I have a nice hack with a well maintained wood body. It was restored about 55 years ago and remains very attractive. Any suggestion on what to use to preserve/enhance the finish??? Dick C.
What type of finish is on the wood now?
I assume because of its' age it is a spar varnish.
Clean up any blemished areas with a good 120-220 sand paper. Sand the rest with 220 paper to give the new finish something to grab on to. Then buy the best marine spar varnish you can that has UV protection and put on 2 coats with 220 sanding in between coats after letting it dry well. The time you take in the preparation will be reflected in the lasting time of the new finish. Do not varnish in direct, hot sunlight. Good luck and let us see pictures of your car.
I also find using the best quality foam brush you can find puts down an excellent smooth finish. Usually the ones with the wooden handles are best quality, look for a foam that is very "close celled"...the cheap plastic handle ones have a very pourous foam that doesn't put down as good a finish. I've used these for years on boats and other wood projects with fantastic success. Basically put down the varnish with one stroke, needs very little "feathering" on the ends of strokes.
Slightly drifting here ....
What "preservative" one uses with depend on the type of finish
we might desire, coupled with the type of weather exposures we
expect to encounter AND the level of maintenance we want to put
into keeping something up.
Glossy "skin" coatings such as varnish are hard and cannot withstand
the expansion and contraction of wood that gets wet and dries, and will
thusly crack and discolor as more water finds its way into the cracks
and crevices. For wood that will be getting wet, this is a HIGH main-
tenance route to go. It is also not one that really preserves the wood.
For preservation, oils are the way to go. But they will lack the gloss
and "purty" some people insist upon when they think of exposed wood
such as interior woodwork, railings, and even depot hacks. The jones
is, depot hacks are likely to see occasional rain or wet roads and are
highly likely to see a car wash hose and bucket of soapy water. All bad
news when dealing with the expansion coefficients of wood and a hard
skin coating like varnish.
Oil, on the other hand, is soaked INTO the wood. It will not dry on
the surface and has no hard skin. And it repels water ! But it does not
have that shiny hard surface many expect. Any sort of surface gloss
is produced from a polished surface of the wood itself. Like a park bench,
enough polishing modules "drop anchor" and that seat gets very polished,
while the back and underside will remain unpolished. But the water
repelling qualities remain and applying more oil requires zero sanding or
prep. Just spray, smear, pour on more oil and you are good to go.
Generally speaking, oiled surfaces tend to take on a patinaed look. To
my eye, this is perfect. To many, they want that freshly milled wood look
sustained into perpetuity and for that, the varnish look is the only way to
go. However, you are back up against that old wood and wetness problem
and looking at a whole lot of fuss to keep nice.
To each their own. Just wanted to throw it out that you cannot have it
both ways, as many people discover AFTER they commit themselves !
Burger - As I have a partially varnished depot hack (see profile picture) I read your post very carefully (twice) as it certainly is very informative. You obviously have considerable past experience with wood finishing. Thanks for the info, however,......your expression,......"The jones is...." Never heard that expression in my life! That must be something "local" at some location where you lived in the past. Or, might be that I'm the only one who never heard that one before,.....very possible, however I find such things ( geographic differences in terms and expressions) to be very interesting.
To be "jonesing" is at least a 60's term for going through "withdrawals"
from drug use ... namely heroin withdrawals.
Never been a druggie, myself, but the term spread to mean "the bad
side of ....(insert your subject here), and as a kid of the 60's, that was
what it always meant to me.
Yes, I have been a painter and restoration specialist/contractor now for
many years, and seem to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy
trying to explain to people that painting fences (everyone seems to love
that perfect white fence from National Velvet) is a recipe for a peeling, ugly
mess (and 100x the amount of work to keep up), as opposed to a penetrating
oil or whitewash.
The key to this is in getting one's head around: is the material ON the SURFACE
of the wood ? Or is it soaked INTO the wood ? One will rise and fall with
every weather change, wetting, drying, etc., while the other will have all that
expanding and contracting doing its best to tear apart that nice, glossy surface
What people want is a hard, stable coating, but are asking it to go over a
very UN-stable material in wood COMBINED with the very unstable atmosphere
of a mobile "pile of lumber" that will be subjected to vibration and wetness and
all the things that tend to do bad stuff to pretty finishes !
Anyway, ... just something to think about when choosing how to proceed on
something like this. The problem is what we expect. Movie sets and perfect
dioramas are expensive Hollywood images that the viewer never sees the work
side of making pretty. Most folks just see it and think "I want that !" and are
later overwhelmed by the expense and level of PITA it is to keep something
looking all purty.
Burger - Thanx for the definition. You called yourself,...."a kid of the '60's", and I guess I can blame my ignorance (in this case anyway) as being more of "a kid of the '40's/'50's"! You might find this hard to believe, but I grew up in Chicago and graduated in a class of nearly a thousand and in those days, all thru' school, none of us ever heard of drugs of any kind. The big deal then with "the punks" was a pack of cigarettes and a 6-pack! Weird, huh?
Sorry R.S.C. - Talk about "thread drift, huh?
Thanks!! My concern was to keep the original finish as it is very good for being over 50 years old. I found a pure carnuba??? wax (no cleaner to leave white chalk) made by 3M. I tried some on a side panel and it did not change the patina of age but did leave a nice feeling of wax that I think will protect the finish. Not a lot of rubbing as there is not a cleaner but some effort in polishing.
Waxing may make it very difficult to varnish later if you ever decide you need to do so. I'm not speaking from experience R.S. Maybe someone else could chime in!! Love those wooden bodied boats and T's!!
"My concern was to keep the original finish as it is very good for being over 50 years old."
One good thing about varnish is that you can sand it and add more, any time you want to freshen it. But as Mike P. said, all bets are off if you wax it.
Now -- With that said, I'll say that I'm NOT a professional finisher and never have been. So if someone more knowledgeable knows what I said to be incorrect, please feel free to correct me.
I agree with Mike P, once you wax varnish, you'll have an awful time re-coating it with much of anything. You'd really have to use a lot of de-waxing agents to remove it completely in order for something to adhere. And even then, I'd be inclined to sand the crap out of it too. If it were mine, I'd go over it with some very fine sandpaper, then fine steel wool, wipe clean with mineral spirits and a micro-fiber cloth, then give it one to two coats of clear gloss Minwax Polyurethane. It'll outlive you, and hold up to weather very well. Be sure to use fine steel wool between coats. Lately I have discovered for some reason, using tack cloths has resulted in coverage problems with Polyurethane, (and maybe regular varnish too)...seems like the cloth has left some sort of film on the surface, so I quit using it and went back to the mineral spirits and a rag to "de-dust" the surface. Dust of course, is varnish/poly's biggest enemy if you want a nice finish. JMHO
And you have to be careful with steel wool as minute particles of it can get stuck in the old finish and will rust later if moisture gets to it. I use the 3-D scuff pads.