View Full Version : Red Lead, what's the latest??
03-22-2010, 07:38 PM
I amy getting ready to frame and make new structural members for my boat, and want to make the right decision on what gets red lead and what doesn't. Or if there is a less toxic to the environs substitute, what is it.
From what I am reading you want to paint the caulking with RL below the WL (what about above the WL?). Apparently some people think you don't need to primer the planks under the bottom paint? What about stems, frames, floor timbers, should these be painted with RL or another type of primer? Ed McClave seems to you an iron oxide primer from Kirby? I see a lot of restoration photos where RL seems to be used for these parts. Is it the best choice?
03-22-2010, 11:03 PM
All faying surfaces, and bilge/framing that will not touched routinely.
You say "my boat" -- more info on what you are doing, and fewer questions so we don't have to pick and choose.
Our kind hosts have a great book that covers many different parts of planking and framing, including red lead use.
03-22-2010, 11:41 PM
dont mess about,get a crop spraying plane
03-23-2010, 07:21 AM
Herreshoff 12 1/2 is the boat. I have red lead primer, and was going to primer all of the new frames and stem, and keel plank and floor timbers. My real questions are: is red lead going to stop any type of wood eating pests any more than another primer that may be more human friendly? Or do I have to worry about the human friendly part at all since everything will be painted over with three or more coats of paint and should never be sanded back down to the primer for future repainting anyway?
03-23-2010, 07:29 AM
Yes, which along with red lead's superior priming qualities is why it is still used despite environmental concerns.
No, but you can't really rely on not having to wood the boat at some later date / another owner. Paint can also be nicked or damaged in such a way to expose the red lead, so you may not want to use it on cabin hatch frames or areas routinely touched by bare hands.
03-23-2010, 07:30 AM
I'm not sure of the cost-benefit comparison and I am sure that at least for application this requires more precautions but:
CPES instead of lead.
You use less lead, since it's mainly for goobering on end-grain and under anything you can't reach later - faying surfaces. But it does not prevent rot to any great extent except exactly on the cells it's touching.
Lead can be used, so far as I know, on all pressure treated wood. Thing is, pressure treated is it's own hazard - way under-reported - in handling and shaping and toxic dust disposal.
So, my opinion, painting surfaces with CPES before they are buried by new things and then priming the whole inside and out before installing cabin furniture or caulking and finishing will do far more to thwart rot than any other treatment and the hazards are at well defined and controlable points in construction.
03-23-2010, 10:50 AM
Since CPES is an epoxy thinned or whatever, doesn't it have the same potentialproblems bonding with white oak?
If I use the red lead, it would be for the structural members low in the boat only (stem, frame, floors, transom knee, keel plank). The only exposure I see will be in repairs or repainting, were precautions can be taken if you know what you are dealing with. However if this Pen-Rust that Ed McClave uses can do the same thing maybe its worth considering.
03-23-2010, 11:14 AM
okay I just spoke with Kirby Paints about the iron oxide primer McClave uses. Good primer, costs less than 1/4 the price of red lead, no bio-toxic ingredients for the little buggers to choke on.
Since I have all the ingredients for red lead, and it was the traditonal primer used on these boats, and it is all going to be covered with coats of non-lead beased paint, I should be okay if I take the proper precautions mixing it up and applying it, and cleaning up.
We'll just have to be careful if we ever have to take it back to bare wood on those surfaces.
03-23-2010, 01:36 PM
Please... while I agree with Ian that CPES is likely to provide better resistance to fungal deterioration, red lead is NOT "harmful to the environment." Lead IS THE ENVIRONMENT. It's a naturally occurring element. Welcome to planet earth!
Once upon a time, various lead OXIDES were used in most all oil based paints. It was what made white paint white and "red" lead paint orange. (Iron oxide is rust. Lead oxide is oxidized or "rusted" lead.) Lead will not hurt you, unless it's in the form of a bullet. However, if you EAT lead, the acids in your stomach will oxidize the lead and it will find its way into your body where it can cause all sorts of illnesses, including brain damage. This requires that you eat a fair amount of it, however. The concerns about lead paint really stem from the effects of eating lead oxide by children, who, having smaller bodies, have less tolerance to exposure. Apparently, some say kids enjoyed teething on lead painted crib rails and ate dirt next to houses where lead paint had chalked and washed off the walls into the dirt, causing them to become stupid. Having never eaten much dirt as a child, I guess I had to wait until I was old enough to drink to start really doing damage to my brain cells. In fact, the apparent increase in overall stupidity of the general public since the ban on lead based paints doesn't support the proposition that banning lead paint was going to do anybody any good.
