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Thread: Not the old varnish question

  1. #1
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    Default Not the old varnish question

    I have been hanging around the Wooden Boat Forum for a long time, and I know how tired people get answering the same old varnish questions. Maybe this one has been asked, but I can not find any reference to the specific subject so here goes.

    I have a 29' Mark Smaalders designed cutter that I have been finishing the brightwork with Pettit Flagship varnish for about 3 years now. The varnish seems to be holding up ok, but it lives in Anacortes, Washington so is not subject to extreme sunlight. It has, however, yellowed a great deal, so much so that my african mahogany cabin sides, and my sapele hatches and trim look about the same and could probably pass for clear finished alder or similar color wood.

    I used the Flagship varnish originally because they claimed to have 6 times the normal amount of uv protection in their varnish which is probably where the extreme yellowing is coming from. I know that water based varnish is for the most parts non yellowing, but I prefer to use an oil based varnish.

    This summer I will be stripping and refinishing a lot of my bright work, and am looking for a oil based varnish with little to no yellowing. I have read the manufacturers descriptions on as many difference varnishes as I could find and the only one that claims to be non-yellowing is Epifanes.

    My question is does anyone know of any other oil based varnishes that are non-yellowing? Also has anyone used the Epifanes varnish and what is there opinion of it?

    s/v Beckon http://northseabuilder2.blogspot.com/

    Richard
    Last edited by richbeck; 05-20-2018 at 06:14 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    African Mahogany tends to beach to a yellow color. If you are going to strip off the old varnish you can stain the wood.

    UV protection is the thing and some varnishes are much better than others. Pettits "Flagship" is one of the best. I don't know how it compares to Epiphanes, but I would just call, ask for "technical support" and have them explain why theirs is better than Epiphanes. You have nothing to lose!

    (I suspect this "6 times" business is in reference to their Captains Varnish, which I don't use.)

    "Flagship Varnish 2015 features 6 times more UV inhibitors which in turn offers the best protection against the sun’s damaging rays. A special blend of phenolic and alkyd resins combined with tung and linseed oils offer excellent performance and a warm, light amber hue. Flagship Varnish contains an ultraviolet light filter in conjunction with a light stabilizer to screen the sun’s damaging rays for longer life. Flagship Varnish has the highest build and film depth per coat, as well as excellent abrasion resistance and a high gloss finish."

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    I use Epifanes on my boat. The varnished sapele looks like the day I put it on. No yellowing. However, and this is a biggy, my boat only sees the sun from June through September. Otherwise she's in the garage. And I keep a cover over the cockpit during the season she's on the mooring. Transom isn't covered though nor is the mast and the varnish there has held up well since 2015, the year of launch.

    After you strip the varnish, if the wood has bleached out, I'd conclude that what you used didn't block uv very well at all.

    Jeff

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    I removed the varnish from a small spot on a sapele rub rail and the sapele is a beautiful reddish brown exactly like it was when I built it. I haven't tried removing any of the varish from the African Mahogany areas so I don't know yet how well it was preserved.

    It appears to me that the Pettit claim about 6 times the uv additive in their Flagship varnish may be true as far as preserving the wood, but at the expense of extreme yellowing of the varnish. My search is for varnish that preserves the wood and also retains the color of the wood. If it was only wood preservation that I was after I would have just painted it.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    I use Epifanes, and love it. I started with Z-Spar Captain's varnish, decades ago, but they changed the formula for the worse about 25 years ago and I shifted to Epifanes then. Epifanes has remained consistantly good, and I have no interest in changing brands. No yellowing or clouding on my boat's oak or ash trim, or her sitka spruce spars. A general amber cast, growing deeper as the annual layers build up, but I think that's expected from pretty much any varnish.

    Excellent UV protection --even in Lake Tahoe, at 6200' above sea level, where the UV is pretty insane-- but like Jeff, I only have my boat in May-November and under cover the rest of the time.

    HOWEVER, Epifanes comes in a couple different forumations: the original "Clear Gloss" and a newer "Woodfinish Gloss". The new one is great for building coats, because if you lay the next coat within 72 hours of the previous you don't need to sand, so you can get a lot of protection very quickly. That said, according the the Epifanes CS rep I spoke with, the original has better UV resistance. Since that conversation I have followed his advice: I build up my coats with the "Woodfinish Gloss" and then do the final coat with the original, higher UV-protection "Clear Gloss". I really like the results.

    Varnish and its application is a fraught subject, as you clearly are aware. I have the personal opinion that an awful lot of any varnishing success is due less to the product than to the user's familiarity with --and thus proficiency with-- their prefered product. I love working with Epifanes and I am now familiar and comfortable with its foibles, so I get good results and rave about them. All that said, I wish you the best of results with whichever product you choose.

    Alex

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    My 38' Mull is cold molded kauri with teak coachwork. Epifanes, for 26 of my 28 years ownership, and I agree with Alex above. A little bit of a learning curve at first, but it does the job well, and I'm in the tropics.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question



    15 coats of Epifanes Original Clear Gloss. Rubbed down between each coat.
    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    I wooded my mast down 4 years after buying my boat to see what was going on under the white paint. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the cheapest, lowest grade of white paint, would outlast any varnish on earth 20:1 With eyes wide open, I made the royally silly decision to varnish the stick "cause it looks so good...."



    I used Epiphanes on my Sitka Spruce Mast. Boat was in S.F. Bay Area. Mast was wooded down and CPES applied repeatedly. Light Sanding, more CPES. Goal was to stabilize the wood to minimize expand/contract to take some stress off the varnish.

