With all the painting we've done on Little Cruiser we feel a bit like experts though we obviously are not. Our main objective is to do a nice job as easily as possible and with inexpensive materials. To this end, we can recommend using RED DEVIL polyurethane enamel. Sure we've tried the expensive marine stuff, but we still haven't used anything that we like better and that costs so little. The RED DEVIL paint is available from K-Mart. To get the paint to flow well, we dilute it by 12.5 percent or more which works out to 1 ounce of mineral spirits to every 8 ounces of paint. Of course as we paint along we add a few drops of thinner every 15 minutes to keep the mixture thinned out properly. We've found that the perfect temperature for painting RED DEVIL is around 60 - 70 degrees F, otherwise you will have to hustle along more quickly if it gets hotter. Once applied with a yellow lint free foam roller (FOAM9 available from Jamestown Distributors ), RED DEVIL dries in about 3-5 hours. The satin is the quickiest drying while the gloss takes a little longer. Of course before you can start painting, you need to prepare the surface to be painted.
To prepare our plywood boat, we fill in any
deep dings with epoxy mixed with lightweight filler, and we fill light scratches
with white 3M glazing compound. Next we wet sand the whole surface
with 180 grit sandpaper. We then wipe the surface clear of dust
with blue paper shop towels (from Autozone), and we finally tack cloth the
whole thing several times to remove any lint. To prevent leaves, bugs and
other things from settling on the boat, we usually erect a cheap greenhouse
around it to ensure that each paint job dries correctly.
We have found that the real secret to doing a nice paint job is to apply as thin and as even a coat as possible. To do this we use a foam roller, and apply the paint first up and down and then side to side, spreading it as evenly as we can. What's most interesting about using the foam roller is that you can add or remove paint in certain areas simply by adjusting the amount of pressure you apply on the roller. If any area needs a little more paint just press harder there or if it's too thick in another spot, then roll it lightly over that spot to suck it up like a sponge. With practice it should be possible to pick up excess paint from one area and apply it to another area that needs it. Along with a full size 9" roller, we also use smaller 2 1/2" to 3" yellow foam rollers to tackle trouble spots around the bow and around hardware. These we make ourselves by cutting larger ones down. Of course some areas will need the attention of a brush, but if you can suck up any excess paint with the roller then you will avoid drips. Finally, remember to clean all your brushes and rollers beforehand. Usually we rinse them the night before in mineral spirits or we just use a piece of balled up tape to tack up any loose lint.
Note: We've been told recently that the Red Devil paint has been discontinued so we have been buying up the few remaining cans from our local K-mart. If you like this paint then we recommend you stock up now on a few cans. (November 2002).