Going back to Captains 1015 Varnish

I have been varnishing boats for over 40 yrs.  I tend to be a bit old school and have used badger hair brushes for application with great success.


My first couple of CLC boats (MIll Creeks) turned out beautiful using Captains 1015.

Captains has been my preferred choice since the mid 70's.


On my PM build I order Interlux Scooner varnish.  I thought it would be as good or better.  I know CLC uses it and it seems to work great for many others.


I have had nothing but problems with it!

Pros:  On my spars it turned out great. both the spars and the boat are in the same shop which is maintained at 64 degrees with low humidity.  I use a dust filtration system and clean well before application.


On the interior every coat has turned out like 80 grit sandpaper? I thought it was dust however closer examination shows what appears to be millions of very small bubbles.  Sanding produced a smooth to touch surface however you can still seet the tiny impressions??  I have tried badger brush, foam brush, tipping all all the tricks and each coat (now 3) has same result??

I am moving back to Zspar Petit Captains 1015 and hopefully it will settle things down.


8 replies:

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RE: Going back to Captains 1015 Varnish

Interesting. I had the same problem with Schooners. I had been using Epiphanes for years, tried Schooners, and will be using Epiphanes from now on. Could have been a bad can or two, I suppose. 

George K

RE: Going back to Captains 1015 Varnish

Uh oh....i am about to order 1 qy of schnoor....my hull will be painted onside and out so only bilkheads mast partner rails will be varnished..my garage is not the best for air control...done a lotof painting but not any oil based varnish...did bristol on my catalina...hated it...what  should i order?   Curt  830/997.8120

RE: Going back to Captains 1015 Varnish


CLC and a lot of others use Schooners with great results. I called Joey at CLC when I was having problems and he couldn't figure it out either. My problem wasn't dust. I still don't know what caused the problems but will stick with what works for me. The only reason I used Schooners in the first place was I was varnishing a boat for a client and he gave me the varnish. I ended up finishing it up with a couple coats of Epiphanes and had no problems. 

George K

RE: Going back to Captains 1015 Varnish

For a while CLC was selling Schooner Gold and I had similar issues with it along with it being a real bear to apply. I ended up adding some mineral spirits (on Joey's advice) and that helped). I've been using regular Schooner lately and it's better than the Gold, but not great. Granted my shop is not the warmest but I'm finding it really hard to get that "final" coat the way I want it. Maybe it's time to switch...


RE: Going back to Captains 1015 Varnish

Completed 4th interior coat of Scooner. Looking better but had to thin it heavily with Penetrol. 1 cap for 5 oz.

I will use Captains for my top coats.


I am sure Scooner is fine it is jut me and my technique I guess.

I also have the best flow with my 20 year old badger hair brushes!

I also like Epahanes and Coma Bernice.  I used Coma Bernice on a cedar strip and it was fantastic!  It has now become hard to find and requires special thinner.

I suppose the EPA got their hands in the formula and forced it out of the country.


Scooner does not have the high build capabilities that Captains has.


I did try Petit High build once and it was a disaster! Stuff was high build but VERY VERY slow cure. Poor gloss and just looked bad!


Keep on brushing!


RE: Going back to Captains 1015 Varnish

Great info...glad you guys contribute here!   Joey also coached me up on varnish technique.  Here are my notes from my conversation with Joey...comments?


    • 1 quart of Interlux Schooner Varnish on bare wood or over epoxy (entire hull inside and out will be painted, so 1 quart should be enough for bulkheads, transom, seat boards, daggerboard trunk, inner and outer rails and spars)
    • 5 coats letting each coat dry and wet sand with 400 before next coat.  220 takes too much off. It's not how much you apply, but how much you leave on the surface. 
    • Add 10% Penatrol and 10% mineral spirits to make flow rate better.  Add these only to working container of varnish.
Other comments on varnishing?!
Curt 830/997-8120

RE: Going back to Captains 1015 Varnish

Ok, since my name has been mentioned, I'll throw my $.02 in.

I have applied miles of both Captains and Schooner varnish, literally. Winter weather and varnish can be tricky. Lower ambient temps mean the varnish is also lower in temperature and therefore "thicker" in viscosity. Cold varnish holds air bubbles, that simply do not rise out of the coating like they would typically in a warmer environment. Another issue is solvent "pops". Varnish relies on evaporation to dry. It can skin over, trap solvents and never fully harden. Varnish (and paint) is more susceptible to this happening at colder ambient temps. You may be able to sand it, but it will not be apparent until a new coat is applied and tiny pin holes appear everywhere. Adding more coats only make the problem worse, without proper cure time. Wet Sanding and warming the surface for 24 hours will allow the solvents to evaporate is the cure for solvent entrapment.   

In varnish terms, cold is 60 degrees. When it is cold, I will warm the can in a bath of hot water, for at least an hour. Mineral spirits is my "go to" thinner and will be extremely helpful in a cold environment. Thin it to your liking, I use no more than 10%. If you can warm the surface too, you will also get better results. Thin coats work better, because, it is less likely to sag and will cure fully, quicker than a thick coat. I've always been a fan of Penetrol, and doctor every can of both varnish and finish paint, with it. Again, no more than 10%.  


To address the Schooner Gold. Don't use it unless you are prepared to thin it to match your conditions. It is back on the market and is a professional use product only. I personally don't have a problem with it. Someone trying it, that does not have experience, will be frustrated. I hear a lot of feedback from customers, and Gold is universally disiked. 


If the conditions are less than ideal, your varnish may reflect that. If you can wait for better conditions, you'll never regret doing so. It's hard to temper the excitement when nearing completion, but weather is one of those variables we have to work around.


RE: Going back to Captains 1015 Varnish

I should also clarify, Schooner and Schooner Gold are two completly different products. Schooner, the varnish we sell, is much more user friendly and we have had fantastic success. Every boat in our shop has Schooner on it. It's durable and easy for the average guy to expect exceptional results. 

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