I bought a rare boat. Designed by Howard I. Chapelle back in the 1930's, it is a 30'
double ended sharpie cruiser (built in 1971) whose lines can be seen in Chapelle's book,
Boatbuilding. I doubt if many of this design have ever been built, so I figured if it was
worth buying, it was worth restoring to a high degree and I was determined to remove the
polyester/fiberglass outer covering both to better enable an assessment of what needed doing
and to upgrade it to epoxy saturation later in the process.
Searching the internet for various methods of paint stripping, I stumbled across the
Speedheater infrared paint stripper made in Sweden and sold on the web by several dealers
online for nearly $500.00. (See Links 2* and 3*.) A high price? Maybe, but it has the
advantage of being easy, relatively clean and faster than you may think.
The instructions say to hold it in place for 20 - 30 seconds then scrape off the paint...
and it works like a charm. But it will also loosen/soften the polyester resin holding the
layers of glass cloth to the hull and after cutting around the 12" x 5" heat affected zone
with a razor knife, a corner can be lifted, grabbed with a pair of pliers and simply peeled off
in one piece. All this in about 45 seconds or so.
It is quiet, easy work that would probably be mind-numbing were it not for the Jimmy
Buffet music filling my shop.
The result leaves some cured polyester resin on the hull which is easily sanded off
with a palm sander. I test sanded a small area. But I have a new solution to speed that
up too... Microplane, known for their cheese graters and wood forming tools has come out
with stainless steel sanding discs they claim work 9 times faster and will last as long as
30 - 40 regular sanding discs. They are available from all the usual woodworking suppliers,
come in coarse, medium & fine grits, and they cost around $10.00 /pair. I'll let you know how