Cecofil & Latex Filler method


As promised, here's a few thoughts on my current canvassing project:

We canvassed using the "Upside down" method using my deck and trailer hitch as anchor points. THe upside down method has been described elsewhere, do I won't get into describing it.

We filled using cecofil that I got from Tom McKenzie. Following Tom's directions, we first sprinkled a little water on the canvas using a plant mister and rubbed lightly to break the sizing in the canvas. After mixing the cecofil, Dan Miller and I worked together - me rolling the filler in using a foam roller and Dan rubbed in gently by hand using latex gloves. A final rubbing in one direction helped to lay the fibers of the canvas down. (1st & 2nd pictures)

Observation - The Cecofil foamed a lot - probably a result of the foam roller trapping air. At times it looked like shaving cream!

It took about 10-12 hours for the 1st coat to dry - may be due to the cool temps and very damp air.

The next day I sanded with 220 to knock down the stiff fibers and applied a 2nd coat of cecofil. This coat dried in about 2 hours. I sanded with 220 again.
(3rd Photo is 1st and second coats, 4th photo shows sanded vs unsanded after first coat)

More in next post


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The Continuing Story...

After the 2nd coat of cecofil dried and was sanded, I followed Dan Millers instructions of a method he learned from former WCHA stalwart, the late Chris Merigold. Mix 50-50 Latex EXTERIOR primer and LIGHTWEIGHT premixed spackling (This is the stuff that when you pick up the quart tub, you'd think it was 3/4 empty - very lightweight.) When mixed, it has the consistancy of a milkshake.

Paint it on (1st photo) and tip it off with a foam brush. I found that it dries very quickly - even in cool damp weather, so the method that worked best was to apply a roller full, then tip it off immediately. Apply the next roller full and tip it off, working from dry to wet edge.

I applied a first coat on Sunday night. (2nd photo) On Monday morning, I did a test sand and found that it sanded cleanly, but clogged the sandpaper a bit - so a little more drying time or sanding screen like the sheetrock tapers use might work best. I didn't have time to do a complete sanding but it appears as though another light coat of this compound will do the job. I can't vouch for durability or hardness at this point. We will see.

Some GENERAL observations Cecofil vs Traditional:

COST - This method is more expensive for materials than using a traditional filler. 2 qts of cecofill plus shipping will run a little more than $100. Add another $15-$16 for the exterior latex primer and lightweight spackling.

EASE - Much easier to apply than traditional oil/silica filler because there is no heavy rubbing in required. A light rubbing of the cecofil to lay down the nap of the canvas was all that was needed.

TIME TO APPLY - about even, maybe a little less using the cecofil method - just a few more steps, but quicker and less messy.

TIME TO CURE - Cecofil wins hands down. If I didn't have to go out of town all week, I would have been able to go from bare wood -> canvas -> Cecofil ->filler -> paint in about 3-4 DAYS rather than 6-8 WEEKS

DURABILITY - Time will tell - reports from Dan and others say it is a good strong alternative to the traditional.

That's the story folks!


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Thanks Mike, (and Dan)

A few questions please....

Does the Cecofill completely fill the canvas?
What weight canvas did you use? std or light weight or ?
Could you have used dacron instead?
Does the spackel get hard when mixed with the primer or?? (I ask because we just used some on a wall and I don't remember it being hard there.)

And the biggy, how much weight do you think it saved?

Does the Cecofill completely fill the canvas?

Not usually, hence the need for the spackle mixture. The spackle mixture is a whole lot cheaper than another quart of Cecofill.

What weight canvas did you use? std or light weight or ?

Mike's canoe has number 10 on it. I've used Cecofill on No 10 and No 12 canvas.

Could you have used dacron instead?

Absolutely - after all, that is what Cecofill was developed for. Tom MacKenzie, the canoe restorer's source for Cecofill, typically covers his canoes with Dacron/Cecofill. I've never used Dacron myself, so check with Tom for a protocol.

Does the spackel get hard when mixed with the primer or??

I was initially a little skeptical about it, but after dripping blobs of it on the garage floor (right in the traffic pattern) and having them still there three years later when I had to scrape them off to sell the house, I stopped worrying about it. The primer is there so you can paint the stuff on, the spackle so you can sand it back off. Don't forget, you are just filling the remainder of the weave, not making a spackle skin.

Sounds like the price has gone up a bit since the last time I used it. However, you can rest assured that your canoe filler is FAA certified...
Good answers Dan, although you would need an STC (Supplemental Type Certificate) to fly your canoe, unless you marked it "Experimental" in 3" block letters on each side.:)

Thanks Dan/Mike,

But, when I asked about complete fill, I was thinking about the inside portion of the canvas, and does it protect the canvas form water and/or prevent the canvas from taking on water?

I'm going to try this on day, do you suppose it could be done indoors?

That little Thompson Indian I did I am very unhappy with in how it got very heavy, and plan to replace the canvas with dacron and something to make it light. (it needs to be light as I'm planning to pass it on to somebody and they have a bad back, I found another to do for myself)

I don't see any reason why it couldn't be done indoors - the cecofil is a waterbased product, no strong smells and you would probably keep from entombing bugs in your canoe. The latex/primer combo is used indoors all the time.

It doesn't seem to sink too deeply into the canvas - at least not in the areas where it slopped onto scrap canvas. When I turn it over tomorrow nght - I'll be able to tell if the cecofil penetrated the interior of the canvas - I'm betting it did not.

