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Old 31 March 2016, 15:54   #1
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Coppercoat application to a RIB - a report

I made a decision last season to antifoul my RIB. She lives on a mooring for 5-6 months in the summer and washing her hull regularly wasn't practical any more (our slipway is now used by a regular car ferry). After much reading and discussion with owners who had taken the leap previously I opted to Coppercoat her. My decision was based almost entirely on my lack of enthusiasm for cleaning and painting her every season - if my health and luck holds, the remainder of my ownership should be painting free!

It was clear from the Coppercoat website that good preparation and perfect working conditions were essential if the application was to be a success so I laid my plans carefully.

This is my story
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Old 31 March 2016, 16:11   #2
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Coppercoat is a two part waterbased epoxy affair into which copper dust is added before application. Good hull preparation, dry conditions, reasonable warmth and time to harden before contact are all important. The RIB is 10m so it was a challenge find the right place. Well, I knew where the right place was - but would they let/help me paint the old skow in the middle of their DreamWorks during a mad busy December? It was always worth a call....

....and perhaps it was 'cos it was the week before Christmas, but whatever the reason I got a green light from Redbay Boats - the fitout hall was at my disposal. I said goodbye to Missus willk, pressganged one of my Flying Test Monkeys and headed East - in the back of the pickup was a pile of painting gear and 800 worth of Coppercoat in a VERY small box!

I arrived to find the willkcraft suspended in midair by a pair of McLaughlin Skyhooks - the entire hull free to paint. Score! A team of lads had replaced the keelguard for me and laser levelled the waterline for masking. Thanks guys!

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Old 31 March 2016, 16:14   #3
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Coppercoat Ltd.

Coppercoat the company were very good to work with. They have a video that explains the process and will talk directly to the client about what to do and watch out for. I found it to be good advice and I can't fault them. They supplied the rollers and stirrers too - I couldn't think of a reason to look for alternatives here in Ireland.

However, for the RIB painter - things are not entirely by the book so I am going to share my experiences here - perhaps they will assist those who follow.
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Old 31 March 2016, 16:27   #4
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Hull form

Coppercoat show you a video of a nice big smooth yacht getting painted. If there was one time in my life I was going to be sorry about not owning a yacht - this was it!

The Coppercoat kit included an agreed number of big and small rollers. Turns out that big rollers are very poor at dealing with the many chines and spray rails on a RIB! It was necessary to use the small roller on the bumps and rapidly follow with a big roller for the larger flat surfaces. So - buy lots of small rollers - more than they recommend! Also - use a short handled roller - the long ones are a PITA! Coppercoat tell you not to use a brush - I didn't.
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Old 31 March 2016, 16:33   #5
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Mixing/Curing

The product mixes as per the blurb - no issues but it takes a little bit of time. The copper immediately begins to settle out of suspension so you need to follow the instructions to avoid this. Curing is quick. We were working at 16.5C with humidity below 50% (Thank you Redbay) so it was quite fast - maybe an hour at most. As it goes off, it thickens in the pot and tacks up on the hull. It rolls on easily and doesn't tend to drip. Thin fast coats is the way to go.

Once applied to a section of hull - DO NOT paint over again until it has tacked off - you'll lift epoxy - keep going and give a thicker coat on the next pass.

It's worth mentioning that the successive coats must applied to a tacky layer - not in any way wet or it will lift, but not hardened either, or it will not bond properly.
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Old 31 March 2016, 17:34   #6
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Time

So you mix the first pot and begin. The first coat will look thin and very poor. Do not re-cover but continue painting. Depending on how long the complete hull takes you may have to wait for the tack to form, or you may have to keep painting in case it actually hardens! I was the later case. A small, simple hull would warrant a wait but it will depend on how long you take to get around. Too much product mixed and you will lose it in the pot as it goes off - not a risk for us but a small boat could do with half mixes.

The second coat will look better but patchy. The third looks good. The job needs 5 or 6 coats to work. As the coats go on, each layer is thicker as the tacky surface grabs the paint. So you will use more for the second and third coats - but much the same for the remainder. As the epoxy tacks it changes from a pinkish tone to a beautiful copper so you can see where you've been. That said, we were working in a well lit workshop but I found portable floodlight a huge help as the product is dark and the contrast can be poor.
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Old 31 March 2016, 17:43   #7
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All hands

Time is the killer on this job. I can't emphasise enough that it will be trickier than you expect. You will need more help than you think! A spare worker would have really helped us - even just to spell a man to take a break. I wasn't able to lift my arm to wave goodbye at the end of it.

The mixing and stirring is bigged up by Coppercoat as the timewaster - but we found it OK. What snookered us was working the chines and planes together with two rollers (small and big) - it was just tricky and slow at times, but we stuck at it. Remember you have to get the product on the hull in a continuous rolling process - so the two painters have to work very closely together - no running ahead for the wee roller guy!

I'd recommend setting up a page of notes too - times and coats sort of stuff. You'll soon lose track otherwise.
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Old 31 March 2016, 17:47   #8
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Access

We were SO LUCKY that Redbay agreed to host our work. Without the boat lifted I can't see how traditional sectional painting would work. I've antifouled on a roller trailer previously and it would have been impossible. You simply couldn't have physically moved fast enough underneath and then the patches would have to be done - a fkkn nightmare!

We got the whole thing nailed in one go - magic, thanks to Tom & Gary

To cap it, they left her in the warm dry fitout hall for nearly four days, so she got time to harden and cure. You're not supposed to trailer for 72 hours so we were good there.
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Old 31 March 2016, 17:55   #9
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The result

After the masks were removed, the final result was good. You'd know it had been rollered on, but the finish was similar to conventional antifoul. I would prefer to have had it sprayed on, but no-one in Ireland would take it on - whatever. It looks OK, if you like dark coppery brown. We'll see what colour it goes in the water. Other coppercoated local boats have stayed quite olively brown and not gone the blue-green colour seen elsewhere. I'll need to burnish it with wet & dry before launch to expose the copper powder. Also the drive leg and a few hull fittings will need a coat of conventional antifoul. Manufacturers are still lairy of contact between coppercoat and their metals - although Coppercoat say it is safe as the copper is non-conductive within the epoxy base.
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Old 31 March 2016, 18:03   #10
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Tips

  • Get lots of small rollers
  • Use short handled rollers
  • Get a decent place to work
  • Get the air conditions right - warm and dry
  • Get the boat lifted with good access below it
  • Have lot of light
  • Get more help
  • Have food and drinks on site - you may not be leaving for a while!
  • Plan the painting process carefully - have everything you need handy
  • Prep properly - it's meant to be a lifetime job, so do it as well as you can - key that hull like a Boss and clean it well too.
  • Bring some small mixing pots - in case you have to divide batches
  • If you can - have it sprayed by pros.
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