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Thread: Need advice on painting an aluminum canoe

  1. #1
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    I recently bought a 1968 17 foot Grumman aluminum canoe. It was originaly painted red on the outside and gray on the inside and I would like to repaint it. What kind of primer should I use? Is there anything I should treat the aluminum with before priming? Is there a type of paint specificly for aluminum that works best? Help!?!

  2. #2
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    Hyannis, MA, USA
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    There are a variety of good primers specificly for aluminum.

    I've also had good luck lightly wet sanding with the fluid being epoxy catalyst (no resin). This sanding is after the surface has been dry sanded to clean it up. Tack the catalyst mess off with a lint free rag and remember to wear proper gloves and work cleanly in good ventilation as you're dealing with the more noxious of epoxy's parts. There will be a smear of catalyst, which is fine. By the way, this method is really great on iron as it completely defeats oxidation that starts in air before the paint can be applied.

    Anyway, mix your epoxy and paint that on as thinly and evenly as possible. If thin, the epoxy will manage to flex with the aluminum and makes a great primer. Just fine sand very lightly, tack with acetone on lint free rag (again the gloves!) and go for it.

    The purpose made primers are a bit easier to apply I think - not used them myself - but the epoxy approach works well. I did this as a paint base for a very tatty alum mast 15 years ago and slapped some paint over. The owner has not touched the mast since.

    G'luck

  3. #3
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    Aluminum is one of the fussiest materials to apply a good coat of paint to. The primary problem with painting aluminum is getting a surface that is clean of any oxidization. After surface prep (pounding out any dents, sanding, etc.) the surface should be wiped down with a mild acid solution to remove any oxidization on the metal surface (check with the paint manufacturer about what they reccommend for this step, but glacial acetic acid - strong vinigar - works reasonably well). Excess acid is then removed by a wash-down with a non-detergent cleaner such as TSP. A final wipe-down with a clean, dry tack rag removes any dust and residue from the cleaner. Immediatedly apply a coat of primer (zinc-chromate is used when oil-based topcoats are going to be applied, proprietary primers are used in conjuction with epoxy topcoats - refer to the manufacturer's instructions for your specific type of paint). When cured, apply the surface coat. Invest in an airless paint sprayer if you want to get a high-quality surface finish.

    Check out these sites:

    http://www.paintcenter.org/rj/sep03i.cfm

    http://www.awlgrip.com/

    http://www.yachtpaint.com/usa/

  4. #4
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    Prep as above and using a zinc chromate conversion process, then wash VERY thoroughly...Imron was originally formulated for aluminum aircraft....to flex....when taking off from blistering hot airstrips whereever and climbing to 40,000 feet a sub zero temps....contact a local aircraft painter and ya can't go wrong.....

  5. #5
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    Be careful when you do much cold working of Al..
    The shell plating is very thin on those Grumman's.
    And most Al does not take well to cold working.
    If you can read some autorestoration literature specifically on Aluminum body work it will give you some good pointers. Replacement rivets should be available from one of the outfits that supplies the home built aircraft market, Aircraft Spruce and Specialty, comes to mind.
    I dunno what alloy/s Gruman used but the common Aluminum Alloys today are the 5000 Series for exterior and the 6000 Series for structural.

    I can, from supervising the fabrication and construction of over 20 large Aluminum vessels in the 60 to 115 foot range, recommened the Sterling Linear Poly paint system.

    Notice I said SYSTEM. Mixing products from one manufacturer with another's is not something I would recommend.

    And yes Sterling can be brushed or rollered on! Just make damn sure you have proper safety gear ie: breather, face shield.

    We tried IMRON but found it did not meet our reguirements.

    Another point...you MUST isolate any Stainless Steel attachments from the Al.. If not you are sure to have some corrosion and paint blistering.
    Copper or items containing copper are ie: Bronze are to be avoided also.

  6. #6
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    "...but glacial acetic acid - strong vinigar - ..."

    One might say damn strong vinegar. [img]tongue.gif[/img] Glacial acetic acid being 100% or what ever that would be in mols and normal vinegar is something like 5%.

  7. #7
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    Thumbs up

    Thank you. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Sound advice from some of the forum's best.

  8. #8
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    You could always strip it and polish it. Though I've never been a big fan of the looks of aluminum canoes, I found this one to be rather eye-popping and kind of like how it mirrors the surroundings and sort of disappears.

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