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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 03-22-2004
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NOT painting wooden spars--and a delicious tip

Jeff H''s advice about not painting wooden spars struck home (re earlier thread about painting wooden mast). I laid a measure along the jib and mainsail booms and photographed them with fittings in place before removing everything.

Removing the paint wasn''t too difficult, and with at least a week of cold weather ahead, applying Deks Olje oil #1 seemed the way to go because it isn''t particular like paint and varnish to temperature and humidity.

Couple problems I''d appreciate advice about:

1. When using heat gun to strip paint, the putty knife snagged on the wood and lifted long pieces of the grain in several spots. How can that be avoided?

2. After the paint was sanded off, some very fine cracks in the wood appeared at the fore end of the jib boom near the gooseneck, and in the middle of the mainsail boom. How to fix? Soak in epoxy?

By the way, a tip I saw somewhere on SailNet a while back really works. I''d tried before without results, but maybe because I didn''t give it enough time.

Here''s the tip: coat old bronze with catsup. Let it sit for 2-3 days. Scrub it off and you get a dull pink color. Rub with bronze wool and you get a like new shiny bronze surface.
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Old 03-22-2004
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NOT painting wooden spars--and a delicious tip

Bruce, here are several thoughts you might consider:
1. A putty knife isn''t a great tool for stripping (the local hardware store should offer you a choice of several tools that are better, and all of them cheap; look for a carbide blade). But if the grain opens against the direction you''re running your tool, just reverse the direction of your pull and I think you''ll find the snagging will stop.
2. I''ve seen a lot of checking on wooden spars and have the impression this isn''t unusual or effects the strength of the overall structure (which is made up of many sections, right?) so I''m not sure you should do anything.
3. Why Deks Olje? I understand about the wx constraints but it doesn''t wear terribly well and whatever you apply is defining your commitment to a maintenance schedule ad infinitum. FWIW a friend with a CL 41 suffered with a twice-a-year varnish sked on his 2 masts for some years (this is in Central Florida with lots of U/V) and finally stripped the main mast and redid it in Cetol sealer, then gloss. I can appreciate varying reactions to the idea, but the two things he was after - aside from keeping his spars looking nice - was that the treatment wear well and fight off U/V with some success. Some years later, you can''t tell the masts have different finishes and his maintenance sked has dropped to less than once a year. I don''t think you''ll get either the abrasion or U/V resistance with DO, altho'' maybe a 3rd alternative will offer even more promise.

Jack
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Old 03-22-2004
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NOT painting wooden spars--and a delicious tip

Jack,

The wear factor is what I''m thinking about too, especially with the mast. The booms are small enough and manageable enough to refinish, but I''m not into mast climbing.

I may be able to extend the life of the mast coat by applying the #2 finish, but I''m not sure. It isn''t temperature sensitive either.
I suppose if it does wear and start looking ugly, the wood should still be protected. I''ll have to check with Flood Co. on that. Their customer service is very good.

If it doesn''t work out this season, then I guess I''ll go to Cetol or a varnish next year.

Thanks for the advice,
Bruce
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Old 03-23-2004
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NOT painting wooden spars--and a delicious tip

Bruce,

I took off years of old enamel paint and varnish from our spruce spars with just a paint scraper. No heat gun, no chemicals. The absolute key to success without damaging the wood by snagging the grain is to keep the scraper blade razor sharp. Not hard to do. I just carry a small file in my back pocket and sharpen the blade every 50 strokes or so. With a really sharp blade, the paint flys off in sheets. You must only pull the scraper, never "scrub" with it. Take long, controlled strokes. Keep the blade at a very low angle to the wood and you''ll never snag the grain or have "chatter". Be careful on corners, the scraper can be destructive there. Then just sand it smooth. It was easier than anything else. I also used that same scraper to remove 4 coats of bottom paint from our 41'' cruiser. Sounds crazy, but it took less time than with a sander.
As for coating for the mast, I am getting new spruce masts and the manufacturer in Maine tells me that they first coat the spar in epoxy then 8-10 coats of varnish. All I will ever need to do is maintain the top coat of varnish. Don''t know if it is true, sounds good.

Paul G.
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Old 03-23-2004
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NOT painting wooden spars--and a delicious tip

Thanks--I''ll go find a good scraper and file.

Flood Co., the outfit that makes Deks Olje, says properly applied coats of #1 and #2 should last a season in the sun, and just require touching up the next season. I shall see!
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Old 04-13-2004
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NOT painting wooden spars--and a delicious tip

Go to a woodworking tool store an buy a set of cabinet scrapers. A set of three will cost about 12 dollars they will scrape inside and outside curves and the square one will do nicely on flat surfaces. Good Luck!
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Old 04-13-2004
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NOT painting wooden spars--and a delicious tip

Good way to avoid gouging up grain with a putty knife is to look for the lay of the grain, as you would if you were going to plane the wood, and only scrape with the grain. Another trick is to round the corners of the putty knife with a file, so they don''t dig in.
The best repair for small checks and cracks that have opened up since stripping to bare wood is about two coats of paint or three of varnish.
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Old 04-17-2004
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NOT painting wooden spars--and a delicious tip

In response to chopsy''s note, I have surfaced all my topside wood with 8-10 coats of epoxy, then topped it off with a few coats of varnish. It looks beautiful, but doesn''t get me out of the twice a year sand and revarnish. I don''t have much wood, so it is only a days job. I use Zspar Flagship varnish, as it has a mirror finish and a lot of U/V protectants. I found I can go as long as eight months before it starts to dull.

That said, I would NOT attempt this on a mast. If I wanted my mast to have the look of a wooden mast with the low maintenance of paint, I''d higher a scenic artist and have them paint a grain on the mast for me! I am even considering this on my aluminum mast.
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Old 04-20-2004
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NOT painting wooden spars--and a delicious tip

As JeffH advised, varnish on a wooden mast lets you see rot that paint would hide.

Good thing I did the dirty work of scraping all the paint off--found lots of long and deep patches of epoxy, a lot of longitudinal cracks, and one very nasty area where the old epoxy came off and that just drank up the new epoxy.

As best I can tell, this is not a hollow mast. Only one wire is run up the mast, and that is through a groove that was cut in one side (its a rectangular shaped mast) and then filled in with a long strip of wood. No way that wire could be pulled out.

Will probably need to think about getting a replacement mast soon. Ulp. ($$$$!)

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Old 04-20-2004
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NOT painting wooden spars--and a delicious tip

Bruce,

As I have been in the market for new wooden masts for my boat I can give you an indication of price. We have a 41'' ketch. The main is about 50'' long and the mizzen about 45''. The quotes we got were about $10,000.00 for the main and $7,000.00 for the mizzen, if we ordered both. The shipping was about $3,200.00. Lots of money for wood. I feel it is worth it. The lead-time was about 6 months, I am sure that is exaggerated for safety. I understand that price includes spreaders and Kevlar reinforced joints. More high-tech of a mast that was originally on our boat. No fittings were included. There lots of books that show you how to build a box section mast. Not really a master carpenters task. Good woodworking skills, lots of clamps, space, and an ironclad will to do it would save you thousands. Biggest chore is finding dried, long grain spruce in stock. We haven''t ordered our new masts yet, I am still considering if I am man enough to build my own.

Paul G.
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