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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #21  
Old 08-06-2010
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I have used a Karcher electric pressure washer that came with 2 different wands for the last couple of years to clean my topsides and canvas and it works quite well. I first got it when, as I was scraping bird dung off my canvas with my fingernail, I saw a guy in a neighboring slip easily doing the same task with a pressure washer which he recommended highly.

I like to use it in conjunction with West Marine boat soap. In fact, I'm going to use it tomorrow to do a cleanup.

I recently bought a kit with another wand, angle connectors and nozzle for use around the house.

I have not had any problems with the washer damaging anything on my topsides or canvas. I don't know how it would work for a bottom job. Since most of the boatyards in my area don't allow DIY bottom jobs, I will probably never know.

My $.02,

Charles
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  #22  
Old 08-19-2011
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Last fall (after starting this thread) I borrowed my friend's pressure washer for the haulout, and after using it I could not imagine not using one to clean the slime off the bottom. A fresh coat of bottom paint this spring has failed to stop the slime, so I'll need a pressure washer again for the bottom, as well as some projects around the house. I've borrowed one so many times that I figured it's time to get my own.

I followed the advice provided here to get the most powerful one that is practical to store and transport, so I picked this up on sale for $360 at Sears last Sunday:


I still have not had time to get it out of the box, but hoping it works reliably.
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  #23  
Old 08-19-2011
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RhythmDoctor: It looks like a decent machine. 3000psi will be sufficient and it looks as if it's a 2.7 gpm flow, also good.
I wouldn't go less than a 25 degree tip, and a 30 or 40 would be a good place to start - and I'd stay away from the rotating tips, they are zero degree (or close to that) nozzles that rotate quickly to cover a larger area. However, even at that, it is still a very concentrated stream of 3,000psi water being directed rapidly over an area.
Distribute the pressure over a fan area with a 25 degree nozzle and then move in only as close as it takes to remove the crud ands not the paint or finish. Remember, getting too close only once will cause damage, be extra careful.
Work in smaller, controlled areas so you can follow where you have been, and work toward the dirty parts from clean parts, you want the water in front helping to wet the surface you are about to clean to soften the crud you want to remove. Every now and then you can back off and rinse the areas cleaned just to make sure you didn't miss a spot.
You'll find lots of uses for your pressure washer - car washes (great with a bent wand and a broad nozzle 60* or so, for cleaning under the car and removing road salt, etc.), cleaning concrete, etc. but if you want to clean wood be very careful, it gets soft and will scar easily, use a wider nozzle than you think you'll need and maintain caution and distance.
Good luck
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  #24  
Old 08-19-2011
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Completely ignoring the advice here to go bigger, I went out and got the smallest electric pressure washer I could find--just didn't want to invest over $100 in it. And I'm still thrilled. Used carefully, the washer gets grime out of the non-skid that even a brush doesn't get, and I'm not washing soap or detergent into the bay. And even the small one saves time and effort. Lazy? Absolutely. But I think, good lazy.
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Old 08-19-2011
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I have always avoided using a pressure washer topsides out of worry that it could damage the bedding compound around the hardware. It is pretty soft stuff and even a brief accidental blast could results in leaks. Since most of the crud seems to accumalte around the hardware, toe rail etc. I just use a brush and soap.
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  #26  
Old 08-19-2011
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I've used both heavy, industrial gas washers and cheap electric Karchers and everything in between and for working on my own boat I'd go with a cheap electric. It's easier to hump to the boatyard and doesn't run out of gas in the middle of the job. The job IS longer though but they do just as good a job when it's done. They are cheap and last for several years - you can easily go through 3 or 4 before you match the cost of a bottom end gas unit. I've acquired both of mine with Air Miles so they were free.

Be very careful of anything soft like the bellows on outdrives (don't ask!) or around speedo paddles etc. Use the rotary nozzle on the bottom but NEVER take it on deck or use it on the topsides - they are extremely intense and I'm sure you can do a lot of damage very quickly if they get too close to the surface.

Stick to the fan nozzles for those surfaces. I agree about teak but if it's going to need sanding anyway, go ahead - you'll be amazed at how much salt comes out of unfinished teak! It was like I was swimming in the ocean the whole time.

Finally, my washer is just about my "most used" power tool - way beyond even a hand drill - cars, driveways, sidewalks, boats, cedar shingles, house siding, etc. etc.
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  #27  
Old 08-19-2011
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I'm by no means an expert, but I have used the borrowed one several times so I've developed a bit of a technique. I always use the fan, and start at a good distance away where it's not effective. Then I gradually get closer until the muck is coming off without damaging what's underneath. With the borrowed one (which I think was about 2500psi/2.3 GPM) I had to get close enough that the fan was 2-3" wide. My hope in getting a more powerful unit is that I can back off enough for a wider fan to be effective. Wouldn't it be nice to knock off a 4-6" wide swath at a time? Wishful thinking, though.

Last fall was my first haulout, so my first chance to enjoy the pleasure of getting under the boat to wash it. There were a couple of times where I fumbled with the wand and it almost touched the bottom, but there was NO DAMAGE! Man, that WM Bottomshield paint must have been tough stuff! With 3000 psi I need to be even more careful because that might cause more damage. This time around I have Pettit Vivid, which is a slightly softer hybrid paint, so hopefully the slime will come off a little easier. We'll see.
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1991 15' Trophy (Lake Wallenpaupack)
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  #28  
Old 08-20-2011
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I just found this thread...

You asked for advice, so here you go;

I have a CHEAP electric from Home Depot. 1300 PSI, and it works for me.

I use it to with the fan tip to clean the natural teak during the season. I also use it at home to clean my natural teak patio set, and have done so for the last 4 years. Contrary to what you will read here and elsewhere, it works great at cleaning teak! I believe that the relatively low pressure is key to not damaging the wood.

Looks like this:


(Actually the URL where I found this image has a great discussion on pressure washers. Look here.)

You need to clean the bottom of your vessel, and I don't think that my dinky little washer is up to that task. However, for quickly washing the cockpit, and the deck, the teak, and clearing the cockpit drains, this thing is the bomb.
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  #29  
Old 08-20-2011
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I tried a 1300 psi electric washer from Lowes on my topsides. I won't use it for that application again. We have lots of problems with spider and bird droppings and I thought this would be a easy and quick way to deal with the problem. To use enough pressure to get the spider droppings, I had to hold the spray close to the fiberglass., and didn't get much coverage area, so the process was slow. I am concerned at what the pressure will do over time to seals and beading materials. But what convenced me to go another way was damage to lines. There are lots of lines on a sailboat and if you aren't very careful, you will hit them with the high pressure. I ruined my furler line (had to replace it at a cost more than the pressure sprayer) and fuzzed my mainsheet in a couple of places. I've found something at Dollar General called Totally Awesome. It dissolves the spider droppings and most other embedded dirt with a normal washing. It's cheap, so that's the way I will go. Of course, each decides for himself and some like the pressue washer.
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  #30  
Old 08-21-2011
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I have no interest in lugging the gas powered washer down the dock and onto my little 25 foot boat. In addition to being a pain, one good wake and it could end up in the water. I might have been curious in my initial inquiry a year ago, but no longer. It just so much simpler to squirt some Starbrite Nonskid cleaner and brush a few strokes.

My only intended marine use of this thing is for getting the slime off at haulout.
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Formerly posted as "RhythmDoctor"
1998 Catalina 250WK Take Five (at Anchorage Marina, Essington, on the Delaware River)
1991 15' Trophy (Lake Wallenpaupack)
1985 14' Phantom (Lake Wallenpaupack)
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