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Wooden Spoke Refinishing


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Hi guys:

I wanted to ask who makes a high end marine spar varnish or synthetic that will bond well to my 24 Chevy's spokes and will last more than a year or two before doing it again?

I've used Hellman's Spar but only lasts 1 or 2 years and starts cracking and flaking off.

Any advice appreciated!

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Check christech's '32 Olds restoration in "Our cars and restorations". He covers that in great detail.

            jim

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I used a varnish called Epifanes on my '46 Ford Station Wagon, with great success. I finished my car in 2005 and the varnish still looks good. If your varnish is "cracking and flaking off", after one or two years it might be your surface prep. Your initial first coat must thinned about 50% and applied to  perfectly clean and sanded surface. Between coats the varnish must be sanded, as varnish doesn't stick well to varnish. light coats are a must, as too thick of a build up will invite cracking. Also, varnish likes to be applied at about 70 to 72 degrees, too cold or too warm will cause problems.

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Thanks for the advice. I recently purchased the car so it has been refinished over the years and probably wasn't sanded down before applying.

I'll see how much I can sand off and then use your tip about thinning the first coat 50%.

Will be doing this as soon as weather warms up enough.

Thanks

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Pettits brand varnish. I live in New England right in a harbor town. All the wood boat guys around me use Pettits. They have what they call "Captains Spar Varnish" but they also have different tints. As mentioned, prep and sanding between coats is important. DO NOT USE steel wool as small particles of the wool can break off and get stuck in the grain later rusting in the wood. To do a good job be prepared to spend a lot of hours doing them. I put on 14 coats of varnish using sponge brushes. Each wheel took 40 minutes to sand after each coat. My wheels are artillery type so yours should be easier to sand because you should have more room between the spokes.

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Another vote for Pettit Captain's 1015 spar varnish...It is one of the best truely traditional spar varnishes.

Highly regarded ,it is easy to use,lays out very well and sands well..

Remember when making finish choices..that "urine-thane" products produce a single film in the end and when is it breaks down it's all the way through..Where as real varnish will degrade by layers and if the top surface layer starts showing its age you can sand it back and apply a refreshing coat or two to keep it going.

If the wood is not to deeply grained ,4 to 6 coats may do well,but be prepaired for 6 to 8 coats with light scuffing inbetween and and smoothing out the occasional sag..

Do NOT thin the varnish. It is not nessesary for brushing and is usually not recommened by the manufacturer.

 

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12 hours ago, Flivverking said:

Another vote for Pettit Captain's 1015 spar varnish...It is one of the best truely traditional spar varnishes.

Highly regarded ,it is easy to use,lays out very well and sands well..

Remember when making finish choices..that "urine-thane" products produce a single film in the end and when is it breaks down it's all the way through..Where as real varnish will degrade by layers and if the top surface layer starts showing its age you can sand it back and apply a refreshing coat or two to keep it going.

If the wood is not to deeply grained ,4 to 6 coats may do well,but be prepaired for 6 to 8 coats with light scuffing inbetween and and smoothing out the occasional sag..

Do NOT thin the varnish. It is not nessesary for brushing and is usually not recommened by the manufacturer.

 

0315210735a.jpgThose are beautiful wheels!

I'll try it for myself and see if I can come close to those beauties!

Thank You!

I

 

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Once the wood it sanded( with the grain) I end up at 220 .

You might start with 120 or 150 if the wood is in good shape. If weathered and roughish and need to remove some  dead wood,start with 80 grit and try not to round over any details at the hub side notches.

 

The varnish coats, I lightly sand with 220 for the first 2 coats..move up to 320 then 400..you may go to 600 before the last coat .I didn't!

Save finer sanding  of higher grits if you are going rub down the finish coat .

Don't be afraid to go cross grain sanding lightly around the spokes shafts with sandpaper strips in a two handed belt fashion with a spoke hanging over the work bench edge ,doing all spokes on one side then flip the wheel over and so on ,and then touch up with along the grain sanding at notches once you have a build of finish and not close to exposing wood .

 

You CAN use red scottbrite pads inbewteen coats after the grain is begining to fill in  if its generally smoothing out ,not heavy in dust spects or runs and you want to save sometime and get more coats on..then maybe paper sand every other coat or two to get at small imperfections..

 

You will figure out how much to sand and when to change up grits as you go.

The pettite varnish sands very well after 24 hours in fair weather drying.

I used basic grades of 3M paper from HomeDepot packets .

 

Once the spoke grain is filled in and spokes are smooth ,(after whatever number of coats it took),you can stop at what ever is the next coat that lays out nice. 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have never heard of the Pettit, but will look into it. I have a customer with a large mahogany door as the entrance to his law office. We refinish it about every 2 years as it is in direct sunlight most of the time. He is also a sail boat owner and insist that we use a quality spar varnish. This stuff looks like it will do the trick.

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Flivverking:

Thanks so much for the details, I appreciate it!

My spokes are varnished but finish is drying out and cracking. Could even be polyurethane that was sprayed on as I don't even see brush marks.

 

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The issue is only spar varnish is UV tolerant. Polys and epoxies aren’t and will fail. Spar varnish allows breathing of the wood and UV protection. If applied correctly it shouldn’t peel or show layering. Those characteristics are usually from poor quality products or improper preparation. I don’t want to do my wheels again as start to finish, including stripping of all metal work, wood work, masking, painting, varnishing, sanding, pinstriping, etc. came to a total of 943 hours on 6 wheels! Think if I paid $50 an hour for somebody to do that work! $47,150.00 plus material costs!

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Correct about spar varnish. I owned a 41 Packard '120' woody wagon for decades and only used spar varnish on it . ( PaulFitz may jump in on this as he was the one who restored the wood work , after the two of us spent a day picking out seasoned kiln dried white ash from a pile in a lumber yard hours away from us that was 16 feet high by 18 feet wide and we took down to find the exact correct width pieces. My back is starting to ache just thinking about doing that 40 years ago)

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There is some great info here on wood finishes.

 

Posting mainly so I can come back to this thread later.

 

Thanks for all the great info, guys!

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Or you could coat them with several coats of West System epoxy sanded between coats to fill the grain then spray them with automotive clear tinted to look like varnish. We did this to a '49 Olds Woody we restored and no one can tell it from varnish.

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Years ago, I varnished three 1932 Chris Craft 21’ speedboats. They had been stripped, sanded and stained the same. One boat I did in Petit Captains Varnish, the second one I did in Interlux Schooner varnish and the third I did in Epifanes Clear varnish. The Epifanes was by far the brightest and shiniest of the three. In keeping in contact with the owners, turned out that the Epifanes lasted the longest though I couldn’t determine how each boat was kept and cleaned.

 When I went to sea on yachts for the next 40 years, all I used was Epifanes and it stood up very well in the salt water and sun of the Caribbean.

 It has my vote! 

Edited by yachtflame
Misspelled a word (see edit history)
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