    11 coats of Epiphanes gloss. Each Allowed to cure fully (yes, it took many weeks after work) and lightly scuffed up with Scotch Brite.

    The stick got a refresh single coat via Bosun's Chair, Scotchbrite, and me looking silly clutching the mast with my legs like a scared monkey. Started yellowing in year number 2. I got about 3 years total before varnish "broke".

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    Most of today's varnishes have a UV addative factor listed on the can. Some are higher than others so choose the one that is highest without rupturing your wallet. A lot of people swear by Epifanes. I use a varnish that is no longer on the market that I bought a large stock of several years ago. Regardless of what varnish you choose, the wood will turn to the color of straw if not protected by a stain that is not affected by UV.
    Natural earth pigmented filler stains are the only ones I know of that will not change color after basking in the sun for a few years. I use Interlux
    Chris Craft INT-05735 red Mahgony stain on our H28 "Bright Star", which is trimmed in African Mahogany. The Chris Craft stain is a 50/50 mix of their red and brown stains so if you prefer you can mix your own. However, the pre-mix is a consistant color and comes in pints which is better than having to buy a quart. I have posted several comments on other varnish threads so, you should be able to find the info on working with filler stain. Your bright work will not bleach once you use the correct stain on it. Sorry to say, you will have to strip all the old finish off of your bright work in order to get that deep lasting glow of Honduras!
    Jay

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    Serendipity. I have my ply dinghy home for a revarnish before next season. Eight coats of Feast and Watson spar varnish lasted the season in the sun but it does become worn around the edges.
    Being very thin ply, and the 40+ year old hull only weighing a bit over 40kilos, I cannot really take it back to bare wood, so compatible varnish it is.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    Thanks guys that is alll very helpful information.

    Jay, I fear you have hit on the problem with the yellowing issue that I am trying to overcome. My sapele trim and african mahogany, after 3 years, and a couple of yearly varnish refresh coats are hard to tell apart. I would describe the color as straw. I will likely do as you say and stain the Sapele and African mahogany as close as posssible to their natural clear finished color.

    Richard

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    Richard, The nice thing about using the filler stain is that you can kiss that straw color goodby forever in the seasons to come.
    Jay

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    Jay, Any idea what the Interlux filler stain base is? I am a cabinet/furniture finisher by trade and when possible I like use stain base as a precoat when I am looking for a homogenous look to the color. I am not familiar enough with marine finishes to know if there is such a thing as a clear finish base, or if there is another product would be work in a similar manner. I also used highly thinned lacquers and sanding sealers for this purpose, but of course these wouldn't work in a marine environment. I am wondering if any of the clear oils used in marine environments might serve this purpose.

    Would appreciate any thoughts or insights you might have.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    Yes, the stains are made of natural earth pigments such as Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna that are mixed with an oil based vehicle and a bit of drying oil. For furniture work I usually use mordants as they chemicaly stain the wood and are more translucent. I often use products that are available from Mohawk Finishes for my own cabinet work.
    https://www.woodshopproducts.com/Def...SAAEgLKG_D_BwE
    Jay

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    Thanks Jay, I think I may try experimenting with something like Daly's ship n Shore as a pre-stain/conditioner and see if it can be stained over, and if it helps get a uniform color (no blotches etc).

    Richard

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    I bought a can each of Interlux Red Mahogany and Brown Mahogany to do some color testing with. The brown mahogany comes closest to the color that I want for my sapele trim, but it is still a little too red. I added in a little Burnt Umber colorant and got the color right where I would like it to be. My question now is whether to use a #844 Burnt Umber colorant or to use a powdered dye such as a J.E. Moser or Mohawk product? I may also be able to call Interlux and see if someone is willing to provide some information next week. Trying to get this all sorted out before heading back to the boat.

    Thanks,

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    Most of the canoes I do get captains varnish 1015 Never have a problem with it always goes on well. Having said that If I varnish something that's out in the weather a lot , Epifanes gloss always and get the correct thinner with it. she can get thick and the thinner works great. Their matte finish is beautiful also for that satin look.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    Has anyone tried Total Boat's 'Lust Marine Varnish' It was half the price of '2015 Flagship Varnish.' I am using a can right now, but it seems to be a lot problems. Applying to oars, and days later it doesn't want to get hard so when I roll the oar to complete application on all sides, marks are left on the surface holding the weight. Looks nice, but at this rate you could not use it on any utility item. I did apply it over 2 layers of 2015, but i don' think that is the issue.

    They Say:
    "The first one-part, high-gloss marine spar varnish that can be rapidly recoated without sanding between coats. Apply up to 5 coats in 1 day. Cures to a rich, warm amber. Great UV protection and gloss retention."

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    Like Epifines, mixing may seam a bit daunting but i use separate syringes to measure out the varnish hardener and thinner. Very quick and easy just work the wet edge and don’t be tempted to go back over what you have done. Lights are the key I use a free standing double halogen and move it about.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    Hardener? two part ? Anyway, the total boat from Jamestown just doesn't seem to do well with me either. I do a lot of varnishing and it seems to have some issues all the time. Maybe I need more practice with it. But for now I'll stick with old reliable ones Pettit, Epifanes .

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Not the old varnish question

    Quote Originally Posted by David Satter View Post
    Hardener? two part ? Anyway, the total boat from Jamestown just doesn't seem to do well with me either. I do a lot of varnishing and it seems to have some issues all the time. Maybe I need more practice with it. But for now I'll stick with old reliable ones Pettit, Epifanes .
    https://www.epifanes.com/page/clear-gloss-or-satin

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