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#399219 - 04/22/08 01:02 PM Bottom Painting with VC-17
Al Offline
Nautical Alchemist
Grand Poobah

Registered: 01/14/03
Posts: 14988
Loc: Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
Thought some of you might be interested in VC-17.

Its a bottom paint like no other. It is particularly effective for fresh water slime and Zebra Mussels, so it is pretty popular on the Great Lakes.

The literature for the paint indicates it is effective for fresh water and low-fouling salt water areas, which I figure probably rules out Florida.

VC-17 is made by Interlux, and comes in 1 quart containers. The paint itself is 2 part. You get 750ml of a clear liquid, and a bag of dry copper powder. The paint seems to be less odorous than regular bottom paints that I have previously used. I have not checked to see what the VOC is vs. standard bottom paint, but I would be surprised if it is not less "odorific".

VC-17 web site.

The bag of copper is contained underneath that red plastic cap.

The copper powder is fine ground, and if you open it on a windy day, it'll be all over everything. Even if you don't open it on a windy day, it'll be all over everything. I suppose the mixing is the worst part of the job. Gloves and old clothes are necessary.

You are supposed to mix the paint in the can, but I have found a good alternative. I use a clean, dry 2-Liter pop bottle, and using a funnel, pour the copper into the bottle, followed by the liquid. Then cap the bottle and shake well.

This does an excellent job of mixing the paint, keeps it from evaporating quickly, and from spilling. Surprisingly, the paint doesn't attack the pop bottle. I have paint sitting on a shelf in a pop bottle that has been mixed for a year that is still good. I don't know why Interlux just doesn't pre-mix the stuff.

When applying the paint to the boat, it must be prepared correctly. VC-17 is not compatible with any other bottom paint, so if the boat has something else on it - it must be stripped off.

Then, either a bonding layer of Interlux VC-Tar or Interprotect 2000, which are both barrier paints, must be used - or at least should be. Notwithstanding the blister properties, these barriers provide a better bond to the VC-17, as VC-17 doesn't stick that well to raw fiberglass. VC-17 that has been applied to raw fiberglass can be blown off with a pressure washer.

One of the selling points of our boat was that it was already prepared with VC-Tar and then VC-17 by the previous owner. The value of that improvement is in the area of $4K, as that is about what a marina would charge to properly apply VC-17 for the first time.

If you do it yourself, you must remove any existing bottom paint, apply 4 to 6 coats of barrier (VC-Tar or Intraprotect 2000), then 2 initial coats of VC-17.

Assuming the boat has been previously painted with VC-17 and you are just putting on the yearly layer, the surface only has to be clean and dry. No sanding or other prep is needed.

When you apply the paint, it evaporates quite quickly. It also evaporates quicker when its warmer outside. This is one reason why I like to paint early in the season.

In 50 deg weather - it dries in about 2 minutes. In 80 degree weather - just seconds. In hot weather, you can literally see the paint dry on the hull as you apply it. That also means that the paint is quickly drying in the pan too.

So to keep too much paint from drying in the pan, we apply the paint in cool weather, and the wife pours just enough paint from the pop bottle into the pan for me to load the roller. She then recaps the pop bottle, then shakes it again.

We use foam brushes and a hard foam roller. The rollers I use are made by West System and are intended for rolling on epoxy. They work great for VC-17, and its surprising that the foam isn't attacked by the paint. That is not true for any other bottom paint however. The rollers come in a two-pack, and I usually use a band saw and cut one roller up for a 3" wide roller, and leave the other for a 7" wide roller.

The paint goes on water-thin, not like the usual tar-like consistency of normal bottom paints. Consequently, you could apply 100 coats on the boat and not have any buildup issues. With hard-epoxy bottom paints especially, you need to remove the old paint every so often.

When applying the paint, not much pressure is required on the roller, and I can paint the entire bottom of the boat in about 1 and one-half hours. I use a mechanic's creeper or mechanic's stool depending on which area I am painting. Since they have wheels, I use my feet to propel me down the sides of the boat as I apply paint. I'm a painting machine...

With VC-17, there is no time limit as to how quickly the boat has to go in the water. You can paint in the fall and launch in the spring if you wish. And I have found that the paint can be considered multi-seasonal. I can take a Scotch-brite pad to the side of the boat with the old paint and bring out the copper again. However, its so easy to paint the boat, we have been doing it each year.

