We have been having increasing success with our use of Biosolv our replacement for Acetone, MEK, Toluene , white spirit, and gun wash.


Biosolv container 2.5 litre

I started to use Biosolv in the workshop as a direct replacement for MEK which we were using to clean up our epoxy. What I didn’t like about MEK was that it evaporates so quick and was a constant worry for sources of ignition, when I went into the unit in the morning the MEK had to the most part evaporated off leaving a sticky mess  that meant our brushes and tools were ruined  and we should have just thrown them out, because to a degree that’s what we were doing.

I changed over to Biosolv and the first thing I noticed was that the solution did not evaporate off like MEK and the others I was using from Hempel paints and International coatings.

Spray tips thrown into Biosolv

Spray tips in biosolv

So this left us with clean brushes , whether we were using paint varnish or epoxy, the next thing was that by leaving it in the jug it would clear and we could  decant the clear fluid off to re use and reuse over and over again.

Spray Tips in Biosolv

When we went over to airless spraying , I was concerned about cleaning out over 40 feet of hose, especially as we use two pack and epoxy coatings. The Biosolv has been great we simply flush it through with water to push through any residual paint. we then flush through with Biosolv  into a tank or bucket. This wash out we keep let it settle and reuse as a primary flush before using a fresh amount of Biosolv prior to flushing through with the storage fluid, if we are using the machine again then we leave the Biosolv in the machine.

Our spray gun tips just get dumped into a container of Biosolv and when we are ready we fish out the one we need and off we go.

This is how we keep and clean our spray tips

I like the fact that over time Biosolv we completely disappear  so cleaning down work we know we are getting a truly clean surface, we can increase the speed of this with a airline.

In our parts cleaning wash tank we now use Biosolv and have found that by heating it slightly  it gives amazing results very quickly

We never lose paintbrushes to hardening due to poor clean up and this means we buy better brushes which gives us a better result on our finishes

Bristol work boats recently reported back to us that they have been using Biosolv to remove the cement when repairing inflatable boats and servicing of liferafts  it removes the excess glue every time.

To our friends in the graffiti removal business around the country thank you for your feedback and continued support, Biosolv is loved because of its safer working  module in that if spilt it can be dissolved/diluted with tap water and if it is washed into the ground then it breaks down and is removed by ants etc as sugar and starch so preserving our environment

Would we go back to conventional cleaners degreasers the firm answer is NO

hull prep continues

The hull has been sanded and given 3 coats of primer filler to protect the epoxy

hull being prepped for spraying







primer dried on hull

our sprayer

more masking

and more

first coat

2nd coat

finished coat primer

finished coat primer

Preparing to move the Schooner Hull

We have started to prepare for the moving of the 38-foot schooner hull out of the workshop.

So far we have made part of the rolling frame which will be used in conjunction with a crane to turn the hull 180 degrees. We have also started on the hulling dolly which will carry the boat.

The dolly consists of two 6 meters long caterpillers with 10 wheels on each one  a total weight allowance of 16 tonnes

one of the 20 axels waiting for its wheel on the moving caterpiller


Drills ours died

During this year we lost two of our old faithful workers, these were our Hitachi 18 volt battery drill and our Makita mains power drill.


our original Hitachi drills these were great tools they lasted for about 16 years thoroughly abused drilled holes bigger than they were designed for. They were dropped left outside I can not speak highly enough of these, they were made in Japan (all Hitachi tools are now made in China so I am informed)

The first to give up was our Hitachi 18 volt battery drills. Now these had done a lot of work, been dropped covered in epoxy been asked to drill holes far bigger than they were supposed to, but they had done it and were amazing drills

So what did we look at to replace them with?

Firstly we tried Makita 18 volt  but this just could not cut the mustard and within two days we had burnt out one of these the other was sent back faulty

Makita failures

Makita failure

Our Large mains Makita burned out drilling the holes through the keel for the ballast keel these holes are 52mm in diameter and approximately 700mm in length, it has been a good drill but it could not cope. The replacement was £600.00 but we were unsure as the power etc was not up on the drill that we had burnt out.


