View Full Version : Maintenance free hull

07-08-2001, 08:50 AM
Altough I know that there is no such thing as a maintenance free boat,I have been searching the net for info as to how I could restore my carvel planked 33 feet hull so that it would be possible for the new coating to last for years instead of having to be redone every year or two. I have Gougeons Bros. leaflet that mentions routing between planks, inserting a spline in thickened epoxy, and fairing the hull. The outside of the hull is then saturated in epoxy. The interior is left intact, and must be well ventilated. I have also read about a 2 part compound called polysulfide. Is this a caulking that is used between planks once they are routed. How about glassing the exterior in epoxy? Will humidity absorbed by the wood from the interior crack the hull.

Dale Harvey
07-08-2001, 09:13 AM
It can be done, but if you don't know exactly what you are doing, and if you don't get all the steps exactly right, you will create a terribly expensive mess that cannot even be safely burned! All fastenings have to be in excellent or new condition before glassing, as it will never again be practical to replace them. All weak or rotted timber will have to be delt with, for the same reason. Notice I say "delt with", this comes under the heading of "anything other than complete proper replacement will require expert level judgement based on lots of experiance", to be safe. Glass or synthetic cloth will have to be carefully chosen to be compatible with materials and construction of the hull. Covering will have to be thick and strong enough to overcome any potential movement and moisture penetration. Quick, simple, easy, cheap, will never work well or long. Selling such an investment, may prove very problematic. So if you do it, be very carefull to fully document and photograph every step and detail.

Jamie Hascall
07-08-2001, 02:37 PM
I think you may want to examine your assumptions on how long the paint job will last if you do a proper job of dealing with seam caulking and surface prep. I haul my unsheathed strip planked 30 footer every year and a half for bottom painting and could probably push it to every two years. I've just done the topsides again after three years since the last painting, and could have easily let that go for another cycle. It's just not that bad to do the paint job and it keeps you in touch with the hull condition. Frankly I think the routing and epoxying sound like an awful lot of work to do all at once in the hope that things will last forever. I'd rather spread the work out a little.

What sort of maintenence schedule do the rest of you Carvel folks keep?


[This message has been edited by Jamie Hascall (edited 07-08-2001).]

07-08-2001, 05:01 PM
I think you have answered the question yourself. There is no such thing as a maintenence-free boat.
As you will be pulling her out every 12-24 months for normal maintenance even after going to great labour, expense and downtime in sheathing your hull [ haul-out for antifouling + checking prop and rudder + touching up knocks + good 'ol washdown with fresh water] you might as well carry on as you are.
The yard where I occasionally work has several tupperware boats whose owners were convinced that modern materials made them maintenance free and 60K's worth looks sh#t in two years from new.

07-08-2001, 05:08 PM
I stripped my 26 foot carvel hull down till she was bare naked--shear to waterline-----brushed on three coats of Interlux clear wood sealer--sprayed on one thinnn coat of paint--it went for six years before I saw the first peel---the paint never lost its gloss---inside, the hull is bare, never painted--so with three hard sealer coats outside--all the moisture breaths out on the inside--thats low maintenance.

07-08-2001, 07:41 PM
Thank's guys. I just acquired this boat and am new at this. Living in Quebec, Canada, I will have to haul the boat out every 6 months. Talking with the locals out here, they repaint their boats almost every year. The boats are pulled out and stored unprotected except for a taurp for the winter months wich BTW are -30F. I am an industrial painter, so I have knowledge and equipment to spray the boat. I wanted a nice gloss and was thinking of an epoxy primer an 2 part polyurethane to get that wet look. Of course, all of my painting up to now has been on steel and not wood. At the price this paint cost up here, I did not want to do it every year. I plan on replacing every plank, fastening, and anything else that does not meet the standards but before I do, I would like to get the most info to do a top notch job. I am not using the boat this season because I want the hull as dry as possible before starting the work. Now for the polysulfide question. How is this used? I saw a post the other day of someone using this to caulk all his planking. Will this last for awhile or will it have to be redone periodically. The boat will be used mainly in fresh water if this makes a difference.

