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  1. #1
    Senior Member richy's Avatar
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    Undeniably the Most Interesting Project I've Ever Worked On!

    I've been fortunate to work on some neat stuff over the years, but this, took the cake. I don't think it's going to be beat. What was this unique and intriguing project??

    A 1949 Shepherd (mahogany) Speedboat covered in 12 coats of varnish!!

    This boat belongs to a dear friend of the family who has spent a decade, yes, 10 years, restoring this gem. How did this gem look like 10 years ago when he bought it? Check it out:













    The wood was rotten and needed to be completely replaced. This boat has been fitted with all new Mahogany wood, even down to the detail of using the same board on matching sides so the grain runs the same way. The entire boat, drivetrain included, is being completely restored to (better than) factory specifications. In fact, an appearance upgrade the owner has given it is that it used to be a 5 passenger (2 buckets + a rear bench) with quite an open seating area. That area has been closed in and it is now only a 2 seater with the same bucket seats. He has essentially made a Speedster model out of it.

    When I was brought on board, (figuratively), it had been stained and varnished by hand with 12 coats of varnish. The problem, similar to anyone painting in their garage, is that there ended up being dust on the top surfaces due to the forced air heater circulating the dirt when it was running. Therefore when I examined it, the surface was rough and not very reflective. We discussed a course of action. I had NEVER polished varnish before. In fact, I wasn't even sure it could be done. The plan of attack was to wet sand the transom (the back portion) and some large, flat interior pieces that don't show very much (test spot). That way if the varnish did not react well to the process, it could receive another coat and be done with it.

    So I left him to wet sand. We had procured 6" wet sanding discs which he used on a random orbital polisher. His body man had told him to do it by hand with a block, but I asked him to trust me and do it how I suggested. The next day he contacted me and was very excited at how it was turning out. The surfaces either got 2000 or 3000 depending on what it needed.

    I started to research polishing varnish, and not surprisingly, discovered SFA on the subject. I even called Corey and with the huge network of Finest detailers, it seems that nobody had done it or at least had talked about it.

    I began to assemble a strategy prior to arriving at his place. My assumption was that varnish would be very at the extreme, or at least somewhat heat adverse. I was not going to be doing this in my garage, but rather his, which I don't like to do. I hate not having all my stuff at my fingertips. I prepared a list of everything I thought I would need (you NEVER remember everything, LOL). I brought all 3 of my polishers (rotary, Flex 3401, Rupes 21) and several compounds and polishes. As it turns out, not to spoil the surprise, but damned near everything that I thought the varnish would behave like was wrong.

    I began with a mild approach using a foam cutting pad and M100 at low speed on the Flex. It was doing squat. I was succeeding in not heating up the varnish, but absolutely no correction was taking place. Here are some shots of the engine cover and the flat interior pieces that I began with. I started with the interior pieces. Here's what it looked like after sanding and before any correction attempts:







    Here's part of the top deck wet sanded:





    Here's the transom wet sanded:










    This is what made this project so unique and challenging: I wasn't sure what would work or even if anything would at all! It was frustrating and slowly rewarding as I got the process dialed in and discovered what would work. My goal was to have a 2 step process that would yield spectacular results on this 17.5 foot boat.

    I tried many different pads and compounds, speeds and machines until I found what worked. In total, I would estimate that I spent an hour getting the process dialed in. I had told the customer that I would be wasting some time finding out what worked, and he completely understood. The other VERY cool thing was that he lets people smoke in his garage (he smokes a pipe and cigars himself) so I was free to puff away at will which I swear helps my creative process kick into high gear. In fact, I was more than 1/2 done the cigar until I perfected my method.

    So what worked for compounding? My flex, run at speed 5 with a black tuf buff wool pad (go figure that my miracle pad would pull through yet again!) and Americut. I would work the surface just like I do paint, and yes, it was getting warm, but the sanding marks completely disappeared and the surface popped!! For polishing, I was really surprised (and to be honest disappointed) that Essence was a total failure. It got all blotchy and just would not co-operate at any speed or with any pad. Obviously it was never designed to be used in this application, so I was not completely surprised. What worked the best was my Rupes 21 run at 4-4.5 with a white B & S pad + M205. That made it look dripping wet. Here is a 50/50 shot of the interior piece:








    Here's the hatch all done with a couple of shots:














    Next up was the transom. Here's a 50/50 pic of it as well as one of me in action:







    The top deck had been wet sanded so I used the same 2 part process on it. Here's the front of the deck in a 50/50 shot:




    I really liked seeing the wood grain pop!!



