STEP 1 (this step very important)
Wash blank with fine (00 grade) steel wool, water and abrasive cleaner (such as AJAX). Next, wash the entire blank with a scrub brush and lacquer thinner or acetone. This removes molding wax which, if allowed to remain on fish blank will cause paint drying problems. This step also scuffs the gelcoat so the paint will adhere to the blank. to wash a blank with molded-in mouth, use a paint brush and acetone, dab mouth good, then wash out with water.
Trim the flashing with a band saw which works very well. If one is not available, a hacksaw with a coarse blade will do.
Use a moto tool with a grinder to grind flashing flush with body and fins. Bevel fins on back edges so they appear thinner.
Cut away mouth section using a moto tool and cutting disc. Once you have removed the mouth piece, cut out excess foam. If there isn't a mouth molded in, sand and smooth to represent mouth and throat area. To seal over foam use Magic Sculp or one of the other two-part epoxies or ROCK HARD™ found in hardware stores. If teeth are to be added, cut and clean out upper and lower jaw areas. Save only enough jaw bone to keep teeth intact. At this time, set teeth and jaw bone in correct position by attaching with a few spots of automotive putty. You will also want to fill in small cracks where the jaw bone doesn’t fit exactly to lip line on the blank (use Magic Sculp).
Next, fill seam line with automotive putty and sand with 80 grit sandpaper. Slightly cover seam with putty or you will have excess sanding to do. If you get a build up, use a 10” rat tail file to knock it down before sanding. CAUTION: Any time you add putty to the outside surface of a blank, scuff with 80 grit sandpaper first, so the putty will have a good base on which to adhere.
Drill hole in the eye area a little smaller than eye to be used. Using a rat tail file or moto tool with a drum sander, bevel hole (cone shaped) until eye sets in hole at proper depth without falling into opening. Next, take a small amount of putty and fill in around the edges of eye. Trim and sand when hardened. Use caution not to scratch eye with sandpaper.
Ventral or throat fins are fitted into slots that have been cut with a moto tool and cutting disc. Use some putty to fill in area where fins join body. The pectoral or side fins are attached by sticking a dab of putty to back of fin, sticking it in place. Blend the fins to the body with more putty.
Attach hanger to back of mount. Make sure your screws go into wood so they won’t vibrate out in time. If you pre-drill holes, you can tell if you hit wood simply by seeing wood particles coming from hole.
Your mount is now ready to paint. To do this, spray a medium coat of 2 part Epoxy primer over entire mount. Double coat the areas on which you used automotive putty (seams and fins). Then proceed painting in the normal manner.
If you have any problems or questions concerning the preparation of your fish mount, please give us a call. We will be happy to assist you.