Hull stripping and refinishing

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Hull stripping and refinishing

Postby badgley » Thu Jul 05, 2018 10:25 am

I don't know if the cartoonishly large orange and brown vinyl stripes and logos - plus the multiple sloppy coats of different shades of turquoise bottom paint - plus the old name in large red and green vinyl letters that looked like they were hand cut by an elementary school art class - would have been enough to get me to tackle this project. Sure enough, when we got our boat she had a face only a mother could love. And the few times we took her out with her original brown and yellow striped mainsail on top of all that, she was a sight to behold. But regardless, the mess that said bottom paint made of anything that touched it during trailering, launching and recovery was too much to put up with. So, this spring I decided to strip and refinish the hull. Based on a lot of web research I got two general impressions of what to expect: 1) this is totally possible as a DIY project and 2) it's pretty much the worst job imaginable and you're an idiot if you don't just pay a pro to do it. It turns out they were both right, so I thought it might be helpful to document what I learned and what worked just in case someone else is stupid enough to consider this.

After a lot of reading, I decided on a chemical stripper and to use a one part polyurethane primer and paint. I used Interlux Brightsides because I had used it in the past and I was familiar with it. I think the two part paints are more durable, but I wasn't convinced they were enough of an improvement to justify the increase in price and headache of application. So, first on the list was to launch her into the yard (I used hay bales) and take a heat gun to all of the vinyl mess. That turned out to work pretty well as long as you didn't heat it too long where it starts to melt and become sticky goo that just spreads around more. You learn the trick pretty quickly with trial and error. I planned for washing and sanding to take care of the remaining residue.

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Next was the stripper. I used Multi-strip by Back to Nature/Sunnyside. They do make an "AquaStrip", but I couldn't get that locally and a call to the company said either would work fine. So I'm not sure what the difference is other than packaging for the marine price markup... but there you go. Regardless, it didn't take off anywhere near 15 coats or whatever ridiculous number they claim, so the key is either multiple applications or a single application that doesn't dry out and stays on a long time. After miserable failures trying to work with plastic wrap in the wind to keep an overnight application from drying out, I decided that multiple thin coats worked much better. I used a kind of conveyor belt approach along the hull: apply it to a patch, then move to the next, then the next, until you get to the end of the hull. Then go back, scrape the first one, reapply stripper to it, then move to the next one, strip, reapply, repeat, etc. And just keep going until it all comes off. Eventually, you get to the stuff that's embedded in the original gouging/abrading that they do when they apply bottom paint, which you can't scrape. So I left that for sanding. But at least it was MUCH less generation of toxic copper laden dust than if I had sanded it all off.

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Next was sanding. This was liberal use of 120 grit on a random orbital sander (please, for the love of all that's holy, use a real respirator and not those dumb white circular "painter's masks" for a job like this). I took this down until only the deepest gouges were left. I was afraid complete gelcoat removal would be required to make those go away and the vast majority of the hull surface was clean gelcoat for good bonding of primer.

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Next was a water wash and then an alcohol rub to remove sanding dust and then single coat of the Interlux PreKote primer. This is a high build scratch filling primer to get the hull as smooth as possible.

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Next was sanding with 120 then 220 grit, followed by an alcohol wash again, then the first coat of the topside paint. I used the roll and tip method with the thin yellow foam rollers and black foam disposable brushes. You can read about it all over the web - Chesapeake Light Craft has some great articles about painting with these products if you search their website. Overall, it took three coats of Dark Blue to cover completely on top of the gray primer. In between each coat I did a 400 grit wet sand by hand (mostly to knock the stupid gnats out that managed to get themselves stuck in the last coat) and then a water rinse and alcohol wash. Overall, I'm thrilled with the outcome. Does she look like she belongs in the Herreshoff Museum? Well no, of course not - I'm an amateur and painted her with a roller in my back yard. Does she look 1000x better than she did and better than 90% of all the other boats out there with 30 years of chalky gel coat? Yes, she does, if I do say so myself.

