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Thread: Unknown varnich remidiation

  1. #1
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    Default Unknown varnich remidiation

    skiff pic.jpg

    So after years of wanting a sailboat I found this little gem on craigslist for a song... with a trailer that actually works even. This is the picture from the day I was figuring out the sailing setup. I haven't gotten to sail it yet but I have rowed it a few times and it does row like a dream (and I don't even actually like rowing that much really) but the sailing season here is coming to a close as the local reservoirs are all getting drained down to their winter levels so I have months to kind of mess around with the boat for next year. The two things I am working on are the sailing rig because I don't like a sail that I can't lower, and the side varnish because it gets scratches too easily and while in its former life it was used by a older gentleman and beached on sand my world is filled with kids and rocky beaches.

    I have no idea what the varnish is but its pretty thick and shiny, but also kind of soft. The bottom has some paint of unknown composition but its hard and scratch resistant so its fine for now. The original owner was going into hospice when I bought the boat from his son and I assume he hjas either passed on or has more important things to worry about then my questions, so wondering how to strip the varnish off and what to repaint her with. I have stripped floors and motorcycle gas tanks with Jasco in the past does that work on varnish? And given that I am going for less "yacht" and more "work boat" does exterior latex really hold up as well as I have heard? The boat will be stored out of the water when not in use and under cover in the winter.

    So any ideas on stripping or paint would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Buy a heat gun and a scraper. An afternoon with those tools and that boat will be varnish free.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    I have a heat gun from a wiring project. And scrapers from- well something I don't recall anymore. As soon as I get the "shop" cleaned out from the home "do all the stuff I promised my wife I would do for the last decade" project I will get to it. Thanks.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    If the varnish is adhering solidly to the wood, I wouldn't scrape it all off. I'd just sand it down well to create a good base for the paint. Your description suggests the varnish - shiny but soft - is a marine spar varnish. Porch and floor enamel is my budget paint of choice for this kind of application. The better stuff -- I like Sherwin Williams - is quite durable.
    -Dave

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Forget JASCO. If there's a chance of epoxy underneath the soft varnish, JASCO may take some of that off with the varnish. Or leave what's left in a condition that may not be well-suited to more varnish without thorough sanding first.

    Todd D's recommendation for heat gun (moderate heat, keep it moving, work over a square foot or two before moving on) and a scraper (careful of any that have an edge honed sharp from prior use) is a Best Practice technique for what you're facing if you want to remove much of the thickish, soft varnish.

    If you want to sand, beware of soft varnish sticking to your sandpaper. That'll mean the varnish really needs to be scraped off rather than sanded. You can go through a lot of sandpaper with little to show for it if it's soft.

    Sanding works if you see dust forming, not little rolls of stickum that quickly clog your sandpaper.

    Keep a small scrap plank handy to scrape the scraper's edge free of gunk before it cools or you'll think we're all nuts to recommend scraping at all.

    Then sand. Maybe 80 grit lightly (surface left after scraping will tell you) or 100 grit. There'll be enough varnish left in the wood pores to serve as a decent primer for your choice of paint to follow with.

    I'd go with two coats with a light (220 grit) sanding in between once the first coat's dried hard enough to raise dust rather than just clog the paper.
    Last edited by sp_clark; 09-21-2022 at 09:21 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Nice find. Welcome aboard!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Quarter inch fir ply...be very careful of whatever you do sanding/scraping/heating
    maybe some close up fotos of the surface, more description of the "softness"
    can you jam a thumbnail partly into it? all the way to the wood? scratch n sniff ?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    skiff 3.jpgskiff 4.jpgskiff 5.jpg

