Application on an aluminum drift boat: Wetlander 3L kit Product Review

Posted by Scott Hogan on July 17, 2014 0 Comments

Don Kerkow, from the Pacific Northwest, was kind enough to document his application process on a steelhead fishing site  .  Here is his tale, in his words:


Hi all,
As I mentioned in my December 2013 post, I went ahead and purchased the Wetlander Duro-Slick 3L Application for my Drift Boat bottom recoating project; . The primary contact I worked with was Scott Hogan, (518) 469-3612 / I wanted to tell you all that Scott is great to work with, and is always willing to provide excellent advice and guidance.

The 3L application has three coats, or layers. The 1st layer is Wetlander’s original industrial primer. The 2nd layer is the primer that is applied to air boats. This layer has silicone mixed with the paint (about ½ of the amount that you would find in the top coat - Layer 3). The 3rd layer is considered the top coat. This layer has a significant amount of silicone added to the paint. It is the combination of all three layers that provide the protection drift boats need in rocky rivers.

Since I was between seasons, I decided to re-coat the bottom of my Willie 17x54 in January (if you can believe that). Most people with any common sense would wait until summer when the weather is warm. Oh, but not me! The following is the process I followed and some dos and a really big don’t that I learned along the way.

Step 1 - Prepping the boat: As most all of you are aware, removing Gluvit is just a time consuming and dirty job. As you can see from the picture, I really needed to re-coat the bottom. Since I knew it was going to be a dirty job, I decided to set up my Costco carport tent, and do the work outside. This allowed me to work, and not have to worry about cleaning up the product, as it was just falling onto the gravel driveway.

I started by using my 4” metal blade scraper to chip away as much of the Gluvit as possible. I was actually able to remove quite a bit of the product this way.

When you have removed as much product as possible with the scraper, it is time to pull out the electric grinder. I strongly recommend a good breathing mask and a set of goggles as you will have a whole lot of heavy dust. My goal was to take 100% of the Gluvit off of the bottom, so that I could get the best bonding possible for the Wetlander.
Once all of the Gluvit was removed, I sanded out the surface, first with 80 grit and then with 150 grit. Again, my goal was to prepare the surface the best I could, so I would not have to rework it ever again.

Once the bottom was prepped, I masked off the sides of the boat.

Now for A GREAT BIG DON’T! Now most people would know better, but not I – oh no, not me. Like I said earlier, my little project is in January, the dead of winter. In addition, I think I mentioned that I had everything set up in a TENT!
Well, combine zero insulation with a snowstorm and you do not have a formula for success. I had tilted the boat so that I could place a propane heater under and warm both the metal and the tent to over 70 degrees (At least that was the grandiose plan).

I did get it warmed up, but found out later that the metal was not warm enough or evenly heated. Then after I got started, I found out that the sprayer tip was not large enough (you need at least a 2.0 tip). I should have just stopped, but had the paint and hardener mixed, so I forged forward. I figured that I would sand out any runs before I went to the second layer.
To add insult to injury, when I was done, and had left the tent, the propane heater went out. Did I mention the snowstorm?

Well, this picture below displays what happens when your paint freezes. Pretty ugly!!!

When I sent the pictures to Scott at Wetlander, he said that he had always told folks what would happen if the pain freezes, but this was the 1st time that he actually had pictures of the result. What an honor to be the guy to finally give him pictures.

Step 2 – Properly applying the product: After I totally trashed the application of Layer 1, I had a very long discussion with Scott. In this discussion, not only did I have to reorder layer 1, but he also provided me with VERY VALUABLE advise on how to do it right. Scott told me that the professionals will get the metal up to about 120 degrees before they spray on the paint. This is not possible without special ovens to place the boat in, but it told me I needed to drastically change my approach. Also, I needed to ensure that I get even applications on the boat, and since the sprayer I owned would not work I used a roller.

