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Old 14-03-2010, 23:13   #1
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Restoring a Dickerson 35

Hello! I have been reading these forums for over a year while doing research on buying my first sail boat. I just returned from doing just that, I am now the owner of the 35' Dickerson, Restless! I am looking for pointers and opinions on materials and methods to get her back into shape.

Here is what she needs: Hauled out, the hull and bottom stripped and repainted, new cushions in the interior, some minor repairs on the deck, new topside paint, and some other minor miscellaneous things.

She is a wood boat, with a fiberglass over plywood deck. I saw no signs of rot anywhere on the hull. The fiberglass part is easy (thanks little bro for getting a job at a fiberglass repair shop!). The shipyard where I'll be doing the work doesn't have air for airtools, so I need to do the work with electric power tools. I have worked all of my adult life as a building contractor, and as a hobby I restore classic cars, so doing the work and having the tools are not a problem.

Here are my questions:

What is the best way to strip the hull and prep it for paint? I was thinking 7" grinder or belt sander with 36 grit (I do have enough experience with these tools to not destroy the wood), followed by block sanding with 80 grit. Thoughts?

What paint products have you used for the hull and bottom paint, specifically? I was thinking automotive grade polyester hi build primer, epoxy primer then single stage urethane. I've heard of people using house hold latex paint for this???

What material for the interior cushions? Cloth would seem more comfy and cooler to sit on, but vinyl would be more water and mildew resistant.

Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 15-03-2010, 04:04   #2
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Get a high speed grinder.I use a makita with soft pad.I would use the finest grit that will remove the paint w/o gumming up to quickly.Make sure to hold grinder flat,many people use the edge.cuts quickly & leaves the cutest little circles.Cushions I prefer herculeon(sp).marc
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Old 15-03-2010, 09:22   #3
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Thanks Marc. I've stripped countless cars with my trusty DeWalt 7" grinder, but I wanted to make sure people have had success with this method on a wood boat. I'll check into that material for the cushions too.
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Old 15-03-2010, 12:17   #4
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I guess it depends on why you are stripping the bottom and whats on there. Personally I'd say 36 grit is too brutal to be used with a grinder. A steel car body can take much more abuse than a wood hull. I'd be very careful with that. If you are just needing to redo the bottom paint, then stripping to bare skin is probably not needed. Rough sand with 80-100 grit and then wash. Paint when dry. This has worked well for me.

For my part, the wood boats I've owned were stripped using either a heat gun and scraper or chemical stripped. Much easier on the hull. More labour intensive but less likely to damage the wood. One of my current projects is to strip the deckhouse on my boat, it was varnished numerous times and then painted over with epoxy. Application of heat and a scraper takes it right off very easily.

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Old 15-03-2010, 15:57   #5
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Before I started ripping into the hull of a classic Dickerson with a grinder I'd wan to be pretty darn sure of what I was doing. It might be wise to seek out other owners for advice, no? You might want to check out Dickerson Boatbuilders - The Dickerson Sailing Yacht and particularly the owners forum there. The boats are real American classics and surely deserve proper care.

FWIW...
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Old 15-03-2010, 17:08   #6
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Re: hull (fiberglass or wood?)
Fiberglass:
36 is ok on the bottom coats (ablatives) but go easy or you'll take off the gel as well. 50 is a bit more work, but not so hard on the gel. On decks 60-80 for the rough up then wash and prep for paint per mfg instruction. We were burning out Harbor Freight variable grinders with 7" hook/loop and 40grit, but we're also grinding hard to remove the gel as well. No... More... BLISTERS! AAGGGHHH!!!
Sorry, got carried away......
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Old 15-03-2010, 17:12   #7
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I never thought of the heat gun method. Chemical strippers are something I've always been wary of, seen too many paint jobs where crap starts coming through the finish because the stripper wasn't neutralized properly. How soon after pulling the boat should I wait to try the heat gun method? I was planning on giving it a few weeks to dry out before sanding, could I start earlier doing it this way (saving me on shipyard time!)?

