Varnishes - oh no, not again!!

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Garry R
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Post by Garry R » Mon Mar 07, 2005 12:44 pm

Merlin 111 - Planning ahead (not to mention saving up the pennies!) I would like to weigh up what to use on the latest dinghy when it comes to varnishing the outside of the hull. Remember she is clinker on ribs. I was thinking about UCP sealer (couple of coats to get a base down) then International Schooner or the like. Anyone got any real favourites for this type of boat? I have been told that polyurethane may not be the best idea for the hull as it might crack when the boat takes up, however, would it be a good idea for the decks where there is inevitably a good deal or wear and tear. Any help appreciated. As a matter of update I have now got all the new ribs into her and the starboard deck framing renewed. Now to wheel her out and turn her round to get at the other side. Then flip her upside down and greet a whole new range of horrors no doubt.

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Post by Rupert » Mon Mar 07, 2005 1:16 pm

I confess, I go to the local DIY place and buy Blackfriars yacht varnish. On new wood I will use UCP or blakes wood seal first, but on old wood where I can't be sure I've got all the varnish out, I put 2-3 coats of 50% thinned varnish on first. I did this 13 years ago on saskia, and I'm just re-doing her now, having just put the odd coat on over the years, and left her rather a lot.
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Ed
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Post by Ed » Mon Mar 07, 2005 3:06 pm

Garry,

As I know I have suggested in the past....I am a real fan of UCP or Blakes WoodSeal....but it sometimes seems to me like every boat needs a different approach to varnishing.

For a hull that is not likely to move too much I still say go the UCP/woodseal way...so its fine for any glued boat, especially moulded hulls and glued ply such as a firefly or a glued ply Merlin...but I am not sure about a proper wood-clinker boat. It most probably depends on how tight the lands are, but UCP/Woodseal are great BECAUSE they are so hard....and I am not sure this is best approach for old clinker hulls.

Imagine if you have a slightly dry boat....and the lands are just a little seperated.... You put on Woodseal and that soaks into the cracks...but goes hard. When the boat goes into water and starts to move, the woodseal will crack and water will get into wood (which is what you want it to do so it can swell and seal the cracks). Problem is now the wood can't swell back properly because of the hard Woodseal. This can really damage the wood and make it really quite hard to get the boat water-tight.

So it my opinion....traditional building needs traditonal varnishing... I would go for a 'soft' type varnish and dilute quite a bit and slop it on. Don't leave too long before you put boat in water and then hopefully the varnish will still be soft enough to give a bit when the wood swells.

Some people have been known to put a bit of boiled linseed in the first coats that go between lands as they never really set properly.

So what varnishes? Any tranditional Tung Oil or Alkyd should be OK but not anything new or fancy....certainly no polyurethane. Quite a few mates have suggested that Tonkin Oil is really good for this as it is half way towards a boat oil of the Deks Olya type and is very soft indeed. Don't know.....but have just ordered 5litres for the Tideway so will report back.

Hope this helps

eib
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Garry R
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Post by Garry R » Mon Mar 07, 2005 3:17 pm

Thanks for those comments. I came across some very cheap "Yacht Varnish" see link - and wondered if it would be any good.

http://www.decoratingdirect.co.uk/viewprod/t/TORYV/

Ed - where did you buy the Tonkin varnish - I am sure that you shopped around to get the best deal! I did a search for Tonkin varnish on Google but drew a blank - perhaps there was a typo. I do like the idea of soft varnish moulding to the shape of the lands on swelling. What about the decks - would the harder varnish be good for those do you think?

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Post by Ed » Mon Mar 07, 2005 4:29 pm

Gosh....yes that is cheap!

And who knows....it could quite likely be just fine....at that price it might be worth doing some tests.

I still think that there are more problems derived from bad application and bad upkeep than there is from bad varnish. But it does depend on what your expectations are.

