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Gizmo's Ocean Armor topsides & Pettit Hydrocoat Eco bottom, the testing begins

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Written by Ben Ellison on May 24, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Check out the evening gleam on Gizmo's flared bow. I think it's impressive for a gelcoat surface that's seen a lot of weather over 14 years and better yet, the pros who applied the "nano polymer wax replacement" were also impressed. There's more detail on the new coating called Ocean Armor Pro Maxi All Gloss further along in this entry and also my experience with an initial application of Pettit HydroCoat Eco bottom paint, which seems like another winner so far...


You may recall that I already conducted a three-year test of copper-free Interlux Pacifica Plus and it did pretty well. When Pettit claimed that their unique copper-free and water-based Hydrocoat Eco could do even better, I was of course interested but then got concerned that the remaining and still quite ablative Pacifica Plus would have to be removed. However, Pettit told me that any of their Hydrocoats can go over almost any other paint because the lack of normal solvents means that the old paint can't get kicked off again with possible troublesome effects like bubbling. In fact, they said that if Gizmo's new bottom coat wears off, the old Pacifica Plus will go back to work again. Wayfarer Marine painter Wes Ames did hit the old paint with a scrubby (old habits die hard), but the Hydrocoat Eco certainly went on without issues. Wes doesn't look happy in this photo -- who would when on your knees painting overhead? -- but he did enjoy the lack of solvent fumes (and only masked up to avoid splatter on his face). Note how rudder, prop, and even transducers are all getting anti-fouling paint...


I failed to take photos this time around, but want you to know that I'd already sprayed the prop and rudder with Pettit's "new" 1792 Prop Coat Barnacle Barrier. I'm qualifying "new" because Prop Coat is exactly the same as the 1792 Zinc Coat Barnacle Barrier that I've been using on at least the prop for years (May 2010 photo above). I'm glad for the slight name change, though, as I always worried a bit that it might cause some odd prop corrosion, even though it seemed to work pretty well. In fact, here's a photo showing a 1792-coated prop after 18 months versus a rudder I only coated with very ablative Pacifica Plus that apparently went away quickly in the prop wash. At any rate, Pettit assured me that Prop Coat is fine for props and that it would last even longer with a top coat of Hydrocoat Eco, which is exactly what I hope to test for the next 18 months. (They also advised me to shake the 1792 spray cans beyond normal during the two-coat application to avoid the dimply wear pattern that had been my only real objection to the product.)


I got a further sense of Hydrocoat Eco by doing a quickie bottom coat on Gizmo's summer tender. You can see that two long winters upside down in my yard had pretty much eliminated the Pacifica Plus I'd applied in May 2012, so I just washed the hull, taped and painted. I wasn't racing and was sidetracked a few times, but the photo records show that only two hours elapsed between the scene above and below...


I barely even stirred the Hydrocoat Eco and I applied it with a 4 inch disposable brush. It doesn't tend to separate, goes on very easily, covers well, dries fast, and doesn't smell a bit. It was even easy to wash my hands and the brush, and then, per instructions, I poured a little water in the remaining half gallon so it won't skim dry in storage. All told, about 1.5 gallons sufficed for a 10-foot tender and 37-foot powerboat with the latter getting an extra coat around the waterline. I also touched up a few spots where the white paint (great Epifanes Yacht Enamel) had chipped to the black gelcoat, but the yellowy scum marks that failed to wash off did succumb to a special gunk...


I learned about Davis FSR (Fiberglass Stain Remover) a year ago when dealing with the nasty and tenacious brown "moustache" that had accumulated on Gizmo's bow while running the tannin-rich ICW. It worked extremely well and was even easy to apply with a rag from a dinghy, though good rubber gloves are highly recommended. While some CruisersForum commenters report good results with less expensive household products, I still had enough FSR to whiten the tender "good enough" for the summer.


In retrospect, I wish the Wayfarer topsides crew had tried a little FSR on the tannin stains remaining near Gizmo's waterline, because that was the only area where they felt obliged to use a compound with a heavier cut than the sample Ocean Armor Pro Maxi Finishing Compound, which otherwise "seemed to take away the oxidization quickly and gave a great substrate to the 'wax'." My service manager, Doug Woodbury, also reported that Pro Maxi polymer All Gloss sealer "went on very well and seems to bring a very nice sheen to the gelcoat surface." I like how it looks, too, and 15.5 hours of labor to polish and "wax" Gizmo's topsides seems reasonable, but perhaps the highest accolade was when Doug asked me to put him in touch with Ocean Armor, which is a brand-new contender in a field full of decent boat maintenance products. Meanwhile, there are many other surfaces on Gizmo that might benefit if I actually try the Pro Maxi line myself, and I'll report here when I do.


So Gizmo isn't fully commissioned yet, but she's at least looking good up to the toe rail. But the schedule is long, like 18 months in the water if all goes well, and she will be flying flags before the weekend is over. Here's wishing all U.S. readers a great and boaty Memorial Day.


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