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Thread: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

  1. #1
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    Default Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    I am in the final stages of my scratch build of the Peeler Skiff from CLC. I applied Epifanes varnish at 50% dilution over epoxy. 4 days later the varnish is still tacky. I've tried sanding, varsol, methyl hydrate, steel wool and scotch bright pads with no success. Has anyone encountered a similar problem? How did they solve the issue. Thanks in advance for your help.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Yes, Epifanes over epoxy is a problem. I ran into it a couple times before the light went on, epi just wont cure over epoxy unless the epoxy has been well, well cured: weeks. Its not cleaning, amine blush, or anything that can be remedied by cleaning/sanding etc. I just switched to another varnish I dont like as well, but at least it cured. Eventually you can overcoat with epi, I waited a year. Wipe the sticky stuff off with solvent while you can, its a miserable mess when it gets too far along to wipe off, then you have to scrape which risks damage to the surface, and yet more wasted effort to correct that. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings!
    Brian

    Edit for clarity: I use West epoxy mostly, sometimes a locally packaged generic that acts a lot like West (5:1, some blushing, etc). No idea how widespread this problem among the many other epoxies, but with an entire build you are not going to go back and change epoxies...
    Last edited by Boatsbgood; 07-19-2021 at 11:37 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Why did you dilute varnish to 50% when over coating epoxy, and what thinner did you use? That may be your problem.

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    why put varnish over epoxy even ?
    I have good sucess with Cetol Gloss.

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Thanks to all for your quick and helpful responses. Yesterday I went out and purchased a mild paint and varnish stripper. You know, the stuff that is safe for small dogs and children to play with. I was concerned that anything too strong would damage the underlying epoxy. After several hours of scraping, scrubbing, washing, swearing and sweating I was able to remove the varnish. I then did a test piece and as of this morning it is curing as expected.
    In response to your questions and comments here is some more background info:
    - I diluted Epifanes to 50% because the manufacturer recommends that for a first coat but after giving it more thought I suspect that is for application on bare wood. This is why I think ran into problems.
    - I used West System epoxy which has been curing for at least 3 weeks
    - I removed the amine blush as instructed
    - I'll have to continue using Epifanes given I have 2 cans of it sitting in my shop

    Thanks again for all your help. I'm a newbie to this forum and to boat building. It's good to know that help is nearby.

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Quote Originally Posted by Pgausden View Post
    - I diluted Epifanes to 50% because the manufacturer recommends that for a first coat but after giving it more thought I suspect that is for application on bare wood. This is why I think ran into problems.
    Yes, for penetrating fresh wood. Depending on the varnish, 5-10% extra to ease brush out or roller. Not all thinners are epoxy compaitable, and not all epoxy is the same formula.

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Yes, there is a science to finishing. And today's finishing products are often more highly refined and highly engineered than ever. Which makes them more fussy to work with.

    But even with the old products, when you venture away from proven methods, things can go awry.

    West System has a most useful set of free online instructional literature -- https://www.westsystem.com/instruction-2/

    And they have a friendly, helpful, tech support phone line.

    A call to them before one starts mixing their products with others would have gotten you on the right path.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    [QUOTEwhat thinner did you use?][/QUOTE]
    Paint thinner formulations seemed to have changed - there was a thread about it awhile back - I ran into problems using Epifanes with generic thinners (fish eye & slow drying) so now I only use the Epifanes branded thinner$$...

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Quote Originally Posted by MoePorter View Post
    [QUOTEwhat thinner did you use?]
    Paint thinner formulations seemed to have changed - there was a thread about it awhile back - I ran into problems using Epifanes with generic thinners (fish eye & slow drying) so now I only use the Epifanes branded thinner$$...[/QUOTE]

    Yes, that's the 'highly-engineered' bit I was mentioning.

    Used to be that 'proprietary solvents' were something like this -- the required solvent was mineral spirits. So the firm re-labeled mineral spirits, probably with splash of acetone or somesuch, as 'WhoopdeDoo Brand' proprietary thinner for their topcoat. Essentially 100% interchangeable. A money-making ploy.

    These days, there's still plenty of that... but there's also enough refined chemistry going on, that I tend to use the proprietary product for certain brands. If you're not familiar with the industry, it almost becomes mandatory to use proprietary thinners, an a coherent 'finishing schedule' manner, for all brands/products.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    I only use Epiphanes after trying a handful of others over the years with limited or no success. Epiphanes is predictable, it lasts, its the real deal.
    I've never once used anything to thin it other than good mineral spirits and have never had a problem.