    Took these as I was getting ready to bring the boat into the shop. The varnish is soft but mostly still sticking to the boat. I can indent it with my fingernail but it doesn't peel off. The bottom is glassed and epoxied and if I had built the boat that's what I would have done to the whole exterior of the hull. But I didn't so here we are. Got some sawhorses and a work light to set the area up for stripping.Tomorrow will get it situated but then it will have to wait for next week for anything else.
    Last edited by DuncanN; 09-24-2022 at 01:27 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    it is odd indeed..
    .from the close up i see she is not fir ply
    the finish does not look old, or worn , sunburnt or even scratched up
    can you tell from the smell if the finish is in fact "varnish"?
    It may be a penetrating epoxy that has had too many coats ? as penetrating epoxy is not supposed to lay "on top" of wood,(but we are only human)
    I wonder if someone added extra "oil" to a product to make it softer on purpose?
    Is it peeling up anywhere except the area in the bottom there?..where it may have been wet for awhile?
    that is a nice touch, lamming the strips directly to the inside bottom
    the boat is not built by a total rube...there are a few other bits with a bit extra.
    maybe the stuff does not need removing ?
    bruce
    Last edited by wizbang 13; 09-24-2022 at 09:37 AM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    The man who built it had made several boats. His son was taking care of his things as he was settling in to hospice. This wasn't his first (or last) boat and it was definiately worth the $800 bucks I paid for it (including the trailer).

    My issue is that it scrapes off against rocks pretty easily and most of the beaches around us are pretty rocky. I guess I assume it was spar varnish based on the way it flakes in the bottom of the boat but- I am only guessing. I am going for a harder coating that will protect the wood better. Kind of leaning towards a polyurethane paint. Also I like the "workboat" esthetic more- white paint and wood rails.

    Funny thing though I bought this boat and my wife and I decided right after to sell out place on acreage and get a house in town so it got put on hold. Then The market stopped cold when interests rates went up so we decided to stay put because no one wanted to buy our house- well not at a price that meant we could get a place in town anyway. We have to keep the house on the market to get our earnest money back (on the other house in town) but I figured we were just running out the clock at this point. So I decided to get to refitting the boat in the shop and went to get some odds and ends yesterday- only to get a call from my realtor that we have a showing. So who knows? I am not going to strip until I have the replacement coating on hand but no harm getting it set up in the shop in the meantime. and there are some odds and ends on the mast to be dealt with anyway so it makes for a good morning puttering around the shop.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Looks like some okoume ply I have, and the bright rubrails maybe red oak? Grain looks right if color's a bit lacking in red, but who trusts on-line image display anyway?

    There's a 'marine' epoxy I recall using decades ago, cured softish but with a good strong bond to bare wood.From Clark Craft (no relation I'm aware of) out of New York? Smelled dreadful when mixing even with carbon filter cartridges in my respirator.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    gluvit ?
    git -rot?
    these are softish epoxy coatings popular in a former century

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    I would not be scraping the boat against the rocks

    You'll have the builder rolling over in his grave...

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    The finish reminds me of Rawhide. A finish often used on log houses. I used to see many uses of the stuff in Alaska. It's a varnish/oil sort of mixture... I don't know its actual composition. But it was always high gloss, lumpy, and remained softish. There are far better products available nowadays for log structures. Maybe the boat builder was an old log guy.

    Jeff

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    yes yes, keep her off the rocks.
    latex paint will protect her from the sun, but nothing else
    nogs of wood attached to the bottom do that job
    b

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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Well we all have to live in the world as it is not as we would wish it to be. And my world is filled with rocks. Part of the reason I am leaning toward a polyurethane paint over a latex is its superior abrasion resistance. If a rock scrapes some paint off, you can always add more paint- adding wood is a little harder. White sides, red bottom wood rails is the plain.

    Got the boat in the "shop" (also called an old stable) and flipped over. The bottom was glassed you can see the weave at the stern edge a little. The skeg heeds a touch up too apparently. And a name. She needs a name. My one real venture out with her was in the Rouge River mouth where I inadvertently bumped into a harbor seal in a shallow creek. The seal gave me such a human look of affront it reminded me of the selkie stories, so "Selkie" she shall be.

    Being at a good stopping point I fixed the broken boom cleat and called it a day. Now to get ready for the house showing.

    After

    IMG-7003.jpgIMG-7006.jpgIMG-7007.jpg

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Latex as an undercoat? Why? It is house paint.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation


    What's odd, is that this coating got so banged up yet the ply seems un abraded

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Wooden houses go through a lot of the same wet/dry cycles as skiffs. Latex has the ability to expand and contract without cracking. If it wasn't for the damn rocks I would be tempted to try it out- but marine poly has a much higher abrasion resistance and house paint is not formulated to run up against rocks. I have seen in my work life as a coatings inspector (SSPC PCI Level 2) exterior latex applied a a clean surface withstand regular immersion cycles for years. Usually we use a vinyl paint system (USACOE 5-E-Z, which is second only to lead as a structural paint) but occasionally we can't for various reasons and we ended up painting a staff gauge with exterior latex white- a staff gauge that gets dried out and re-wetted each tide cycle. It was supposed to be a temporary fix while a new gauge was painted in the shop, but 5 years later the paint still looks good. So don't think that all latex will just fall off the moment it gets wet. Like I said they paint the outsides of houses with it.

