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Catalina Direct Discussion Topics / Catalina 22 Discussion Area / Hull / Keel / Rudder / Tiller / Stripping Bottom Paint
Author Stripping Bottom Paint
Russ Hauser
Tavares, FL

Boat Name: Serenity Now!

Model/Year: 1982

Hull No. CTYH1337M82L

Hailing Port: Lake Harris
09/21/2006 4:06 AM Pacific Time

My boat is in the RV/Boat storage area here in our housing developement. It's surrounded with other boats and RV's who would not want the toxic dust from my bottom paint all over their stuff. There are no boat yards within an acceptable distance, so I have to do the work here. I am open to suggestions as to how to strip the old paint without getting into trouble with my neighbors. I have considered wet sanding the paint off to eliminate the dust problem. Someone also suggested using paint stripper. I'm not sure this would not damage the gel coat. Does anyone know?
David Torrisi
Santa Clara, CA

Boat Name: Dumbo

Model/Year: 1975 C-22

Hull No. 4330

Hailing Port: Santa Clara
09/21/2006 9:47 AM Pacific Time

I've used a product called Aqua Strip to strip off topsides paint and I would definately recommend it. It's water soluable, won't burn the flesh off your hands and does a good job on the paint w/o damaging the fiberglass. URL:
I found it at our local chandlery. You may need to call around to find a dealer. They say most paint stores carry it, but I found they few stock it.
#4330 Dumbo
Aaron M Benham
33a Loomis Hights

Boat Name: Tidely-Idley: The never ending project

Model/Year: 1978 C22

Hull No. 8070

Hailing Port:
09/21/2006 12:15 PM Pacific Time

I tried wet sanding only and found that it would take an immpossibly long time to get the job done even with an air sander. I tried Interlux 299E which is made for the purpose of stripping fiberglass. I found it to be extreamly noxious and needed a chemical filter mask while using it. It also caused an immediate burn when drips would get on exposed skin. It was very expensive at about 30 dollars a quart. It worked fairly well for its intended purpose. I then tried Citristrip which is available at the hardware store for about 12 bucks a quart. It smelled pleasant and my only problem with it was that it attracted bees. It appeared to be less harsh on the gelcoat than the 299E and worked almost as well. I was (am still as I am only about 2/3 of the wasy through the project) in the same boat you are in as I am doing it in my yard and don't want any of that paint debris contaminating my yard. Neither of the chemical strippers got all of the paint off so I had to resort to wet sanding the rest of it off. I rinsed the sandpaper in a bucket of water to keep it contained. After the chemical stripper, the paint sanded off very easily. Its a time consuming and messy project that I would find any possible way to avoid doing. If you need to do it like I did, I would recommend doing it in a yard, though they won't let you dry sand the paint off either. I would say if you need to do it, give the Citristrip a try on the bottom paint that you are trying to remove. The only other advise I have is not to apply the chemical to to large an area (3-4 sq ft max), don"t leave the chemical on any longer that it takes to soften the paint and use multiple applications if nessesary.
paul osborne
Lima NY

Boat Name: Emy Lyn II

Model/Year: 1984

Hull No.

Hailing Port: Rochester
09/21/2006 1:51 PM Pacific Time

When I used to strip bottoms, I used paste strip-ezz , only on about 1-2sq ft at a time. Long timless job. Do your self a favor after you have it all of by what ever method and use VC-17. It costs more to start with but you never have to strip agin.
To me the time not under the the boat is worth it.
William Bell
Pt. Orange, FL

Boat Name: Phoenix

Model/Year: 1987 Catalina 22

Hull No. #13784

Hailing Port: Pt. Orange,FL
09/22/2006 7:38 AM Pacific Time

Bob Keim did a test of chemical strippers. They are on his web site. You can contact Bad Bob through Chip Ford's Cat-22 forum. To sign up to the list, go to, I don't think there is a link through the NSA, but could be wrong.

Sorry, but I lost all my bookmarks when my computer crashed, or I would have given you Bob's site address.

