Highway Ride Tests Coating Adhesion


Paint will stick to anything-for a while. But the real test comes over time. Fabric, because it is a flexible surface that can absorb water, presents multiple challenges for a coating. Our biggest concern was flogging. If we can’t prevent the varnish on our grab rail from cracking after eighteen months, how can we expect any coating to adhere to a stretchy, pliable surface that is exposed to the elements-storms, high summer temperatures, freezing cold-year in and year out? To answer this question, we fit the test rack to the top of our vehicle and drove at highway speeds for 20 minutes.

  1. Our test rack was angled across the roof of the test vehicle, so that each panel was exposed equally to the air flow.
  2. The MDR Dinghy Paint was relatively easy to apply and adhered well through the test. Unlike other paints, there was no flaking
  3. The Fusion coating failed to protect the cloth. The coating was transparent in many areas and, for reasons, we can’t explain, the fabric suffered more tears than others in the test.
  4. The Marine Shield flag was virtually unharmed in the test, losing none of its adhesive strength and appearing to lose none of its ability to prevent UV damage.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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