    Deck all done:

















    So, at this point we had a gorgeous, shiny boat with varnish finish. I had another idea. He was open to my suggestion of coating the varnish with CQuartz (original-new version). We again used the transom to test what it looked and felt like: One word...stunning!!




    It was so slick and incredibly shiny. The game plan was to triple coat the deck and transom and double coat the sides. The sides were not wet sanded but did also get the same 2 step process, which again made the gloss just jump.

    Here are 2 air intakes that had been wet sanded and represented in this 50/50 shot:






    And all done:





    So the boat was done with a triple coat of CQ on the deck and transom and a double coat on the sides. End result? Well, let's just say I'm very, very pleased and very proud of how this boat looks. I can't wait to see it fully assembled and in the water on a gorgeous sunny day. Until then, here are the finished shots of her:




































    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. It was so worth it to take a break from my temporary hiatus from detailing to do this project. I won't forget it any time soon. All told, I had 18.5 hours into it. The owner was so pleased, I'll be doing an older Austin Mini for him very soon...I can already smell the cigar...

  2. #2
    Senior Member tenblade2001's Avatar
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    Re: Undeniably the Most Interesting Project I've Ever Worked On!

    Fantastic result

  3. #3
    Senior Member dcjredline's Avatar
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    Re: Undeniably the Most Interesting Project I've Ever Worked On!

    WOW! That is quite a turn around
    "Dirt likes detergent so much better than the surface that it's attached to, it'll leave that surface to go hang out with the soap"...aim4squirrels

  4. #4
    Senior Member lawrenceSA's Avatar
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    Re: Undeniably the Most Interesting Project I've Ever Worked On!

    Awesome work on a way cool project. Really enjoyed that read - thanks for sharing

  5. #5
    Senior Member haris300's Avatar
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    Re: Undeniably the Most Interesting Project I've Ever Worked On!

    Excellent job and very cool boat. Love the transformation you put that thing through.

  6. #6
    Senior Member fly07sti's Avatar
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    Re: Undeniably the Most Interesting Project I've Ever Worked On!

    Glad to see a post from you my friend. Boat looks Stunning!

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Re: Undeniably the Most Interesting Project I've Ever Worked On!

    WELL DONE!

    Bright work is both challenging and rewarding...again, great work there!

    Bill
    In dog beers, I've only had one.

  8. #8
    Senior Member richy's Avatar
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    Re: Undeniably the Most Interesting Project I've Ever Worked On!

    Quote Originally Posted by tenblade2001 View Post
    Fantastic result
    Thanks kindly!

    Quote Originally Posted by dcjredline View Post
    WOW! That is quite a turn around
    Thank you and thanks for commenting!

    Quote Originally Posted by haris300 View Post
    Excellent job and very cool boat. Love the transformation you put that thing through.
    Thanks very much.

    Quote Originally Posted by fly07sti View Post
    Glad to see a post from you my friend. Boat looks Stunning!
    Thanks so much Don!

    Quote Originally Posted by BillE View Post
    WELL DONE!

    Bright work is both challenging and rewarding...again, great work there!

    Bill
    Thanks a bunch Bill! It was a rewarding journey.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Paul A.'s Avatar
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    Re: Undeniably the Most Interesting Project I've Ever Worked On!

    Now that's something we don't see often here! Woodwork. Absolutely stunning work from one of our resident pro's on a beautiful restoration. And a nice bonus is seeing someone mount a fluourescent light on their garage door!!!

    Thanks for sharing that with us Richy. Gorgeous.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Sicoupe's Avatar
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    Re: Undeniably the Most Interesting Project I've Ever Worked On!

    What an outstanding job my friend! Your work is definitely one of a kind!

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