Clearly a GRP-safe paint stripper was the way to go. I’ve always found CT-1 products to be effective so initially tried out their ‘safe’ aerosol paint stripper called Peel Tec. There’s no doubt the product works and that you can get it on your hands without immediate chemical burns. At around £13 per can, I found myself going through 5 cans to strip the forecabin, so it felt like a bit of a commitment.
Peel-tec certainly worked, but it was messy by the nature of getting overspray (which messed up my varnished bulkeads) which would need thorough masking. As the headlining was originally a flow-coat over raw fibreglass, the surface is not smooth, so Peel Tec required a couple of applications along with a fair bit of scrubbing with a wire brush. In fact I had to scrub so hard that the glass strands of the layup started to appear through the flowcoat and I had to use a dust mask so as not to inhale the glass dust. I’d say it was a 5 out of 10 but the biggest problem is that although the fumes are nothing like the old Nitromors days, they sneak up on you and the day after stripping the forecabin I was completely floored by what felt like the worst hangover I’ve had in years ! In fact it lasted two days and motivated me to try another product that promised less mess and less fumes (hidden or otherwise).
Peelaway Marine Antifouling Stripper looked promising. It claimed to work on most paints in addition to antifoul so decided to try a tester pot. This stuff isn’t cheap with a 4kg pack setting me back over £80. The idea is that the stripper is a paste which you apply to the surface and then cover with provided plastic sheeting to prevent the product from drying out too quickly before it gets to do the business. The tester pot is intended to allow you to work out how thick to apply it and for how long (dwell time) for it to work. You then peel back the plastic sheet whilst scraping gently at the softened paint and it should adhere to the sheet. On a test patch, this worked fine, but on a bigger area in a confined space this was never going to work. Having tested successfully, my dwell time was between 3-4 hours with about a 1mm covering of the paste.
It’s not that easy trowelling on the paste in small awkward lockers and then covering with the carrier plastic but it was do-able. The paint came away nicely using the same scraper I used to apply the product with but in the end I had to pull away the carrier sheet, put on some heavy duty latex gloves and scrape the old paint onto a dust sheet and into a kitchen bowl I had handy. Messy for sure, but much less messy than Peel Tec.
Having scraped the surface, so remaining paint and poultice residue had to be removed by wire brush, but it came away fairly easily. This was then followed up by a sponging down with water just to stop any remaining residue continuing to react with the GRP.
I managed to strip about 1/3rd of the boat’s headlining with a 4kg tub, so I would say a 10kg tub would be just enough to do a full job. I’d already stripped the forcabin with Peel Tec. So I ran out of Peelaway ! To finish the job I need another bucket of the stuff and the wallet has to take another hit but the product is genuinely good.