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Overall, however, this was NOT a small job, even on such a small boat. All that sanding, washing, and re-coating takes time, especially if you're working outside and have to wait on weather. Plus, I had to do one side at a time as I tipped her back and forth to get at each side. And, while the recoat times are only ~24 hr, I called interlux and they recommended 7-10 days before resting her on her freshly painted bottom or dragging her back onto the trailer. That added a lot of down time and overall I'd say the project easily took a month or a little more. And, at the end of the day, there really is nothing more miserable than laying on your back in the muddy grass with gnats buzzing all around your face while you hold a violently vibrating sander over your head and listen to it echo through the hull for long periods of time, all of the while being coated in sanding dust. However, if you're willing to put up with all of this, you can definitely have a Day Sailer that looks considerably younger than it probably actually is!

Overall, I'd say total costs were around $250 with:
Stripper - $60
paint and primer - $120
expendable supplies like alcohol, brushes and rollers, sanding discs, etc - maybe about $75; I don't remember exactly...

Now I just need to clean up the deck and cockpit, but at least I can do that on the trailer in between sails.
Brian Badgley
1982 DS II #10911 EGRETTA
Blacksburg, VA, USA
badgley
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2017 11:33 am
Location: Blacksburg, VA

Re: Hull stripping and refinishing

Postby GreenLake » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:02 pm

Very nice. Let us know how the Brightside is doing after some seasons. Do you sail it "dry"?
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 3:54 am

Re: Hull stripping and refinishing

Postby Alan » Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:42 pm

Wow. Really, really nice. I'd be strutting a bit, if that were my boat.

This gives me hope. At the moment, I have a can of dark blue Pettit EZ-Poxy, a tomato-orange boat, and a dream. Oh yeah, and a lot of painting experiments on a spare centerboard someone gave me, with different brands and colors. And no spare time until September, but at least in California, it'll probably still be painting weather.

It could be worse - spare time between now and September is taken up with canoe and kayak adventures - but in the meantime it's nice to know that it's possible to get such nice results without paying a professional.
Alan
 
Posts: 704
Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:39 pm

Re: Hull stripping and refinishing

Postby badgley » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:26 am

Thanks guys - yeah I'm curious to see how it holds up too, and yes it stays on a trailer. I had nightmares of watching it all scrape off the first time I pulled it up on the trailer... However I don't even see scuff marks on the hull after the first few launches, and it's already taken a few hard dings from the motor or a turnbuckle with minimal to no scratching. So while I'm sure it's not as durable as gelcoat or two-part paint, I'm impressed so far. And I've been impressed on my kayaks and canoe that I've used it on in the past, which get dragged all over the place.

Plus, with one part paint, touching up anything really bad is about a 10 minute job, which is nice. Alan, if you dive in, let me know how it goes. Between Petit, Epifanes, and Interlux, I can basically find different websites that say each of those is wonderful and the other two are crap... so like I said I just chose the interlux because I was familiar with it, but they probably all performa bout the same. I think the key is that it goes on very thin - it almost looks and feels like painting with liquid plastic, which I guess it is. So as long as you have the patience to not try to make it cover any faster than it wants to, in which case it will sag horribly (I had to sand down a few of those) you'll be pretty pleased I think. I will say, if you don't have bottom paint to strip, this job would be MUCH much easier. Just wash, do a light sand with 120 to give you some bonding surface, and go straight to primer.
Brian Badgley
1982 DS II #10911 EGRETTA
Blacksburg, VA, USA
badgley
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2017 11:33 am
Location: Blacksburg, VA

Re: Hull stripping and refinishing

Postby GreenLake » Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:54 pm

@Alan. EasyPoxy works really well - it takes a bit to fully harden, I found, but when it does, it is quite durable. I've used it on my transom and rudder. I've also used some leftovers on the bottom of some kitchen drawers and the paint hold up better than the factory applied coating, despite heavy use.

I'm not sure I have mastered the perfect application technique for it, yet. So practicing on some smaller items like rudders. centerboards etc. sounds like the way to go before you tackle a hull or deck.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
GreenLake
 
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Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 3:54 am


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