New Member restoration tips

GP14 Sailing Forums Forum New Member restoration tips

This topic contains 4 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Oliver Shaw 9 months ago.

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  • #14355


    Hi all,

    I’ve just managed to get my hands on the family GP14, it’s been a bit neglected for a few years but seems fairly sound.

    Mostly just a re-varnish and a lick of paint on the hull. Since I’m not exactly a restoration pro I was wondering if anyone had useful tips?

    For example the best bang for your buck varnish around, I’m assuming marine/yacht varnish is a must? Basically, any help is greatly appreciated.


    N.B if anyone in the north east of England needs a novice crew for a few weekends let me know!

  • #14357

    Oliver Shaw

    Congratulations on your acquisition;   enjoy!

    Choice of varnish:   to a large extent you get what you pay for.   If the boat is your pride and joy it is well worth using a top quality marine varnish,  but if she is merely functional and there is little pride in ownership then domestic quality paints and varnishes may well satisfy you.

    First set of questions are what age,  is there likely to be any movement in the wood (any at all …),  and is the existing paint and varnish likely to be two-pot?    If the boat is reasonably modern,  there is absolutely nil movement in the wood (e.g. edges of the ply …),  and if you are absolutely certain that the existing finish is two-pot,  then go for a two-pot polyurethane yacht finish.    International’s Perfection (paint) and Perfection Plus (varnish),  or the equivalent from other marine or yacht paint manufacturers (e.g. Epifanes,  Hempel,  Blakes),  is the stuff to use  –  but only if all those conditions are met.

    If any of those conditions are not met my gut feeling would be to use good quality one-pot conventional materials.   I know the International Paints range best,  but other manufacturers (as above) offer equally well thought of equivalents.   Toplac (paint) is a top of the range finish which I use regularly,  and it will not disappoint.   My personal favourite conventional varnish is Schooner (NOT Schooner Gold,  which seems not to flow out as beautifully),  but International also do Schooner Gold,  and Original,  and perhaps others.   The attachment shows my Series 1 Strait Laced in 2005,  finished with Toplac and Schooner,  and I think this speaks adequately to the quality that can be achieved with these products.

    Having said that,  there is a half-way house in the form of one-pot polyurethanes.   These came out in the sixties,  and I used them extensively at that time,  before eventually deciding that they were a poor compromise,  and I went right off them.   However last year I returned to them,  for the first time in many decades,  using Epifanes Monourethane on the topsides of my small yacht,  and I was most impressed with how easy it was to apply,  how well it flowed out,  and the quality of the gloss.   The jury is still out on how long it will last;  it hasn’t had enough time yet to demonstrate that quality.

    Four varnishing tips which may help.     First, if you find (as I did when I bought Strait Laced),  that there are localised places where the varnish is damaged you may be able to repair just the damaged areas in isolation,  going back to bare wood if necessary in those localised areas,  using an “artist” paint brush for very small areas,  and building up to a reasonable number of coats there.    Then sand down the entire area,  and put two or more coats over the whole of it.    Whether that is a viable way forward,  rather than stripping the whole deck (and transom?) back to bare wood and starting afresh,  will be a judgement call,  and it will depend on how localised is the damage.

    Second,  the old traditional dictum is that flatting down paint or varnish had to be done by hand,  no power tools,  because it had to be done wet,  using Wet Or Dry paper (silicone carbide paper) used with plenty of water;  regard 240-grit as medium-coarse,  and about 400 or finer for finish sanding.   However for the last dozen years I have consistently found that I get excellent results sanding down dry,  using a power sander (oscillating sander);  and the choice of grit numbers needs to be very different from WOD used wet and sanding by hand.   For an oscillating power sander,  regard 150 or higher grit number as medium-fine;  indeed that (or 180) will probably suffice for finish sanding,  and it is rare to find higher grit numbers available.    Don’t stint on replacing the sandpaper when it ceases to cut easily;  your time (and energy) are vastly more valuable that the cost of a few extra sheets of abrasive paper,  and it is just not worth exhausting yourself (and taking longer over the job) by continuing with paper which has lost its initial sharpness!

