View Full Version : how best to remove epoxy from 100 yr old skiff

10-18-2000, 01:39 PM
I have a very old St. Lawrence River Skiff, probably built around 1900 and one of its previous owners applied epoxy to the interior. It is particularly thick in the bottom of the boat where it must have collected due to gravity during application. I am trying to decide how to remove this, or if I should. I would welcome any suggestions about how to proceed. Thanks.

Ian McColgin
10-18-2000, 02:32 PM
The horror. The horror.

This kind of thing could give us epoxy addicts a bad name.

Believe it or not, try a chissel, well sharpened and carefully wielded, to get the worste off before grinding the rest. This may seem a bit like being able to lay the hawser on a varnished deck, the rigger's knife on the hawser, and swat with a weighted fid to make a clean cut but no score in the varnish, but it's considerably easier. You'll soon get the hang of both a shallow angle of attack and how not to burst or pry into the wood.

Up further, get the best dust mask in the world and grind away.

This job will reward the best tools and some purpose built attachments. A Fein random orbit grinder will be your best friend - regular grinders take a lot of muscle and finess to control in tight places - and whatever grinder, be willing to cut down both sanding discs and the pad to fit the planking and space you're working in.

Be sure to suit up like a biohazard tech - the stuff's seriously itchey and very bad for the lungs.


Keith Wilson
10-18-2000, 02:55 PM
I'd try an electric heat gun and scraper, with a good filter mask. Epoxy softens quite a lot when heated, and you should be able to get a lot off this way without the risk of damaging the wood much, and without generating much dust. I've had very good luck getting off hardened drips and runs, some really large, by using heat. I've found the "Pro-Prep" scraper (sold by the WB store, among others) really good for this kind of work

OTOH, if you just want to use the boat and aren't trying to do a really authentic restoration, it won't cause the boat any more harm to leave the epoxy on; the damage has already been done. It will be stored out of the water when not in use, yes? If so, there's no real urgency.

Chuck Gullage
10-18-2000, 04:49 PM
Ian & Keith thanks for the information. I will probably go the heat route since I have those tools already and don't like the idea of all that dust. But should I find it just too gross a process what would you say about painting over the glue? Would I just need to sand it a bit and slap some paint on? Any other prep work needed?
Thanks so much.

Keith Wilson
10-18-2000, 05:07 PM
The only problem that I can see is that some epoxys have a wierd reaction with ordinary oil-based paint that makes it dry v e r y s l o w l y. This seems to be worse with relatively fresh epoxy, so you may be OK

I have had good luck using a water-based house paint primer (Zissner "Bullseye") over epoxy and then covering this with standard marine enamel, but some think this is pretty barbaric. You might sand moderately, wipe it down, and try a little paint on a small inconspicuous section and see what happens.

Chuck Gullage
10-18-2000, 07:19 PM
Ross Faneuf masquerading as someone else again (sigh).

Your best bet for painting is get get the brochure from the the paint manufacturer, or call their technical support people, and ask what do.

I've had excellent luck with Interlux painting systems. Their recommendation to me for painting over epoxy was to apply 2 coats of 404 epoxy barrier coat, followed by any paint I liked (my boat uses Brightside, but ordinary yacht enamel would be more appropriate for you). The important point is to find an interface paint which will adhere to the epoxy and act as a good primer for whatever paint you want to use. I emphasize that paint manufacturer's are often really helpful

[This message has been edited by seagull (edited 10-18-2000).]

10-18-2000, 08:28 PM
you might want to try citrus strip. it worked really well on getting epoxy off my boat. you just have to let it sit there overnight. it came right off my boat. the stuff smells great too kind of like tang!
good luck,

10-18-2000, 09:58 PM
What is citrus strip?

"you might want to try citrus strip. it worked really well on getting epoxy off my boat. you just have to let it sit there overnight. it came right off my boat. the stuff smells great too kind of like tang!"

