I'm considering restoring (or perhaps the word is: re-modeling, as this will be a fishing boat, instead of a "show-boat") an 18ft molded plywood runabout & the more that I've read the more that more that I wonder if I'll ever be able to do a "presentable job" on re-varnishing the hull.
(I asked this question on another forum & got nothing like an answer that encouraged me to even TRY a DIY varnishing project.)
What is the best varnish for molded plywood hulls that are exposed to salt-spray, hot Sun, 110+F degree temperatures, is reasonably durable & (hopefully) that a "rank amateur" has a chance of doing reasonably well?
(OR am I simply "biting more off than I can chew"?)
What would be accomplished in this world if we never tried something new? I boat primarily in fresh water and a bit in salt water when I visit my brother. He has two Boston Whalers with wood seating areas. For me it is a preference, but proper prep work on mohagany is the key to to a goood finish. I start out with Petits Sealer after I use the filler stain. I then dillute Interlux Captains Varnish with 25% thinner for my first two coats. I scuff ususally the first four coats with a 3M scuffing pad then usually start to sand with 320 grit after the fourth coat, paying special attention not to sand on the edges. You want the surface to have some tooth so the varnish will bond to each coated surface. It will be a rouch surface on the first few coats, but this gives you time to practice your brushing, how to keep a wet edge and learn to "map" the best way to varnish your intended surface. I like to hit the edges first with a light coating, then blend them into the surface to avoid the dreaded "Curtains and Runs". I constantly view the surface from different angles and heights to look for imperfections. Then you can lightly brush out problem areas before the varnish sets up. Then I leave it alone! You can always get it better on the next coat and you will have more expoerience at that point! (Remember, the better application you get on, the least amount of sanding and prep work on the following coat)
Now, back to the varnishes. I like the Captains as it flows nicely for me in my environment. I have tried Epiphanes and Iterlux Flagship, but just cannot get it to flow as well. I believe personally that the Ephiphanes and Flagshipit goes on thicker and have a greater UV protection, but it is all what you are used to.
I really enjoy the varnishing as it relaxing to me. Get in the mood, clean your surface well before starting and do not hurry the process!
Remember, you never know until you try!
(I know that I am leaving out some prep things to do, but feel free to contact me and I will walk you through it)
SaTx, I'm in the same boat as you. I last used spar varnish in 1965 and the end result was OK but not perfect. I recently picked up a good book on the subject: Brightwork, the art of finishing wood, by Rebecca J. Whittman. Available on Amazon, not expensive, and it's a good coffee table book as well as a basic guide to prep, tools, application, etc. Worth it just for the inspiration you'll get from the photos. Whittman does brightwork refinishing for a living. Also, I just posted a thread here about the subject and already got some great informative replies.
I think one of the challenges both you and I will face is dust. That wind kicks up a lot of it in our part of the world.
SATX, that is a great book. You will be amazing how much information that you will learn from her book. A lot of her book discusses working in marinas and outdoors like what you would be doing. You will enjoy this and I know you can do it!
It is very intimidating with a surface that big, but you can't hurt anything. It all comes to prep work and patience. Several light coats instead of one or two heavy ones. It will turn out just fine. Every time you do it you will get better at it. If you do end up with runs or other rough spots, just lightly sand it smooth and put on another coat. The first coats I have been using a foam brush and just throw it away when you are done. The final coats, buy a good grade varnish brush and make sure you clean it good after each use. You can't screw it up beyond repair. Good luck and don't be afraid to ask questions here. That is why we all make the big bucks on this site - because of our extreme knowledge!!!! LOL
YEP, the BIG Holmes, which I'm told was called the OPEN GULF FISHERMAN 18.
It would probably be adequate with a 35HP BIG-TWIN, but as you/I have both discussed, it will MOVE with a PAIR of 35 Johnsons And would probably troll nicely, with one throttled down to idle.
(A person who knows these hulls told me that some 18ft Holmes plywood boats were rigged-out with a pair of 1957 Mercury Mark 78E, but I think that 120HP is WAY too much HP for a <300 pound hull.)
