Seal and Varnish vs. Painted Boat

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by marcos, Feb 2, 2004.

  1. marcos
    Joined: Feb 2004
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    Location: San Francisco

    marcos New Member

    I recently purchased my first wooden boat, a 1952 38' Chris Craft double-stateroom salon cruiser. When it arrived, we decided to sand and repaint the bottom hull. It is double-hulled and the entire boat is made of mahogany. We wound up removing all the top and bottom paint. To our surprise and delight, we found the top planks were in perfect condition as though the boat had been built just last week.

    Now we're seriously considering sealing and varnishing the sides and back instead of painting them back to the original white. The majority of the boats we've seen have their sides and backs painted white; why? I know that the biggest drawback to sealing and varnishing is more maintenance, but the newer products available that counter the sun's uv rays, etc., help prolong the finish. It seems a shame to paint over the gorgeous wood.

    Am I going in the right direction, or are there other drawbacks I'm not aware of. Any advice and suggestions appreciated.
     
  2. captword
    Joined: Jan 2004
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    Location: Morehead City North Carolina

    captword Junior Member

    hard to hide beautiful wood. Some of the area boat builders are sealling there mahogany and teak bright work with two or three coats of epoxy before they start to varnish. as Far as varnish goes , i wouldnt use reg varnish. reg varnish is good stuff, but you have to do it every year, one coat a day tryng for weather. Awlgrips awlbright line is how i would go expensive in the begining, but when you can go years between coats there is a definate cost savings. YOu generally can get 4 to 8 years on a good awlgrip job barring nicks n scratches occuring through boating. they say that if you wax you can lengthen the life of the paint job makes sense to me.
    I would put atleast three coats of clear epoxy ressin and sand fair. then apply 5 to 8 coats of alw bright. then top it off with a couple of coats of top cat coat wich is a little harger or tuffer. the nice thing about alwgrip is that once you get use to it and know it. you can put multiple coats on in one day instead of one a day for standard varnish. once done i would wax it once a year and enjoy my boat, snickerring at the crowd that says" i am glad i dont have to varnish that every year".
    Howard
     
  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I'd be going in the other direction then the one described by CaptWord. First I'd have to ask myself "Self, are you intending to keep this yacht for the rest of it's or my life?" If yes "Am I willing to detract from the value of this yacht by using other then original Chris Craft method, techniques and materials?" If yes again move on to experimenting with what ever techniques, methods and stuff your heart dances for. Be for warned, the boats where built this way for countless reasons and years of experience at building and refining the techniques.

    If my answer to the first question was no, then this is an investment yacht, and any treatment other then the boat deserves, needs or desires should be avoided.

    A word of advise about varnish (and it should be the best marine varnish you can find, not plan old regular as suggested) The advice is there is no magic pill when it comes to varnish, no polymer added to the mixture, no special stuff of any real significance that has upgraded varnish from what we all know is a chore every year for a moored or docked boat (as I'm assuming yours will be) You might be able to get a few years out of a coating, but there will be areas that need attention after the first year, period. There is no special UV inhibitor magic liquid added to varnish currently. Do not use anything other then varnish. There are some products out there that have great gloss, are easier to apply, easier to build up, but you pay the devil when it needs to be repaired. A ding, scratch or nick in varnish can be repaired rather easily with a little prep and more varnish, not so with the new cure all polyurethane. This stuff is hard and chips when damaged, and the area must be sanded down, below the damage and a whole new coating put back on. This a bunch different then taking a Scotch Bright pad to a scratched bit of varnished area and using a artist brush, flowing some fresh varnish back in to the repair.

    I'd also not seal the planking with CPES or other product. This boat was intend to breath and move around a bit. Locking down the components can cause other problems. Just ask the folks who 'glassed the bottoms of their Chris's thinking they could keep the water out. Well it did keep the pond water out, but caused rot, caused fasteners to pull and a load of other, not for seen ills to rear up and bite them in the ***.

    The Chris Craft community is vast and world wide. There are many owners, restorer's and people well acquainted with the quirks of your fine yacht (I haven't seen one in a while, so post a picture or two). I have a 27' 1960 C. C. Sea Skiff in my side yard right now. Use the search thingie in the upper right hand corner of the screen and find a club, owners group, restorer near you and have a long talk with the old timers as well as the newbees. You'll find a support group that understands much more then most, and a huge parts, repair, and advise depot to boot.

