Restoring old Thompson. circa 1950's. think it has lead paint?

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by PatSabre12, Feb 6, 2006.

  1. PatSabre12
    Joined: Feb 2006
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    PatSabre12 New Member

    I'm restoring an old Thompson 12' Wood Boat and before I got started I wanted to know if anyone might now if it was painted with lead paint. I'm pretty sure that lead paint was used on it. Want to know what others think. And if you do think it is lead-based paint, what precautions should I take.

    Another question: Should I sand or use paint stripper? Thanks for you help.
     
  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I would think several coats of lead paint have been applied, before the advent of lead free products. Since, I would imagine several more coats of likely oil based paint have gone on.

    Lead was good stuff in the marine environment, but it's all but gone now.

    Sanding should always have some people protection, dust masks, etc. Lead is a cumulative toxin and must be ingested, so a good particulate filter is okay. Open wounds should be covered too.

    Chemical stripping can knock off a number of layers of paint quickly, though usually with a big, gooie mess to clean up. Strippers can darken wood, raise grain, leave stains and other wise effect the wood in ways that may not be helpful toward the restoration of the finish. Many people use them with good success. I use them sparingly, finding the prep and clean up as time consuming as using a heat gun or sanding.

    My typical method would be to use the heat gun to remove the bulk of the paint. Then a light coat of stripper to soften what remains and a brush, scrubbie or rag to wipe off the last little bits of paint. This keeps the goo under control and the mess minimized.

    It boils down to what you feel comfortable with. Chemical strippers are nasty, can burn you, the wood and get on things you'd rather not if they did. If you haven't much experience with them, stick to more traditional paint removal methods.

    When heating the paint, don't breath the crap coming from the surface, it's nasty too. Work up wind.

    There's little pleasant about this type of work, but try to work safe and neat and it will reward you in the end.
     
  3. PatSabre12
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    PatSabre12 New Member

    Thanks for all the info and suggestions. Do you think I would be able to get a decent heat gun from a place like home depot and are they relatively easy to use? Thanks again for the help.
     
  4. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    They have cheap ones for around 30 - 40 bucks at Ace and the bigger box stores, try to find one with at least two heat settings (warm and burn your ***). DO NOT BREATH THE FUMES, get the paint hot enough to start bubbling then scrape, move down a bit start again. You can light cigarettes with these things (I do in a pinch) so watch what you're doing. Don't try to get it all in one pass, there will be some sanding/stripper/sanding and did I mention sanding involved.
     
  5. Earl Boebert
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    Earl Boebert Senior Member

    You do need to be careful around lead. Like all heavy metals, it is toxic, and recent research indicates it may be even more toxic than we thought. It is particularly bad news for children, so if there are any in the vicinity I would be extra careful. One of the problems with exposure to lead is that we have a fairly high baseline exposure from the environment already. Just to mention two sources: when you paint a high-acid wood such as oak with lead based paint, the lead reacts to the acid and forms lead acetate, and intensely sweet substance. (One metallurgist of my acquaintance used to joke that it would make a terrific sugar substitute if it wasn't so poisonous). Children living in deteriorating housing with flaking paint eat the chips and get a helluva dose. Another, less publicised source, is the dirt on the shoulders of old main highways, especially on hills, which absorbed decades of lead precipitate from the exhausts of engines that burned leaded gasoline. Concentrations in these areas can be pretty amazing. Again, children are often victimized as a result of playing this kind of dirt. Older pottery, especially from third world countries, was often made with high lead content glaze and should be admired but *never* used for food service.

    That being said, it is important to understand that in order to be poisoned by lead you have to ingest it in one form or another. In your application, the obvious ways are breathing lead paint dust, and having lead residue on your hands which then gets transferred to food. Another insidious form of poisoning is from lead fumes as the result of overheating lead when melting it to make castings.

    This doesn't mean you should be frightened of the stuff, just treat it with the respect it deserves. And be very, very careful if there are kiddies about.

    Cheers,

    Earl
     
  6. PatSabre12
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    PatSabre12 New Member

    Thanks again for the advice, I started stripping the boat last night and it has been a little slow going but I finally got through the 4 coats of paint down to the wood. When I got down to the wood I used some 60 grit sandpaper to take off what was left of the residue, the bottle said to use mineral spirits which i did, but to no avail. I'm making sure I have good ventilation too. What do you guys think about this method, I value your advice, THANKS.

    Dave
     

  7. riggertroy
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    riggertroy Senior Member

    Not sure if anyone else has come across the "I-Strip" gear but with two guys working, one applying the tool, the other scraping we managed to strip one side of a 22foot keeler in about 4hours, paint was very thick, a mix of antifouls and lead based paints under the antifoul.
    Work was done with filter masks and full coveralls not to mention a 10 - 15knot breeze blowing through.
    Here in NZ you can either hire or buy the gear, my mate found it so good he bought the unit we used. Have since used it to remove paint on a deck (60foot brigantine) and doors around the house.
    It is not so good on tight curves, was amazed when we used it on a fibreglass coating on a wooden deck, lifted clean and no damage to the wood.
     
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