So based on his recommendations, I moved the boat into my insulated garage. I lifted the whole boat off of the ground, with the bow higher than the stern. Then I placed two heaters under the boat so that I could both heat the metal to over 80 degrees, and the room close to 90 degrees.

I decided to use different colors for each layer, so that I could gauge the wear by seeing the color changes on the bottom of the boat.

I chose to use yellow as layer 1, the industrial Primer. Since this color does not cover other colors well, it would provide great contrast and be easily covered by the 2nd and 3rd colors. Also, you will need ½ gallon of each layer.
When the temperatures are correct, I mixed the paint as recommended by the instructions included with the paint. I then applied the first coat of layer 1 with the roller. It took about 20 minutes. Remember, the coat sets up really fast because the boat metal is between 75 and 80 degrees. I then waited about 45 minutes to allow the 1st coat to set up. Then I applied the 2nd coat of Layer 1. After I was completed with the 2nd coat, I let the paint cure for at least 24 hours before starting the second layer. Make sure that your temperature stays above 70 degrees during the curing process, the hotter the metal the better the cure!

I chose green as my second layer. Why these two colors…GO DUCKS!

I followed all of the same steps as I used with the application of layer 1. On layer 2, there are some special tricks for getting good coverage. As I mentioned above, there is silicon added to the paint for layer 2. The silicone will cause the paint to develop fish eyes (where the paint pulls away in microscopic circles). Remember, silicone is slick because it tries repels sticky stuff. Once again, Scott provided great advice. As you apply the product with the roller, wait a few seconds for the fish eyes to develop. Before you apply additional product to the roller, run the roller over the fish eyed paint for a couple strokes. This will force the fish eyes to close. Again, after the 1st coat is applied, wait about 45 minutes to allow the 1st coat to set up. Then I applied the 2nd coat of Layer 2. After I was completed with the second coat, I let the paint cure for at least 24 hours.

I cannot stress this enough, make sure that your temperature stays above 70 degrees during the curing process, the hotter the metal the better the cure!

I chose black for the final layer, layer 3. Wetlander refers to this layer as the top coat.

I followed all of the same steps as I used with the application of layer 2. The most important thing to remember is that the top coat has at least twice as much silicone as layer 2, so you will need to work a little harder to close up the fish eyes.
You have the option to apply 1 or 2 coats of the top coat. Some only mix up ½ of the product and apply 1 coat. This will allow you to have one more coat of material for patching up the wear to the top coat after use in our rocky rivers. I closed to apply 2 coats of layer 3. I wanted to provide the best protection possible. Then, when there is enough wear that the 2nd layer starts to show through, I can order a quart, and re-apply a single coat of the top coat. This is the beauty of the Wetlander 3L system … you NEVER have to scrape Gluvit again! When the top coat shows enough wear, a light sanding with 150 grit sandpaper, and an acetone wash, and you are ready to re-apply the new top coat.
Once you have completed the application of the 3rd layer, you want to let the paint cure for at least 5 days before you place it in the water. Remember, make sure that your temperature stays above 70 degrees during the curing process, the hotter the metal the better the cure!

I will state emphatically, I have never experienced a slicker surface. Also, once cured, it is as hard as the metal it is covering. Because the product is water based paint, the cleanup is very simple, and after the curing process the total product will be between 4 and 6 mils thick. I will warn you to be careful! This makes the bottom of your boat super slick. When I flipped it over in my garage, my 4’11” wife slid the boat around on the floor as if it were on casters. Additionally, when I cranked it up onto the trailer I came close to getting smacked by the bow anchor attachment. The hitch of the trailer was a little lower that the back of the trailer. Once the bow came down, the boat shot forward like someone just gunned a motor. Like I said, it IS slick!

Well, that is my story. I will provide an update as the season progresses to provide you with updates on how it holds up. Since I usually float the East Lewis or the Kalama, I will be sliding over rocks as the water drops. So, I should be able to provide you with solid wear information.

Special K’s Duck Drifter

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