    In my experience, the biggest impediment to drying to a good hard cure is humidity.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Quote Originally Posted by willin woodworks View Post
    I only use Epiphanes after trying a handful of others over the years with limited or no success. Epiphanes is predictable, it lasts, its the real deal.
    I've never once used anything to thin it other than good mineral spirits and have never had a problem.

    In my experience, the biggest impediment to drying to a good hard cure is humidity.
    Yes, if you're familiar enough with the products to know what works and what doesn't, or are willing to do some testing, you might be able to use the less expensive solvents.

    But you don't want to get it wrong. As a professional, I can't afford the laborious backtracking to fix it. As an amateur... it's just aggravating. Either advice from someone you trust... or a convincing amount of testing.

    Willin' - I'm curious what you call 'good' mineral spirits. Brand? Source?
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
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    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Quick update. Stripped all the tacky varnish off using a paint and varnish stripper (ecologically friendly). Applied Epifanes undiluted. Finishes my second coat of varnish today.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Pgausden; 07-22-2021 at 08:31 AM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Use the thinner that the manufacturer tells you to use. (!!!!!!) The difference in cost is nothing against the cost of everything else. If you let slide that you used an alternative thinner, the manufacturer ain't gonna have any sympathy for you. And yes I have had bad paint formulations.

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    Paint thinner formulations seemed to have changed - there was a thread about it awhile back - I ran into problems using Epifanes with generic thinners (fish eye & slow drying) so now I only use the Epifanes branded thinner$$...
    Yes, that's the 'highly-engineered' bit I was mentioning.

    Used to be that 'proprietary solvents' were something like this -- the required solvent was mineral spirits. So the firm re-labeled mineral spirits, probably with splash of acetone or somesuch, as 'WhoopdeDoo Brand' proprietary thinner for their topcoat. Essentially 100% interchangeable. A money-making ploy.

    These days, there's still plenty of that... but there's also enough refined chemistry going on, that I tend to use the proprietary product for certain brands. If you're not familiar with the industry, it almost becomes mandatory to use proprietary thinners, an a coherent 'finishing schedule' manner, for all brands/products.[/QUOTE]

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    A simpler method than the newspapers to contain drips is to use wide masking tape, 1.5 or 2", adhere the top edge with your finger but not the bottom, and fold the bottom half up. It makes a trough.

    The trough will usually allow the drips to fall clear of the hull, or at least gathers them so you can absorb them into a paper towel or rag.

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    The good thing about using an oil based varnish over epoxy is that when the epoxy goes gingery & fails due to UV it will be easier to refinish.
    Years ago i build a Whitehall, lovely boat, clear coated the interior & brightwork with west spa bond which was their supposedly uv resistant epoxy, 4 coats of international two pack poly varnish followed, two years later the finish started to crack up, the epoxy went gingery & i had to strip the poxy lot. It took quite a while, I then recoated with Epifanes bootlak & it outlasted the two pack by many years.

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    I agree with all the posters who advocate using the thinners and solvents specified by the manufacturer BUT substitutions are viable. The "trick" is to call the product/tech support line and ask them what they recommend. I once urgently needed a thinner for Epifanes (boat show deadline) and couldn't find the stuff locally and couldn't wait for mail order. Tech support told me use high quality gum turpentine. Worked a treat and it's what I've been using when stuck, with great success. Yes, even over epoxy ( which needs to protected from UV)
    Last edited by Dusty Yevsky; 07-23-2021 at 10:59 AM.

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Quote Originally Posted by keith66 View Post
    The good thing about using an oil based varnish over epoxy is that when the epoxy goes gingery & fails due to UV it will be easier to refinish.
    Years ago i build a Whitehall, lovely boat, clear coated the interior & brightwork with west spa bond which was their supposedly uv resistant epoxy, 4 coats of international two pack poly varnish followed, two years later the finish started to crack up, the epoxy went gingery & i had to strip the poxy lot. It took quite a while, I then recoated with Epifanes bootlak & it outlasted the two pack by many years.
    Yes, epoxy needs to be sheltered from UV, or it WILL degrade.

