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Old 05-01-2008
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Soda Blasting

I am in the process of sanding down 20 years worth of paint on the bottom of my Catalina 22 in prep for a barrier coat and new anti-fouling paint. I think my random orbital sander is about worn out, but its done - all except for the wing keel.

The keel is pretty uneven, almost looks like it was hand fared. As a result it doesn't sand too easily. It almost looks like the gel coat is cracking away and reveals a yellowish layer underneath (no fibers though). Does anyone know about the general constuction of these keels? On the wing it almost looks like painted lead...

Since the sanding is so difficult, I was thinking of having a buddy soda blast it for me. Trouble is he has never worked on boats before and neither of us know what we're doing. Does anyone have any suggestions or tips as far as the diy boat soda blasting goes? Is there anything NOT to do so I don't screw up my keel??

The guy who owns the machine says there are a few different types of sodas out there... any suggestions on what to get for a boat? Thanks
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Old 06-16-2008
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I'm hauling my Skye 51' Obelisk on Thursday and starting on the process of removing 26 years of bottom paint. I recently bought the boat and the bottom has never been taken down to gelcoat--apparently, the bottom has been painted 18 times with no fairing!!

I don't know whether to try soda blasting or to just go with a Peel Away bottom paint remover. With the amount of paint on the bottom, will a peel-away product be effective or will I have to use so many applications that it would be more cost effective and less labor intensive to go the soad blasting route? I've heard mixed reviews and a few horror stories about soda blasting. Is it worth it? Has anyone here had their bottom faired this way? I'm not trying to take the easy way out, just do this the most efficient way possible.

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Old 06-16-2008
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I had my Pearson 30 soda blasted last winter, and I have no regrets. It was $1200 well spent. There was so much paint on there, that they uncovered a 3 ft strip of fiberglass tape on the trailing edge of the keel that I didn't even know was there.

The only thing that was weird was that in some areas, it opened up a bunch of little pinholes - apparently air bubbles in the gelcoat. I just skimmed over those areas with thickened epoxy and sanded and there is no evidence that they were a problem.

I used a tie coat and then West Marine PCC over that, and haven't had any peeling. The paint looked really great when it was hauled in the fall.

The guy who did my soda blasting had a lot of experience with boats, so YMMV.

"Figment" 1978 Pearson 30 #1083
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Old 06-16-2008
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i just had my bottom soda blasted this past winter also. i have a catalina with a wing keel. the wings and probably 1/2 way up the keel were lead with just paint on them. the remaining part of the keel was glassed into the hull.
i would recommend the soda blasting. in one day, the whole hull was cleaned down to the gel coat. definitely worth the money.
i wouldn't recommend doing it yourself though. i believe the soda ash is different then what a sandblaster would use but it think the big difference is the pressure in the soda blaster. from what i remember reading, the pressure is a lot lower than what is used in a sand blaster machine. with the higher pressure, you can easily damage the gelcoat.
s/v Time Flies
'78 C-30
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Old 06-16-2008
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I went and sodablasted my boat last year... highly recommend it. The sodablasting machines are at a lower PSI than the sand blasting machines, and the baking soda medium is fairly coarse for baking soda.

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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