Catching Up – Part 4 – The Deck (continued)

3 years ago I completed the full deck restoration and paint job, and it was one of the most laborious and intense projects I’ve done on the boat.  I spent a lot of time making sure my prep-work was adequate and that the paint job would rival a professional’s work.  I succeeded at that, and had a beautiful boat deck ready to get filled up with all of the things that needed to be installed such as windows, cleats, padeyes, hatches, etc.    You can read all about the paint process in the posts here: http://www.thequestforwindandwaves.com/?cat=233

Problems began to show up with the paint job not too long after I had finished.  I first noticed I had an issue when I was applying the Kiwi Grip non-skid paint to the foredeck.  To apply the non-skid, I taped off the freshly painted white areas with my trusty 3M blue tape.  As I finished a certain section of non-skid on the foredeck, I peeled off the blue tape and to my horror all 4 coats of white Interlux Perfection peeled off with it!  The first coat paint obviously did not grip to the primer too well in that spot, as the primer did not peel at all, only the paint.  I painted over the area again, but the knowledge that the first coat did not grip the primer in that area lurked in my mind.  I knew that there would probably be other areas with the same issue.  These other areas slowly started to make themselves known over the years as the paint would bubble up with air and/or moisture trapped under the paint.  This only occurred in the foredeck area, the rest of the boat seemed to have a good grip with the paint on the primer.

My theory is that this area did not completely dry from the morning dew when I applied the first paint coat.  I know the primer was sanded adequately, but trying to get the paint on in the morning comes with the trouble of dealing with the humid Florida air, and the dew that comes with it.  You can’t paint over a wet surface and expect things to go well, even if it is just trace moisture.  I know I toweled off the entire deck before painting, but that might not have fully gotten all of the leftover moisture.

That was just the first stroke of issues with the paint.  I mentioned in previous posts and videos that the paint, while supposedly good to last 10 years on a boat, is really only good for about 3 years in a dirty, dusty boat yard.  I didn’t help things though, immediately after painting the deck I had a while before the windows and hatches were ready to be installed.  I kept the rain water out of the boat by strapping tarps across the deck.  The tarps would trap dirt and rub on the fresh paint, creating black stains that were very tough to clean off.  The only trick I found was to use an abrasive pad, and it worked great!  Stupid idea though, the abrasive pad just scuffed up the paint job and created tiny little scratches that trapped dirt and ruined the paint’s shine and protection.

3 years of installing things on deck with various goops, glues and epoxies spilling all over caused some permanent mess to the paint.  The constant rain of dust from the gravel yard would grind into the paint.  Plus about once every few weeks a new boat is parked next to mine and gets a full sanding of bottom paint.  The paint dust settles on my boat deck, then it will rain…and the paint will stain my (scratched) paint job.

Lastly, hairline cracks have developed in areas that never had issues even when I first got the boat.  Some old timers in the boat yard theorize that since the boat has been on land for so long, when you walk along the deck the boat has no way of absorbing the weight on deck like it would if it were floating.  The deck flexes without any water to be a shock absorber, and this causes small cracks to develop along the edges of the deck curves.

So after all of this, and as I near the hopeful moment that I can put the boat back in the water, I find myself with a less than stellar deck paint job.  Not only were the white areas needing a refresher (and some repairs), but the non-skid became stained and discolored from various spills and installations.  It weighed on my mind enough to where I couldn’t proceed by saying it was “good enough”.  I wanted to get the deck looking as good as the rest of the boat before splashing.  I committed to giving the deck a repaint.

Repainting the deck is no small task.  I first had to repair all of the cracks and various dings that have occurred over the past few years.  Lots of grinding with the dremel tool, filling holes with epoxy and sanding/fairing down.  After all of that the deck was so discolored that one refresher coat wouldn’t work, at least 2 would be needed.

I also decided at this point that I would abandon using the 2-part poly paint.  While it is a beautiful paint and tough as nails, I now understand that even the best paint will get scratched and dinged.  The 2-part paint is a major pain in the ass to repair or touch up, and with the amount of touching up and repairs I found myself needing…this paint was less than ideal.  You have to mix the stuff and it is nearly impossible to blend into existing paint because it dries so hard.  After much research I decided to repaint with a 1-part paint that I could then use to touch-up and repair areas as they happened.  I ended up going with Epifanes Monourethane as some tests have shown it to be the most scratch resistant of the one part marine paints.  I like Interlux Brightside, but doing my own experiments comparing it to Epifanes proved the latter to be a stronger paint.

