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Author Topic:   How Do I Make My Whaler Look New?
WetWilly389 posted 07-11-2002 07:12 PM ET (US)   Profile for WetWilly389   Send Email to WetWilly389  
I Have a 1984 13' Supersport Whaler and I want to refinish the console and seats. I was wondering how I should go about doing this. The wood looks dull and i want to mke it nice and shiny. Should I sand it down and then varnish? What should I use. And does anyone know if there is a way to search through these message boards to find something fast? Thanks
ChocLabWhaler posted 07-11-2002 08:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for ChocLabWhaler  Send Email to ChocLabWhaler     
You've opened a can of worms. This what I've done....
Strip the old varnish off. Some use a heat gun, I use stripper solution, because I know that I'm going to sand it down. If the wood needs deep sanding start with 60 grit, then 100, then 150. Wipe off and tack rag it. Then the hard part...what varnish to use? I'm experimenting with a new one (for me), I would use spar varnish on my uncle's whaler. I know what spar varnish looks like. 2 coats then lightly "rough" it up with either 220 grit or finish pad. I'm using a finish pad right now, it looks great. After the first two coats, lightly rough up before each next coat. I've heard 3-10 coats. I start with 4 coats and then add coats if it doen't stand up. Some people also use "boiled" Linsead Oil (it comes boiled, no heating needed), before the varnish. I tried it on older wood and it looks great. I tried it on new mahogany, and I sanded it off! Too orange on the new wood. I'm doing this right now and I'm taking my time. Talk to others about their wood and try something. You can always take it off. Hope this helps,
jstachowiak posted 07-12-2002 09:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for jstachowiak  Send Email to jstachowiak     
I' discovered a new product called "ProShot" from My wife bought it and it appears to be somewhat like Future floor finish. It is for refinishing kitchen cabinets. You simply pour it on a rag and wipe it on. If your finish on the wood is intact. After oiling my mahogony seats I put it on the wood after it dried and it looks great and has held up so far, about a month. I then tried in on the gelcoat and WOW!!! It brought the shine right back. The more coats the more shine. You simply wipe it on. it dries very fast. If you want to take it off you use an ammonia and water solution. It sells for $11 a quart bottle. I did an entire 15 GLS (a couple coats) before I sold it and the entire inside of my 17 Newport with one bottle. I'm now going to do the hull of my Newport.

Again, if the vanish finish is intact and not cracked anywhere you might want to try this first it will bring back the shine. And it is easy.

thistle posted 07-12-2002 02:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for thistle  Send Email to thistle     
Varnish is great and you will get a huge number of opinions on what varnish is the best and how to apply it, so I won't add my opinion.

Varnish MUST be maintained regularly. If you ding it, you had better cover the ding or touch it up quickly to protect the wood. That will at least get you through the balance of the season. If you like 100% varnish and your bright work to remain Bristol, you will be doing some amount of sanding and varnishing every year. Any product that suggests only a few coats is not worth the effort. To get perfect looks and protection with varnish you need in excess of 12-15 coats, as well as a UV inhibitor(additive). If you care about the look of your wood, vanishing will need to become a labor of love.


If you want to have the same look without being an annual slave to your mahogany, West System or similar quality epoxy is a great way to go for ease of maintenance and protection. Todays polymers are in general, superior to the oil based products of old in all ways except one, UV degradation.

Apply several coats of unthinned slow cure epoxy(use the coating epoxy not the bonding, I cannot remember the number, I think 207 resin) Build up three or four coats sanding between coats. Drips are okay, you will sand them out. After building up these coats, finish sand. The wood will then be sealed, nearly forever. Apply 4-5 coats of your favorite varnish with UV inhibitor(The UV damages the epoxy AND that beautiful amber and gold tone we all love in Mahogany).

From here, any minor dents, dings, scratches can be touched up every year. But the job is done for the next 10 years if light maintenance is done annually.
For a large ding or chip that goes all the way to the wood, fill it with epoxy and repair at the end of the year.

Always drip epoxy into your screw holes when mounting hardware and check all fasteners regularly.

No matter what you use, moisture under the finish means trouble. Any dark or black streaks in the wood or lifting of the varnish means a complete refinish with no guarantees of remedy.

The epoxy method takes about the same time as the 12-15 coat varnish job but affords more fishing time than finishing time.

