The Rot Doctor


Subject: Dory
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999

A friend gave me a 15 foot Oregon Dory that had somehow made its way to Virginia. He thinks that it was probably built in the 50's. Its internal structure appears to be made of some soft wood, and its hull is made from plywood. It had been painted inside and out, but a lot of the paint is peeling. The plywood floorboards were varnished, but the varnish is also peeling. The outside bottom of the hull had been fiberglassed, then painted to match the hull color. There are a few small places in the internal structure where the wood has rotted.

I need your advice on how to restore the dory, and which of your products to use. From reviewing your literature, it appears that your Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer could be used as a base before repainting/revarnishing, and that your Fill-It Epoxy Sealer could fill in the small rotted areas. Should all remaining paint be removed, or can intact paint be left on? Should the interior be repainted/revarnished, or just lightly sealed so that the wood can breathe?

Thank you.

Jim C.


As long as you're going to work on the boat, you might as well do it right. Get it under cover somewhere so the rain won't get in your way (or cover it when you are finished working), and strip all the paint and varnish off the boat. My preferred stripper is the Jasco brand that you buy at hardware and home stores. Following that, inspect the boat carefully for rot and soft wood. Where you find rot -- as you said you have done -- treat the wood with CPES (Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer) twice, allow it to cure, and then go back with the Epoxy Filler and fill any vacancies. Where you find wood that is just a bit soft, give it a good treatment with the CPES.

This will take care of known trouble spots. Following that, I would coat the entire outside and inside of the boat with one application of CPES. This will seal the wood somewhat and it will penetrate into all the joints and seams and take care of any hidden little problems, as well as any rot fungi or destructive bacteria that may be there. The wood will still breathe after a coat of CPES.

Now you can re-finish. Any paint or varnish will stick to CPES-treated wood very well, so what you do is largely a matter of your preferred aesthetics. Polyurethane-based coatings seem to adhere better than others, so we recommend them. They are available at any marine supplier as paints or varnishes. These coatings allow the passage of air so you still have breathable wood. For the inside it's your choice. A coating of CPES will do the job, but it will have to re-applied every 2 or 3 years since UV light will eventually decompose any epoxy. Paint or varnish would give you CPES protection, but then it too must be maintained. Pretty much a toss, I would think.

Come back if you have more questions, and certainly ask any questions you want as you pursue the restoration of the dory. Our Northwest dories should float just fine in Virginia water.