The only two issues I found with the Epifanes is that it takes a much longer time to fully dry than other one parts, and that the Epifanes version of “Matterhorn White” (what I used with the Perfection), is much more of a blueish white than the original paint.  No big deal, but it didn’t blend in as well as I had hoped.

The other big problem with painting now was that the deck was nearly complete with hardware installation.  This meant that paint prep included a full day of taping things off, a pain of a job that thankfully Jenny helped a lot with.

Lastly, any good marine paint requires a certain type of weather to perform correctly.  The 2-part paints are particularly fussy as I experienced having to do an extra coat of the initial paint job after realizing the stuff does not cure to a shine if there is much moisture in the air.  Living in Florida, that is something very difficult to avoid.  If the boat were in a tent or enclosed somehow, this wouldn’t be an issue.  But the boat is outside and exposed, so I have to deal with what is given to me.

The right weather for good marine paint job is not too cold (above 60 degrees) and not too hot (below 80), low humidity (below 80%), light to no wind, and no direct sunlight.  So I had to wait for the right weather window, during a time (weekends) that I was around and able to paint.  Unfortunately that perfect combo pretty much never happens in my area.  It could be the right temperature and humidity, but with low humidity here comes higher winds and sunlight.  The humidity is the real issue to get the paint shiny so that was my main concern, even if it meant directly sunlight and some wind.  After waiting from February through May, I eventually found two weekends to do two coats, the only issue being wind which blew bugs into my fresh paint.  At that point I didn’t care though, it still looked better than the old paint job.

After the long wait the deck looks like new once again, and am nearly complete with redoing the non-skid as well.  I have even done some touch-up painting and am pleased with having the one part paint to make that easier.  Here are some pictures of the prep work and post-paint job.

You can see here the repaired cracks in the edge.

You can see here the repaired cracks in the edge.

tape tape tape tape

tape tape tape tape

Prep work, tape all of the things!

Prep work, tape all of the things!

You can see here some of the non-skid areas still needing new paint, other areas already done

Post paint job. You can see here some of the non-skid areas still needing new paint, other areas already done

All freshly painted.  Most of the non skid also painted

All freshly painted. Most of the non skid also painted

Elsewhere on the deck, I have installed nearly all hardware.  Another set back for me was the bowsprit.  I had installed this sometime last year (or maybe the year before that).  Since then I had noticed the bowsprit was developing a surface crack on the surface that was never there before.  This game me some concern, not wanting to have to replace the thing in the future.  I know the wood was solid all the way though, thankfully as many other boat owners have to replace their rotten bowsprit.  In effort to avoid further worry, I decided to coat the bowsprit with some protective sealant, primer and paint.  Here is is after it got painted with the rest of the boat.  You can really see in this picture how the new paint has a bit of a blue tint.

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Lastly, while I have been very satisfied with the Cetol products I’ve used on the deck teak, the Cetol clearly does NOT work on non-teak wood.  It has lasted brilliantly where applied to teak, but has begun to deteriorate on non-teak wood.  You can see below the tiller cover and the lids to the butterfly hatch are some other wood and the Cetol is peeling off already.  The body of the butterfly hatch is teak, so it still looks good.  I need to figure out what to do with these pieces, and I most likely will just paint them.

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I have also nearly completed all hardware installation on deck.  One of the outstanding issues that I have mentioned before was losing one of my bronze hawse pipes.  There are four alltogether, each with a faceplate.  One of them was lost a long time ago when taking things apart.  Unfortunately this is a custom piece for these boats, so finding a replacement was a treasure hunt I did not succeed in.

However, I was able to find a shop in Jacksonville that did custom bronze casting.  I had them recreate the matching piece (I had the port side piece, lost the stbd) as best as they could.  It didn’t come out perfect, but it was definitely good enough.

This is the port side, aft hawse that I used as the copy for casting.

This is the port side, aft hawse that I used as the copy for casting.

