Friday, August 31, 2012

More Unpleasantness

Mmmm, rusty!
Things have been pretty busy over the past week; the kids are back in school and I promised them that I would have the sailing dinghy finished up before it was too cold so I've been picking away at that (post coming soon).  I did however manage to wedge myself below the cockpit and start the fun job of removing the pedestal steering column from the deck.  I think I mentioned in the last post that I had decided to keep the wheel steering to appease the family but I still needed to take it off so I could replace the cables and chain and give me the room I'll need to replace the cockpit sole with new wood (TBD).

So all I have are a few pictures of the tight spaces that I am working in now to get at the steering.  The photos really don't do it justice; it sucks much worse than it looks.  Sometimes I just don't fit, and I have to spend a few minutes trying to figure out the best approach to get at a nut.  I may have to capture my 12 year old son and stuff him into the lazarette with a wrench and a few sandwiches and just have him unbolt anything he sees in there.

On a brighter note, early next week I am going to tap out most of the deck fitting holes and get the first coat of finish paint (Interlux Perfection) on.  Also, the KiwiGrip arrived and I'm pretty excited to get moving on that once I have the Perfection done (still a few weeks out on that).

Thursday, August 23, 2012


So I've finally come to terms with my cockpit/steering plan, it ended up being a bit of a compromise.  I had originally planned on removing the wheel and going back to tiller steering.  Unfortunately, this would require removing the rudder, having a new longer shaft fabricated and rebuilding the rudder.  No small task, and the cost in both time and actual dollars (rudder stock is not cheap) would be large.  I was prepared to do it, but when I told my family they were not happy.  They like the wheel and the convenience it offers.  I am smart enough to know what battles to wage, and this was not one of them.  So I am sticking with the wheel, but there is still a ton of work to do on it to make it ready for water.

I don't know how long the steering cables have been in place, but I can only assume they have been there for 20 years or so and they clearly need to be replaced.  I also need to redo the cockpit sole and that will require removing the pedestal, so with the exception of the quadrant and the sheaves, I will be basically installing the whole thing from scratch and given the tight quarters underneath the cockpit and my 6'5" frame, I don't anticipate it will be all that fun.

I haven't really gotten too deep into it yet, but I did remove the compass and steering guard from the pedestal and found a huge mouse nest that must have been there for years.  It reeked of urine and I was so revolted by the whole thing that I donned my respirator and latex gloves to clean out the mess.  I forgot to take a photo, but it wouldn't do it justice anyway.  Finding that pretty much took the fight out of me and I tabled the whole project and moved onto more priming.

Over the next 2 days I managed to get the 3rd and final coat of primer on the decks and 2 coats of primer in the cockpit, so I haven't come to a complete standstill.  Over the next week or so, I'll be doing a light sand (220 grit) paper on the areas that will receive the Interlux Perfection topcoat (the other areas will be hidden underneath KiwiGrip, so no sanding there).  Also, I'll probably get one more coat of primer in the cockpit before I commence tearing up the teak and figuring out the best replacement material and method (it will be wood, but not neccesarily teak because of the cost).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cockpit Time

Another busy weekend kept me away from much boat work, but I did manage to get a few things done.  I got another coat of primer on the cabin top and sides and the cockpit one step closer to primer.  I also started building the mast for the dinghy here.

I cleaned up the soft spot I had found on the bridge deck at the end of last week by pulling all the bad core out and sanding down the inner skin.  Next I ground a 2" bevel around the edges to tie the new with the old and epoxied in a new balsa core and the first of 5 layers of biaxial cloth.  The next day I glued in the remaining 4 layers to bring the new surface close to the level of the old.

5 layers is probably overkill, but the deck was thicker here and I decided that it would be easier to add additional cloth to fill the section up to the level of the old deck rather than use a ton of fairing compound to get the same result.  I finished it off by adding a much smaller amount of fairing compound to the section as well as filling all the leftover fastener holes throughout the cockpit.