Al, your comment about using a foam brush is a good one. I use the foam brush when doing very small pieces. For large projects, I use a regular Badger hair or china bristle brush. I invested in a brush holder. I usually clean my brushes in xylol as it is a bit hotter and cleans the brushes. I save my cottage cheese containers for cleaning the brushes in. I also have a brush wringer. After soaking and cleaning in the xylol, I attach it to wringer and spin out the brush in the garbage can and then hang the brush in the brush holder container that I fill it with Diesel Fuel and hang all of my brushes for long term storage. I prefer to use brushes on large surface areas such as hulls. By using a good China Bristle of badger hair brush, it puts the varnish on a bit thicker and give you a more uniform coat.
I just varnished the deck of an Aristocraft Torpedo that I am finishing. I was planning on doing the whole boat, but I was runninga bit short on varnish. I think I get a better job when I split the varnishing in smaller areas. Deck one night, hullsides the next night. I just mask it off at the gunnel rail.
Great info both in this thread and the one in the main forum on the subject "Spar Varnish-what's your preference?".
www.fiberglassics.com/glassic-forums/home/main-forum/spar-varnish-what-s-your-preference Thank you for sharing your input gang, many of us with less experience find it priceless! Properly finished wood work has always been a treat to the eye IMHO. Be it just a few pieces of accent trim or the entire boat, maybe it's just a carryover from my meager wood working background from previous hobby's?
(I may ask to have a compilation of the two threads posted in the Research/Restoration area of the site.)
I've discovered that book & ordered it through ILL at SAPL.
SATX, I've got to get you to send me a decoder sheet to translate!
a few personal comments:
1. I'm lucky to have had someone find/save the Gulf Fisherman 18, which was one of "the class saltwater fishing boats" of my childhood.
2. The hull is in reasonably sound condition, less the windshield frame & forward deck.
3. The Gulf Fisherman came essentially "bare" & I found out today that the Holmes was "routinely trimmed out" to suit the customer, so one need NOT be too concerned about interior "originality".
4. "Tall Texan" found a set of photographs of a restored 1957 Holmes Open Fisherman, which is BEAUTIFUL.
5. We members of FG are LUCKY to have so many HELPFUL & KNOWLEDGEABLE members, who actually offer help to other members.
This was the boat that I honed my skills on. It was a boat that my father built in 1959 from a kit using a hull from U. S. Molded Plywood. I got the boat in about 1980 and had to learn to strip, bleach, stain and varnish the deck. For a 16 ft boat it had a lot of varnish. My skill definitely improved every year after that first experience. With practice and sites like this it gets easier every time.
It was a great little boat. I got 11 years out of it before rot at the base of the transom took over. Being a molded hull,it was beyond my skill set at that time to repair it. It sat with water in it for a couple years before I got it. My dad sold it to the son of a friend after the original motor threw a rod. So there it sat, half covered for a couple years until the guy realized he wasn't going to do anything with it. He called an asked if I knew anyone that wanted it. I went and picked it up thinking I could at least salvage what I could, such as hardware and the glass windshield. Once I got it home and started digging into it I decided it was usable. I spent a couple months on the boat and found a power head for the motor and the rest is history - I was hooked. Half of the bow hangs on the wall behind the bar in my basement, and the bar top is made from other parts including the part with name painted on it.
Last night I tried Petits Flagship Varnish for the second time. First time I was not amused! LOL. I have been working on some bulkheads with doors for my Buehler and am in the process of varnishing an Aristocraft Torpedo that is a reproduction from the original factory plans by the Turner family in Apharetta, Georgia. I had done the deck with the last of Petits Captains 1015 which I really like and have decent results. I was relaxed, had the surface sanded really flat (8th coat) and surface really clean. I added a small amount of mineral spirits which I probably didn't need to do as it flowed very nicely. I was extrememely careful to have my brush thoroughly cleaned. When I arrived the furnace was set at 60 degrees, a bit cool, so I kicked it up to 70 while I prepped and readied the hull. It really flowed nicely and I was thrilled with the results when I went back to check it this morning. It is supposed to have better UV protective qualities than that of the Captains. For the next coat, when using a previously opened can of varnish, I was told to add a small amount of mineral spirits to make it flow better. I also pour the varnish through a strainer and use clean old cottage cheese containers for my varnish pot. I seem to learn every time I do this....