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Old 03-18-2019, 08:53 AM   #1
Woodie1
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Default Varnishing Woodie

What are your thoughts on varnishing all the wood sides of body pieces on a Woodie wagon? It seems I've heard all sides shouldn't be varnished as the wood can't breath.
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:07 AM   #2
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

Not sure about you're question BUT I know many woodie owners these days use "Clear Coat" instead of varnish and I have heard that's not good "long term" like varnish over the long haul!!! From what I have read and seen...clear coat is the "quick and easy" way of getting the wood to shine!!!
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

Most of the Woodie owners I know use a modern marine spar varnish on their cars which gives a stock looking finish. Urethane clear coats in my opinion give an ultra shiny plastic look to the wood and is most often seen on street rods.
A Woodie restorer taught me how he did the cars that came through his shop. He used Z-Spar Captains marine spar varnish. Brushed it (or sprayed) on after heating it up on a hotplate, sanded between coats. It took 4 to 5 coats before I was satisfied with the finish on my 40 wagon which has not lost any points on the concourse due to the finish.
One of the aspects of the marine products is that I think they have more UV protection built in. I also think the varnish smells pleasant. There are pictures of the car in my public albums if you want to see what that looks like. My buddy and I made all new wood for his and my car.
Just like a wooden sailboat, all the wood needs to be varnished.

Last edited by deuce_roadster; 03-18-2019 at 10:11 AM. Reason: additional info
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:14 AM   #4
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

Very nice Woodie deuce roadster. Did you varnish it as an assembled body or did you varnish it apart doing all edges & sides? I have to check my back issues of the V8 Times to see the article again. You guys did very nice work.
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:23 AM   #5
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

I would agree with all that Deuce Roadster suggests. Purchase the varnish that has the highest UV rating, as the UV rays will kill the varnish over time. When I built my '46 everything I varnished was in pieces, but if the car is assembled you can refinish it as an entire car. I would stay away from the automotive clear coat. Most Woodie owners agree that the clear coat makes the wood look too "plastic". If you don't finish all sides of the wood, rain and Mother Nature will take care of it for you and you won't like the results.
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:35 AM   #6
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

Check out the best in the business. He goes into great detail on how to. Best on the net.

www.rickmack.com/about.htm

Click on FAQ
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:53 AM   #7
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

How often should the varnishing be done? and how much sanding - just to knock the glass back, or take it down to raw wood? I have a 1930 A Station Wagon that was probably done 5 years ago.
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

My avatar is finished with McCloskey "Man O War" spar varnish and the finish today is as good as when it was applied forty-some years ago. Beware of that '50s blond-television-console look that some of the modern coatings create.


If you're in a hurray, forget spar varnish as it takes forever to dry properly between coats.
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Old 03-18-2019, 11:09 AM   #9
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidG View Post
My avatar is finished with McCloskey "Man O War" spar varnish
McCloskey is Rick Mack. See link above.
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Old 03-18-2019, 11:28 AM   #10
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

As a boatbuilder I would recommend spar varnish. Captain’s is a good one to use. Flagship is very good as well, though I would advise against using it on bare wood because it contains pigment. It will make the wood look like it was poorly stained. Epifanes is another good varnish. I thin it down will equal parts kerosene and penetrol. The problem with it is that you can’t sand and apply a coat the next day. As much aseveryone hates sanding, it is the key to the whole finish. If you don’t sand, the varnish will start to peel fairly soon.
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Old 03-18-2019, 11:32 AM   #11
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

Quote:
Originally Posted by deuce_roadster View Post
Most of the Woodie owners I know use a modern marine spar varnish on their cars which gives a stock looking finish. Urethane clear coats in my opinion give an ultra shiny plastic look to the wood and is most often seen on street rods.
A Woodie restorer taught me how he did the cars that came through his shop. He used Z-Spar Captains marine spar varnish. Brushed it (or sprayed) on after heating it up on a hotplate, sanded between coats. It took 4 to 5 coats before I was satisfied with the finish on my 40 wagon which has not lost any points on the concourse due to the finish.
One of the aspects of the marine products is that I think they have more UV protection built in. I also think the varnish smells pleasant. There are pictures of the car in my public albums if you want to see what that looks like. My buddy and I made all new wood for his and my car.
Just like a wooden sailboat, all the wood needs to be varnished.
A antique boat restorer taught me to start with the first four or so coats of a "good" marine boat varnish at almost full strength thinning just enough to get it to spread fairly evenly sanding (for flatness and smoothness) between dried coats, THEN....thin the next four or so coats by 25%, sanding between dried coats. THEN thin the last four or so coats another 15-20% and sanding again between dried coats for the best finish!!!!
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Old 03-18-2019, 12:15 PM   #12
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

