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Feb 20, 2016
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Charlotte, NC
Trying to remove old paint from a tin boat can be a long, laborious process, that can kill your enthusiasm for the project quickly. To do it quickly and easily, with little or no effort, and no damage to the aluminum surface, go to the Internet and look for 'sodablasting' in your area. This is a process similar to sand blasting, but the stripping medium is coarse bicarbonate of soda. It will quickly take your boat down to bare metal, and the used soda will dissolve in the next rain, eliminating most of the mess. The average tin boat can be stripped for about $100 if you use a commercial stripper, and much less if you already have a sand blasting rig. This process is used to remove the paint from the fiberglass bodies of Corvettes, so they can be repainted, so it is a proved process. Check it out. It just may be your savior.
That's good information. Another media that works is dry ice. I've used it to clean off the grease and grime in conjunction with the paint on overhead fixtures in industrial settings.
Have you exhausted chemical strippers? I'd suggest painting it on in sections, and immediately covering it with a thin plastic sheet. This prevents the solvent (Usually methylene chloride) from evaporating too quickly. This chemical boils at 103deg F, so a great deal of its power is lost at an ambient temp, unless you trap it in this manner.
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For what it's worth, soda blasting is an awesome choice. It was actually developed as a tool to refurbish the Stature of Liberty, removing corrosion on her thin copper skin without heat. It will remove the graphics from a beer can without warping the aluminum. It will blast an auto without taping the rubber or glass.
So it's definitely a viable option considering it's capabilities and results
If anyone can get an aluminum boat done for $100, I'll eat my hat.
DIY systems are terribly ineffective and will move through media like nobody's business. It takes a specialized rig that removes all moisture and uses unique fitments. A converted sandblaster won't do it. I've actually tried it on a couple of outboards. It does "work" - but not really.
For a commercial hire, you're looking at $35-70 per foot (outside only) depending on the boat's current condition. ...and to be fair, that was from my last investigation pre-covid, so...

Just more food for thought, folks.

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