Imagine my surprise when as a novice to boating I found out that “Brightwork” referred to the varnished wood on a boat.

It’s easy to display that showroom shine on your boat when it is in the dock at a show or even getting ready for a run to the neighborhood marina for an ice cream cone.  Your boat will be a show of its own.

Joel Terbrueggen shares some General Cleaning Tips to use as you get ready for a show and for the morning spruce-up at the show.

– Wash the boat with a solution of Murphy’s Oil Soap  


– A solution of 4 parts water and 1 part vinegar will remove water spots.








Meguiars products work well to buff out scuffs


Westley’s White Wall Cleaner works well to clean flooring








-Wipe down the varnish with a barely damp rag and a small amount of mineral spirits (not paint thinner) to keep the varnish from cracking due to drying out. After wiping down the hull, a light buffing with a clean tee shirt may be necessary to remove the sheen.

Maintaining a showroom shine used to be an annual or semi-annual job.  Now, with the brightwork finished or refinished with new products that have UV-absorbers and filters in the chemical compound of the varnish, the surface remains in good condition for years.  As with every valuable possession, keeping it clean and maintained goes a long way toward a long life on the bright side.

Joel Terbrueggen is a member of the Ohio Valley Chapter of ACBS. He has presented many restoration lessons which are available in the Video Library available on our ACBS Members Only site under the Resources tab.  Joel also donated his extensive library of cataloged photos taken as he performed surveys on antique and classic boats over a 16 year period.  These are also in the ACBS Members Only site under the Resources tab.  Joel Terbrueggen currently does much of the wood restoration on boats at the Motor Boat Garage in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Watch for more tips from Joel in the future.

Brightwork ready for Showtime

Have you kept a log of the restoration of your boat?  Please share it with some pictures.  

Email to
OR Click here to submit pictures or news from your chapter events.

1 Comment

  1. Hi there, Very informative post, thank you for taking the time to write this all out!
    My pick is concentrated cleaners. The beauty of concentrated cleaners is that they can last longer and cover a larger surface area. 🙂

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