So we were now Drill less and our usual suppliers were not able to help us with anything better, I found a Hitachi 18 volt battery drill which we ordered. This has proved to be ok but not a patch on our original Hitachi drills  its made in China  is cheap and it feels light in your hands the chuck has been a problem but at the moment it is ok would we buy another  not without looking around first and trying  something else, I really think Hitachi dropped the ball by producing a drill that although cheaper to make and takes the standard 18 volt battery  the actual guts of the machine is not as good as our first one.


As for our new mains drill, well that has been an eye-opener, we ordered one off of eBay 98.00 GBP and it has been great it is ugly the switches are chunky but it has power and you can grease the gearbox which has metal gears. The holes we were grinding out with our old Makita mains drill we were taking a day per hole this beasty did all remaining 12 holes in a day so far top marks


new mains drill

the black circular plastic cover lets you grease the gearbox

e bay but a good bit of kit







Side Keels

The side keels have now been welded up and are in the workshop, for prep work then epoxy coating.

We will be grinding the surface using 4.5-inch grinders and a standard dry stone, the surface will be cleaned with biosolv, once we are happy with the surface we will paint on with a scrubbing action 1 coat of low vis epoxy with a mixture of 50% fast hardener and 50% medium hardener. this will give us a quick jell time without being too quick to work


Bilge Keels for the schooner

Keels of Schooner ready to be lifted

Lifting bilge keels ready to move into workshop

A very Happy Christmas and an amazing new year

I would like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a great new year.


I am so aware of people who are alone on this day and I would ask everyone  that over the next few days they take the trouble to call on their neighbours take them a mince pie and sit and chat with them for an hour or so, it means so much

I ask that your god keep you comfort you and bless you


Pete Johnson

black bear boating

A year in the workshop

A year in the workshop

During a year in the workshop, we have moved the schooner forward and we are now doing final prep work for turning the hull in the new year.

This has involved finishing the outside of the hull. We have laid on several layers of biaxial cloth a finishing coat and some undercoat filler to the topsides.

But as with all progress that is visible on the boat there are many days of prep work gone into the project that no one will ever see

Included in this was the replacement of the workshop roof timbers that had failed (old age and previous woodworm infestation)

Trouble with hands and other problems at the Workshop


Firstly I must apologise to everyone for not keeping you updated on the comings and goings at the workshop.

We have had a bit of a bad year, it all started with subcontracting out some work to Hawk marine, for them to make and supply new yards and booms as well as the mast for the junior project.

We had good communication with Hawk and sent them down the required lengths via email, my friend Robin offered to help in taking some drawings to hawk on my behalf, sadly I didn’t know that Robin had cancer and after he had delivered the drawings he secomed very quickly and we lost him

Now I should have gone to hawk myself but I thought with the plans and the measurements everything would be ok unfortunately Hawk decided to ignore the emails and go purely with the plans Unfortunately these were the wrong plans.

So we have a number of spars that are too short and only have cruising fittings not deep water fitting that we required.

So the workshop has now invested in tools to produce this in-house which is what we should have done in the first place, we will also be able to supply bespoke stainless work as a result of this, with fittings that will hold the proverbial battleship.

However this rethink lead me to some off-site work with Howard and Michael, now they wanted some help with epoxy work but they were not using MAS at the time but a combination of west and a product brought from E bay, I should have been more suspicious when I could not get safety data sheets from the company.

The following photos are the result of this even though I was wearing gloves just the contaminants in their workshop caused me the problems.

I now have to be very careful

This slowly spreads all over the palms of my hands

I am now back in my own workshop where we only use MAS epoxies and thankfully my hands are on the mend.

Which Epoxy Resin to Use Low Vis or FLAG?

When you have decided that the system you will use is the MAS non blushing system many people then ask us what resin should we use. So here are a few pointers.

Both Low vis and FLAG are part of the MAS non blushing no wax epoxy system. They are a 2 part system mixing 2 parts rein to 1 part hardener by weight or volume. The hardeners are slow medium and fast.