As far as overall weight savings goes, I bet you shave a couple of pounds off by using this method. The primary advantage, however, is time savings.
Regarding costs - I just checked a number of aircraft supply houses - their cecofil price is the same as what Tom McK sells it for. Order from Tom and get the experience with canoe applications as a benefit. (Not to mention supporting a fellow WCHA'er.)
The weight difference is certainly noticable. I have a 17' Otca and a 17' HW that I have recanvassed within the past few years. The Otca was done with the Cecofil using the Dan Miller (Chris Merigold) method, and the HW was done using more traditional filler from Rollin's shop.

The scientific method goes like this. I flip one canoe up onto my head and place it back down. I then flip the other up and place it down. After a number of times repeating this, I notice that the Otca with the Cecofil goes up quietly, and the HW goes up with a noticable grunt.

Something tells me that if I continue a bit longer, both boats will grunt; and I will be in traction.

At any rate, my guess using this experimental method, puts me at 4-5 lbs of savings. Just enough for a grunt.
A little more progress to report:

After letting the first coat of Latex Exterior Primer/Lightweight Spackle dry for a week, I tried to sand. What a chore! It got hard and difficult to sand with 220. I tried using sanding screen (the stuff that sheetrockers use) and it clogged quickly - so back to 220 sandpaper. I sanded until the weave began to just barely show.

I applied the second coat of 50-50 mix and tinted it with a little acrylic paint to help me see where I was going. This coat went on much smoother, dried quicker (+/- 2 hours) and sanded nicer. Some possible reasons:
1. The 50-50 mix had a week to mix and therefor was better incorporated. THe first coat I had mixed up a few minutes before applying.
2. Maybe the little bit of acrylic paint helped?
3. Since the majority of the weave was filled by the first coat, I was putting on a lighter, smoother coat on the 2nd.
4. Sanding within about 2 hours may have been easier because the mix did not harden completely.

It still seems like a pretty soft filler coat - time will tell!

Next step - 3-4 coats of George Kirby's Bottle Green with light sanding between. I plan to do one thinned coat - let it dry then apply a second coat. I'll then install the outwales with bedding compound before the third & 4th paint coats so I can cover the juncture of the wale and canvas with a paint layer.

Some additional thoughts...

After looking at the last coat, I thought one more light coat of the Exterior Latex Primer/Lightweight spackle was needed. CAREER TIP - Do Not apply this mixture in the evening, then leave the boat outside (in a plastic tarp tent) while dew forms on it! Next morning it was a mess, not dry and big rivulets running down the sides!:mad: I placed it in the sun and it dried quickly, but the finish was ruined!

I needed another coat of the spackle/latex primer and since I wasn't happy with the hardness of the previous layer anyway, I tried another slight variation. After some careful, but through sanding, I applied a coat of 50-50 lightweight spackle and "Killz" waterbased, latex primer - stain killer made by Bin/Zinzer Co. After a lot of looking, I chose this because it specifically mentions it's compatability with oil based top coats.

This stuff dried quickly, seemed harder and sanded cleaner than the previous mixture.

Today I did a final sanding and first coat of Mr. Kirby's Bottle Green. Film at 11:00!


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Hmmmmmmmmm he wondered. At what point do we get to start using epoxy compounds for this process without being sneered at by all the traditionalists? They're certainly more waterproof and more predictable and if you want a tough, hard surface almost any of them will blow away latex mixed with drywall mud in a flash. They're also lighter and sand better. Epoxy-saturated canvas would weigh a ton, but if you could limit absorption it just might beat the pants off of most home-brewed fillers.
Gee Todd, your always so bloody cranky. Sure would be nice if you could post on the forums without denigrating the folks around you all the time...

Epoxy is used by some builders on canvas. It is not easy to apply well, you've got a limited pot life, and you risk gluing your canvas to the hull. The cecofill method worked well for Chris Merigold, and so far it has worked very well for me. Tom MacKenzie, our source for the stuff, is no fly-by-night builder either.
Yeah, it's my contrary nature...... It just seems that if one has decided to use something other than the traditional, oil-paint-based fillers, that ignoring the superior adhesion, quick cure, adjustability and abrasion resistance of what also happens to be the one of the most water-resistant coatings available seems rather silly. Limiting absorption while still maintaining a decent bond to the fabric's surface would be the key. Perhaps just mixing the resin/filler blend thick enough to limit wicking into the cotton might work. Pre-coating with a light, sprayed-on coat of some other substance might be a possibility. I even wonder about dampening the canvas before applying the epoxy. If it was too wet, it might wash the hardener out of the resin but damp canvas might be enough to keep it from soaking in too deeply and adding a lot of weight, bonding the canvas to the hull, etc. and the water could then slowly make it's way out through the inside of the hull.

Just wondering.......it might turn a nice project into a horrible mess, but it could make for some interesting experiments and test panels.
Gee, someone suggesting a lighter weave fabric with epoxy filler as a lighter hard stable layer......sounds like iron-on aircraft dacron (multiple layers?). I can't help commenting that from the start, of the covering (applying the fabric is about as hard as ironing a shirt), to water launch, is a week of spring weather if you use an unpatented routine I previously described . peter
No, I wasn't actually thinking about Dacron, or even lighter weight fabric, just normal canvas and how best to fill it. After working with Dacron for a living for better than 20 years in both aircraft and marine applications I can't ignore the fact that it has some very obvious tear strength weaknesses and I have no desire to put it on a canoe.

I learned about dew the same way last spring. Learned about bugs at the same time. Felt real stupid in the next morning.

But this is Seattle I had a deadline, so I had to take advantage of any 8 hour break in the mist.

I pinned up some 3 mil plastic sides, added couple of those citronella candles in a bucket kept the bugs away and put enough heat on the tarp to keep dew from condensing and dripping on the canoe.

A propane catalytic sport heater under the canoe kept it warm enough to dry the paint in a normal amount of time and kept dew from condensing on the boat.