    I like Chris's, I work on them all the time. I know of several in just a few miles that are all but done, because of well meaning owners who got into something that seemed a good idea, but wrecked the boat. Don't let your classic die from a ill advised error, talk to the folks who make a living fixing these things (I currently have 5 wooden boats in my yard - there's a boat show next month and you can guess the rest)

    Good Luck,
     
  4. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    I agree with Par. Epoxy on a planked boat is a NO NO. It is OK for an old workboat to get a few more years. For a classic is a sure death and loss of most of its value.
     
  5. willibuch3
    Joined: Feb 2004
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    Location: Reading PA

    willibuch3 Junior Member

    Varnish or white?

    I agree with Par and Gonzo. Another factor is the tempature fluxuations that occur from the sun. the dark clear coated surface absorbs the suns infrared and heats the planking, which is bad, but worse because it is not uniform. This can put added stresses on fastenings. Keep it white


    Bill Buchanan.
     
  6. Doug K
    Joined: Mar 2004
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    Location: Ottawa, Canada

    Doug K New Member

    I must support Par & Gonzo. I may be new to this wood boat experience but we as wooden boat owners got involved because of the beauty and grace of a bygone era that our boats represent. To me, brightwork on a wooden boat is the jewel on the crown and your classic will stand above all others in admiration by people that love beautiful things. The time you will need to maintain the original appearance of your boat is part of the enjoyment of the wood boat experience.....otherwise GRP is one of the options available.

    May I suggest a book that I find invaluable....BRIGHTWORK The Art of Finishing Wood by Rebecca J. Wittman.

    Good luck
    Doug K.
     
  7. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I resent the "bygone era" line. I have just completed a 33' power boat this December, will finish a 23' centerboarder this spring and a 48'er under construction all of the material from a bygone era. Now I may be from a bygone era, but my designs are brand new, so is the lumber (most of it)

    Welcome aboard Doug K, well try to keep the reamings to a minimum until you've gotten you feet good and wet here.
     
  8. betelgeuserdude
    Joined: Sep 2003
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    Location: Rainier, Oregon

    betelgeuserdude Junior Member

    The boat is over fifty years old. Obviously what worked for the last 50+ years would serve the boat well for the time that you own her. The reason that your topsides look so good is because of the white paint, which slows environmentally induced movement. The last thing I would do would be applying ANY epoxy or polyurethane paint. Get good old oil based enamel and treat the finish as a system; that is, follow the paint manufacturer's instructions, and use the specified thinners, primers, abrasives, and do so in the correct temperature range, etc...

    With respect to varnish, PAR is right on.

    The easiest way to maintain varnish is with a covered moorage.

    DC
     
  9. Kyle
    Joined: Mar 2004
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    Location: Tulsa Ok

    Kyle Junior Member

    I also agree with the masses about paint vs. bright. However, Par had made the comment about not using CPES in refering to it with other epoxies. CPES is actually a "breatheable" sealer. It is made from the lignun of trees. It keeps the moisture out while allowing water vapor to escape. It also creates an excellent adhesion promoter to just about anything, paint included, when used properly. With this in mind, If you step into the world of varnish you have just made a huge commitment. What you have time for now may not be the same three years from now.

    Another recource you might look into is the Antique and Classic boat society.
     

  10. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Nothing personal Kyle, but CEPS has a very limited range of uses. Some would have you believe it's cure all, but it was originally developed for restoring bad, rotted wood to reasonably new qualities, not for primer nor as a fix all to sealing problems encountered in the repair process.

    The stuff isn't as good a primer as many other real primers available, when the tests are done. As for an "adhesion promoter" it is of questionable reliablabity.

    Good surface prep is the only true "adhesion promoter" known and there aren't any short cuts. No coat of CEPS is going to cure your boat's ills without it.

    Varnish is a wonderful world and those of use who live in it are well aware of the problems. Let each learn in his/her own way and all will be well. I chartered my craft in the islands for a number of years. It was a large boat and had 60' masts all of which, from the water line to the mast head was bright. I found, as a live aboard and skipper for bone head use a reasonably fine way to keep the boat. I did cut costs and paint the topsides and cabin after a number of years, but because the other half was bitching about the costs that were a part of upkeep and business, not because it was too much trouble.

    Epoxy has it's place, but some boats are better served without the goo. Boats designed to "work" shouldn't have it anywhere near it. The design defeats the whole concept of epoxy.

    Epoxy only work on things that are kept reasonably still, even CPES . . .
     
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