    And yes, not all 2-part polyurethane finishes have UV additives. And some have some, but to a lesser concentration than a true 'spar varnish'. I've never been a fan of epoxy as a finish, but if you choose it... you absolutely have to choose (and rigorously maintain) a good UV topcoat.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Wow! The knowledge and experience available via this forum is amazing. I've learned so much the last few days (in some cases I wish I learned stuff sooner) due to all your input. I am a long time woodworker/cabinet maker but first time boat builder. The experience has expanded my knowledge and skills immensely due to the input of more experienced around me. Thanks for all your contributions.

    Some background on why I'm building this boat. My son moved to Nova Scotia about 2 years ago to start a new life to escape the demons that had resulted in many bad choices. Last year, as he struggled to start a new life he was robbed of the one small possession that gave him some pleasure. A small aluminum boat that he used for fishing was taken. Upon hearing of his loss I decided that I would build him something he could be proud of owning. Hence the Peeler Skiff build from scratch. On August 30th we will be traveling from Kincardine Ontario to Halifax Nova Scotia to deliver him his new boat. The last time we saw our son was January of 2020 due to pandemic restrictions. My wife and I are looking forward to passing on to my son a gift that one day he can pass onto his children.

    Thanks again.

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    why put varnish over epoxy even ?
    I have good sucess with Cetol Gloss.
    On the Cetol Gloss can it says that you should use at least two coats of one of their other Cetol products before applying the Gloss. Is that what you do? Or do you apply it directly on the epoxy?

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    on this wee boat I put it over epoxy, after having had some troublesome cheap poly. Cetol gloss hardens slowly ,but gets hard and stays shiny longer than varnish.boom.
    There are a lotta things Ive used Cetol for that are not bona fide.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    I use Kleen Strip Mineral Spirits, Pure Gum Turps and Denatured Alcohol. I've tried store brands and generic stuff and now only use Kleen Strip. Its more expensive but not by much and worth every penny. NEVER use "Paint Thinner", Mineral Spirits only.

    I have two or three coffee cans of it in the shop at any given time. I pop a plastic lid on them and set them aside and let the gunk settle, carefully pour off the good stuff through a fine mesh paint filter and and use it again until it wont go clear any more.

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Quote Originally Posted by willin woodworks View Post
    I use Kleen Strip Mineral Spirits, Pure Gum Turps and Denatured Alcohol. I've tried store brands and generic stuff and now only use Kleen Strip. Its more expensive but not by much and worth every penny. NEVER use "Paint Thinner", Mineral Spirits only.

    I have two or three coffee cans of it in the shop at any given time. I pop a plastic lid on them and set them aside and let the gunk settle, carefully pour off the good stuff through a fine mesh paint filter and and use it again until it wont go clear any more.
    Same sort of system I use. But after hearing of one pro shop's disaster substituting KleenStrip for the factory goop... I decided not to risk it.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    I dont recall Epiphanes having a proprietary thinner until about five years ago so when it showed up on the shelf and cost a bunch I just ignored it. I've never had an issue. Pure gum turps works too but takes longer to cure.

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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Quote Originally Posted by willin woodworks View Post
    I dont recall Epiphanes having a proprietary thinner until about five years ago so when it showed up on the shelf and cost a bunch I just ignored it. I've never had an issue. Pure gum turps works too but takes longer to cure.
    Using PGT for thinning oil-based varnish may benefit from adding a dash of japan drier to improve drying time. The ‘proprietary’ thinners sold by various brands’ manufacturers contain stuff other than the raw thinner component to improve their use with particular formulations.

    Understand too that it’s a catalyst; you need very little to effect a change in performance! A quart will last a 40-year-old a lifetime of messing with boats.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    Yes, epoxy needs to be sheltered from UV, or it WILL degrade.

    And yes, not all 2-part polyurethane finishes have UV additives. And some have some, but to a lesser concentration than a true 'spar varnish'. I've never been a fan of epoxy as a finish, but if you choose it... you absolutely have to choose (and rigorously maintain) a good UV topcoat.

    THe 2 pack varnish i used was a linear polyurethane spar varnish with UV additives, I have never used 2 pack varnish since!

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Help! First coast of Epiphanes varnish still tacky after 4 days

    Along with their proprietary thinner, I always spike my Epi with a few drops of jap drier and a bit of Penetrol if I can find some. The only problem I ever had with Epiphanes was an attempt at spraying. If only I had been in the market for a pair of alligator skin boots.
    Schooner sailors love to get blown offshore!

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