Before I moved the Blue Moon from winter dock to summer mooring, I removed most of her spars for painting. Since the weather was cold and miserable, I put them in my basement 'shop' to prep them. I was showing them off to Helena -- who was nice enough to pretend interest -- when she got that special gleam in her eye.
"... they don't really need much," I was saying. "Just a bit of paint and..."
"They sure would look nice varnished," she said, wistfully.
I patiently explained how, yes, they would look nice, but varnishing the spars was probably impossible. It was certainly impossible to remove all that oil-based paint down to bare wood. And it was definitely impossible to keep up with all that varnishing, every year, without fail...
But it was too late. The seed was planted and I off on a mission to see if the impossible could be accomplished, yet again.
The first question was, how to remove several layers of extremely hard enamel paint. Some research turned up two options:
- heat gun & scraper
- miracle paint remover
When you can easily scrape down to the bare wood, the magic is 'done', and the paint should slide off with the gentle application of a paint scraper.
The second part is a liquid that removes the paint residue from the grain and generally cleans up the wood.
It sounded too good to be true, but if it worked, it would make the job a snap.
I should know by now, whenever I use the word 'snap'...
The stuff was far too smelly to use indoors, so I needed to work outside. Unfortunately, this spring has been exceptionally cold, with regular lashings of rain and snow. Luckily, we had an unused concrete patio that I think was built by the Romans, and neglected ever since. I just happened to have a party tent that fit over it...
|My new varnishing shop|
My new varnishing shed was ready for work!
The weather was still on the cold side, but the seller of goop said it would work down to the 30s, albeit slower than at higher temperatures. To give it a fair chance, I picked a sunny day in the high 40s.
|Mainsail Gaff - sorely in need of TLC|
So, as directed, I applied a thick layer of the goop and waited.
Thinking the thick layer wasn't quite thick enough, I added some more about an hour into the experiment, and then waited again. Waited all day, in fact.
I'm sorry to say, the paint remover experiment was a complete bust. Some of the dark brown paint did soften enough to scrape away, but the light brown enamel paint underneath seemed impervious to the treatment.
I assume the miracle goop can indeed perform magic on the right kind of paint, under the right circumstances, but it failed on my paint, in my weather.
Prime sailing weather being imminent, I've decided to punt on the varnishing idea, for now. I'm going to use my new painting shed to spruce up my spars, get them re-installed on the Blue Moon with my new 'software' fittings, and go sailing.
In July or August, when the wind leaves Long Island Sound for a holiday, I may try again. Perhaps warmer temperatures will do the trick. Or maybe using a heat gun in 95 degree weather will be fun.
Until then, paint will have to be 'good enough'!
>>> Next Episode: Metalworking