Art Read
07-09-2001, 10:26 AM
Richdon.. Since you say that you're new to wooden boats, you're off to a good start by researching and asking questions before jumping in and "experimenting" with all the miricle cure, "maintenaince free" solutions that some snake oil salesmen and well intentioned dock admirals are always advocating. As a professional painter, you're obviously aware of the importance the right materials and technique for different surfaces. Wooden boats have some very special properties to be taken into consideration. The most obvious one is the fact that they are NOT inert, static structures but "living", breathing, organic constructs. Trying to cover them with hard, inflexible coatings will only result in a collection of many beautifully surfaced individual timbers, all failing at their various joints and seams. Trying to cure this problem by filling those joints and seams with modern, goops and fillers just defeats the purpose. The fact that your boat will live out of the water at least half the year guarantees that it will be subject to an annual swelling/shrinking cycle as it drys out and is re-soaked each season. By all means, let her dry out as much as she's going to this winter before painting, (that's why we do all our fitting out in the spring!) but DON'T do anything to artificial accelerate the drying process. The time tested, "traditional" products for boats like yours are still used because they work best for the special conditions they must meet. If the "new" stuff really provided a short cut or "mainenaince free hull", we'd all be using 'em and all those products would've dissapeared from the shelves long ago... Find somebody who has a boat built like yours and that always seems to look good every year and buy him a few beers and find out what HE uses. Better yet, find a yard that takes care of lots of 'em and see what they're doing. Meanwhile do some reading through the old posts here and get yourself some good books on the care and feeding of wooden boats. "WoodenBoat's" "Painting & Varnishing" by Pete Spectre available through this forum's Home Page might be a good place to start. Good luck... You're in for a "interesting" relationship as you care for your new boat. I suspect you'll find you come to enjoy it far more than you might suppose.

Dale Harvey
07-10-2001, 08:27 AM
I'm sorry my post did not seem to sink in. Let me put it a little simpler. Listen to Art. You have already made a huge mistake if your boat was seaworthy and you did not launch her. To successfuly glass and urethane a hull to the degree you wish, you would have to know as much as I do. As it took me about 40 yrs. to acquire my current level of expertise, I can assure you it will not be possible to read a couple of books and get it all right. Given your weather conditions, I would not attempt it. Modify your expectations, and/or get a glass or steel boat for your "wet look". Reduce maintaince by spending money on better winter protection.

07-10-2001, 11:35 AM
richdon, what would be the proper surface preparation so that I could get that flat, invisible Danish Oil finish on my steel automobile? http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif

That's like what you're trying to do, only backwards.

No matter what you do to her, at the core she's going to be a carvel planked wooden boat, and she needs to be treated as such. The proposal you have will not be good for her, will be bad for your budget, and will (probably) not work. Undoing it afterwards, when you realize that you've made a mistake, will be even harder on your budget, and will probably not work either.

07-10-2001, 06:20 PM
I've used polysulphide mastic on the seams of my old smack to good effect. Takes a long time to cure though before you can sand down. Note, this mastic is only the stopping [what used to be white lead and putty]. The real seal is still the caulking hammered into the seam. The polysulphide seems to recover better than white lead when the planking shrinks out of water and better adhesion to the edges of the seams.
Polyeurethane mastic is even better [Sikaflex family] but much more expensive. Cheap oil based mastics are no good as they harden even more than white lead + putty over time.

ken mcclure
07-10-2001, 11:03 PM
Richdon, the other thing that you should perhaps try is considering that the maintenance of the boat is an integral part of the experience to be "enjoyed" in and of itself.

I have for many years enriched my own life through woodworking. Part of woodworking is the maintenance of my tools. At first, I resented having to take a plane apart to re-seat the frog or true up the base plate. And sharpening was a drudgery to be borne. Then one day I came across an old Stanley 45 Multiplane (a tool that can be used to plane many types of molding profiles) and the first thing I did was take it apart to clean it, true it up and check all the fits.

Sometime during the process of reconditioning the tool I suddenly acquired an appreciation for tool maintenance. I spent about three weeks immediately after going over all my bench planes again.

Admittedly the time I spend on tool maintenance doesn't get me a finished grandfather clock or armoire, but what it does do is make the use of those tools far more enjoyable when I turn to doing a project.

Your boat can be the same. Try to take pleasure in the maintenance tasks just for the sake of doing each task. When you're done, the boat will look all the better for it and you'll have that much more enjoyment in the sailing of her.

Zen maintenance? Wipe on, wipe off......

07-14-2001, 03:55 PM
Tanks again to everyone who replied to my post. I think i'll change a bit of my thinking. I love woodworking as a hobby. Only this is something bigger. Still, I will purchase a few good books on the subject of wooden boat maintenance and painting. Like I pointed out, the boat is in dry dock for this season. This will give me the needed time to check everything out and acquire a bit more savy. In the meantime, I'll continue reading this forum. I think this is the best place to start.

Phil Young
07-16-2001, 01:38 AM
The best place to start is in your boat, on the water. The authors of good books all mean well, as do we who post here. But none of them/us know you or your boat, or your local weather or paint manufacturer. Don't sit at home reading 15 different books with 20 different views on "the right way". Get out on your boat. Get amongst other people with similar boats in the same area. Do a bit, learn a bit. Go 90% with what feels right to you, and temper that 10% with what you are told elsewhere. But forget the wet look, and stay away from hard gloss paint. Read John Smith's recent "lessons learned" post