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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I needed to smooth out some rough patches on the bottom paint last year before some touch ups. I used my plain old palm sander on the ablative paint. A mess. I will have to do the same thing this year, and I want to get a new sander that has a dust control system. Any recommendations? Also, how do you deal with the toxic residue that gets all over the unit? Do you use the sander only for bottom paint, or do you take the thing apart to clean it so it can be used for other, less toxic projects?

thanks.
 

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Try a soy based paint stripper like Franmar on the offending area, then scrape, follow with a white vineagar wash, then clean water.
After drying, hit the difficult spots with the sander and attached a shop vac hose with duct tape (my sander has a hose attachment but works better with the hose alongside the sanding plate).
Use a disposable drop cloth to catch the debris.
Don't forget mask and eye protection.
 

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i use a regular random-orbit sander (Makita, 5" - I usually do small areas and having a 5" disk helps get into all kinds of tight corners). it can be connected to a shop vac but I usually don't bother. same with toxic residue - don't care.

I keep it in a plastic bag and use it for nothing other than boat stuff - and on a boat anything that you sand is pretty much guaranteed to be toxic residue anyway (fiberglass, treated wood, paint - you name it, its all nasty stuff).

For your own protection wear a good respirator, of course.

YMMV
 

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I use a 5" makita random orbit sander. I use a large shop vac, with the 50' hose from a built in vacuum, to give me lots of room. A pole sander with the proper grit paper is a lot cleaner way to go. This gives you greater reach, with better posture, than having a vibrating dust machine only as far away as your fingertips. Each works well, just depends on the operator and size of job. Good luck.
 

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Check with your yard they may have a unit that you can rent that is designed for the job. The yard where I keep the boat in the winter that is the only way you are permitted to sand your boat is to use their approved equipment. Harry's in Westbrook ct is a leader in this area on environmental safety issues. It's a pain but he cares and is respected for it.

Peter
 

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Literally *just* purchased a factory reconditioned Bosch model ros20vsk 5" Variable Speed Random Orbital sander on eBay for $48 ($90 on Amazon and mrp of $149). Full manufacturers warranty, etc. Did some research (admittedly, not a heck of a lot -- it's a sander...), but this one gets pretty good reviews and better than average reviews on dust collection. Has it's own collection bag but also comes with a vac attachment.



Purchased from eBay Store - CPO Bosch: Bosch, Power Tools, Power Tool
 

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I looked at similar units when buying mine a few years back. One valuable feature in similarly styled sanders is a handle on the front part. Without it holding the sander becomes very difficult and even painful after a while.

Looks like this:
 

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DeWalt

If you buy anything other than the Dewalt 5" orbital sander I'll have you arrested. And do attach a shop vac to it in place of the bag that comes with it. You'll be doing yourself, the marina, and the other boat owners a favor. If you use the vac you'll have much less trouble with dust and grit getting all over it, and you'll get better performance. I was painting my boat bottom yesterday, and the knucklehead four boats down was sanding his boat with an orbital sander without any kind of dust catching apparatus at all. Dust was flying everywhere, including all over the knucklehead. I was glad there were three boats between him and me.
 

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orbital is not the same as random orbit. just saying. orbital sander in hands of someone not used to it is a good way to ruin the boat bottom pretty fast.
 

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If you buy anything other than the Dewalt 5" orbital sander I'll have you arrested. And do attach a shop vac to it in place of the bag that comes with it.
Very funny. Funny because it's true. The 5" Dewalt random orbit is the best sander I've ever used and the thing refuses to die! I use it all the time, in my work, not just once a year on the boat. It has a nice clutch so when you pull the sander off your piece it doesn't still go a million miles an hour and fling the paper off all the time. It also means it bites into the work slowly when pressure is applied, not gouging the work until you have the sander settled better.

Don't worry about getting the vacuum and sander as a matching pair or an exact fit. Take the sander bag off and attach the vacuum to the exhaust port (a little duct tape if needed).

Make sure you use a big extension cord!!! By big I mean gauge, nothing less than a 12. Seriously, power at a boatyard gets drained by all the other people on the same circuit, all using extension cords, until finally nobody has much power and tools burn out. Help your tools live a happier life by giving the electrons a fat highway to travel along. ;)
 

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For

For a 5" sander the DeWalt is decent because, unlike many small 5" random orbit sanders, it actually utilizes sealed ball bearings.

Bottom paint EATS sanders that do not utilize quality sealed bearings. You are sanding metal (copper) upside down! I have burned out more than my fair share of sanders over the years including three Porter Cable 5" units one Makita and a Craftsman.

