Stripping Paint From An Aluminum Boat?


Old 05-29-08, 01:12 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Munith, MI
Posts: 24
Stripping Paint From An Aluminum Boat?

I've got a 12.5' Aluminum boat I'm cleaning up for a friend. What is the best way to take off the old paint (MC numbers on the front of the boat) and the stickers (registrations)?

I've heard brake fluid and oven cleaner work the best. Anyone have any suggestions or experience. I can't afford sandblasting or $50 a can aircraft paint stripper. I tried going at a couple numbers with my angle grinder with twisted knot wire wheel attached but it seemed to just smear the paint around. I'm not going to repaint the boat, just clean up the aluminum (the rest of the boat is unpainted).
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Old 05-29-08, 03:49 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,268
buy a quart of good paint stripper - and go at it.. should work well. The stickers can be a pain - I've always used a razor blade/scraper to get the majority off - then used alcohol or other similar solvent to remove the glue...
Old 06-04-08, 01:51 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Augusta, GA
Posts: 5
Number one is eye protection and rubber gloves. You can get another boat, but you only get one chance to look at it. Rubber gloves can prevent dry, cracked skin at the least and a serious accumulated sensitivity at worst.

The main thing to avoid with Al is a strong acid. Cleaners made for "mag" wheels normally use a weak solution hydroflouric acid. It normally comes in a spray can from any auto supply store. Wash the boat first, and make sure the surface is not hot. Make sure you're inthe shade when you do this. The process can get crazy with phototropic reactions, and give you a finish that can't be duplicated.

The numbers can scraped or soaked with Goo Gone or some similar naptha-touluene solvent. If you cover it with "band aid" or diaper made with a paper towel covered with plastic held on with duct tape (applied when everything's dry), it won't evaporate as fast. Just get it covered and pour in through a small opening in the top of the upper edge. 10-15 minutes soaking at 70 degrees should be enough. Paint thinner will get rid of the residue. A maroon scrubber wil polish Al to a satin finish. Then use automotive rubbing compound to shine it up.

I'd be careful of oven cleaner. If it's potassium hydroxide, you're OK. If it's sodium hydroxide, that's old fashioned lye. Besides being toxic, it may eat a hole in the boat, if it's really strong. I've also used 0000 steel wool and strong cleaners (Purple Stuff, Greased Lightening, Green stuff) that contain sodium metasilicate. You don't have be a chemist, just read the labels. If you use power tools to scrub, be careful about slinging the cleaner and residue all over the place. Plants don't like any more than your bare legs, if you wear shorts. It will also invite repainting the house or replacing vinyl siding. I usually make a barrier of large cardboard boxes cut down for the occasion.

Last edited by chedester; 06-04-08 at 02:02 PM. Reason: add safety precautions

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