View Full Version : Is it vanish or something else?

03-24-2005, 03:24 PM
I'm not sure if my brightwork was finished with
varnish or something else, such as a clear epoxy. Is there some test I can do to determine what's there?

Whatever it is. It's in okay shape, but could use some touch up. It's likely I'd just work with what's there, my guess is some sanding with a couple coats of what's on there.

Wild Wassa
03-24-2005, 03:31 PM
The smell when sanding describes all.

Sand a few known paint base types (like an oil based paint and varnish, an acrylic base, some poly/oil blend material, a clear poly and some epoxy, etc.), then do the same to the material that can't be identified. It will be made very clear after sanding known base types, what base type you are sanding.

At your local paint store (I like to go to Bristol Paints) ask for a range of patches of the different types of paint bases. The assistant will select them if needed. It might pay to write the types of bases on the back of the patches while in the paint store. There are a few acrylics (if not a lot, nowadays) that look like the old oil based varnish. Most varnish types now are a poly/oil blend.

Sand the collected paint patches ... and the smell will just jump out at you. Too easy.


[ 03-24-2005, 11:30 PM: Message edited by: Wild Wassa ]

03-27-2005, 06:17 PM

I figured it had to be easy. I'll try my friendly paint supply store and see what patches they have available and then do some sanding.

The colored paint on my boat is epoxy. So I'm thinking they may have used a clear epoxy on the bright stuff.

Wild Wassa
03-28-2005, 09:50 AM
Anastasia, I would liked to have described the smell of varnish to you but I can't ... I don't know how to make comprehensible words like tarty, acrid, particularly sour, totally off, truly pervasive and certainly gross, to describe the smell when sanding varnish ... they are just a bit too subjective and sound like I'm describing a polyester paint.

One can't look at varnish (that they haven't applied) and know what they are accurately looking at. There are just too many old plastics that look similar after aging. One tell tale sign of varnish is, timber only coated with varnish will exude an oily residue from the timber after stripping, this is called sweating. Stripped timber must be allowed to sweat if you are changing to a different paint type ... no matter how thurough you have been with its removal (and wash down).

If you have paint types, under the house or in your shed? you can make your own patches for sanding of course. The combinations of different materials I find on the boats that I work on, will not have me guess any more as to what is varnish or an old and aged plastic.

When asking for the 'clears and varnish' as paint patches from the shop, you might have to push the point a bit, because they are most likely on wood. There will be ones out the back of the shop that have been replaced as the displays, ask for these.

If you don't get hold of a varnish patch, it is the closest smell to the sanding of an oil based paint that you will be after ... or I'd be after.


[ 03-28-2005, 10:31 AM: Message edited by: Wild Wassa ]