Cleaned up and ready for new core.  Note the old core on the right hand side.  This was still in good shape so I left it in place rather than trying to rip it up.
5 layers of biaxial in place.  This left very minor low spots for fairing compound.
Fairing compound in place.  I'll probably need another touch up layer once I sand this one down.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

That Stripper is Awesome

The paint stripper that is....

It is however really messy and the cleanup takes almost as long as just sanding.  The good thing is that it doesn't score up the surface and gets into corners that I really couldn't have reached easily with a sander.  This stripper (Peel Away) had been sitting in my basement for years (~10) and I wasn't sure if it still worked or not.  It certainly did!

I'm not really up on the latest chemical stripper news but when I first bought this stuff long ago, it was one of the first 'environmentally friendly' strippers out there.  I think it's soy based but I don't know because the label has long since worn off.  In any event, another cool thing that it uses is a paper backing that you adhere to the gel once it is applied (maybe they all do this now).  This serves 2 purposes; the first is that it keeps the stripping gel from drying out so it works longer.  The second is that when you peel it off all the paint is supposed to stick to the paper.  It sort of works, but doesn't get all of the paint off and certainly a lot of the gel is left behind on the surface.  This is where I spent my time.  Most of the paint does indeed loosen up on the surface your stripping, but removing it along with the leftover gel is just a really messy proposition.

So, armed with a garbage bag, a carbide scraper, and a set of cabinet scrapers I set to work getting it all cleaned up.  At first it didn't seem all that bad, and it was kind of satisfying seeing big sheets of paint come off, but after I'd been on my knees in the cockpit covered in the stuff for an hour it gets old.  Couple that with the boatshed temperature approaching the high 90's it gets old.  Mmmmm, fun.  Anyway, it was a job that I was dreading and it's done now.  I finished up with a bucket of hot water and washed everything down to get the residue off.

As I was finishing up, I stepped on part of the bridge deck that I normally reserve for the shop vac and felt something bad.  Further inspection revealed that a 2 foot section of the port side bridge deck was at the very least delaminated, but I suspected worse (wet core).  I drilled out a few test holes and sure enough, the core was completely soaked in that area (&*#^!@$ CRAP).  I really don't know why it was wet there, because there aren't any through holes other than an icebox access hatch that the previous owner had installed.  The only other spot water could possibly have gotten in was a small spot where the boom crutch has supported the boom for years.  Over time it had worn away the paint and had gotten into the roving (visible).  I didn't think that it had gotten all the way through the skin though.

Finding this was a complete kick in the nuts and I wanted to cry.  I thought I was done with core repairs and actually had hopes of getting the cockpit primed this weekend.  I threw myself a full on pity party and went back to the house for dinner.  I need to apologize to Steph and the kids because she had made a really nice dinner and we ate out on the deck, but I was in a foul mood so I don't think there was much merriment.

During dinner I resigned myself to the fact that there was more core work to do and it wasn't going to get done unless I did it. So after eating, I went back over to the boatshed with the cordless circular saw and my dremel multimax (poor man's Fein) and cut out the offending area.  Today, I'll clean up the bottom skin, grind the bevels, and epoxy in a new core.  With any luck, I'll be able to get 3 new layers of biax on over the weekend.  It's a setback for sure, but in reality it isn't a big deal considering what I've already done to this boat. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Islands Done

I didn't get too much done over the weekend because of family stuff going on and the boatshed is pretty uninhabitable after 9AM on these hot days.  I was able to pretty much wrap up the chainplate islands (or housekeeping pads) and get another coat of primer on the decks though, so it wasn't a wasted weekend.