Varnishing is funny thing....what is fine for one person is crap for others....some find colour particularly important....others the surface....or lack of bubbles. Strength....and Longevity...they all vary a bit.

I know some very fussy varnishers who claim to only use a particular varnish....but I am afraid I tend to use what I think will be best and what I can afford...or what the boat is worth.

I do sometimes think that there is a fair bit of old baloney talked about.

I was talking to someone a while ago...maybe a blakes salesman....and they were saying how for a while now the quality difference between 'boat' quality paints and varnishes had been eroded by 'house' quality paints and varnishes having got so much better in last 20years or so.

Certainly this is my experience with paints....and if you are half as fed up as I am with the lousy selection of colours provided by International and Blakes and the fact that neither has the imagination to provide a colour any different to the other....you too will have gone over to using best quality professional 'house' paints. I havn't regretted it yet. I still use 'boat' quality undercoats.....but always use dulux topcoats.

So is this the case with varnish? I don't know....but I do rather suspect that it is the case. And there is Rupert happily using Blackfriars varnish with no problems for 12 years (providing it is topped up of course).

There are some cheap varnished out there....what about SeaJet Varnish....that is even a 'boat' varnish but is much cheaper, especially if bought in a big can.

As a matter of interest, you might like to buy the latest copy of Classic Boat that has a long-term report on Varnishes, stains and oils.

They might have also have a supplier for Tonkin oil.

Strange stuff Tonkin Oil.....used to be sold by a guy going around the boat jumbles....it was really cheap and we all thought it was a bit naff. Then I didn't see it for a bit...and then when it returned, it was suddenly rather expensive but being sold as a 'superior' product. It is supposed to be good ....but I do think there is a lot in the marketing.

I ordered my 5 litres through a friend who wanted to buy 20litres cos it gets a bit cheaper then. I think I am paying 50 or 55 quid for that, but I suspect it is quite a bit more expensive buying it by the litre.

If you want me to find address I will do so.....but I am sure that there is a web-site for them. But again strongly suspect details are in Classic Boat.

cheers

eib
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neil
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Post by neil » Mon Mar 07, 2005 9:30 pm

the English le tonkinois site is at http://www.letonkinois.com/images/e_text.htm

one seller is at http://www.tradboats.com/paint.html
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Alan Price
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Post by Alan Price » Mon Mar 07, 2005 10:33 pm

DULL CHOICE OF COLOURS.....Be aware that house paints, even premium quality ones, are just not as hard or tough as marine enamels.No good at all if you race your pride and joy.
However, a small amount of a vivid coloured house paint can be added to a can of White marine enamel to produce something different! It wo'nt upset the enamel's resistance to knocks and bangs.There must be lots of other combinations too.

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Post by Rupert » Mon Mar 07, 2005 11:05 pm

I've done this. Make sure you have enough spare for touch ups!
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Post by Ed » Tue Mar 08, 2005 1:24 am

Well that is what they say!

But honestly I think that some high quality house paints are now getting very tough indeed....and possibly almost as tough as a marine paint. First time I used a Dulux exterior gloss was for a merlin which I sailed at Baltic Wharf and anyone who has visited will know that this is simply one of the nastiest places ever discovered for your paintwork. The pontoons have no rubber or tyres on the outside....and screwheads standing proud of woodwork on the running edges. The pontoons are held down with chanes over the outside of the pontoon. Every bank is a concrete harbour wall. The harbour puts the highest number of school children on the water of any training establishment. The dinghy park is so tight for space, that you are lucky to be able to walk around your boat. Nothing is tied down and the harbour master reserves the right (and uses it) to move boats when ever they see fit. On top of that you can get starts with 15 boats with winds that although more consistent that Shearwater still mainly come directly down on you from above.

No boat I ever had there was able to survive a complete season without a number of bonks scratches and knocks. Marine enamel did not stand much chance......but to be honest I really did not notice that the Dulux was any worse. But maybe it was the bright purple that was especially strong :-) Oh I do also think that the quality of the undercoat is most probably more important to strength than the topcoat....and so far I have always used marine undercoat.