If you want a really heavy duty sander the 5" right angle Porter Cable 97355 (LINK) can't be beat for the price. They also make it in a 6" version the Porter Cable 97366 (LINK) . These sanders should not be confused with the crappy 5" RO palm sanders they make. I have yet to know anyone who has killed either of these sanders and many of the guys who hang out on the Plastic Classic forums have gone to this unit. My boat yard uses them too as well as Fein's..

The best sander for marine use is the Fein but you'll need a second mortgage on your house to buy one.;)

One more option is the Rigid line from Home Depot. They carry a lifetime guarantee and seeing how hard bottom paint is on sanders it might be a wise investment.
 

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I have way more experience taking of bottom paint than I care to remember. I would second the Dewalt however make sure you get a model that is rated at 3 amps on the label. I bought one that was 2.2 amps and spent a huge amount of time trying to get some bottom paint off. A friend loaned me his 3 amp rated Dewalt and it was a world of diffrence. Bought my own right away.

Hopefully you can get one with a round dust bad so that you can take the bag off and duct tape on a shop vac hose.

Gary
 

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Sander and Vac

I completely stripped mine down to gelcoat with Peel-Away and LOTS of sanding. I used the Porter Cable Maine Sail mentioned, not sure which size right now. I put a 5 gallon bucket of water with a sealed top between the vac and the sander, running the hose from the sander down into the water and the hose from the vac just thru the top. It sucked the dust thru the water before hitting the vac. I still got a bit dusted but my neighbors had no complaints whatsoever.
 

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I got a Makita BO5021K, 5", 8 hole, random orbital sander last Fall. I removed all the bottom paint on my 30' Islander - about half by scraping and the other half by sanding. I have about 60 hours of sanding and I'd have to say this is the best power tool I have ever used. I'd highly recommend it. It is light but has enough power. You can slow down the speed to reduce the agressiveness around keel and rudder high radius areas. I got a Fein adapter to adapt to my marina's Fein vacuum. The sander exhaust adapts perfectly to the sander. The sander plugs in to a receptacle on the vacuum so when you start and stop the sander, it starts and stops the vacuum. It is a perfect setup.
 

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I torched 2 ryobi - or as my pal calls them ry blow me - sanding the bottom. Not alot of paint, just gel coat and epoxy repairs, etc. #1 lasted 50 hours, #2 alot less as much of it was upside down under the keel. I have moved on to a Milwakee for a few extra bucks. I like the norton discs.

For the guy that wanted to sand ablative paint - I wouldn't use a sander but rather a trick I learned at a yard in Berkeley, CA. There are these bricks used by restaurants to clean grills. They are charcoal in color and do not know what they are made of, but more removing a layer, or all if you want, of ablative paint with a hose in the other hand. The brick wears and assumes the contours of the yacht. Works brilliantly.
 

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Fein Vacuum

The best sander for marine use is the Fein but you'll need a second mortgage on your house to buy one.
Sad but true.

I have old Bosch right angle attack sander that just keeps going, and a Fein I bought when I though that the Bosch had died. I have a really tough time finding eight hole sanding disks for the Fein, I need to change out the pad to match my old Bosch since I have lots of six hole pads already.

But way more important than the Fein sander is the Fein vacuum. Whatever sander you have, the Fein vacuum makes a good add on. The cool feature is the integrated plug. and auto on capability. Plug the vacuum into your power source, plug the sander into the vacuum. Set to Auto. Turn the sander on and the vacuum comes on. Turn the sander off and a moment later the vacuum shuts down.

The Fein vacuum has several choices for filtration (including everything from a fabric bag to hepa) and it has a really long cord on the vac, and a long hose to the sander. Much quieter than most vacuums, although with my Bosch attack sander, its hard to tell through the hearing protection.
 

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Having completely stripped and sanded the bottoms of more boats than I care to remember using every type of sander so far mentioned with the exception of the dewalt, I would go along with Mainsails recommendations. The Fein, both the sander and the vacumn are the best combination I have ever used if you can afford them. The Porter Cable 97355/97356 Icurrently have have both been going strong after several years of constant commercial type use. The Fein vac is a great unit and I have found it to be an indispenceable piece of equiptment . The biggest drawback with it is that the disposable bags for it are not as readily availble as for other units but if you dont't mind emptying the unit you can get away without them. For bottom paint though I would definately only use it with the disposable bags. I also like mkirk51's suggestion of using a water trap for the dust between the sander and the vacumn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Excellent suggestions and advice. Thank you all. I'm off to go shopping. Hopefully this year, I won't come home looking like Papa Smurf.
 
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