Here is the piece that I had casted.  You can see some repairs were needed in the tube since it was such a thin mold.  It didn't match the hole perfectly, but I filled the gaps with 4200.

Here is the piece that I had casted. You can see some repairs were needed in the tube since it was such a thin mold. It didn’t match the hole perfectly, but I filled the gaps with 4200.

Those are some of the highlights and current issues with the deck.  There is plenty more to talk about, but I will spare the details further than I have already divulged.  The next posts I will move inside and get everyone caught up with some of the more exciting work going on in there.

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Catching Up – Part 3 – The Deck

Ahh the deck.  Source of much agony.  I opened up this series of posts explaining that this past year has been a whole lot of 1 step forward, 2 step back kinda work. The deck is where all of this really happened. When I last updated this blog a little over a year ago, the deck was considered to be pretty much “done” with the exception of a few minor things here and there.  Those were the good old days, before the rains happened…

The first thing that happened sometime around last summer was the revelation of a few pesky leaks into the cabin.  Just as I thought the entire deck was water-tight, and I had a completely dry boat…a summer of consistent rain revealed that the deck was anything but.  Imagine my heartbreak when after spending 4 years trying to get job #1 done: “Seal all deck leaks”, only to realize that new leaks have appeared and were very difficult to track down.

The first leak showed up came from somewhere under the deck caprail in the galley.  Water would pool up in the stove/oven area, and it just seemed to get worse and worse as the summer went on.  This is after I had completely refinished, installed and coated the teak caprails, they should be water-tight in theory.  I couldn’t understand at all why it would leak.  What did weigh on my mind was that when I installed the caprails, I had some help from friends and family.  Neither they nor I had experience doing this job, but I at least had agonized over the procedure during the weeks leading up to it.  I blame myself for not instructing them properly, but the issue came to be that where about 3 bottles of sealant should have been used in the areas they worked on, only one was.  Meaning that not enough goo was under those rails, and that was on my mind the entire time of searching for leaks.

I could identify where the water was coming in under the caprail in the galley, but it did not correspond to a direct hole above it from the deck.  The water was coming in the boat at one point and showing up at another.  I can’t imagine how awful tracing a leak would be with a complete boat, I had the luck of having a fully stripped out interior with no cabinets or other things to get in the way.

After many attempts of finding the leak, I gave up and decided to pull off the section of caprail on that area and re-bed it.  I did just that, but lo-and-behold the leak remained!  Furious and very down emotionally due to this set-back, I reassessed what was going on and researched different techniques to find leaks.  The technique that eventually worked was to connect my shop-vac hose to the “out” hole in the vac, blowing air instead of sucking.  I then duck-taped the hose up under the caprail area where I could see the water coming out of.  With the air blowing, I then went on deck and began to spray the caprail with soapy water, the theory being that if the air makes its way though the leak, bubbles will show up on deck.

After much spraying I eventually  found the leak source, about 2-feet aft of where the water was actually entering the boat.  The culprit was a small crack in the fiberglass on the side of the boat, not even under the caprail!  This explained how no matter how much water I hosed over the area, I couldn’t get the leak to leak.  I wasn’t even close!

I was somewhat relieved to find that it was not under the caprail despite it being rebedded.  But then I realized that this crack was one of many I found while inspecting the rest of the boat just under the caprail!  They were hairline cracks that were nearly impossible to see without focusing on them.

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The small area with the discoloration is where the crack was. Post-repair

Unfortuantely for me, this revelation of cracks led me to have to completely remove the caprail that I had recently finished.  I was able to leave on the caprail around the back of the boat, but the two lines going along the sides had to come off.  Furthermore, the fresh polysulfide sealant under the rails gripped tenaciously, and I had a few pieces of rail get damaged during the removal.  The upside of this task would be that I could properly bed the rails with as much sealant as I could put under them, eliminating the worry of them not having enough.

Once removed, I stripped them all back down to bare wood and made a few modifications to better seal-up when I put in the chainplates.

Rails all fixed, ready to be installed....again

Rails all fixed, ready to be installed….again

IMG_2267

Example of some epoxy repairs I made to the teak caprails

With the caprails off of the boat, I then repaired the hull-deck joint where these cracks were forming.  I did this by applying a layer of fiberglass along the entire edge, sealing up any spot where the crack may develop.  After the glass was on and cured, I sanded it down and prepped the areas to reinstall the teak caprails.