10-18-2000, 11:44 PM
citrus strip is a paint stripper. they sell it at wal-mart and lowes i know for sure. look for it where the regular paint strippers are. it is somehow made from citric acid, and i am sure other stuff. when you go look for it you cont miss it it is bright orange. it is textured like rubber cement kind of. i would avoid the citrus strip in a spray can. it works but it clogs up about every 5 sec. it is not very expensive i think i gought a half gallon at wal-mart for $8.97 it might be worth a try. i am in the process of stripping an old thompson. it really did the trick for me there was a ton of epoxy oozed out around the fittings. i put the citrus strip on let it sit over night and then scraped it off with a razorscraper.
i hope it works for you too,

Ian McColgin
10-19-2000, 08:06 AM
'Citrus Strip' - Dang. Learn abut something every day. Sounds like a winner. Is it enhanced, as some strippers are, by covering it with plastic to keep it from drying too much?

10-19-2000, 01:53 PM
This is all great information and I will look for the citrus strip this weekend at my local Wal Mart. I can see using a variety of these methods depending on what part of the boat I'm working on. I will get a picture posted here so the 'before' condition can be seen. Hopefully there will be an 'after' someday. Keep an eye out for the skiff image within the next week.
By the way, I have been having alot of trouble posting to the forum and have used three different usernames within the past few days. I am now and hope to stay, sigridt, and was hollace, seagull and seagull2!

Ed Harrow
10-19-2000, 04:58 PM
Citrus stip is available, thank heavens, at places other than Wal Mart. We have some experience using it in general. It does an acceptable job, but truth to tell the nastier stuff does do a better job getting rid of paint.

10-19-2000, 06:21 PM
Chemical strippers may well do the job where the epoxy coating is thin, but if it has collected in a puddle there is another option which does negligible damage to the wood and deals well with thick sections of anyone's epoxy.

Heat a sharp wood chisel [I highly recommend ones with a wood handle, not plastic.....] with a torch, not enough to destroy the temper, certainly not to red heat, but definitely above the boiling point of water. Apply the hot blade to the epoxy and lean on it. The epoxy softens, the blade slides in and you can pop up a divot of the material. The sharp edge can scrape a thick coating off the wood, when you get down to the wood under the puddle.

It does take some time, but is a lot less expensive than buying the chemicals, and in some circumstances may be preferable. Oh, and one other thing. Don't breathe the fumes from the hot epoxy. It is no better than paint stripper fumes.

10-19-2000, 08:57 PM
i suppose you could cover it, i tried to cover another kind of stripper with saran wrap as auggested to me and it melted. i did not cover the citrus strip with anything and i left it for about 24hrs and it did not dry out.


Bob Cleek
10-21-2000, 03:49 PM
IMHO... I'd opt for the Chemist's technique, all things considered. Heat does epoxy better than anything else... BUT...

I'm no authority on St.Lawrence skiffs, but I'd say work on ANY small craft that's "about a hundred years old" ought to be approached with extreme care. You may very well have a very valuable (to historians as well as your pocketbook) artifact there. Remember the "Antiques Roadshow" syndrome... the lady that polished her copper Dirk Van Erp lamp and cost herself about $25K by removing the patina. I'd call the small craft people at Mystic before I started doing anything to her. Please...

PS.. shoot the jerk that put epoxy on it!

10-21-2000, 10:35 PM
Bob Cleek - I agree that care should be take, in fact I sent a letter with photographs to the Adirondacks Museum, c/o Holly Bond to see if she could verify the identity of the boat. I have so far only gotten an email back saying she was very busy but would get to my request in time. That was about three months ago. I have used her catalogue of the Adirondack Museum's collection, a beautiful book entitled 'Boats & Boating iin the Adirondacks' to identify and date the skiff so I don't think my estimates are too far off.

I've had the skiff now since last spring when a friend and I bought it for $75.00! Although my friend dissappeared the skiff sits just outside my kitchen window, an ongoing reminder of the pending project. I have hesitated in proceeding because I don't want to worsen the condition by using the wrong restoration methods and I also wonder, given the thick epoxy in some areas, if it is restorable at all. Maybe it would be best to slap some paint on it and get it out on the creek with a pair of oars!

Contacting Mystic is a good idea. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll let you know what I find out.

09-25-2002, 02:52 PM
Originally posted by lunkerdan:
i tried to cover another kind of stripper with saran wrap...

danMe too, but she had me kicked out of the bar. :(

Paul Scheuer
09-25-2002, 04:32 PM
Patients. Accept the idea that there are no "quick fixes". Wouldn't 100 years deserve the time to do it right ?

Scott Rosen
09-25-2002, 05:11 PM
This is an old thread. The skiff is now 102 years old. I wonder how he made out.