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Varnish 101

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The Railstar source control system was not developed by an intern at one of the large marine conglomerates, nor does it reek of high-tech. This was derived over time and many refits in an on-going quest for a pragmatic approach to achieving a greater millage of product delivered via brush to intended yacht structure. In my case the capping and toe rails on yachts was what I was specifically zeroing in on. In the course of having determined that I enjoyed applying clear coat systems onboard yachts, it was also becoming evident that getting ones final payment could be difficult when/if there were drips on the customer’s deck, scuppers, rubbing states or on topside paint work. Traditional single stage varnish drips were more easily addressed, however the age of acrylic urethanes was now well upon us by late 90’s. They are much longer lasting and could be polished if required, however there were some new issues to take into consideration. The delivery of material in heat and wind lessened the likelihood of an acceptable and credible (not overly reduced) coat. / Now the cost of a coat was 3 to 4 times greater than previously was with former trend-tech. / Respirators and latex gloves became part of one’s vocabulary. / And it could be your worst nightmare if a mess was made on client’s paintwork, decks etc. on your watch. (I hate it when that happens)


IMG_3216 (1)Let’s outline a few only of the user-friendly and practical implements of the Railstar solution aside from the obvious eco-implications.

In this shot (see image) I was delivering a double –stage acrylic urethane mixed with minimum possible reducer. It was a very hot and exceptionally windy day. I’ve now re-developed my technique to “Dare-to- Deliver” thicker more credible coatings without concern for any run-off material, nor brush trails. When delivering, I now get that brush WET and apply with more volume add viscosity than one would normally dare to. With the extra volume of product delivered to surface comes more time to brush – maneuver a “hot-mix” into place. Consequently an applicator can achieve a much more credible “longer lasting” coat,… more millage of material without brush trails as the weight and volume of material is now self-leveling somewhat. This also enables the delivery with volume of material to the underneath areas of the rail (whereas often receives considerably less material.) You’ve never seen an applicator re-dip the brush to apply material to underneath rolled edges of a rail). In this photo (see image) I am able to “babysit” or control upwards of 3 meter sections whilst the material still workable. Remember this example is with a high viscosity mix / acrylic urethane on a hot windy day! This is HUGE.

RS bEveryone likes the 3rd eye, spy. This mirror-like material is known locally as “Styro-Glass”! It is made out of thin plastic with a fine reflective film on one side. It is flexible and may be cut into ideal lengths and widths for intended use. It is very inexpensive; add reusable, “Oh! If had only I discovered this so many years ago and several hundreds of cap rail’s earlier!” Take it from me,… Save you back, ribcage and neck!     My wish is that this 50 cent hack will save you as many “re-do’s” which I can only imagine it has for myself and team.

Owner’s, captains and project managers seem to like the concept of the varnish crews getting in and out prior to time to cast the lines! GO-Figure. (see: image)

While on tight schedules, and with competing agenda’s, time saving strategies are welcomed. Now two or more otherwise conflicting projects may co-exist whereas could not previously.

RS eYou may call it source control or you can call it procedural stewardship. I call it common sense. Railstar is my system and I’m sticking to it.



Scott Van Allen / Ecopreneur in Blue Economy