Caprial off, hull-deck joint glassed in.

Caprial off, hull-deck joint glassed in.

You can sorta see in that picture that the sanding of the glass required eating up a bit of the green stripe, hence why I had to repaint it as described in the last post.

Once the glass was finished, I reinstalled the caprail along with my brand-new chainplates.  The chainplates were custom made from 316 stainless, and polished to a mirror finish.  After installation, the caprails received a few coats of Cetol to get back into the shape they were before all of this leak mess.

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Of course after all of that work, and meticulously preparing the rail and chainplate installation, one of the chainplates has developed a leak recently.  My shop-vac trick worked once again and I have traced the leak source, so a repair will happen soon.

More deck projects, and more setbacks in the next post…

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Catching Up – Part 2 – Hull Sides

As I begin to think of the final jobs that need to be complete before the big splash, the hull (above the waterline) loomed on the horizon as a big job still needing attention.  I don’t intend on finishing the hull job until right upon splash date, but as I *hope* that day is on the horizon, I have started poking at the hull work little by little.

By hull I mean the white sides of the boat, transom and the old blue/now green stripe above it:IMG_3523

 

The first job for the hull was to get it nice and clean to see what I was working with.  Way back when I first pulled the boat out of the water, the hull was in very bad shape with horrible stains all over.

Stains!

Stains!

 

Cleaning the hull initially required something fierce, and a product called On Off Hull Cleaner did the trick.  It is some sort of acid that eats right through stains by being brushed on, and rinsed off.  Simple enough, just don’t get it on you!

That was many years ago now and only recently I have done anything else to the hull.  The next step was to clean it again!  A few years in the boat yard has caused it to get pretty grimy once more, but none of the stains were as bad as before.  A good scrubbing with my favorite maroon colored 3M abrasive pads and some Simple Green did the trick.

The gelcoat is actually in pretty decent shape, aside from a few dings.  My plan is to patch up the dings, wet sand it to a high grit, polish and wax the hull.  I believe the gelcoat is in good enough shape that it will look pretty darn nice after a good polish/wax.   MaineSail, an internet saint who’s articles and forum posts have taught me so much, has a great write-up on the process I am following to complete the hull work:  http://www.sailnet.com/forums/gear-maintenance/52772-tips-compound-polish-wax.html

So far I have wet sanded to 600 grit.  I started at 400 due to all of the minor scratches that needed some work on.  Since the 600 grit I have been working on all of the minor dings that remained by patching with gelcoat paste.  Gelcoat is not as easy to work with as epoxy compounds, so this is a bit of a learning process for me.  I ways back I got a bit of a trial with gelcoat to patch up an old heater exhaust hole.  While the repair went smoothly, the aesthetics of it were pretty bad.  I just squirted white pigment into the gel paste without trying to match color, and the results are not pleasing.  Check out the picture below and you can see on the port side (left), the white patch below the transom:

IMG_3521

I have since begun to test some gelcoat repairs while also trying to color match a bit better.  I haven’t gotten it down perfectly yet, but it may be “good enough”.  If you look at the hull from more than 10 ft away, you can’t even tell there are the minor dings left, so even with a so-so repair job they will be good enough.  Fellow Downeaster owner Bob at Windborne in Puget Sound and Small Boat Projects has some posts about a company called Fiberlay that does gelcoat matching.   I might go that route if I get the itch to do it better.

Here is an example of my recent try at color matching, better than the first but still not very good.  A vertical crack on the bow of the boat going down the center, you can barely tell once you are 10 ft away though:

IMG_3564

 

I will be slowly finishing the ding repair, and once done I will start wet sanding to the higher grits and then polish.  I doubt I will begin polish and wax much before the boat is ready to go in the water.

Elsewhere on the hull, I have repainted the green stripe (used to be blue) above the white gelcoat.  I’ll get into the details on why I had to repaint it when I write the catch up post on the deck.  I have also installed the chainplates for the mast rigging, a little bit to deal with the hull but moreso the deck…so more to talk about in that post.

