Boating - - BOAT DOCTOR / Q&A -

A care­less diver cleaned the stern­drive with acid when re­mov­ing bar­na­cles from my new-to-me 2004 26-foot Sea Ray. The paint layer is thin, and bare metal shows in ar­eas. Do you rec­om­mend paint­ing it? Which paint? Can it be a DIY job? The boat lives on a lift above salt water. Thanks.

Miguel G. Via email

A: Yes, it is a DIY job. Sand/abrade the sur­face us­ing 180-grit pa­per or a ma­roon Scotch-Brite pad un­til the metal is bright and there is no flak­ing fin­ish. Clean with soap and water, then dry. Next, wipe down with white vine­gar, which is acetic acid. This chem­i­cally etches the alu­minum; you can cer­tainly use the pur­pose-made etcher from the paint-maker. Etch­ing must be per­formed im­me­di­ately prior to ap­ply­ing the primer, so plan your work ac­cord­ingly.

Ap­ply three to four coats of zinc phos­phate primer from a spray can. Then ap­ply two to three coats of top­coat from a spray can, which in your case will be black, since Sea Ray boats are fit­ted with Mer Cruiser stern­drives. You will likely need two cans of primer and two cans of paint.

For a truly pro job — one that will pro­vide the best pro­tec­tion for your drive — ap­ply a two-part epoxy primer af­ter etch­ing in­stead of the zinc phos­phate. I have used Pet­tit Pro­tect with ex­cel­lent re­sults. Brush on two coats, fol­low­ing the di­rec­tions on the can. can point me in the right di­rec­tion. Thank you.

David Irvin Lex­ing­ton, Kentucky

First, I want to thank Randy Vance for the an­swer to this ques­tion. He spoke with Ray­ma­rine’s tech sup­port on your be­half, David. They said your unit is a 2002 unit. It may have been made later than that, but that was the tech­nol­ogy for sev­eral years. Plus, the pro­ces­sor is small. So, if you put in a newer chart card, it may not be able to process it due to file sizes. If you are boat­ing on a spe­cific body of water, try to buy a chart just for that body of water.

Re­gard­less, you do need to fa­mil­iar­ize your­self with the man­ual, and you need to be on the boat when you call back tech sup­port so they can talk you through the menus. I sel­dom wait more than an hour for a call­back and of­ten get through on the first ring. They are good at their job.

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