View Full Version : Linseed oil and Turps?
Ok, as you all know, I'm fighting a very dry boat. My Nordic Folkboat opens up like a peach basket, and stays that way when dry.
Also when it gets wet, the wood soaks up lots of water. The wood is wet to the touch on in the bilge.
It is planked in larch.
There is no paint on the inside of the hull, and I don't intend to paint it. I'm thinking about applying 50/50 linseed oil and turps to the whole inside of the boat. Rot isn't a problem, and I don't think that my larch planking will ever rot...it is strange stuff.
Anyway, do people think that this is a good idea? Will the linseed soak into the wood, leaving more oil, and less water. That way next year the boat will dry less?
I assume that I would want to put it on when the boat is very dry?
If I do this will the wood swell less? If that happens, my boat will no longer float...
05-07-2002, 10:54 AM
I tried some 50/50 turps/linseed oil on a pair of new teak cleats I'm adding for convenience when securing fenders at out favorite mid-ship location, port and starboard. I would usually use Deks Olje #1 for this finish, but wanted to try the turps after a friend extolled its virtues.
First thing; IT SMELLS! I was directed to soak the cleats in the solution for a week (this is a heap different from applying multiple coats of Deks with a paper towel). The coffee can of turps/linseed oil solution stunk up my basement workshop in about five minutes, so I put it out in the back yard for the week. There was a powerful turps odor anywhere near the can.
The new cleats still have a definate odor, however faint, after a month and a half.
Moral of this story? Do you want to go inside your Folkboat ever again? Try a little first, to see what I mean.
I LOVE the smell! I use it on all my wood handled tools, gun stocks, and kitchen knives. It will definately soak into the wood, and even swell the wood a little. Before I broke my wife of her habit of washing wood handled knives in the dishwasher, I used it to tighten the handles. It doesn't, however, stay in the wood. I don't know if it evaporates or gets washed away, but it definately goes somewhere. If your planks absorb as much water as you say, It would seem to me that soaking them in oil would interfere with the take up somewhat. I probably wouldn't do it.
05-07-2002, 11:08 AM
Noah, I don't get your point?
Does the vessel leak when swelled up or is it just damp to the touch?
Is there water in the bilge after swelling up is done?
Do you know what the properties of Larch are?
You are in Vermont and in the winter doesn't the humidity take a nose dive?
Your boat is stored in what?
05-07-2002, 11:09 AM
I don't know if it's right for your Folkboat, but FYI the turps-and-linseed-oil treatment is standard practice for rehabilitation of old, dried-out cedar-canvas canoes (note: cedar, not larch). It is said to restore some flexibility to dried, brittle planking, and to swell it somewhat back toward original size. A canoe does not depend on it's planking to keep the water out, so the analogy is limited.
05-07-2002, 11:17 AM
The repair of Poppies tool box (it was warped badly) was accomplished largely by coating it with linseed/turps mixture. This took considerable time, but it restored flexibility to the wood.
Also, Paul Haley, in an article in WB two or so years ago suggests the same process, tho he specified from outside as I remember. I love the smell of turps, but there's got to be a limit, LOL.
30 lbs. per cubic foot, 2.5 lbs. per board foot
The species grows mainly in the Northern and Northeastern coastal states, but is related to western larch. The heartwood is yellowish brown, while the sapwood is nearly white. In boat building, the crooks of the trees (usually in the roots) are used to form natural knees and stems. The wood is moderately decay resistant, tough, moderately strong, and durable."
05-07-2002, 12:07 PM
DonW, dollars to donuts his larch is either english or scandanavian not north american.
Yep, I'm guessing that my wood is Scadnavian larch, seeing as it was built in Sweden.
The boat is stored covered outside all winter. The planks split open in the middle as the boat drys. Sometimes up to 1/2" wide or more. Between last fall and now, there are some new splits that weren't there before.
Yeah, the boat leaks, and it will take a major rebuild to make it stop leaking. (Next winter)
The two things that I'm concerned about is the brittle nature of the wood, and the massive water content cycling. Neither can be good for my boat.
The outside is painted, but the inside is bare wood, and I wondered if I could slow down the water cycling and possibly get some more oil into the wood, helping it last longer.
[ 05-07-2002, 05:35 PM: Message edited by: Noah ]
Annie always had a treatment of Linseed oil and Turps inside in the fall and the planking looked great. I have applied same to quite a few dried out boats, carvel and lapstrake, and always have thought the wood looked much the better for it.
05-07-2002, 05:15 PM
I don't think you would have a problem as far as it interfering with swelling. The linseed oil is only going to penetrate a matter of millimeters.
Be aware though that linseed oil can provide the perfect conditions for spores to grow in.
