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  #1  
Old 05-14-2003
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Sick Bottom Paint?

I just had my boat hauled out this morning for a bottom paint job - and the yard called me within the hour to tell me that my existing bottom paint was "sick" - meaning that there were too many layers of old paint built up. They advised me that the cost to strip & paint the bottom would be around $2,500 - versus just having a fresh coat of bottom paint slapped on for around $650-750.

Since I''m planning on sailing down to Mexico this fall - I''ll probably haul-out down there next year and strip & paint it myself.

Anyone else have a similiar experience?
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Old 05-14-2003
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Sick Bottom Paint?

Just a comment on layered bottom paint.

I use an ablative paint and hose it down & scrub each spring. This removes just about all of last year''s paint before I reapply the current year paint. This prevents buildup.

Mike
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Old 05-16-2003
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Sick Bottom Paint?

Stripping the bottom down is not an easy job no matter how it is done. I had let modified epoxy paint build up on my bottom for 12 years, with only a cursory sanding with a vibratory sander each year. The paint was peeling, pockmarged and had a rough surface. The short nap roller I had used didn''t apply the paint very smoothly.

My understanding is that there are three options:

1. Using a chemical stripper to remove the old paint. Peel Away got good reviews in Practical Sailor, although it''s expensive stuff (try Home Depot, for similar, but much cheaper Peel Away, but read the review carefully as it may not be as benign to fiberglass). Also, depending on the thickness, it may be necessary to apply multiple times. It also requires a certain temperature to work properly (50-60 degrees F as I recall). Since you''re discussing a trip to Mexico, I assume you live in a warm climate so this probably isn''t an issue. The process is time consuming according to the people I''ve talked with.

2. Using a sander or grinder to remove the old bottom paint. This is very time consuming, but works regardless of temperature (I live in the Northeast). It probably took me 60-80 hours for my 33 footer, and I didn''t remove all of the old layers, just the excess buildup and peeling and pockmarked areas (end result was quite smooth). You must also be very careful to avoid sanding too long on bare gelcoat. Use a good orbital sander. Be sure to use a good mask and goggles and protective suit. The product of sanding is very fine bottom paint everywhere. Even with protection you''ll be the color of your boat''s bottom after every session. The process of holding a sander above your head is very tiring. I was able to work only 4-5 hours per day.

3. Blasting with walnut shells or some other material which is hard enough to remove the old paint but not hard enough to damage the gelcoat. Cost is $1000 I understand, but it needs to be available where you have your boat hauled out.

In retrospect I wish I had tried the walnut shell blasting, but unfortunately I didn''t decide to strip the bottom until after the boat had been hauled. I also expected the sanding to go more quickly. In the end I suspect the stripper might have worked better.

I can''t argue with the result, however. I switched to Micron Extra, applied with a West System epoxy roller (3 coats, 4 coats on the keel, rudder and waterline). The boat''s bottom is very smooth. Yesterday, in light airs of 7-8 knots apparent, I was doing 5+ knots on a close reach. That''s significantly faster than the old rough bottom, even with a new coat of paint. It''s way faster than prior end of season performance.

We''ll see how the Micron Extra holds up through the season. My understanding is that a pressure washer will remove old paint pretty quickly, but I''m not sure that''s what you want as the old paint (unlike modified epoxy), is still good. I believe that limited washing and scrubbing is appropriate, followed by an additional coat or two, if needed.
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Old 05-16-2003
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Sick Bottom Paint?

Stripping, sealing and re-painting your bottom is a nasty, nasty, nasty (to infinity) job. I am about a week away from finishing the job on my boat. I have spent about two weeks on it already.

I would add a couple comments to what the others have said.

Some paint strippers are more aggressive than others. I got overly anxious and used a general purpose paint stripper and found that it pitted my gelcoat in places, and now I have to fill the tiny pits with epoxy. Get a paint stripper that is designed especially for fiberglass. It works nearly as well as the other, but doesn''t harm the gelcoat.

Get a really good respirator that filters not only dust, but also fumes, and don''t be lax about using it, because the dust and fumes are all very toxic, and breathing even a little of it can cause problems. You should also use goggles to prevent paint stripper from dripping in your eyes and to keep the dust out of them. Wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants when you apply the stripper, because it burns if it drips on you.

I''m retired with a son in college, and have more time than money, so I''m doing the job myself, but if you have more money than time, pay the man, let him do the job, and save your time for sailing.

All that having been said, if you have a thick accumulation of old bottom paint, and especially if it has peeled and been painted over in the past, the job really needs to be done. If it''s really that bad, it could cut your average speed by as much as 20-25%.
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Sick Bottom Paint?

"Sick bottom paint" is film fatigue of the various layers of paint, failing at different rates. I''ve done boats with sanders (mucho disk eating, pushing bottom paint into every crevice and pinhole) and chemical strippers. I''m hoping the next time I''ll have enough scratch to pay someone else to do it. I''ve now found I can strip a 40'' fin keel sailboat in 8 hours to gelcoat. Another day with orbital sander and schmundo (West filler), should be able to barrier coat 3rd day and, if you do it right, put the bottom paint on and launch day 4. Depends on the manufacturer''s recommendations, which you should read carefully first. Orbital sanders, toxic strippers (methylene chloride - ewww), etc. costs you in materials and labor. Walnut shells WILL cut gelcoat, but the trick is adjusting the PSI of the blast correctly. Silica sand blasting is absolutely wrong. I use bicarbonate of soda. The process requires the machine, the media, and a minimum 185CFM compressor (tow behind the truck kind). By machine, I mean the right machine, not a reconfigured sandblaster. I''ve also developed a method for recovering a large percentage of waste paint. All EPA acknowledged. Someday I''ll actually have time to do something with it, but then I''d have to come back to America. Too damn sunny down here every day. KW, VIRGIN SURFACING, LLC.
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