To the last post, I totally understand your position, I would give the same advice if a novice told me they were going to hit a classic boat with a 7" grinder. However, I have countless hours of experience sanding very delicate body panels on classic cars, and I'm confident I could strip this boat without getting into the wood too bad. (often on cars, I can grind off years of repaints and grind down to the original primer without touching most of the metal, then I finish sand the rest off with a DA with 80 grit). I've checked out the dickerson owners forums, they are a great source of info. I'm just looking for pointers on methods other people have used to finish these types of boats.
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Old 15-03-2010, 17:16   #8
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Fishman tx, unfortunately (for the sake of available info) this isn't a fiberglass hull, it is all wood. My little brother paints fiberglass boats every day, I'm just looking for some good advice on prepping and painting a wood hull.
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Old 15-03-2010, 17:30   #9
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You may want to check out the forum at Woodenboat. They would have lots of good advice. Kirby's, International and Epiphanes all make very nice enamel well suited to wooden boats. Post a photo when you get it done! Best of luck!
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Old 15-03-2010, 19:15   #10
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I can't really tell you how long to wait before you start with the heat gun. The boat I did was out of the water for a couple of years. It would seem to me that having the wood moist but dry will prevent the heat gun from burning the wood less if left in place too long. Heat stripping is a touchy feely sort of thing. You don't want the paint to be smoking or catching fire but you do want it to bubble up as much as possible. Slow forward movement of the gun will do the job, and as I mentioned, if the wood is wet, less chance of damaging it. I would say a week or two would be ideal. The boat I did was cedar on oak and dry as a bone. She got a bit crispy in spots when I wasn't careful.

I'm using a Black n Decker heat gun on my coach roof right now and it works a treat. The epoxy bonded to the varnish which bubbles up nicely, and a scraper pulls it off down to bare wood in one pass. Stubborn areas get a second application of heat and off it comes.

I have a steel hull I need to redo, with about 8 coats of bottom paint, and rust spots all over. I am planning on using chemical strippers in the area around the rust spots, down to the epoxy coat, and then feathering the epoxy with the sand blaster. If I think it merits the extra work I'll take all the paint off but Im not planning on it at this time. I just want to get the rust spots blasted and re-ecoated. They require that I lay plastic down before even attempting to chem strip or blast so that will need to be done. I look at chem stripping to be about as nasty as scraping the bottom after haulout. Same slimey gunk, only this stuff is corrosive. I intend to wear disposable coveralls while doing this.



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Old 15-03-2010, 22:51   #11
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Sabre, this is an area where I am all too familiar. If you are getting paint off of steel and you plan on sand blasting, forget about chemical stripper. Just blast everything. If you are worried about warping from the heat, just use a less abrasive media for the sensative areas and use silica sand or black beauty for the bulk of the job. Check out the eastwood company for different abrasive materials, then check locally if you can find them in bulk
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Old 16-03-2010, 15:57   #12
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Dickerson 35

My recently late father in law bought a Aft cabin Dickerson in "74" Many years on it including living aboard in Key Largo. It's resting there on the bottom behind some guys house now. I swear by random orbital sanders, no swirl marks and they really work good. A good power washing will save you much work.
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Old 16-03-2010, 17:51   #13
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Dickerson Owners Can Help

Congratulations on the purchase of your Dickerson 35'. You have a great boat and a good group of Dickerson owners to help you out. Check out "www.dickersonowners.org" for a start. Let me know if/how I can help. I am the Dickerson Commodore until a winner is named in our yearly owners race in June 2010.

JibeHo!
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Old 16-03-2010, 20:37   #14
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Thanks JibeHo! Right now I'm trying to determine the material and construction for the interior cushions, and get a plan together to haul out in a couple months for hull paint and bottom job. My thoughts for the cushions are to cut 1/4" plywood to the size of my templates, glue a good quality 3" foam to that, then cover with fabric. I'm debating what type of fabric, and I'm leaning towards a comfy cloth for the v berth and a sturdier vinyl for the galley. Thoughts or advice?
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Old 17-03-2010, 01:02   #15
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Actually the reason I'm planning on chemical stripping around the rust spots is so that I have a clear area of epoxy to work with when I feather the new epoxy after sand blasting. Im kind of against the idea of just blasting away and then slopping epoxy on as the epoxy will end up over the existing paint. So its either remove paint in small patches chemically or just sand blast the entire bottom. UGH, not interested in that.

If I get a chance this weekend I'll take some photos. Weather promises to be nice so I'll have a go at chemical stripping and show you what I mean.

I also expect to get the epoxy stripped off the coach roof so some photos of that will be taken as well.

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