    This is the type of paint I am going with. There are many manufacturers but this is just an example: https://www.wholesalemarine.com/inte...-marine-paint/

    For a different perspective on house paint on boats see here: https://www.simplicityboats.com/latexcarnel.html


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    I painted my old town canoe with dark green latex and after two days in the water it came off in lovely long fronds of green.
    Never again
    At least it was easy to remove

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    "Latex" covers a lot of ground. 35 bucks for five gallon ceiling paint is latex- so is $78/ gallon extreme duty Ben Moore. . .

    What kind did you use? when did you do it- paint formulas change What was your SP like? I have seen marine paint fail when SP wasn't followed. If the poly paint fails that spectacularly I will be sure to post pictures. Polyurethane paint requires a bonding primer so that is on the the list too.

    That is the thing about experimenting with a small boat. failure should be easy to rectify.

    After reading this I am curious enough to run a test. . . I almost want to build a throw away boat to test some paint... maybe a 6 hour canoe or something. Maybe a different kind on different parts- with different colors OC. Think submarine camouflage. Just go to the hardware store and get miss-tints.. just to add to the variations.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    So, you are not really asking for ideas, but offering them.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Quote Originally Posted by DuncanN View Post
    "Latex" covers a lot of ground. 35 bucks for five gallon ceiling paint is latex- so is $78/ gallon extreme duty Ben Moore. . .

    What kind did you use? when did you do it- paint formulas change What was your SP like? I have seen marine paint fail when SP wasn't followed. If the poly paint fails that spectacularly I will be sure to post pictures. Polyurethane paint requires a bonding primer so that is on the the list too.

    That is the thing about experimenting with a small boat. failure should be easy to rectify.

    After reading this I am curious enough to run a test. . . I almost want to build a throw away boat to test some paint... maybe a 6 hour canoe or something. Maybe a different kind on different parts- with different colors OC. Think submarine camouflage. Just go to the hardware store and get miss-tints.. just to add to the variations.

    I think I've read tests like that, maybe on this forum. I know guys have tested glues and probably finishes. You might just test a piece of scrap plywood.
    Whatever you do, keep us posted.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    If you are anywhere on the Rogue River, you are not going to avoid rocks for any length of time! You are a brave soul to take a smallish boat there, as they call it "Rogue" for a reason. (Although the mouth is better.) I'm afraid I'm much more of a tame, lake kinda guy. Are you not as interested in lakes? Lots up your way that might be better for sailing when you get to that point, as I'm sure you're aware.
    Keep the pictures coming, and you're lucky I didn't see that boat. Although she's a pretty little thing, I'da paid $800 for the trailer, if it fit.

    Ken
    When the desire to learn is greater than the desire to win, the journey becomes the prize.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation




    This is not varnish.

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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    So, you are not really asking for ideas, but offering them.
    Well actually I was looking for educated responses to varnish removal- not anecdotes. I asked for specifics to your paint issue, and apparently you aren't happy with that. Sorry about your feelings.

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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Woodward View Post


    This is not varnish.
    Any ideas what it might be?

    In order to paint something (or apply any coating) you have to know what you are painting it to, which is the heart of my dilemma. If it is actually epoxy than there are paints for that. And I am not in a rush to strip off all that coating.
    Last edited by DuncanN; 09-25-2022 at 10:33 AM.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Quote Originally Posted by KenStocker View Post
    If you are anywhere on the Rogue River, you are not going to avoid rocks for any length of time! You are a brave soul to take a smallish boat there, as they call it "Rogue" for a reason. (Although the mouth is better.) I'm afraid I'm much more of a tame, lake kinda guy. Are you not as interested in lakes? Lots up your way that might be better for sailing when you get to that point, as I'm sure you're aware.
    Keep the pictures coming, and you're lucky I didn't see that boat. Although she's a pretty little thing, I'da paid $800 for the trailer, if it fit.