You can see here that just power washing does bring back some of the copper in the VC-17. This was left from last years paint job.

The paint is only available in quart size cans, and is about $45 to $50 per can. Compared gallon-to-gallon, its no more expensive than any of the high-performance conventional paints. I can usually paint the entire bottom of the boat with 2 and 1/2 cans.

The paint also contains teflon, which makes it a low-drag paint. Consequently, about 90% of the sailboaters and about 10% of powerboaters in my area use it. The manufacturer claims a 1kt improvement in speed vs. conventional paints, and the previous owner of my boat confirmed that when he switched to VC-17.

The paint also has Biolux - which some other paints now have as well. Biolux is effective at the prevention of slime build up - which is essential for VC-17 to work.

The paint is available in 3 colors; original (a brown-black color), Red, and Blue. Regardless of the final color, the paint goes on a copper color. Two people have looked at photos of the recently painted boat bottom and have asked if the bottom paint is pink. I guess it does look a bit pink in the right light.

But the paint goes through a metamorphosis of sorts. When immersed in water for about 2 weeks, the paint oxidizes into its final color.

This photograph shows the paint color after being immersed in water for a season.

Just when it seems like this is the perfect paint, the only real issue I find is that the paint isn't very good at abrasion. Quite often, the lift slings will scrape the paint off the hard chines on the boat. And I also mentioned that the paint doesn't adhere that well to raw fiberglass, so once abraded, the paint will fall off the sling area every year. I have not tried it yet, but possibly building up the area around the slings with a few coats of Vc-Tar might help the paint stick to that area better.

In conclusion, if you boat in fresh water, there are many advantages to using VC-17, and the only real disadvantage is proper surface preparation. But once you are done with that step, its a breeze to annually paint the boat yourself.
President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.

2004 Mercury 270 Airdeck Dinghy.
2011 Four Winds 28Z Class C Motorhome (Ford E450).

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#399235 - 04/22/08 02:01 PM Re: Bottom Painting with VC-17 [Re: Al]
Jeffski Offline

Registered: 07/27/03
Posts: 2633
Loc: Michigan
Great info as always. Thanks Al.
2009 Four Winns SL 242
Searching for that "One Particular Harbor."

#454562 - 03/08/09 08:17 PM Re: Bottom Painting with VC-17 [Re: Jeffski]
Duke Offline

Registered: 12/16/03
Posts: 1071
Loc: Erie, PA
Al - you're right about this stuff. I did this a couple years ago, using Interprotect 2000 for the barrier coat and coating with VC17m. I love the stuff and it takes me about an hour to do my entire bottom, being just a 25'er. Here's where I posted my project:

I don't know why the pictures don't work anymore though - ?
2005 Monterey 302

#455274 - 03/17/09 04:30 PM Re: Bottom Painting with VC-17 [Re: Duke]
FCMarine Offline

Registered: 09/26/08
Posts: 133
So it changes color after it has been in the water for a while and just not while sitting on the trailer? Must be some kind of chemical reaction of some sort then?
Parts Specialist

#455299 - 03/17/09 08:11 PM Re: Bottom Painting with VC-17 [Re: FCMarine]
Al Offline
Nautical Alchemist
Grand Poobah

Registered: 01/14/03
Posts: 14988
Loc: Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
I think the copper changes color when it oxidizes, but apparently that only happens in water. I don't know all what it does, but that is how it works.
President and CEO - Napmoor and Doolittle.

2004 Mercury 270 Airdeck Dinghy.
2011 Four Winds 28Z Class C Motorhome (Ford E450).

#455444 - 03/19/09 04:29 PM Re: Bottom Painting with VC-17 [Re: Al]
FCMarine Offline

Registered: 09/26/08
Posts: 133
Thats pretty interesting I will have to read up on that product. The copper color doesn't look too bad on the boat though.
Parts Specialist

#455449 - 03/19/09 05:32 PM Re: Bottom Painting with VC-17 [Re: FCMarine]
Frantically Relaxing Offline

Registered: 02/07/03
Posts: 10994
Seems "normal" to me, put one penny on the table and one in the water, the one in the water will turn black in a hurry... copper is as copper does?


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