So, don't eat a lot of lead based paint and you will be just fine. Actually, I would think that PROLONGED exposure to solvents in stuff like CPES would probably be more harmful to you than prolonged and substantial exposure to things like lead oxide ingestion. If you handle it in powder form, or sand lead based paint, wear a good respirator and clean up well. No harm should come to you.
A lot of the materials, coatings especially, that are used in traditional boat building are "harmful to the environment" for good reason. There are organisms out there that we WANT to KILL so our boats will last longer. SOAP kills bacteria, too. If you are bothered by this, you might want to consider another hobby.
Too many people spend too much time dithering over the environment. Keep it up and traditional boats will themselves be legislated out of existence. It's one thing to prohibit a sewage treatment plant from dumping effluent into the water, and quite another thing entirely to outlaw bottom paint that works and stuff like that. We need a little balance here!
Now, back to the subject of red lead versus penetrating epoxy sealers. Coatings applied on top of one another have to be compatible. For instance, if you soak a boat in raw linseed oil to stabilize the wood, a proven traditional technique, you can paint over the oiled wood with red lead or any other oil based paint. Wood that is treated with oil CANNOT be glued together with epoxy nor will CPES penetrate the oiled wood. Epoxy adhesives and sealers have to be applied to bare wood. You can, however, apply oil based paint on top of CPES and it will adhere very well, which is why CPES is such a valuable sealer. CPES won't cause wood to take up like raw linseed oil will, though. (I guess it might if you put enough of it on, but nobody's going to do that at the cost of the stuff. CPES would probably start curing before it was completely absorbed, unlike raw linseed oil, with takes a couple of weeks to cure.) For this reason, it is probably a better bet to soak a small clinker built boat in linseed oil than to seal it with CPES. Pick your poison, as they say.
03-23-2010, 01:50 PM
So nice to hear rational words concerning a much miss alligned product!
I once spent a couple of hours talking with two public-health nurses who were the New Jersey health department's specialists for lead poisoning. From what they told me, in twenty-some years on the job they saw two principal causes of lead poisoning: 1) Kids eating chips of lead. Lead is sweet, to the point that lead acetate's common name is "lead sugar." Kids like sweet stuff. 2) Kids that lived in houses near busy traffic intersections, in the old days of leaded gas.
The fact remains that lead is on our societies list of evil substances, which makes it expensive. I wish it weren't, and it irritates me, but neither irritation nor wishing makes the price go down. Also, in Maine there are some new regulations that I'm told make users of red lead subject to legal hassling.
The paint I use now is Pettit "Rust-Lok," which is a bizarre silver urethane paint. It penetrates like crazy, seals very well, is probably just as toxic as red lead, and is a pain in the neck to deal with. But it's a lot cheaper.
The nice thing about lead was that at the end of the day you could stick the brush into the paint, pour an inch of water on top of the paint, and leave it like that. Next day, or next month, it would be fine and ready to work. In contrast, Rust-Lok will harden once the lid is off, and I have never figured out a way to stop it. So don't buy a gallon can unless you're going to use it all at once.
03-28-2010, 08:15 AM
Regarding SEO's comments about Pettit Rustlok: This remarkable paint (I have no connection with Pettit) does have amazing penetration and perhaps will prove out over time to have rot inhibiting properties, too. I have used it on planking and ribs inside the boat after seeing that this paint was being used in similar application on new vessel being built at Brooklin Boat Yard.
The penetration seems to be due to the use of Xylene as the carrier and it simply zooms into new wood. The use of it as a preservative/primer for wood is recent, so long term benefits yet unproven.
The original intended use of Rustlok was, of course, for metal parts, galvanized steel mainly, where it works like a miracle of sorts. Two years ago I painted 15 year old galvanized deck fittings that were showing some wear and early rust and so far they continue to look perfect - as if just hot dipped. But don't let the metal usefulness lead you to think it couldn't be good for wood, too.
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