1956 Century Cowhide Palomino – Bleaching Avodire Decks

It is time for an update on our preservation of the 1956 Century “Cowhide” Palomino, hull #P 5652. We completely stripped her bottom planking up to her waterline. Remember, Century Palomino’s are single planked with battens running through the bilge along every plank seam. Installing a true 5200 bottom therefore has little meaning.

Rather we applied three coats of Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES) to all surfaces including the inevitable spaces between the bottom planks. We then filled those voids with Sikaflex 289, which is designed as a seam compound that cures, but remains highly pliable.

Why don’t we use 3M 5200 for this purpose? Unlike the Sikaflex product, 5200 becomes extremely hard once it is fully cured, so hard, in fact, that it will not compress in the face of even the slightest swelling of the planking risks crushing the wood.

Then, as is reinforced in his Classic Boating article, “What is a True 5200 Bottom?” (September/October 2014), we applied two coats of barrier coat beneath four coats of Hard Racing Bronze bottom paint.)

We cleaned out every countersink in the topsides, replaced most of the fasteners and tightened the few that were not replaced, faired the surface, applied three coats of Jamestown Total Boat topside primer beneath the first two of what will eventually be five coats of Total Boat black topside paint. We had hoped to save the original bright finish on the Avodire decks and aft hatch cover, but the splits we discovered in several planks forced us to strip these surfaces completely, carefully release, glue and refasten the offending planking.

Now it is time to bleach the Avodire – which is also known as African White Mahogany. After experimenting with many products, our go-to wood bleach is Kleen Strip (available from Amazon.com). In spite of the accepted “wisdom” that dictates applying a single coat, allowing the wood to dry, and then applying a second one, we get fantastic results by continually reapplying and keeping the wood wet for at least two hours.

Once the wood dries thoroughly, which takes 36 +/- hours, we will apply stain the surface and then apply three coats of CPES before engaging the final step, varnishing with Pettit Hi-Build. Our goal is to have her back together by the end of next week, which may be optimistic given the cure time implications of build a dozen coats of varnish and at least four more coats of Total Boat black on the covering boards and topsides.

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