Thoughts on Smith’s CPES?

Ok, I’ll bite. Let’s see how this goes. I’m restoring a 1948 15’ Lyman. It’s not a serious, high-anxiety restoration, just something for me to mess around with out in the garage. So I’m gradually removing the 892 layers of paint that are on this thing with a heat gun and Ginsu knife, and I’m thinking of using Stinky Smith’s CPES as a sealer before I paint again. Anybody have any thoughts/experience with this stuff? Now mind you-the Lyman is planked up with very old plywood (in remarkably good shape). I wonder how that will absorb the CPES. I’m planning on doing the entire outside of the hull and the lower (previously painted) bilge portion of the inside of the hull. Probably cold-weather formula. Looks like this stuff is pricy and hard to find. Anybody have any thoughts on that? Alternatives such as thinned West or the Total Boat stuff? General disparaging remarks? I’m game-let’s get this party started

I have a Lyman. I have done 2 tests with the cold weather formula. I used it in the bilge in one area and then used Epiphanes bilge paint over that. One season and it look great. I also coated the teak swim platform before varnish and the looks great too.

Thanks for the quick reply. If you don’t mind me asking-how many coats did you use? Did it seem to absorb throughly or did it coat over the top of the substrate? Did you find it difficult or messy to apply? Anybody else want to join in?

It’s very thin. I brushed it on with a cheap throw away brush. I mixed up a certain amount and just kept recoating until I used up what i had mixed. It soaks in. BTW I bought it directly from the maker.

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I also did a 15ft Lyman inside and out with CPES after stripping to bare wood. That was 10 years ago and it looks like I painted it yesterday. It’s a great sealer and preservative and would definitely use it again. Keep the fans blowing and get out the WWI gas mask


Check out Snake Mountain Boat Works Vintage Boat Preservation 101 at

He has definite opinions about the use of Smiths and only Smiths CPES.

I’ll be sure to check out that video. Thanks for all the good comments…I won’t be trying this out for a little while yet (they might have a cold weather formula, but I’m pretty sure they don’t have a frozen solid formula!!), so if anyone else has any thoughts at a later time, feel free to speak up as well

I want to preserve the bottom of a 16’ Whirlwind runabout (hot moulded plywood)for possible future restoration, or to pass it on to another. Im a cheapskate and dont want to spend the $ on CPES on a boat that might end up on the …burn pile… I remember something about thinning West system (I have lots of West SYStem on hand) with Acetone… The stripped bottom is quite fragile and I want to strengthen it before I store it away. Has anyone done this and what percentage Acetone did you use. Thanks.

HERE IS THE ARTICLE ON CPES that was put together by Snake Mountain Boat Works on the subject.
Is that CPES stuff useful. In fact, it is the only product that evaporates excess moisture from within the wood, and, unlike adhesive epoxy products, CPES does not put a rock in the wood. – (Star Distributing Website’s home page) Star Distributing LLC is our go-to source of Smith’s for cold-formula CPES, as well as Smith’s Epoxy Clean-Up Solvent. HERE

Don Danenberg’s 2-14 Classic Boating article includes an excellent section on Smith’s CPES and why it is the go-to material for sealing wood against rot and unwanted expansion/contraction:HERE - Click on the forward arrow in the bottom-left corner of page one advances you to the subsequent pages.

Finally, an extremely interesting alternative view of why and when he does not use CPES written by Mike Mayer, Lake Oswego Boat Company ( HERE

Rather than seal above-waterline planking with CPES after staining it and before applying the first coat of varnish, Mike applies a coat of the varnish he will be applying, albeit highly diluted – 20 percent or more – as his “sealer.”

Why? We all experience those Oh S*%@! Moments when, while ever so carefully block sanding between coats, we apply slightly too much pressure. Up pops a light spot that must be stained somehow. Wood sealed with CPES is just that, absolutely sealed. Period. Wood that has been “sealed” with highly diluted varnish can absorb stain, especially if you used J’eld stain. Anyway, Mike’s piece is a great read from which you will learn much.


I have tried other, so called brands, but none of them work as well as CPES, “I put that $h1t on everything”.

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