    Three,  having sanded,  thoroughly remove all sanding dust,  and all other grot and debris;  either by brush or vacuum cleaner,  or whatever.   Then wipe over the surface with a cloth damped with the correct thinners for the finish you are intending to apply,  and allow this to dry off;   if in any doubt that the surface is pristine clean,  repeat this step until such time as the cloth comes away clean.    Finally,  immediately before applying the finish wipe over with a decorator’s “Tack-rag”.

    Four,  and finally,  provide (or choose) the optimum environmental conditions,  particularly for the final coat.   Absolutely crucial are temperatures within the correct range (material,  and substrate,  and ambient);   absence of wind (if possible do the job indoors);   excellent lighting (so that you can look along the surface and see the quality of what you are achieving and ensure that you don’t put the finish on too thickly,  and that you don’t miss bits);   humidity not too high;  and (of course) don’t use paraffin heaters or anything else which will produce fumes which could affect the material as it cures.   Typically I like a temperature range of 15 to 25 deg. C,  but some finishes are OK down to 10 deg C, and others down to 5 deg C.   Temperatures much too high will result in the material starting to set so quickly that you have difficulty maintaining a wet edge.   The most important environmental conditions may well be specified on the can,  but I would encourage you to download the product data sheet from the manufacturer’s website.

    International Paints operate a telephone Helpline,  which on the isolated occasions when I have used it I have found most helpful;  top quality advice,  usually from their Technical Manager in person (or maybe I have just been lucky).    I would expect that the other manufacturers offer something similar,  but I have no first-hand experience.

    Hope this helps.



    • This reply was modified 9 months ago by  Oliver Shaw.
    • This reply was modified 9 months ago by  Oliver Shaw.
    • This reply was modified 9 months ago by  Oliver Shaw.
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  • #14362

    Oliver Shaw

    A few other tips.

    One of the biggest problems in painting or varnishing a large area is maintaining a wet edge,  and if you brush over a part of the finish which has already started to set it will “pull” and will not flow out again.    With the hull there is no major problem if you paint the bottom and the sides separately;   whether you are doing the sides or the bottom you can start at the transom and work forward along one side to the stem and then back down the other side to the transom,  or vice versa,  and you never have to meet up with the region you painted first.

    If you wish to do the sides in one operation and the bottom in another you can make a neat and barely perceptible join along the line of the chines;   but if you use masking tape to separate the two operations allow at least four days for the paint to fully cure before applying the tape.   Then once you have painted the second region,  remove the masking tape while the paint is still wet.

    If you wish to do sides and bottom all in one operation you may perhaps have an issue with keeping a wet edge.   It might then pay to have an assistant,  if that can be arranged,  and perhaps one of you do the bottom while the other does the corresponding side;   but you would be working in immediate proximity (because working on opposite sides defeats the object),  so there is the risk of getting in each other’s way.   One alternative technique for two-man working recommended by International Paints is for first person to apply the paint by roller,  with the second following up immediately (before the paint has started to set) “tipping off” by brush;   I have never myself tried that with two-man working,  but I can confirm that I have not been able to adapt it successfully to one-man working.

    Varnishing the decks presents a different challenge.   Wherever you start,  you necessarily work round in a circuit,  and return to a point adjacent to your starting point.  It is absolutely vital that your final work butts up to but does not trespass into your initial work,  and it therefore pays to choose your starting point with care,  with that in mind.   Start with a clearly defined line,  and it also pays to choose different starting points on successive coats.   Options for that starting point include any of the four joints in the plywood (e.g. at either end of either side deck),  taking great care not to trespass the wrong side of the line in the ply either at start or at finish;   there are four such joins in the ply,  so you can vary the start point between successive coats.   Another option,  less well defined but very much shorter (so any imperfection will be less noticeable) is the very narrow space between the end of the wash board (the so-called spray deflector,  much better named deck water deflector) and the rubbing strake.

