Vintage Boat Preservation 101: Some Guidance

Sealing every bit of bare wood on your hull is critical to achieving high standards of craftsmanship and a work product that returns years of trouble-free enjoyment. CPES – Smith’s – no other brand – Clear Penetrating Seal ALL bare or stained wood – all the framing beneath the decks and interior of transom, and everywhere else on the hull – must be cleaned, sealed with three coats of Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES). Smith’s is head-and-shoulders the best sealer on the market.

Seal wood to be varnished after it is stained and the stain has cured, and before varnish is applied.
Seal bare wood that will be painted after it has been stripped, cleaned and sanded.

Apply two coats of SANPACO bilge paint to all visible interior surfaces – frames, interior plank surfaces, and, yes, to the undersides of the new deck planks, which we paint individually ahead of installation. SANPACO offers multiple bilge paint options that relate to the make of your boat.

Install deck planking using #6 x 1” silicon bronze, flat head, Frearson wood screws. The best choice is to bed the planks in mahogany 3M 5200 Marine Adhesive Sealant that you “frost” the top surfaces of the framing with. You want a thin glaze, maybe 5/16” thick, and will require something like a dozen tubes. And I hope you have a pneumatic caulking gun because pumping this stuff out with hand power will very quickly border on absolutely no fun.

Oh, the individual deck planks are composed of about 5”-wide boards into which you rout seam channels on both edges and down the middle.

We cut our countersinks 3/8” and then fill the countersinks with mahogany bungs, taking great care to align each bung’s end grain with that around the countersink.

I recommend using Wood Kote Jel’d stain in place of a filler stain because the former is so much user friendly, and delivers such a uniform result. Mike Mayer, owner of the Lake Oswego Boat Company, offers custom-mixed Jel’d stains that match original stains precisely for a series of pre- and post-WWII boats.

I recommend the Interlux Perfection Plus Two-Part Varnish because it is crystal clear and, once cured, is incredibly hard.

We have learned over time that rolling and tipping Perfection, building up to 20+ coats with sanding periodically during the build.

That Perfection is clear allows you to finish caulking the deck seams with Sikaflex 295 Hi UV before you varnish. It also will not contaminate variations like blonde king planks or toe rails.

We roll-and-tip varnish, building up to 20+ coats with sanding periodically during the build. There is much more information in our Varnish to Die For – Buffing & Polishing videos.

You will get lots of guidance from the videos posted to our Web site’s other “How To” pages.