Oh and I have tried adding house paints to white marine enamel, but personally found that I had to add so much of the new colour to get anything that would not look out of place in a 'gently white' catalogue, that I thought what's the point....which come to think of it was why I ended up with a purple hull in the first place.

You can also mix....but it is really hard to get anything that you want....and costs a fortune.

But am certainly interested to hear if anybody else has had experiences....good or bad from using non-marine paints on hulls.

cheers

eib
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Stephen Hill
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Post by Stephen Hill » Tue Mar 08, 2005 9:48 am

There is a thread about paint on the Merlin forum at the moment. Somebody has suggested car paint could be used for hulls. Has anybody had any experience of using this?

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Post by stu » Tue Mar 08, 2005 10:14 am

I once had a fireball that had been sprayed with car paint. It looked great and seemed to be very strong. I never had any complaints. I believe this is quite a common practice. I don't, however, know what the plus and minus points are? I would be interested to find out though............;)
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Ed
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Post by Ed » Tue Mar 08, 2005 11:48 am

Yes, many of the modern wooden merlins are painted with car paint.....there are even some metalic ones. they look great! I can't remember the names of the guys who do dinghy finishing in the midlands and also build 'ents'....mmmmmm....is it paintcraft....they do lots of spraying with car paint and I have heard them much admired

Car paint is really tough, but it is also very hard to fix/patch/repair. It is also pretty brittle, think about how easy it is to get crackle even on old plastic cars (Jensen,corvette, elan etc) so it will only really work on very stable hulls. So best on hulls that are built with epoxy and most probably have an undercoat/primer of epoxy for the paint to sit.

Of course you have to spray it which does not make it easier. there are two real problems as far as I am aware....you either use the two packs which use iso-cyanates to set them....which is really a bit dodgy unless you have full head-masks (the type that provide external filtered air).....or you use one of the older enamel type paints, but then you need to really bake them on to get the full strength. this isn't a big issue....you don't need lots of heat and can build an 'oven' with large cardboard packing cases and a couple of electric fans (and mucho care). There are instructions on doing this for use when building epoxy-foam hulls somewhere on the internet. As I said it isn't a lot of heat and you could most probably get much the same by putting a black tarp over the boat (once it has dried of course) and leaving in the mid-summer, mid-day sun for a couple of hours. never tried it though.

I like an easy life.....it's down to B&Q for me with a swatch card for some wild colour!

Anybody on the list regularly spraying paint of varnish? Have done it....but found it hard work and would love to hear some tips from someone who has done it a few times and reckons they have it sussed.

cheers

eib
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Post by nick clibborn » Tue Mar 08, 2005 7:07 pm

I'm surprised the Merlin Forum is debating car paints. All Guy Winder's wooden Merlins - going back to the late 70's - were painted after hours in the spray shop of the car dealer behind which his boat building shop was situated. I had an Omega hulled Merlin spray varnished by Guy's people in 1981, excellent job. It's still around now, and looks very good.

I also had a Lark spray painted at the Opel dealer in Bolton, in about 1978. As I recall it was a very good finish, and the painters enjoyed doing something different.

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Post by Trevor C » Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:04 pm

I am in the middle of working on my late 1950's Albacore. I am using le tonkinois varnish and am very pleased with the finish. The minor problems are down to me, ie too cold to apply plus too much applied. At least the hull doesn't show as much as the deck, which I should start next week.

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neil
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Post by neil » Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:36 pm

Hi Trevor

I had cold problems with Le Tonkinois. It started going on like treacle - easily sorted by decantimg into smamll bottles (have to do this as otherwise it will skin in the tin) and putting the bottle in hot water. If you have any left in the bottle, squeeze the air out to stop it skinning.

This makes it very thin and very easy to apply. The suggestion from a mate of mine who has done the inside of his Dragon is 8 coats with a sand down after the first 3/4 coats
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