Oisín
     

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  6. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Topcoat is topcoat and as the name suggests goes on top. Unless you intend on using a multi stage system, such as a base coat and clear coat, like used on cars (not recommended on a wooden boat) then the top coat is it. It's just a waste of materials, money and effort, not to mention, bulks up the coatings in general making the probability of cracking more likely.

    No boat has just stain on them. All have some sort of protection over the stain. The simplest of these is an natural oil coating, which offers the least amount of protect, from everything, UV, abrasions, moisture, etc. Typical oils are linseed which darkens the wood or tung which is preferred. Of course there's a solvent mixture and routine to apply it, but it's easy and has to be done every few months.

    If you have vinyl stencils cut for the boat, they'll have to be "developed" to some degree so they'll lay flat on the hull. It will stretch somewhat, but if you don't want distortions, it will require careful application and a "pre-distorted" (developed) pattern. I'd use "Frisket" instead, which is what air brush artists use.

    Since the boat is now to be painted, fill the scratches, prime then paint. Even if the boat wasn't to be painted, just varnished, I'd still fill the scratches, using a filler that closely matched the finished hull color. From the little I can see, those scratches can be repaired with minimum impact on the natural finish.

    Water tight can only be had one way on your boat, with solid planking fastenings to the structure and tight seams. No miracle goo in a can will do this for you. If the boat was a full up restoration and each plank encapsulated in epoxy, you'd have other options, but as it current exists, the only option is tight mechanical attachment of the planking to the equally tight supporting structure and well matched plank seams.

    Since it's unlikely that the planking and structure is truly solid, some structure and planking movement should be expected. Therefore you should use a fairly flexible paint/varnish system. Single part polyurethanes are the second least flexible of all the choices. Straight oil paints the most flexible. Placing a stiff, reasonably rigid coating over a fairly flexible under coat, plus toss in some plank movement and you can see where the troubles might arise. At the very least, you have cracks at the plank seams in the polyurethane, though the oil will hang on for a while (it too has it's limits).

    My recommendation would be good quality oil based paint for the whole job. Polyurethane is too rigid to work well for very long, though it will look great just after application.

    If you want the high gloss of polyurethane, then wait a month after painting then buff it out with a good polish then hit it with a good wax.

    Personally I don't see why the boat could still have a varnished finish, with repaired scratches.
     
  7. Jimbo1490
    Joined: Jun 2005
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    Jimbo1490 Senior Member

    This is true but there are techniques that can eliminate or at least greatly reduce the amount of distortion you are likely to encounter on the sides of a sail boat when applying 'flat' designs over curved surfaces..

    The simplest is to tape the vinyl stencil to the surface with a tape line only at the top so that the bottom hangs free. The stencil will be quite flexible this way and allow you to bend the stencil to fit a curve. Once you are happy with the positioning/curving, then you make vertical cuts in the stencil at intervals then remove the backing release material and apply the stencil in sections. Now the distortions are distributed evenly through the whole decal. Once the pre-space tape is removed, you are bound to find areas where the adjacent sections are now a bit overlapped (who cares) but also some places where there is now a gap where there should be stencil material. You can fill these in with either more stencil vinyl or fine line masking tape. The excess is cut off with an X-acto or razor blade.

    Jimbo
     
  8. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I agree you can manually distort the vinyl, but this is effective only on certain types of graphics. I tried the usual techniques on a car last summer, where a graphic was riding up over a series of curves on the hood. Had the image been fairly random, it wouldn't have been a problem, but it had text and horizontal lines behind it, which when stretched and/or cut to fit, look like crap. I ended up using a new vinyl of the text, but over painted lines.
     
  9. Jimbo1490
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    Jimbo1490 Senior Member

    Yeah it won't work on a car hood or fender.

    Been there, done that :(

    But on a sailboat you can probably get away with it because the curves are less sharp. And a design with lots of closely spaced parallel lines will look terrible using the method I described on a car!

    On the polyurethane paint issue: most all the paint lines have a 'flexibilixer' additive that makes the cured paint like rubber so you can paint highly flexible surfaces without a cracking problem. There are also very good 'universal flexibilixer' additives that work in anybody's paint. The makers of Awl Grip and Imron swear you don't need these but I've seen both of those paints lose most of their 'give' after a couple of years so I'd be inclined to use the additive if I had any doubts.

    Jimbo
     

  10. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    The additive is made to paint over plastic(bumpers and so). It takes a bit of the gloss off.
     
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