    I have found that if I include the washboards when varnishing the decks,  however careful I am not to apply the varnish too thickly there is still a tendency for some to run downwards off the washboards onto the deck and “pool” a little on the deck.    Next time  –  I am still learning after some 60 years  –  I shall use masking tape,  and do the decks and the washboards in separate operations,  at least for the final few coats.

    There is much else that could be said about general techniques,  but a lot of it will be found on the paint and varnish manufacturers’ websites.

    Hope this is helpful.



    • This reply was modified 9 months ago by  Oliver Shaw.
  • #14366


    Hi Oliver,

    That’s all really helpful stuff thank you very much.

    I’ll have a look into the brands you’ve recommended and have a look into the past situation with regards to two pot or one. Unfortunately the damaged varnish is much too widely spread so the entire deck will have to be done again.

    This time of year will probably give me the best conditions for the work so I intend on getting started as soon as I can.

    Thanks again!

  • #14370

    Oliver Shaw

    Bad luck that you have to strip the entire deck.    Some further tips there.

    I used to use a chemical stripper,  and I insisted that the only one worth using was Nitromors Original.   However more recently,  following a recommendation from a friend,  I have used an electric heat gun (with all due care not to scorch the wood!),  and I find this equally effective,  and more convenient,  and with cheaper running cost.

    A seriously sharp scraper is paramount.   The late Ian Proctor wrote in his book Racing Dinghy Maintenance about how,  and how frequently,  to sharpen it,  and for many decades that was the practice that I followed;   but technology has moved on.    These days I use a silicon carbide scraper,  with replaceable blades.   I bought mine from B&Q.   The blades are double-edged,  and each edge remains sharp for a good length of time;  you might well get half your deck done before you need to turn the blade round (to use the other edge).    Once both edges have been used,  just change the blade.    But,  as with abrasive paper,  don’t persevere with a worn blade;  replace it.

    Third tip,  if going back to bare wood use an appropriate varnish primer on the bare wood before you apply the varnish.    I have had excellent results in the past with Universal Clear Primer (from International Paints),  but that has been discontinued and replaced with a two-pot product with an absolute mouthful of a name,  Clear Wood Sealer Fast-Dry.   Again I have had excellent results with it;   four coats of that,  followed by four or five of varnish.

    An alternative approach is to coat the wood in epoxy resin before varnishing.   That is widely recommended for new construction,  provided you coat all surfaces,  including those which are hidden,  so that the wood is completely sealed and water cannot penetrate anywhere.   That benefit is lost if you are only doing the exposed surface of the deck.    I have had mixed results doing that with WEST epoxy;   it is such a hard surface when fully cured that I find it difficult to sand it really smooth,  and as a separate problem I have on some occasions had subsequent coats of varnish reacting badly with the epoxy.   The solution to the latter is to be assiduous in leaving the epoxy a generous length of time to fully cure before varnishing over it  –  a minimum of 48 hours,  and a week is safer  –  and also to be assiduous in removing any trace of amine blush which can form on the surface;   warm soapy water and a Scotchbrite pad are recommended for that,  but then be very sure to get rid of all the soap (or detergent) residue afterwards,  and follow up with a cloth dampened with thinners as mentioned previously.

    A possible variant on epoxy which may be easier to use is Interprotect,  from International Paints.   I have never used it and have no experience of it,  but it is described as a two-pot epoxy primer,  and I think it is clear.   As a product specifically designed as part of a painting (or varnishing?) scheme it might be a lot easier to use;   WEST epoxy is designed for a wider range of purposes.   A telephone discussion with International Paints’ Helpline might be useful if you are considering this.

    Hope this helps,




    • This reply was modified 9 months ago by  Oliver Shaw.

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