Aaron M Benham
33a Loomis Hights

Boat Name: Tidely-Idley: The never ending project

Model/Year: 1978 C22

Hull No. 8070

Hailing Port:
09/22/2006 6:35 PM Pacific Time

You didn't say why you need to strip off all of theold bottom paint. Are there blisters or other damage that need repair? Are you planning on applying an epoxy barrier coat or are you simply planning on using a new paint type that is incompatable with the old? As I said before, stripping bottom paint is a long and messy job especially if you try and do it in an area that you don't want contaminated. Both the chemical stripper and the paint you are removing with it are toxic. My boat is a project boat in every sense of the word and I'm having a good time repairing and refiting it and am learning a lot too. This is the only job so far that I have truly hated.
Al Gearing
Burleson, Texas

Boat Name: Torch of Freedom

Model/Year: C-22 '76

Hull No. 6448

Hailing Port: Arlington YC
09/24/2006 2:11 PM Pacific Time

I don't think that the sanding dust would be toxic to any thing but you while you're sanding and inhaling it. It seems to me that a plastic sheet drapped over the boat on the windward side would stop the drift. Maybe even a frame to hold a plastic tent far enough away from the boat so that you could work under it. Then vacuum up the dust before you take the tent down. It may even require moving it around, but to me it would be a lot easier that using stripper. The two boats that I did I just let it blow, and I never found enough concentration of dust to vacuum up. Just wear a mask and work for the windward side.
For what it's worth,
Al Ge
Fred Apstein
Gabriola Is BC

Boat Name: Scruples

Model/Year: 1976

Hull No. 95

Hailing Port: Gabriola Is BC
09/25/2006 8:49 AM Pacific Time

The dust is actually pretty bad.

When I worked at the Port of Port Townsend, Washington, we did a lot of testing of our soils and water around the wash down and in the yards.

In the yards where boats have been sanded and repaired for more than 5 years the soils were badly contaminated, mostly with copper. We had to make a drainage system to a settling pond so the stuff wouldn't go in the salt water any more.

As we expanded and developed new yards, we paved some, and required tarps under all vessels and tarps hung all the way around any sanding or sand blasting and complete clean up (sweep and vacuum) before the "tent" was removed.

Just because you can't see the dust doesn't mean your not **itting in your own back yard, or somebody elses.

Of course, then it goes in the dumpster and gets into the regular garbage collection.
Al Gearing
Burleson, Texas

Boat Name: Torch of Freedom

Model/Year: C-22 '76

Hull No. 6448

Hailing Port: Arlington YC
09/26/2006 6:05 AM Pacific Time

Yes, Fred, I agree, but you did mention that it was 5 years of accumulation that was bad, and that it was yard that was doing it every day. We are talking about doing one boat a year at most. When Mt.St. Helens blew dust in the sky it drifted all the way to Minneapolis, even that is no longer a problem. I think you are making a mountian out of a mole hill.
Yes, you need to use masks and cover your body and shower after, but really it is not life threatening.
Al Ge
Greg Baker
Charlotte, NC

Boat Name: Sea Sharp Minor

Model/Year: Catalina 22 - 1984 - Swing Keel

Hull No. 11823

Hailing Port: Lake Norman Sailing Club
09/27/2006 7:57 AM Pacific Time

I sanded the bottom of my C22 in my yard using a random orbital sander. It is a DeWalt with a small dust bag attached. I took the dust bag off and attached my shop vac to the fitting. I had to do some fiddling with adaptors and duct tape but it worked quite good. I also used a double length of hose from the sander to the vacume to allow more range of movement. It does not catch all of the dust so you will want to put down a tarp or plastic sheet to catch what falls to the ground but you will not get enough floating around to mess up your neighbors cars etc. I would find remote corner of the lot though, just to stay our of everyone's way.
Ken Palmer
Franklin, TN.

Boat Name: "Last Penny"

Model/Year: 1981

Hull No. 10475

Hailing Port: PPYC
09/27/2006 8:49 AM Pacific Time

I too used a Dewalt orbital sander, hooked up to a shop vac, I had no trouble with the dust, maybe because I have a large shop vac? The one thing I would advise if you use a shop vac is buy the bags for it, makes life easier when disposing of the dust.

I used a chemical stripper I found at K-mart called Old Dad's, it was cheep and works faster than any stripper I tried. Oh BTW I will be glad to sell you two gallons of 3M's best stripper for fiberglass. After leaving it on for up to ten hours covered it wouldn't even make the paint soft!!
The old dad's works so fast that I found I could use it safely no matter what, I did only do say three feet sq. max. at a time. Once I have the worse off I finished with the sander.
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Catalina Direct Discussion Topics / Catalina 22 Discussion Area / Hull / Keel / Rudder / Tiller / Stripping Bottom Paint