Rough Elbows Page 2

Maintenance Q & A — June 2004
By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Rough Elbows
Part 2: Sealant choices, Teak cleaning tip
 More of this Feature
• Exhaust elbows, and more
• Teak cleaning tip, and more
• PMY Tries... Sea Hawk Paint Stripper

 Related Resources
• Maintenance Q&A Index

What type of sealant can I use for attaching wood trim to fiberglass? A.D., via e-mail
Of the three types of sealants used for marine applications—silicone, polysulfide, and polyurethane—polysulfide-based is probably best for this job. Silicone is flexible and will usually give if the area takes any kind of hit. It also does not have the bonding strength of the others. Polyurethane brands like 3M 5200 and Sikaflex 292 are known for their powerful bonding. If you’re looking to make a permanent fix, this is the stuff to use, but remember, once it’s done, it won’t come undone.

Polysulfide sealants have excellent adhesive qualities and tooling characteristics—the ability to be easily shaped during application and after curing—for your application. However, they are not as flexible as silicone sealants. And if your trim is subject to constant vibration, will be under stress, or needs to flex, you might want to try one of the weaker polyurethane products. 3M 4200 comes to mind, as does Boat Life’s Life Seal, which is a hybrid of silicone and polyurethane. It looks like a typical silicone-based sealant but has the holding power of the polyurethane products.

Whatever product you use, follow the directions carefully, paying special attention to ambient temperature, humidity, and cure times.

Do you have any suggestions for cleaning teak before oiling it? C.F., via e-mail
Cleaning it can be as simple as using mild, soapy water and a soft brush, followed by a freshwater rinse.

If the wood is particularly dirty—say, with mold and bacteria stains—or is oxidized and gray, you’ll most likely have to deep clean it with a commercial solution formulated for this task. If you do, try to do so no more than once a year, as these acid-based, caustic chemicals will often raise the grain. If that happens, you’ll have to break out the sander. Wear rubber gloves, protective eye wear, a long-sleeve shirt, and long pants, and protect all your gelcoat and painted or varnished surfaces from the runoff, which can not only damage them but also soften caulking compound and sealant.

Try powdered household detergent or a high-phosphate liquid. Sometimes mixing a quart of sudsy ammonia with a capful or two of the liquid detergent also works. You might have to use some extra elbow grease and may have to do it twice, but you just might get the job done without the hassle of harsh chemicals. Star brite offers a mild product called Sea Safe Teak Cleaner, and I’ve had good results with it.

Need help with a maintenance problem? Write to Maintenance Q & A, Power & Motoryacht, 260 Madison Ave., 8th Fl., New York, NY 10016. Fax: (917) 256-2282. e-mail: No phone calls, please.

Next page > PMY Tries... Sea Hawk Paint Stripper > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the May 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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