April 2002 — By Capt.
Fast and Fabulous
|Part 2: Start With Fresh, Bare Wood|
Becker starts with fresh, bare wood in most cases, so that’s where we’ll begin. Now chill just a tad–opting for such a late-in-the-game kickoff is not a whopping cop-out on my part. I’m fully aware that the removal of peeling, chipped, and/or flaky varnish from the surface of elderly wood comes close to zilch on the joy scale. And I’m also aware that proper varnish removal entails a Biblical time commitment. But hey–that’s the way it is. The only fast-forward type of advice I can pass along is try to get the brightwork off the boat before doing varnish removal. It’ll save lots of time and many dollars’ worth of 3M Fine Line tape. Then proceed in your garage or basement with a good grade of paste-type stripper like Interlux’s Interstrip, another time-saver. If removing the wood isn’t an option, go for the careful use of a heatgun and scraper in situ if your boat is painted or the stripper again if your boat has gelcoat, keeping in mind that it must be protected with oodles of solvent-resistant tape. The stuff’s expensive ($35 per roll the last time I looked), but worth it.
So with the wood bare, what’s the first step Becker recommends? Start sanding with a lightweight sanding block and 100-grit production-type sandpaper, going with the grain, of course. Then finish off with 150-grit sandpaper. Wipe away any dust with a good tack cloth–not one of those cheapies from the hardware store that’s wax-impregnated and leaves a sticky residue behind. Stop by a good chandlery and buy yourself a box of tacks from an outfit like Louis M. Gerson. They’re absorbent, not sticky.
Next step? After sucking up all the dust you can with your wet/dry vacuum, apply a layer of Pettit Super Dry Sealer with a china-bristle brush–a good one will cost $8 or so at your local hardware store. The object here is to simply lay the material on and let it soak in, not carefully brush it one way or the other. Once the sealer is dry, rough it up with a little more 150-grit production paper to give the varnish a surface to easily adhere to.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.