As a former wood boat owner, i've used most of the marine varnishes. For simple, long lasting finish i ended up using Sikens Cetol available at West Marine. As it ages, touch up can be done with a cheap brush or a rag. Easy peasy & lasts a long time. Not too shiny just like these cars looked yesteryear. Just my $ .07 worth. I would put 1 coat on the back side
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Old 03-18-2019, 12:30 PM   #13
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

phillipswanson,


?????? Lots of good information about varnish and other finishes on the Rick Mack website, but no mention whatsoever of McCloskey spar varnish.
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Old 03-18-2019, 02:18 PM   #14
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

https://www.jamestowndistributors.co...uct.do?pid=107
Used this varnish a few times. Excellent results.
Attached photos of work to repair damage from driving over / through some road 'schmutz'.
HVLP Binks M1G, 30 PSI at the tip. 1.4 fluid nozzle. Sanded between coats.
Applied 6 coats. Fun times. Ron Heiden uses a foam brush and has awesome results.
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Old 03-18-2019, 02:51 PM   #15
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

Very nice wga.
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Old 03-18-2019, 03:34 PM   #16
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodie1 View Post
What are your thoughts on varnishing all the wood sides of body pieces on a Woodie wagon? It seems I've heard all sides shouldn't be varnished as the wood can't breath.
You seem to have stirred up a lot of good information but nothing to the point of your question. I'm in the process of refinishing my 41 woodie using Interlux Schooner 96, so far I'm very pleased with the outcome. I'm not a fan of the plastic look that sprayed on clear coat produces but it's just a matter of personal taste.
As to finishing both sides of the wood, I don't know if I'm making a mistake or not but on the inside surfaces of the wood I'm applying a 2-3 coats of polyurethane varnish to protect the hidden surfaces. I don't know how important "breathing" is to the wood but it doesn't make sense to me to leave the interior surfaces unprotected, especially in the doors where water can run down the glass into the interior of the door.
I know that most of us try to avoid rain and car wash water but it's not always possible to do so. I drive our car, including a roundtrip to San Diego from our home in Oklahoma City as well as another round trip to Back to the 50s in St. Paul. It seems like as soon as I raise the garage door it immediately begins to cloud up. It's gotten to a point that friends thought I should get the vanity tag "Rainmkr" Lol.
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Old 03-18-2019, 04:44 PM   #17
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

You're right 41woodie. So far no real answer. I would think that originally the inside of doors weren't varnished, maybe some sealer applied. My concern comes more from the edges of the wood like the tailgate panel or the plywood panels on the doors. I had a new tailgate made as the old one was really bad. The new wood fits quite well between the frame & it came with all the screws in it holding everything together. I hate to try remove the plywood panel & have chip out where the screws are as they come out. I also have thin strips above the door openings which I can't believe would have had varnish on the surface where they screw to the long pieces running front to back on the body. I am getting a lot of good information though. I do like to drive our cars so I'm sure it would meet with frequent washings as well.
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Old 03-18-2019, 04:57 PM   #18
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

Any unfinished wood will absorb water. Remember all the panels on your car are installed without any gaskets or sealer. Any water, such as getting caught in rain or even washing your car will migrate between the joints and panels. McClostiey's and Epifanes are great products. Ford recommended a re-varnish every three years. You do not need to take it down to the raw wood again, scuff it up lightly with 320 and make sure you blow it off and tack rag the surface. Dust is your enemy, so the cleaner you can get it before you varnish is mandatory. Air is the enemy of open varnish cans. I ladled out just what I was using into a container and closed the can AND flipped the can over to prevent any air to get in. Practice makes perfect. My car was varnished in 2008 and has been driven cross country to Wavecrest, in CA. The return trip from about Chicago to Long Island was in rain and my varnish still looks good.
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Old 03-18-2019, 05:16 PM   #19
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

True, the interior of the door panels were not varnished by Ford. We try to go above and beyond when we restore our cars and make them better. I think that the reason we see many unrestored cars that have the bottoms of the panel's de-laminating is because of water getting into the space between the structural wood and the panels. If you have the book Famous Ford Woodies it tells of the varnishing techniques used in Iron Mountain. They first were given a spray coat of varnish and sent to a drying oven. The body was sanded and varnished twice more. One interesting fact is that all the interior hardware that wasn't masked was sprayed over including screws and blind nuts.
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:36 PM   #20
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Default Re: Varnishing Woodie

Answers to questions I think of me that came up....
I varnished my car apart to do ALL the sides and edges including the plywood edges. We made our own plywood by starting with aircraft grade 1/8 " maple and veneering it up (in a big vacuum press) to the proper thickness. If you varnish one side of a piece of plywood it will warp it due to the tension created when the varnish or whatever you put on it dries. This is true of any wood, like cedar siding. The Z-Spar Captains I used dried overnight and was ready to sand and recoat the next day. Sanded to smooth and give tooth for next coat, not down to bare wood.
The first coat of varnish was thinned down 50% with Turpentine to penetrate the raw wood, the rest was full strength. (Paint thinner is synthetic Turpentine)
Rick Mack is a fried of mine (McCloskey is his last name!) , but the person who taught me to varnish was the late Jerry Veley from Oregon.
Woodie1, Sept/Oct 2015 V8 Times.

Last edited by deuce_roadster; 03-18-2019 at 09:49 PM. Reason: additional info
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