View Full Version : Filler Stain

Peter Gebauer
09-09-2008, 01:09 PM
I have a 1962 penn yan wooden boat and have stripped the old varnish/finish. On the bow the wood appears to be made up of 1 1/2" strips separated by (formerly white but now brown) seams. My questions are:
1. how can I make the seams white again
2. if I apply filler stain, how do I avoid staining the seams?

Bob Cleek
09-09-2008, 01:48 PM
If you varnish over the putty in the seams, you cannot avoid the varnish's darkening the white of the seams. That darkening doesn't detract from the effect of a varnished surface.

You will likely find that sanding the surface prior to varnishing will remove the darkened putty and reveal the white surface underneath. If the putty has discolored for some reason other than the varnish on top of it (which can happen sometimes), you will not be able to make it "white" at all without removing it and laying in new white putty.

There are any number of rubber/thiokol based polysulfide seam compounds that are white, but I wouldn't rely on them for a varnished deck because varnish isn't likely to stick to that surface very well. Your best bet is to use white lead putty, which is a mixture of white lead (from Kirby's Paint, New Bedford, MA) and "whiting" which is a chalk powder available at any paint store. (Wash your hands well after use and before putting them in your mouth... you don't need to eat the lead).

If you want to stain the wood, you need to remove the putty, sand until you are completely down to bare wood (if there's any varnish in the wood, the stain won't soak into the wood evenly and will look terrible), apply your stain, and then putty, then varnish. This gets tricky because you will have to mask the wood so the putty doesn't get all over the stained wood surface. You really don't want to go there. Odds are, you'd be better off without the stain.

To refinish and refurbish, what you should do is remove the old seam compound (use a reefing iron... or a file with a bent, sharpened tang), sand the deck fair, soak it with CPES sealer, replace the seam compound with white lead putty, scrape or sand lightly to level the putty and achieve a sharp line between the putty and deck (wear a mask and do it outside, the lead putty dust isn't good for you) then apply eight to ten coats of a decent quality spar varnish. (Assuming you know how to varnish here.)

There isn't any need for a "filler" stain at all. Proper sanding and a proper build up of varnish should result in a perfectly smooth surface. Filler really isn't a substitute for proper surface preparation and often results in ugly discolorations.

Peter Gebauer
09-09-2008, 06:09 PM
Thanks Bob,

Lots of good information and I appreciate it. After stripping off the old varnish and stain, the wood on the bow appears to be more of a grayish brown color and not all attractive, so I'm not sure that putting down a varnish would do anything to improve the appearance.
I suppose it would help if I could identify the type of wood but have no clue what Penn Yan used on their wood boats in the early 60's. Any thoughts?

09-10-2008, 06:34 AM
Paint the seams. This is typical of the big buck inboard runabout restorations.

The 1963 Penn Yan Boats brochure that I have does not provide information on the decking materials used in their boats. It probably is Philippine mahogany. It does mention that the planking is Royal Marine fir plywood (Douglas fir I am sure) and that ribs are oak (white oak). It tells a great deal about the VULCANILE bonding compound between lap seams in their lapstrake boats. They write that it is a "miracle synthetic".

There is a Penn Yan vintage boat group on the web. You should be in touch with them.


Peter Gebauer
09-10-2008, 07:49 AM
Thanks Andreas,

Your response provided me with some much needed additional information. I think I'll lightly sand and see if I can get the decking back to what it ought to look like before experimenting with the filler stain.

FYI - I had posted to the penn yan site earlier but no response as of yet.