Lastly, I had painted the transom a while back when I painted the deck.  The transom had some gelcoat damage after I tried to remove the old name lettering, so it needed repairs and a paint job.  While that has held up better than the deck paint, I have sanded it down and plan on giving it a touch-up coat when I paint the mast.

IMG_3525IMG_3524 IMG_3522 IMG_3527

 

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Catching Up – Part 1 – Bottom Job

Howdy everyone!  Erick here back from a long hiatus, a bit over a year since I have last updated the blog.  I’ve gone AWOL a few times before, and I bet this won’t be the last.  While documenting and blogging about this project has been put aside, the work continues on Windsong and I am slowly making progress towards getting her splashed and usable.

This past year has been a tough one when it comes to boat work.  A whole lot of progress, then even bigger set backs.  I’ve had to re-do a few big jobs, essentially making things 1 step forward, 2 steps back at times.  I will get into the dirty details about everything I’ve done, but with so much to report I plan on breaking the updates up into a few different parts starting with the bottom job update.

If you have been following my project, you would know that when I hauled Windsong out of the water in  2010 (holy crap its been 5 years!), the first thing I began to do was work on the hull bottom.  I quickly realized I had a massive blister problem that needed fixing, and I then spent the first few months grinding the entire gelcoat layer off of the bottom, as well as 100 or so hand sized blisters in the first fiberglass layer.  The details of this job are in these old posts:  http://www.thequestforwindandwaves.com/?cat=193

I can proudly say that 5 years later, the bottom job is nearly complete.  When I last updated this blog a year ago, I was in the process of fairing the bottom with epoxy compound.  That was a laborious and physically demanding job that took a good while to complete.  Getting the hull bottom as smooth as can be involved using my trusty 5″ random orbital sander to fair down every inch of bottom.  I am now on my 4th sander throughout this project, and have found one (a Makita) that I like more than the others due to its weight.  Holding the thing above my head for hours on end made me realize that the differences between sanders, while only a few ounces, made a big difference.

I also had the entire boat lifted so that I could access the bottom of the keel for repairs and fairing.  In addition, I was able to finish grinding and fairing the spots that were under the boat stand pads.  The entire bottom is currently finished and faired, with the exception of the very bottom of the keel.  I have a couple of holes drilled in the bottom of the keel to drain any bilge water out, and once those are filled up I can finish the keel bottom.  The hold up there is getting bilge pumps installed, and before that the primary DC electrical system (batteries, charger, etc.)  I can proudly say that all of that is complete, and the bilge pumps are next in line to be installed, I am just figuring out the details of the system now.  I will update all of the electrical work in a separate post.

One the keep is faired, I can finally begin applying layers of epoxy barrier coat to replace the old gelcoat, and *hopefully* avoid future blisters.  Many boat owners who do blister repairs often see them come back, mostly because they never let their hull dry out completely before applying barrier coat.  Well…Windsong’s hull is probably drier than it ever was and ever shall be, so hopefully I avoid that issue.

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Faired hull, after lifting the boat and exposing the pad surfaces.

Stand pads spots all finished

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Current state of the hull, fully faired except the very bottom.

Keel bottom is the only spot left to be faired

IMG_3532

Ready for barrier coat!

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More Sanding, and then Sanding Again…

Now that I’ve caught everyone up via video for the most part, I feel like I can write a bit without having to type a novel.  I still need to make the video showing all of the various projects going on in my garage, which contains about 30-40% of all of the work I am doing with this project.  However, my current focus remains at the boat itself.

This past week I didn’t get much boat work done during the week, too much work-work to do which kept me from the yard.  I still always manage to get something done each day, however, regardless of how little and insignificant it may seem.  The only way this project will ever get done is if I chip at it little by little, no matter what.  On days where I can’t get any physical labor accomplished I will at minimum do some research for projects, order some parts or supplies online, or maybe even work on the blog.