Both resins offer a low odor clear finish non blushing /waxing epoxy system that we have found to be very simple to use, giving predictable excelent results time after time. The low vis and flag systems are castor oil based which means they have a great flow out and should you get any on your skin it does not burn and the problems with over expossure which has plagued many of the older systems is simply not there in simple terms the sencertising effect of the older epoxies does not seem to be an issue with people using the low odor, non blushing epoxy system from MAS epoxies.

Both our resins and all our three hardeners can be measured out in any one of three ways , but you must make sure you use the same methode for both resin and hardener and keep to the 2 parts resin and 1 part hardener ratio.

In the workshop we use all 3 methods depending on the job at hand

  1. Pumps, We use pumps for small mixes and small one off jobs. (remember our pumps are precalibrated blue for resin red for hardener, one pump of each will give you the correct 2 parts rein to 1 part hardener ratio.
  2. Scales for larger jobs wher we might have two or three people mixing or just a large area and we want the mix to be as accurate as possible through out the work, we use digital scales which we cover with cling film to keep the scales readable and useable. Our most popular mixes are 200 grames to 100 grames and occationally 400 grames to 200 grames these seem to be good ammounts we can use without the pot life running out.
  3. Measured beaker or jug. We tend to use this system on large areas where we have a number of opperators working on the project or one person who can work quickly over a large area. We normally mix 2 litres of resin to 1 litre of hardener. We normally use the slow hardener for these mixes.
  4. You can use the non blushing low odor epoxy anywhere you would have used the older type epoxies but with more ease of use and a quicker job.

LOW VIS Epoxy Resin

So what is low vis. Low vis is short for low viscosity which means it is thinner than the flag resin it will flow easier and soak into cloth and substrates.a big advantange over the older type resins which unless they were worked and forced into the substrate matterial, would just sit on the top like a patch.

The flow or viscosity of liquides is measured in centipoise (cp) so water has a Cp of 1 and molases a Cp of 10,000 so our Low vis resin is thinner than most on the market.

What are the advantages of using a Low vis resin system
When coating you will get an easier flow and a deeper penertration into the substrate. We recommend all porrouse substrates be coated with Low Vis resin and hardener mix. When using cloth , carbon fibre you get a full impregnation through the matterial with a minimum of work and less voids. Low Vis can be easily injected into voids and cavitities and is ideal when using vacum bagging but remember to add our part three unit for vacum bagging which will prevent the start of chemical reaction until the whole job is wet out.

We also use Low Vis resin with fast hardener when making epoxy foam. You can always thicken Low Vis by adding powders to the mix should you need to. For perfect easy varnish clean the wood back and sand with a 120 grit paper, coat with one or two coats of low vis , this will seal the wood. When curred cut with a light sand paper to send the surface into a grey opaque state then coat with one coat of your favorite varnish, you will be impressed.

FLAG resin

Flag stands for filleting laminating and gluing. It is a thicker resin than low vis and has added disolved fibres that mean you do not have to add so much powder when you come to make up slurries and filleting blends for gluing and tabbing. You can use Flag simply with its hardener to glue up and laminate.

Where we use Flag within the workshop

  1. Stright forward gluing and gluing with thickening agents such as workshop mix.
  2. As a fairing compound when used with any of our powders and medium or fast hardener Flag makes a great fairing compound on verticle and horizontal surfaces and because of its in built anti slump agents gets to a gel evenly and quickly.
  3. As a barrier coat, when we are coating up and we are going on to of a substrate that has either been treated with low vis or on top of a clothed project we use flag to build up the thickness of the barrier coat evenly and quickly ( a workshop tip, bothlow vis and flag can be mixed together so if you have some low vis left you can addd flag with its hardener to it to complete your job , or in our case we cut flag and low vis together to get a mixture that we like to use in our build up of barrier coats.
  4. Flag also makes a great molding matterial when we need to repair broken furniture etc.

Flag has a Cp of 2300 but remember all these figures change the warmer the resin is.

So flag can be used for

F faring , add powders such as workshop mix glass balls cab o sil etc
L laminating use on its own with relivent hardeners or add powders to achieve peanut butter and
kettchup thicknesses
A and vertually any thing else you can think of from barrier coating to bonding hardware
G gluing on its own with hardeners and addtertives.

What is Amine Blush?

