I had a house painter visit today to give me a quote on re-painting my plywood Atlantic and he is really, really unsure about the feasibility job. He has asked me to do a bit more homework and get some feedback from people who have done the same.
I'm too old and too unskilled to do the job myself. I know this guy does fabulous work, so I'm prepared to pay him to get it properly prepared and painted. That should give me a finish that will last a long time if the van is stored in the shed.
The painter's main concern was the sheer fragility of a 60-year-old thin-skiined plywood van, and in particular with preparing it for painting. He's particulary worried that touching it with orbital sanders will take off too much material. He seemed much happier with the actual painting process - two coats of undercoat and two coats of top coat, so if I can relay to him some advice about preparation it will help.
So .... I'm asking for advice from people who have "been there and done that" as to the ins and outs of re-painting a plywood van. What soothing words can I relate to a nervous master painter?
I want the old girl to again look like she did in 2004.
Much depends on the condition of the surface of your Atlantic. The areas most prone to cracking would be the roof/front and back sections, because they are under stress at the curves. When I fixed up my Hunter Minor, it had calico cover on those areas, which I removed. The plywood was quite dried out underneath the calico. I hand-sanded and then added a sealing agent onto the plywood. This sealed any minor cracks and gave me a surface to then prime and re-cover with calico.
Without seeing the surface, it's a bit hard to give advice. Your painter is correct about being careful with the sanding, because plywood lays are quite thin. But you need to get any cracked or flaking paint off, so gently does and not too rough a sandpaper. I would still use a sealer before painting. Bondall have such products, but there are also some boating sealants that some people have used. They might come forward with their suggestions for you.