Sailing Magazine : The Beauty of Sail


How do I remove VC-17 from the bottom?

Dear Boat Doctor,
What is the best way to remove VC-17 from the bottom of my J/105? There are some blisters that are forming between the layers of paint, and I would like to remove it all. J/Boats indicates that sanding the gelcoat will void the warranty. I have looked into soda blasting, but it is pricey. Any advice would be appreciated.
Brian Ebner
Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan

Dear Brian,
You have a few options for removing your old bottom paint: chemical stripper, soda blasting or sanding. They all have their pros and cons.
Stripping can be messy and you need to be careful with the materials.Peel Away is nice in that the stripper and stripped material is somewhat contained by the paper material. There are other alternatives like Interlux Interstrip 299E (, 800-468-7589).

Soda blasting is a nice alternative and a little kinder to the environment but, as you mentioned, can be expensive. Don’t be tempted to use traditional sandblasting, as there is some evidence that abrasives can get embedded into the hull material and cause future blistering.

Sanding is always an alternative but a lot of work. You will need to be careful not to damage the gelcoat, as evidenced by J/Boat’s warning that sanding may void your blister warranty.
Once the hull is stripped you’ll need to assess if you want to apply an epoxy barrier coat before repainting. Barrier coats provide good protection against blistering and act as a primer between the gelcoat and bottom paint. If you did happen to damage the gelcoat by sanding, a barrier coat would be a really good idea.

Regardless of what method of stripping you choose, be sure to discuss the project with your yard before you start. Many yards have strict regulations regarding bottom paint and its removal.
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Alcohol dissolves VC-17
written by Jan Erik Larsson , April 06, 2010

A non-toxic solvent for vc-17 is ethanol. Also works when vc-17 is dry.I have used it frequently to remove stains and it should also be possible to use on the hull for stripping purposes. Thanks!
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VC-17 removal: From experience
written by Sailing Lake Champlain , April 14, 2010

1. Case of paper towels.
2. Box of latex gloves
3. Old clothes
4. several cans of VC 17 thinner
5. 1 gal. Acetone

On a breezy day...
Rub paint off with paper towels using VC 17 thinner.
Rub off paint thinner with Acetone.

Expect to spend the better part of a day rubbing... but it will preserve your warranty and the entire bottom will be contained by the paper towels. Environmental impact will be reduced.

Sanding works but the VC 17 is so light that it floats up and lands on the deck, or the deck of neighboring boats. From experience, that makes a huge mess.

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The author of this article is Bob Pingel.

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