If you do go this route I would thin the mix to about 4 to 1 - 4 parts double boiled linseed oli to 1 part turps. This will set up sooner and won't attract dirt, hair, etc.
05-07-2002, 06:11 PM
If its the smell that turns you off of using the turps / linsead oil mix, try adding about 5% pine tar to the brew. Your boat will smell wonderful !!
I did this to my ex commercial fishboat hull and it has never smelled sweeter, at least to our noses anyway.
Like they said to "Mikey" - "try it, you'll like it"
John Tones MV Penta
05-07-2002, 06:25 PM
I think J.A. might be on the right track -- I was very interested to catch a Norwegian crew at the museum in Bodo I think, dressing the inside of a > 50' femboring that lived outside, with a thick mix of turps and linseed and pine tar -- a little heavier on the latter than what JA is saying. Said they did it once a year, and the fishboats did the same. Looks like the deck of a Foss tug after a few coats. They do the same thing with their extraordinary "Stavkirche," or stave churches -- built about 1150, and completely sound until someone torched the one near Bergen about five years ago. I don't know how you would get the boat tight enough for this treatment to start with . . .
05-07-2002, 06:44 PM
Worth recommends this treatment for clinker dinghies. The Itchen Ferry Boat "Fanny of Cowes", built 1856, had each member soaked in the mixture as she was built; she is still sound. I think it would be a very good idea to do this (I would add the pine tar).
05-07-2002, 07:57 PM
I've used a mixture of 6:6:1 linseed oil, turps, pine tar on some dry wood on my old fish boat, and it really does seem to reverse (or is only hiding?) some of the results of drying. Does smell good.
05-07-2002, 10:53 PM
Hiscock also recommends linseed for waterproofing a dinghy --
"Remove all traces of varnish both inside and out, and pour into the dinghy a gallon or more of raw linseed-oil. Move the dinghy each day so that the oil may soak into every part of her, and in about a fortnight it will have penetrated right through the softwood planking, which will then have taken up permanently and will not shrink again."
You won't be able to do this with your Folkboat of course (if only because of the width of the splits,) but I think I'd be treating that as the standard I was doing my best to achieve.
Two salient points seem to be the use of raw linseed, and the need to remove surface treatment from the outside of the hull as well as from the inside.
Neither Hiscock nor Worth mention thinning the oil at all. Thinning makes it more brushable but also lessens the concentration, so I imagine that more thinned oil equates to less neat oil in the long term. Given that you can't leave the oil to soak, brushing on a lot of thinned coats would seem to be the right approach.
Worth describes how he treated a new dinghy that had not been finished at all -- just raw timber. He says the boat --
",,,, soon 'took up' just as if it had been soaked in water, and with the advantage that it did not open again when the oil dried.,,,, the oil penetrated the planking and hung like little beads of dew on the ouitside."
(Worth also makes a point of saying that boiled oil should not be used.)
I read somewhere that Rebecca Wightman recommended some sort of linseed / turps mixture for finishing brightwork where varnish wasn't wanted. Does anyone happen to know her recipe?
John R Smith
05-08-2002, 04:08 AM
have you considered an alternative strategy?
Seeing as the boat goes through extreme dimensional changes during wet and dry cycles, just stop doing the damage to her. Don't haul out for the winter, keep the boat on a swinging mooring all year round.
Ok, so you have to haul once a year to bottom scrub, anti-foul and paint the topsides, but this need be for no more than a fortnight at most. Then splash her again, quick ;)
[ 05-08-2002, 05:09 AM: Message edited by: John R Smith ]
I would love to keep here in all year, and this year it would have been possible, but most years we get 3ft of ice around these parts. There wouldn't be much left after the water froze like that. We do have a coast guard station right here that runs bubblers all winter, and I suppose that I could ask, but I really don't feel like dealing with water freezing in the bilges etc... Just more trouble than it's worth I think.
BTW, I'm going to go with raw linseed (boiled is only good for a surface treatment, and I'm going to thin it down for better up take. Only because I can't soak the boat it the stuff. Both because of cracks, and that it would take a few thousand gallons to do so...
On the planks with really big cracks, I'm not soak them. The stakes are too high if they don't take up all the way.
Thanks for all your info.
05-08-2002, 08:42 AM
Noah, set yourself up with a double boiler type arrangement (outside!) and heat the mix up. That will speed the soak process. Read Paul's article, it covers the bases.
05-08-2002, 09:42 AM
Who is Worth? Did he write a book?
05-08-2002, 11:43 AM
Not a book, the book -- Yacht Cruising, JD Potter (?) 1910, and later editions.
05-08-2002, 12:02 PM
On further thinking, yes I do that sometimes smile.gif . I took note of the fact that the boat sits outside all winter long with just a cover over her.