RichAA posted 07-15-2002 02:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for RichAA  Send Email to RichAA     
Here's what I did:

A couple of years ago I restored my 1983 15' Sport. I bought the boat practically sight-unseen, so when I took possession, I knew Iíd probably have some work to do. As it turned out, except for the inch of mud and leaves in it, the hull and railing was all in good shape and I thought it might be fun to restore the boat.

I started with the outside because I'd never taken on a project like this, and I wanted to see some quick results. After a thorough scrubbing, I removed all of the decals and buffed the hull with some fine rubbing compound. I called Boston Whaler and ordered new decals and applied them along with new registration numbers.

Now for the inside: The mahogany in mine had been painted with white Awlgrip epoxy paint, so I saw my options as:
. forget about it and leave it white (yuk)
. sand and refinish (didn't yet know the quality of the wood underneath)
. have someone do it for me (getting quotes progressed until I mentioned Awlgrip)
. replace it

So I decided to replace it. I can't tell you it was easy, but it turned out to be a fun project, and I canít believe that refinishing the existing wood would have been easier. The first step was to remove and bring inside all of the woodwork from the boat, which was easy to do (and provided a good opportunity to scrub down the inside of the boat more thoroughly). I bought (5) 1"x12"x64" planks of furniture-grade Honduras mahogany, sanded. I then simply cut duplicates of all of the pieces (a touch oversize for sanding), except the few console pieces that measured 3/4" thick, which I made 1" anyway (there was also a small console panel that had to be brought down to about 3/8Ē on a planer if I remember). This took a few hours. After getting all of the parts to the right dimensions, I used the router table to round-off the edges of the seats and console. I checked the original pieces to decide on the radius of the router bit to use. Then came sanding and more sanding. I used a random-orbit sander, got a selection of disks and went at it. Since the wood was pretty smooth, it went quickly, but mahogany dust is nasty (toxic) stuff, so it wasnít all fun. Then I went on to assembling the console (water-resistant wood glue), and cut the mounting hole for the steering mechanism and test-mounted it. This was time-consuming but not difficult, and my uncle was kind enough to turn a new steering wheel insert for me on the lathe. Then came the front hatch. It was originally mahogany-faced plywood, so I bought some and cut it to fit, but I didnít like it when I got done (it wasnít in the same class as the rest of the woodwork) and it became obvious that the color wouldn't match either without adjusting the stain color. So I bought two 3/4" planks and cut 5Ē strips, trued the edges, and used a biscuit cutter on the router table to biscuit and glue them up (alternating grain with each piece). I cut the shape (on the 15, itís a trapezoid shape) and reinforced the underside with (3) 1"x1" mahogany straps, glued and screwed. After sanding, this made a really pretty (and strong) hatch cover. Instead of using a hole for a grip in the cover like the original, I extended a handle-size overhang instead.

Now for the installation: I didnít want to install the risers (the side rails that the seats mount to) by drilling all new screw holes in the boat, so I had to figure out a way to use the existing ones. I ended up holding the old and new risers next to each other and marking the bottom of the new pieces with the location of the screw holes. Then I extended that line up each side. Next I marked the entry hole on the visible side of each riser, and the exit hole on the back. Then with a hand drill, I eyeballed the angle from the entry hole to the exit hole and drilled them. I took everything out to the boat (still unfinished) and installed it all. I screwed everything in, checked the fit, and removed it all again. Then I took it all back inside and stained it (it was good mahogany, but it was a blondish color, so I stained it with a mahogany red) and finished everything with 4 coats of gloss polyurethane (with 24 hours and a light sanding between each). I took it out to the boat and installed it again. I removed it again and added three more coats of poly. I took this last step in order to fill the screw holes with poly (again). Then came the final installation using new stainless hardware. I went overboard with the polyurethane I know, but Iím glad. Whenever I clean the boat Iím confident that all the water and damp storage wonít harm the wood itself.

I did this 9 years ago and it looked perfect until just last year. It needs new poly on two surfaces which I'll get to soon.

I didn't really keep an exact total of what I spent, but it was $350-ish and a couple of weeks of evenings. Nobody believes the boat's 19 years old - it looks almost new.

Materials list (approximate):

(5) 1"x12"x64" planks of furniture-grade Honduras mahogany
(2) ĺĒx12Ēx60Ē planks of same
1 bottle water-resistant yellow wood glue
1 quart marine-grade polyurethane (high gloss), brushes, thinner
1 small can stain, a few foam brushes
disks for the sander, misc. sandpaper
stainless screws and finishing washers if replacing the hardware


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