Pass the Ar­gon, Please

Two-part marine paints are finicky. Here’s how to han­dle ‘em.

Power & Motor Yacht - - BOATYARD - By Capt. Bill Pike

Hav­ing al­ready done some touchup paint­ing on board the Betty

Jane II, I was plan­ning on do­ing a bit more us­ing the same paint I’d started with, In­ter­lux Per­fec­tion, a nifty, two-part polyurethane prod­uct that pro­duces an es­pe­cially hard, glossy, gel coat­like fin­ish. But as I pre­pared to mix my sec­ond mini-batch, I dis­cov­ered that although Part A was healthy, Part B had turned into resinous glop in well un­der a week’s time.

Ac­cusatory ques­tions ob­truded. Had I failed to put the lid on the can tightly enough the first time around? Had I in­ad­ver­tently con­tam­i­nated Part B while mix­ing the first batch? And hey, was it pos­si­ble to buy a new can of Part B only? Or would I have to buy a whole new two-part kit.

The an­swers came via some In­ter­net re­search and a few phone calls. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, it seems, the com­po­nents of most polyurethane paints are al­ler­gic to oxy­gen and/or mois­ture. So, once you go through what­ever mix­ing/us­ing regime is ap­pro­pri­ate for any given small project and re-seal the cans, chem­i­cal re­ac­tions are prob­a­bly go­ing to oc­cur due to the oxy­gen and mois­ture that re­main trapped in­side. And sadly enough, most com­pa­nies, In­ter­lux in­cluded, don’t sell Part B or ac­ti­va­tor sep­a­rately.

So an­other ques­tion log­i­cally arises. How the heck does your aver­age, small-project boat guy eco­nom­i­cally deal with a two-part paint like Per­fec­tion, where the cur­ing agent (if stored for an ap­pre­cia­ble amount of time) can go belly up and re­quire the pur­chase of a whole new, two-part kit?

Ever hear of ar­gon? It’s an in­ert, odor­less, col­or­less, taste­less gas that Iron­wood De­signs of San Luis Obispo, Cal­i­for­nia con­ve­niently pack­ages in a spray can la­belled Bloxy­gen and sells for about $12 per can.

Ar­gon is wholly be­nign, by the way, and ac­tu­ally con­sti­tutes a small part of our at­mos­phere. But it has a spe­cial char­ac­ter­is­tic that makes it a boon to any­one who reg­u­larly deals with two-part marine paints—it’s heav­ier than air and there­fore dis­places both mois­ture and oxy­gen.

You sim­ply spray the gas into a given con­tainer (whether there’s a base ma­te­rial or a cur­ing agent in­side) while hold­ing the con­tainer’s lid slightly open just prior to clos­ing. Once you re-seal the lid, the gas is trapped in­side, set­tles down upon the com­po­nent un­der­neath and pro­tects it.

I can per­son­ally at­test to Bloxy­gen’s ef­fec­tive­ness—it’s cur­rently keep­ing my lat­est and great­est Per­fec­tion kit (both Part A and Part B) ready and rarin’ to go.

Bloxy­gen is avail­able from hard­ware and full-ser­vice paint stores, from marine sup­pli­ers like Jamestown Dis­trib­u­tors and from Ama­zon. It works just as nicely for var­nishes, one-part paints and epoxy resins as it does for two-part polys. As you’d ex­pect, it elim­i­nates thick­en­ing and skin­ning-over dur­ing long stor­age pe­ri­ods.

Just spray for a cou­ple sec­onds, seal the lid of the can and guess what? You’re done!

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