So to me at least that means when the first freezing winds come down from Canada and off Lake Champlain, all the moisture trapped still in the planking is going to freeze!
If so, then what happens is the wood is splitting on account of the freeze.
Then the dryer winter air comes along and sucks the moisture still not frozen out of the planking and that's all she wrote.
At this time my advice would be to:
1. build a shelter with sides at least to keep her out of the direct wind/weather. And
some how reduce the drastic temperature change that takes place.
2. next spring fill the splits with some ****SOFT**** linseed oil putty and let her take up.
the putty being soft will squeeze out of the swelling splits.
3. unless you do #1 you are 'pissing up a rope' in re-planking her.
for chances are it will repeat itself no matter how well she is oiled 'cause water is
gonna get in that wood and you are back to split planks all over again the following
4. I am not too sure I would use some wood other than what is original in fixing planks unless you are going to do the whole hull. Mixing woods doesn't sound to good to me.
in a lapstrake hull.
That make sense to you all???
[ 05-08-2002, 01:13 PM: Message edited by: Dave Fleming ]
05-08-2002, 12:20 PM
Ya Dave it does. Here's my fit-to-be-tied brain buster though. I'm starting on a Bank dory done up out of yellow cedar over douglas fir, copper-fastened. I'm going to use boat sauce (someone mentioned 6:6:1 ratio) on the hull, well, on everything. Should I use raw oil or boiled oil, I don't want the stuff to stay sticky as I intend to put many coats on her initially and recoat once a season thereafter. It sounds like the raw oil 'hardens' or dries hard after some time and I would like the best penetration of the mix I can get since the boat will be drysailed (dryrowed?)
We live in challenging times don't we?
05-08-2002, 12:48 PM
Cecil, I made my dory, that Tugboat Dave now has, out of Douglas Fir bottom boards, Alaska Yellow Cedar sides and with Red Cedar crooks as floor frames and Doug Fir side frames, screwed and bolted as needed using Silicon Bronze.
I used a very very thinned out coating of Boiled Oil-Turps-Pine Tar heated over double boiler, ****OUTSIDE****, all over her. I then later painted her with oil based paint Gray all over with Black bottom as it was not kept in the water. First coat of paint was less than 40% paint and 60% Mineral spirits and successive coats were increased in paint but no coat was 100% paint. First year had one or two 'water blisters' but after that no problem. Dory is about 23 years old and still going strong and Tugboat Dave uses her hard, I mean really hard. He is so strong he pulled the oarlocks right out of her! Now she sports all sorts of re-inforcements suited to him with lots of Ironbark chafing guards that well oiled stand out against the Gray paint nicely.
Well I put the first bit of raw Linseed and turps into my boat today. I mixed the batch 50-50 just like I said I was going to.
I put it on the exposed (and worst split) planking in the cockpit. It soak in very fast. Though you may say it doesn't dry, there was no sticky-ness to the wood immediatly after I applied it. I think that this is a good thing. I'm putting something into the wood other than water, and it won't come out quite as easily either.
On another note, I painted the topsides and transom, and got the damm keel bolt out, and pulled the port side chain plate. Now time to put that stuff back together and go sailing...or something.
05-08-2002, 05:34 PM
Thanks for the information Dave, mine will be almost a dead ringer for yours as far as materials go with the exception of the red cedar. I'm feeling better already…
05-08-2002, 07:56 PM
The addition of a little 'Japan Drier' will help an oil/turp mix dry faster and harder. Adding pine tar will not only make the mix smell better, it will darken the shade of the finish if you wish. When looking for a fine, hand rubbed finish that really wakes up that wood grain, use tung oil instead of linseed oil. It is interesting to note that if you avoid using sandpaper on bare wood and use a sharp scraper instead, you get remarkable results before you apply the oil.
05-08-2002, 08:32 PM
Originally posted by Joe Sengl:
The addition of a little 'Japan Drier' will help an oil/turp mix dry faster and harder. . .That is undeniably true. Note that if you add Japan drier to raw linseed oil, you have boiled linseed oil, more or less.
I think you will be happier using raw oil, without dryer, Noah, because it will soak in the wood better. The turps will mostly evaporate, but it will help the oil soak in before it evaporates. Give it more coats of oil/turps until you get a good oil buildup soaked into the wood. You can cut bak on the proportion of turps as you add more coats. If you reach a point where you have an oily buildup on the surface that no longer soaks in, it's reached its limit. You'll want to wipe off the excess with rags, and maybe a little turps, so the surface isn't sticky.
The raw oil will dry, eventually, but if you get enough of it soaked into your planks, it should reduce the degree of shrinking and swelling with dry/wet cycles.
Keep us posted. smile.gif
And always keep in mind that any oil soaked rags can combust spontaneously, throw them into a bucket of water or lay them out on the lawn til dry.
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