Modern epoxies v tradional older style blushing or waxing epoxy

Firstly we need to identify what is blushing or waxing. Blushing /waxing is a result of a chemical reaction within the older style epoxies which forms a a amine wax or blush on the surface of the epoxy as it cures. This waxing or amine blush needs to be removed before any other glueing
,painting or other coating can be applied. One of the dangers in removing this wax is that it can come back again after cleaning if the epoxy has not fully curred, this will cause any paint or finish coat to lift ( a little like sunburn skin peeling off) or will cause any subsequant glue joint to fail.

picture below shows epoxy with varying levels of wax / blush

Amine blush or wax can be removed with laquer thiners washing with a dilution of water and mild acid or acetone . All of which have their problems and cause a mess which needs to be cleaned before moving on to the next step in your project which has cost a substainal amount of time to
clean back to a surface that can be used.

Above picture of waxing or blushing both terms mean the same thing.

The other alternative is to use a modern non blushing epoxy. MAS low vis and flag come with three hardeners all of which are non blushing. This means there is far less labour in applying the epoxy, no clean up no mess, it also means you can apply another coat or glue a lamination on while the project is still wet giving a chemical bond which is better than a physical bond that you would have from older epoxies where you have had to wait for full cure then cleaned down and sanded before you can continue.

The picture above shows MAS non blushing system note how clean the finish is

Blushing systems are very much cheaper than non blushing systems so if you want to save money and are prepared to put in the extra time and money into the clean down process then the 5 to 1 and 3 to 1 systems on the market are the way to go. These include MAS traditional.WEST. SP. and others. If you want to progress with your project and you want to cut down on the labour and cleaning which all cost money and you want a easy use customer friendly system then go with MAS non blushing system, it will be cheaper and quicker in the long run.

Sometimes You Just Have a Bad Day

Now the schooner has been coming on in leaps and bounds and two friends decided to give me a
hand on a pleasant Sunday to get the last coat of epoxy on the hull, leaving me just the area where
we have had the scaffold to do before we look at turning the hull over.

Everything was set for a good day’s work the stern quarter on the port side had already been done
and I was very pleased with the result that you can see.

After a toolbox meeting, which highlighted such things as safety in the workshop, the base rules we
moved on to the most important topics tea coffee and should we have biscuits or cake. A decision
was made that we should have both.

Our mixing is straightforward we use two jugs for the measuring out of the resin and the hardener,
this is then emptied into our individual jugs for mixing and these jugs are then used to fill our trays
for rolling on the epoxy. We mix 100 ml of hardener and 200 of resin this is enough for two people
to apply with the third mixing the next batch making sure we have fresh epoxy at the point of
application so we get a nice smooth finish.

Everything was prepared tea was consumed spare brushes and rollers were left out, everyone had
two pairs of gloves on, we were ready to mix, a final blowdown to remove dust and we were ready
to go.

The mixes went well the boys were laying the epoxy on really nicely and things could not have
been better tea and cake was taken between mixes.

Once we had gotten around to the starboard side bow area things were really going well. That’s
when I noticed little imperfections, I was not sure what they were.

I decided to stop the epoxy until I could work out what was going on. We had little craters
appearing in the final coat of epoxy. I was not sure what was happening, I got both boys to show me
how they had been rolling the epoxy onto the hull, I thought it might have been the application, but
I could find nothing wrong there. Next, I looked at the rollers themselves, but again nothing amiss.
I was now looking at the epoxy could there be something wrong here, I went a rechecked other
work we had done with the same batch. Nothing wrong with the epoxy, so what was causing the


As you can see the hull has areas of cratering and ripples. I have found a few parts of the hull that
are perfect but not many. I was still at a loss as to what had happened.

They say that with sleep comes a new day and fresh ideas, this did not happen to me I could not
sleep and was pacing around the workshop at three in the morning.

I was in deep thought with a cup of tea and two dogs following me around, when the compressor
started I went to switch it off and noticed that the air trap had broken.

My culprit was the compressor blowing water and oil in a very thin mist over the hull. I had done it
myself blowing off the last remains of dust.

Well, there will be a few days sanding while we get back to a good base and apply a new last coat.