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Thread: Cleaning a very dirty hull

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Cleaning a very dirty hull

    The 1955 Lippincott Lightning that I have been restoring for wayyy too long has been making progress this past week. While I still have a lot to do, one of the things I need to tackle is cleaning the years of dirt that have accumulated from sitting for over three decades. Fortunately inside. Any suggestions of what to mix up to scrub it clean? I really don't want to get the inside too wet and have to sponge out tons of dirty water. Here's what it looked like when I dragged it home in 2000.

    00000127lightning.jpg

    And here is it this morning as I was dry fitting the seats and new supports.

    20210320_120958.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Retired. I do what I want, when I want.

  2. #2
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    Portland, Maine
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    Default Re: Cleaning a very dirty hull

    Looks like a great project. My son has one a couple of years newer that needs some serious attention.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2005
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    Default Re: Cleaning a very dirty hull

    If you want to keep it dry, maybe a wire brush (stainless or bronze) & a shop vac?

    A pressure washer would probably be the least work - then shop-vac the water out. I used a shop vac to get water & gunk out of my Chris Craft & it worked really well.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  4. #4
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    Sep 2007
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    Benfleet Essex UK
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    Default Re: Cleaning a very dirty hull

    If thinking of using a pressure washer the first thing is What is she planked in? If she is mahogany you will probably get away with it if you are careful as there is little difference in hardness betwen the growth rings. Softwoods like fir, oregon pine, cedar & spruce have marked difference in hardness between the growth rings. Pressure washing these woods causes instant heavy wear like on an old windblown barn! It looks awful. Teak also goes like this.
    I have heard that dry blasting with crushed walnut shell media is very gentle but would need a skilled operator. Even the smallest hand held portablast gun eats a lot of air & will require a big compressor to drive it.
    For the average guy, Sharp scrapers & a good delta sander to get in the corners is probably the way to go.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Cleaning a very dirty hull

    Since it's mostly dirt,a strong jet of water from a garden hose will move most of it.
    Given the choice,I would blast the inside as it sits, to loosen things up,then stand the boat on it's stern to rinse it out.
    Wear a raincoat.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Cleaning a very dirty hull

    I did use the hose and soapy water... 20 years ago when I got it and there was no deck! Now I just want to clean things up so I can paint the inside. Too far gone to even think about varnishing the interior. And yes it's WRCedar and I wouldn't even THINK of using any kind of high pressure water on it. Since the boat is sitting on a trailer inside my shop I'm trying to avoid using much water. Probably will end up using my Triangular Oscillating sander (and a good respirator!)
    Retired. I do what I want, when I want.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Cleaning a very dirty hull

    One does not have to hold a pressure washer so close to the wood so as to damage it, but I get that you wouldn't want all the water in a garage.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  8. #8
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    Sep 2015
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    Viroqua, Wisconsin
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    Default Re: Cleaning a very dirty hull

    Tedious but very gentle approach’d be using a tank sprayer (most often used to spray plants) with plain water first. Spray enough to get things wet enough to soften up what’s crustified, then a fairly stiff parts-cleaning brush (the round black kind) to loosen what’s softened. Then ShopVac out what you can.

    Rinse. Repeat. ‘Till you’re happy with the result, then let it dry before doing any sanding.

    Least amount of water, moderate focused physical force to get stuff loose. You have so much time and effort invested already, spending more to move farther along while also avoiding any potential for damage I’d have to think’d be your safest course.

  9. #9
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    Uki, NSW, Australia
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    Default Re: Cleaning a very dirty hull

    Bucket, scourer and sponge?
    be modest, and be proud of it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Norwich,United Kingdom
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    Default Re: Cleaning a very dirty hull

    I wouldn't use anything connected to electricity,because it isn't necessary.first vacuum out all the loose rubbish,then get a bucket of very hot soapy water and a small,stiff brush.That should be enough to loosen the debris and then you can sponge the water and muck out of the boat.It may take a day or two to dry out the boat.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Pittwater, NSW, Oz
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    Default Re: Cleaning a very dirty hull

    I wouldn't be afraid to use a moderate amount of water, from a sprayer or bucket. Plastic drop-cloths work well and water is easily cleaned up. It also keeps the (unknown) dust down.....

  12. #12
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    Apr 2021
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    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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    Default Re: Cleaning a very dirty hull

    Based on seeing house painters use trisodium phosphate to wash walls and woodwork before painting, TSP might be an option for your cleaning solution. But read up on it first, as it can affect the environment.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trisodium_phosphate
    I particularly noted this from Wikipedia:
    "TSP breaks the gloss of oil-based paints and opens the pores of latex-based paint, providing a surface better suited for the adhesion of the subsequent layer."
    This might be a good choice whether you plan to paint, or find it could be varnished. There's likely old varnish under the dirt.
    TSP can also be mixed with bleach to have an even bigger effect on mildew.

    Bob Vila suggests borax as an alternative if environmental issues prevent use of TSP.
    https://www.bobvila.com/articles/cle...ium-phosphate/

    House painters seem to be able to use TSP indoors without extensive water cleanup, so it might help with your goal of not getting things too wet.

    Good luck.

    - 14ALL

  13. #13
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    Apr 2000
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    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Cleaning a very dirty hull

    Try a Magic Eraser — the kind you use for removing crayon from a kid’s bedroom wall. You’ll need some water, but frequent sponging would probably do it.

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