Fairing and gloss paint for a classic?

  • Published on October 8, 2020

Over the last years, I have been offered many times ceramic treatment to restore the gloss on our ship. That tells me that some people did not do their homework as not only does our ship not have gloss paint, but the hull is not even faired.

When I was researching small classic yachts for the refit of “Orient Express”, I was surprised to read a sentence in an Uffa Fox book stating that steel was not appropriate for anything under 50 feet. That was in 1936. I knew then already that Dutch and Belgian yards were producing very nice steel boats way smaller than that. The fun bit was that riveted steel hulls were faired to hide the plate overlaps and make the boats look like they were made of wood. It is only in the inter-war years that steel was left bare and painted, proudly showing its true nature. Of course, in those days, the steel was thick enough, and the craftsmanship good enough, so that no fillering was required to give an illusion of fairness of the surfaces.

Today, definitely the way to go for authenticity is visible plate overlaps and standard marine grade semi-gloss paint. Several recent refits have been faired and painted high gloss to satisfy modern taste. Some others are just faired, but I think that of the ones in service as a commercial yacht today, SS Delphine is the only one with an original looking hull.

Of course, if there have been some clumsy attempts at (re)creating the hull shape, the choice is gone: Faired it must be

Given the choice, what would you do?