I had started by gluing down the islands on Thursday with West System Six10.  I let them cure overnight and then early Friday morning I pulled the chainplates to make sure I hadn't glued them into the boat inadvertently.  With that done, I was able to putty a filet of fairing compound around each island where it is glued to the deck.  After a few hours I came back and sanded everything down so it was fair and ready for primer.  This morning I got up really early to beat the heat and got and everything wiped down and the primer mixed up before 7AM.  By 8:00 the decks had another coat of primer and the chainplate islands look pretty good.  I have to do a little cleanup before the final primer coat next week, but all in all, they should serve me well.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Island Time

Unfortunately island time will not include sounds of ice clinking in a fluffy rum drink with the palms gently swaying in the trade winds overhead.  This island time involves me, my boat, a stifling 90 degree boatshed and the installation of chain plate islands that I cast last year sometime.  Sounds romantic doesn't it?

For this job I chose to try West System Six10 epoxy adhesive as my sticky tool of choice. I'd heard good things about it and liked the way you could really target where you were putting the epoxy; exactly what I needed.  It uses a standard run of the mill caulking gun though West advises that if the temps are below 60 the epoxy might not flow easily and you might want to use a more robust caulking gun.  Given the boatshed temperature today, I knew there would be no problem with the epoxy flowing.

The design of this product is really well thought out.  There is a screw down cap and a plug that separates the base and the catalyst that easily pop out and are just as easy to put back in place if you don't use a full tube.  The mixing head is also really cool; it basically forces both sides of the tube (base and catalyst) up through the static mixing head which is simple but elegant.  I don't have a good picture of it but it reminds me of what a sea shell would look like if it were digitized.  Sort of like a pixelated nautilus... Whatever, it's pretty neat; the only downside is that once you use it you need to throw it away.

So, back to the islands...  When I originally cast these last October (see here), I made them as rectangles, but when I dry fitted them last week there were 2 issues.  The first was that the corners were too sharp and were clearly going to make peoples toes very angry when walking forward.  The second was that they just looked odd when set against the curve of the bulwark.  I ended up grinding the corners off too fix both issues.  I took slightly less off the corners of island for the backstay because it is more out of the way.

Before I started gluing up the islands, I spent a bit of time cleaning up the chainplate slots with a metal file and fitting each one in place with a single bolt down below to make sure they were seated properly.  With that complete, I wiped everything down with acetone and 'fired' up the Six10 cartridge.  I'll say it again, this thing is slick.  It laid down a perfect bead of epoxy on the islands and then I carefully fit them over the seated chainplate and smooshed them in place.  Once I had set all of them I went back around with a rag and cleaned up any epoxy that had oozed out.  It only took about 10 minutes to get all the islands glued in place and cleaned up; very nice. When they are cured up tomorrow, I'll pull the chainplates (to make sure I didn't glue them permanently), and add a small filet of fairing compound where they meet the deck.

Next, I moved onto the hull-deck joint that had been previously patched (see here).  I had previously drilled 6 holes into the top of the bulwark along a 4 foot section to see what was going on in there.  I found that the bulwark was hollow except where 5200 had been injected in during the repair.  I decided that the best approach was to leave it alone for the most part but to put in epoxy 'plugs' that would tie the joint together and potentially stop any water from flowing into other areas of the bulwark.  Since I still had plenty of time left before the epoxy in the static mixing head kicked (they say 42 minutes work time), I used the holes I had drilled as filler ports and injected epoxy in until it squeezed out the sides.  I used up the remainder of the tube doing this and think that it will serve its purpose well.  I didn't take any pictures because there wasn't much to see.  When I install the caprail, I'll make sure to use extra sealant in this area to make sure that there were no areas I missed (not sure what I'm using next).

At this point I was still armed with a bit of time before I needed to get back to the real world, so I decided to try out some stripper that had been sitting around in my basement for a few years.  I'm not sure if it will still work (or if it ever did), but it's labeled as an environmentally safer stripper (Peel Away).  I slathered it on the cockpit seats and laid the paper backing (came with kit) on it to keep it from evaporating.  I'll pull it off tomorrow and see how it worked.