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Old 02-02-2016, 21:56   #1
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Varnish or not to Varnish ?

Hi

Just starting my first varnish project on my "classic plastic" sailing boat. Thought I'd start easy with the tiller.

My initial scrape and 80 grit sand seems to have got most of the varnish off and left the tiller with a (mostly) nice look and feel.

So, that got me to wondering - do I need to re-varnish, or can I just oil her up ?? I kinda like the look and feel of the natural wood over the shiny varnish. Not sure what the wood is though.... after the initial sand, it
has a sort of reddish hue. I'm assuming its part of the original boat from Sweden, built in the 60's.

I live in the sub-tropics, so the sun is a bit of an issue. I know that most of the other boats around with tillers go for the varnish.

Otherwise, there are a couple of "white spots" on the wood where the varnish had worn, and the wood exposed for some time. Should I oil the wood before i varnish, or keep sanding until the worn spots are gone ?

Thanks for any thoughts

KK
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Old 03-02-2016, 00:24   #2
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

Take some 120 grit, and clean up the white spots. If available, spray with clear LPU, with many UV protectors in it. Keep doing it, till you've got 12 coats. It will be drop dead gorgeous!

If you don''t need ddg, just regular varnish, lightly sanding between coats, but build up the layers. We ALWAYS want to stop too soon, but if you persevere, it will be good, and only need a sand and one coat next time.

Y'all can oil it if you want to. But, for me, I'd rather varnish, even a few coats, and make a tiller cover to pop over the tiller and absorb uv while I am away from the boat.

The reason I am not keen on oiling is that it must be done over and over, and then builds up and oxidizes and gets yucky. 60 grit will fill with it, and you can't knock it out.

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Old 03-02-2016, 00:31   #3
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

hi ann

my thanks for the tips.

may i ask what is clear LPU ?? from your description, i'm assuming that it comes as an aerosol ??

cheers
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Old 03-02-2016, 02:02   #4
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

LPU is Linear Polyurethane. It's another type of wood protector, & it comes in several types, & methods of application. Some types of if being 2-part systems, like Awlgrip paint. However, generally, I think that for spray on applications, you'll have to mix it up, & set up a spray rig yourself. That or have someone else do as much, IIRC.

But I think what Ann's getting at, is that it has a superior lifespan to traditional varnish. Just as the 2-part (2-pack) paints do, vs. the one-part ones.
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Old 03-02-2016, 02:03   #5
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

Clear linear polyurethane. Don't know if it comes as an aerosol, but if you acquire a sprayer (rent, borrow or buy), it is really faster. Lots faster than coat by coat by hand. You can spray coat upon coat if the timing is right... FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS!!

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Old 03-02-2016, 02:44   #6
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

Hmm… The only exterior varnish I have on my wooden boat is the tiller , After 7 or so years, it needs redoing - perhaps this winter.

I think the reason for it's longevity was the technique .

Sand sand sand with finer grades of paper until you are happy. Wet the timber and let dry before the final couple of times. I stopped with 400 grit (wet and dry). Wetting the wood makes the tiny fibres curl up and thus when sanded, the final result is smoother.

Apply about 5 thin coats of epoxy using a UV stabilised hardener, preferably wet on green.

Apply 10 or 12 coats of 2 pack exterior polyurethane varnish.

The epoxy encapsulates the wood and keeps it stable while the 2 pack varnish keeps the UV off the epoxy (and wood surface) or so they say

All applied by brush but maybe spraying would be better - dunno?

Next time I will cover up the tiller when I'm not onboard; reckon I will get 10+years that way.
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Old 03-02-2016, 04:42   #7
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

Why do anything to the tiller?

My boat was on the hard unattended for 5 years when I bought it.

After 5 years of ownership, most of the peeling varnish is finally gone from the entire boat either by wear or me sanding it.

My tiller still has a bit of varnish left in the middle section that was applied at least 10 years ago but not much.

I may sand it a bit one day....
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Old 03-02-2016, 04:51   #8
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

Once its varnished, make a cover from something that will keep the sun off it when not in use.
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Old 03-02-2016, 04:55   #9
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

Quote:
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Once its varnished, make a cover from something that will keep the sun off it when not in use.
Yeah because a new one could set you back $40.00 to $100.00 or so if you don't do anything to it for maybe 15 years .....
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Old 03-02-2016, 05:18   #10
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
Once its varnished, make a cover from something that will keep the sun off it when not in use.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
Yeah because a new one could set you back $40.00 to $100.00 or so if you don't do anything to it for maybe 15 years .....
I'm not sure why... But tiller finish seems to degrade faster than any surrounding brightwork!
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Old 03-02-2016, 05:23   #11
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

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I'm not sure why... But tiller finish seems to degrade faster than any surrounding brightwork!
Ok. I guess that's important for those that shine on their brightwork.....

It all goes back to the same argument about having a boat.

Did you buy it to sail or make it look pretty. (and perfect)

I sail my boat which is why it has a new $1600 eight ounce main and new engine (outboard), but it has almost no varnish left on any of the teak.
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Old 03-02-2016, 05:28   #12
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

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Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
Ok. I guess that's important for those that shine on their brightwork.....

It all goes back to the same argument about having a boat.

Did you buy it to sail or make it look pretty. (and perfect)

I sail my boat which is why it has a new $1600 eight ounce main and new engine (outboard), but it has almost no varnish left on any of the teak.
I think that is aaaawesome!
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Old 03-02-2016, 05:35   #13
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

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I think that is aaaawesome!
It may seem awesome but you really have to put some thought into whether you want to buy a mainsail for about the same price that you paid for your entire boat.

The sail and the engine cost $1200.00 more than my new good ole boat.

Now when I have to buy that $50.00 tiller in a few years.....another big decision
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Old 03-02-2016, 05:57   #14
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

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Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
It may seem awesome but you really have to put some thought into whether you want to buy a mainsail for about the same price that you paid for your entire boat.

The sail and the engine cost $1200.00 more than my new good ole boat.

Now when I have to buy that $50.00 tiller in a few years.....another big decision
Shop Top Choice #2 Kiln-Dried Whitewood Smooth 4 Sides Dimensional Lumber (Common: 2-in x 4-in x 12-ft; Actual: 1.5-in x 3.5-in x 12-ft) at Lowes.com

Rip it once, and 3 cross cuts.... = 12 disposable tillers.... $5.88/12=$0.49 ea
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Old 03-02-2016, 05:57   #15
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Re: Varnish or not to Varnish ?

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Once its varnished, make a cover from something that will keep the sun off it when not in use.
This, because it's UV more than anything that destroys the varnish, and as a percentage we all spend very little time actually under sail.
Look at how long the varnish on the interior of a boat lasts
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