How To: Haines V19R Boat Restoration
Our Haines V19R project boat (since re-christened the Nautek N19R) was finally taking shape with its new wave breaker, dashboard and a completely new transom, plus a versatile work station and new underfloor layout. But after all this boat restoration had taken place, the V19 looked like a patchwork quilt of old and new fibreglass.
The base had been formed but now it was time to move away from the planning, construction and repair side to the boat’s cosmetics. We wanted our Haines V19R to turn heads so someone suggested the we paint the boat in a bright, canary yellow hull with a white top. Such a boat paint colour scheme would have been quickly dismissed just a few years back. It’s funny how what’s old becomes new again, often sooner than you’d think. But there was plenty of work to be done before we got to that final coat. The fiberglass repair component had been thoroughly completed, but she was rough and raw with sanding and grinding marks all over, particularly on the newly-constructed features.
PAINTING THE HAINES PROJECT BOAT
I’d hate to estimate how many long, dirty hours Billy and Scotty from Nautek Marine spent sanding, filling and rubbing the boat down to prepare her for painting. One of the worst sections was the gunwales where we’d removed the rubber before hiding flanges and laminating the deck and hull together.
It was all pretty rough to start with and the transom seemed to take forever as it needs to be dead straight. This took quite a few attempts to get right and each was made with fibreglass – not bog – in this critical area of strength. Eventually the straight edge said it was flat where it mattered, while natural curves were appearing in a smooth, orderly fashion throughout the rest of the boat. The sanding process starts with heavy gauge paper, even 60 grit sandpaper for the rough stuff. Day by day the finish improved as the sandpaper grit was reduced to an eventual minimum of 400 grade.
Our mate Henry Hill of Henry’s Quality Paint Finishes stopped by to see how we were going and provided some great advice. An expert on all things relating to boat paint, Henry had some excellent advice on what products to use for the final boat painting finish.
For example, when painting fibreglass boats, it’s really hard to see the fine scratches in rough product but a good paint job will magnify any underlying blemishes tenfold. Henry told us about Guide Coat, a graphite-like powder that you rub across the surface. It gathers in the scratches in the boat’s fibreglass and shows them in contrast. These can then either be filled or sanded out and Henry’s advice proved invaluable in achieving the final paint finish.
Eventually we were happy with the sanded finish and it was off to our old mate Winga (Brendon Wing) at RobAust Refinish Alternatives. Many will know Winga from his popular YouFish television series but most don’t know he’s also a boat paint specialist. RobAust provides a full range of paint and fillers, plus all the tools and equipment needed for professional spray painting and refinishing. Nuplex Composites also came to our aid with all of the raw fibreglass materials. We used premium polyester resin and catalyst, chop strand mat, multi-bias mat, gelcoat and flowcoat to ensure the strength and reliability of the construction.
The internals were hand-painted with a light grey flowcoat and then speckle coated with dark grey spots to give an almost-commercial work surface. But the arguments as to what make up the floor are still raging today. Some – including our boss – like the floor “as is” with a hard wearing and easily cleaned flowcoat surface. Others – myself included – prefer marine carpet and then there’s removable rubber matting, too. We all agree that some of the new composite flooring systems are terrific, but then so is handlaid teak. The battle still rages in monthly team meetings.
Before the hull left Nautek for the spray shop, the final stage was a filler coat of two-pack RobAust Epoxy Hi-Build 4:1 Primer to the exterior. The filler coat is a thickened paint that gets into any remaining scratches and imperfections. This thick, final coating allows you to rub any imperfections out and provides the tough base surface for the final top coat. Winga assured us the filler coat has the strength of Araldite when cured but it’s vital that full curing times are adhered to. Heat and humidity are other vital factors and as the Nautek factory wasn’t heated and conditions were still cold, someone headed down the local hire shop for an industrial heater.
Heat and ventilation are a delicate balancing act – you must consider the safety implications of gas powered heaters in an enclosed environment full of fumes. In the end, we heated the boat prior to spraying, then turned off the heater and turned on some large fans to help with fume extraction.
We gave it two filler coats and used the Guide Coat again between coats to make sure we filled all the scratches. Applying marine paint on fiberglass boats is a time-consuming job but finally the big day had come! The preparation was complete and ready for the spray shop. Our project boat looked like a big grey battleship as we lifted her off the stands and dropped her onto the Oceanic trailer for transport to Henry’s spray booth.
Watching a talented tradesman work his magic is art itself. Henry’s professionalism in his trade has been developed over long years of experience and his speed and quality of finish outstanding. We rolled the whole trailer into the spray booth and dropped her onto the wind-up stands, similar to caravan supports. The original plan was to spray the entire hull yellow, but Henry suggested we go white below the chines to match the original gelcoat. The undersides are the major area of wear, so it makes sense to match the original to prevent scratches being highlighted.
The side panels and internals were masked off leaving the deck and lower hull exposed for its white coat. Henry fired up the heaters and brought the whole environment up to 22°C – an ideal temperature for spraying and perfect for the paint to adhere without being too hot or curing too quickly.
He mixed the RobAust Polyurethane 2K 4:1 topcoat paint thoroughly, and noted: “It is vital to be exact with the measurements as too much hardener will dull the finish and not enough can weaken the structure and affect the cure.”
Henry also ensures the paint is warm and lets the mixed paint stand for around 10 minutes before spraying to ensure the cross link activation of the two parts.
The deck and hull undersides were painted in a smooth, rhythmic motion. Henry advises a wide fan angle on the spray gun to achieve the smoothest possible finish. Upon finishing, the boat was baked at around 70°C for one hour. After another 30 minutes we removed the masking and were delighted with the results. All that hard work was paying off!
Next morning, we masked off the bottom and deck, leaving only the side panels exposed. A tip for masking is to set your covering line about 6mm below the final masking line. This allows you to pull just one section of tape off the critical final lines without trying to remove all the plastic or paper with it. Henry mixed the beautiful canary yellow colour that Winga had tinted especially to our taste. It is perhaps even more critical to thoroughly mix the heavier colours as there can be pigment separation. On went the two coats in a jiffy.
A couple of hours later, the baking process was over and we rolled back the coverings. She looked sensational! The bright yellow offset with white hull was a terrific choice and it’s a highly visible safety colour as well. We thanked Henry profusely, rolled her onto the trailer and headed back to Nautek Marine, but only temporarily.
Next came the really exciting part, fitting the all-new 200hp Yamaha F200G lightweight four-stroke outboard motor and a massive array of Raymarine marine electronics.
Henry’s boat painting tips
Henry Hill of Henry’s Quality Paint Finishes shares his 10 top boat painting tips.
1 Good preparation is essential for a quality finish.
2 Use a premium spray gun and equipment. Set the gun to a large fan angle for a smoother finish.
3 Warm the room temperature. 22°C is optimal.
4 Warm the paint in hot water for five minutes. This starts the cross-link working.
5 Clean air, no oil and no water. Fine filters are a must.
6 Let paint stand for 10 minutes after the two parts are mixed.
7 Premium quality paint gives a stronger, deeper finish.
8 Good, clean environment (dust free, ideally).
9 Accurate mixing of the paint is a must. Too much hardener will dull the finish.
10 Allow flash times between coats as this will eliminate runs (usually 10 to 15 minutes depending on the product.)
11 The best tip of all is to have good attitude and passion.
12 Keep Bear’s grotty, fishy fingers away from all paint jobs.