There is ALWAYS something to buy, and most things are very specific and can’t be found just anywhere.  I am constantly needing to buy stuff like sandpaper, sealants, epoxy supplies, fasteners, etc.  Fasteners are always a big bitch.  No matter how many I think I have, the next project requires something slightly different.  Have the right screw size?  Guess what…you need it in bronze for this one!  Have a ton of 1/4-20 x 1″ bolts?  Guess what…you need 1.25″!  My inventory of fasteners is getting pretty diverse in size, use and material.  Unfortunately, most fasteners and even many of the supplies can’t be found at Home Depot or some other local sture…gotta go some place online.  Getting that kind of shopping done is a constant thing, and I consider it “boat work.”  I really wish I had kept better records of my spending and the man-hours spent on this, just to give people some real data on how ridiculous this whole thing is.  I might be able to do the spending analysis by looking at bank statements and credit card transactions, we shall see.

As you have seen in the videos, I have spent the past few weeks sanding down the fairing compound on the bottom.  I finally finished sanding off the big first pass of fairing compound.  A job that took a long, long time holding a sander above my head and at all sorts of angles for hours on end.  It was a dreadful job, worse than taking the bottom off.  At least it was a good shoulder workout.  After I finished the first sanding I had to go back and patch up a ton of spots that didn’t get enough fairing compound, or just needed some extra goop to get flush.

I applied those patches last week, and as of this past weekend I finally got those sanded down.  Of course, there were quite a few more spots that needed more goop, so yesterday I applied those and will sand it down sometime this week.  Hopefully only one or two more applications in select spots will be needed before the bottom is faired, and I can get the boat lifted to access the keel and under the stands.

Aside from the bottom I am still working on applying the Cetol to the caprail.  I haven’t been able to do any more to it since I made the last video.  I want to apply one more coat of Cetol and then I will do 2 coats of Cetol Gloss.  I figured while I am doing all of that, it would be a good time to put on some maintenance coats on the hatches that I did last year, and finally get some oil/sealer on the handrails.  All of that is a work in progress, and hopefully I can finish it by the end of the weekend.

But things happen that always derail plans.  I had planned to have all of that done two weekends ago, but between rain and other plans…things had to be postponed.  Thus the story of the project, always changing plans and pushing things out.  I didn’t go DIY to get this job done fast or cheap, I did it to learn HOW to do it, and to do it right.

Oh and last Saturday we had a lot of rain, keeping me from doing any of the current work at the boat.  I decided to attempt to get the engine running again since I haven’t started it since last August when I ran it for the first time.  I had some notes for things that needed fixing from the first start: replace a gasket on the heat exchanger that was leaking, replace the hour-meter on the instrument panel, replace a few wire connections that I messed up.  I got all of that accomplished in a few hours, and when it was all ready to go I gave the engine a crank.  Amazingly, it started up without a cough!  I let it run for about a half hour, putting the transmission through its paces shifting from forward, neutral and reverse; and through a range of RPM’s by adjusting the throttle.  I plan on cranking it up more often now just to keep up with it and not let it rot away under its tarp.

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April boat work: Bottom fairing, deck installations & Cetol

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Work-in-Progress tour of s/v Windsong – Part 4: Cabin/Interior (part 2/2)

Sorry this one is so long, but it finally finishes the boat tour:

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Work-in-Progress tour of s/v Windsong – Part 3: Cabin/Interior

Continuing with the tour of Windsong, here is the first of two videos showing whats going on inside the boat….

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Work-in-Progress tour of s/v Windsong – Part 2: Deck

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Work-in-Progress Video Tour of s/v Windsong – Part 1: Bottom & Hull

Hello!  Long time no post….not the first time I’ve said that.  The last post was in August when I finished the engine, and since then I have been working on the boat consistently.  Unfortunately for this blog, I have just not felt like writing along the way.  I’ve said it many times before, it is difficult and annoying to catalog each of what feels like hundreds of projects as the go, because for the most part there are dozens going on at any given moment.  So I will update you guys here and there, and of course when I finally finish something I will make a nice write up about it (see the last posts about engine and windows).

To catch everyone up with whats been going on, I decided to make a few videos giving a tour of the boat, my work-spaces and the storage areas.  I will try to make them interesting and if I enjoy doing them (and you enjoy watching them), I will keep making them.

The first video here is a tour of the bottom and the hull, recapping what I’ve done and what I still have to do project-wise.  It is a bit longer than I wanted it to be, hopefully I can be a bit more concise in the next few videos.   -Erick

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