    Ken
    I was indeed at the mouth of the Rouge (for work). And it is a great area but pretty small for sailing (especially with the trolling season in full gear) but it offered a great work out for rowing against the tide. Heading up against the ebb I was pulling as hard as I could and making... maybe a knot, maybe not. At the moment I thought that it seemed really funny leaning into every stroke watching an old couple stroll on the jetty faster. Closer to home we have lots of reservoirs but dock space is always at a premium so beach launching is the way to go. My favorite is Cottage Grove Lake but Lost Creek is a close second.

    The guy selling this sold 3 boats and this was the last one/ least nicest. And it's plenty nice. He did his retirement right- building boats and hanging with his Grandkids. I am pretty sure he has passed by now but I appreciate his work every time I mess around with the skiff.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Quote Originally Posted by DuncanN View Post
    Any ideas what it might be?

    In order to paint something (or apply any coating) you have to know what you are painting it to, which is the heart of my dilemma. If it is actually epoxy than there are paints for that. And I am not in a rush to strip off all that coating.
    Hell no, it is just a picture.
    I would get in touch with someone who is an expert in coatings and compounds.
    Whatever it is, it has not soaked into the wood like an oil varnish would, but has plasticized over the wood.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Well I decided to get the numbers off the side and see how adhered to the varnish-like substance was to the boat. It was not adhered much of anything. It came off faster that the glue on numbers. I got the transom and half one side stripped with a very casual hour and a heat gun. some places it lifted right off with one pass of the heat gun. Other places (mostly in corners) it had to bubble up first but everywhere else as soon as it got warm it lifted off with a little light scraping
    I got curious and did an adhesion test with scotch tape on an unheated section and flecks of it came off. So not a great base coat to build on.

    I would have gotten some pictures but I didn't have my phone on me. But it should be stripped and maybe sanded by the end of the weekend.

    I had (mostly) decided to strip because without knowing what I was painting too.. I would just be wasting paint. Now I am glad I went that way.
    Last edited by DuncanN; 10-01-2022 at 02:32 AM. Reason: minor addition

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Quote Originally Posted by DuncanN View Post
    I had (mostly) decided to strip because without knowing what I was painting too.. I would just be wasting paint. Now I am glad I went that way.
    As am I! You've saved yourself some massive frustration, to say noting of time & money.

    And the result will be more durable for what you put into it to bring this craft a longer lifespan.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Unknown varnich remidiation

    Quote Originally Posted by sp_clark View Post
    As am I! You've saved yourself some massive frustration, to say noting of time & money.

    And the result will be more durable for what you put into it to bring this craft a longer lifespan.
    I was not looking forward to it because the varnish I have stripped in the past have been on antique dressers and they were a huge pain. This was like taking off saran wrap in comparison. Not quite but pretty close. I decided to go with Total Boat Polyurethane partly because it says it anchors to fiberglass and wood and the bottom is fiberglass, but also because looking through the application videos it had the luster/texture I was looking for. Its not exactly cheap but for a small boat it shouldn't break the bank.

    Between stripping and paint planning I have been working on the mast/sail. A friend of mine is a former sailmaker and we are converting the sleeve sail to a hoop sail that can be raised and lowered. We are going to sew a rope into the sleeve on the leech and install grommets on patches, For hoops I found some wooden hoops used for macrame that are the right size ($1 each!) that I plan to lace to sail.

    The top of the mast even has a HDPE cap with a helacoil shot in it so after getting the threads cleared up I found a stainless eye at the local hardware store and a small block. Less than $20. Now I will just need to figure out where I want the halyard tied off once I get it back together.

    The two questions I am dealing with in the mast are: how to space the hoops and what size line to use for the halyard. Its a small sail (14' tall on 18' mast) so my current plan is 1 foot spacing on the hoops with 3/8" 3 part Dacron line. The problem with changing things as opposed to repairing is you don't have a guide to follow. When looking for information on halyards online I find a lot of information in larger boats but not much on small craft.skiff mast eye.jpg
    Last edited by DuncanN; 10-01-2022 at 10:51 AM.

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