Major Dinghy Refit

Last time I refurbished the dink I just did a provisional job – restoring visual respectability by cleaning, painting, and varnishing. This time around I need to do more. I’m still not satisfied with how the firehose is lashed to the gunnels. I’m going back to more lashing that pass through the topsides near the gunnel – that will secure the firehose neatly against the gunnel – but this time I’m going to seal the holes well with epoxy to stave off any rot that threatens to take hold. Here’s an old photo of the firehose secured in this manner:

The "old" shipshape system that looked good, but allowed rot to develop in the holes where the lashings passed through.

The “old” shipshape system that looked good, but allowed rot to develop in the holes where the lashings passed through.

This photo shows the not-so-tidy "new system" I used last time I redid this.  The lashing are captured in the holes with epoxy.

This photo shows the not-so-tidy “new system” I used last time I redid this. The lashing are captured in the holes with epoxy.

Additionally, there are a couple of areas where rot has begun. I will excavate those areas and patch in new material (marine ply or thickened epoxy as appropriate).

Long ago when my boys and I built this pram, I decided not to apply fiberglass cloth to the bottom. I sealed the bottom with epoxy resin, so it’s been well protected against moisture except in those places where I’ve hauled over a bulkhead timber, pier decking, rocks, etc.. As a result, the bottom has been abraded pretty significantly in places, and moisture has done damage in the form of grain swelling and minor splitting. None of this has gone through all the laminates of the 6mm marine plywood that is the bottom. Now 17 years after building, I’m finally going to sheath the bottom in glass and epoxy. This will provide lots better abrasion resistance. The first step is to strip the paint off the area to receive glass and resin.

Grinder with a "flap disc" is the essential tool.  I've used orbital sanders with 60 grit - hardly touches it.  Grinder is the tool.  Keep it moving quickly, though.

Grinder with a “flap disc” is the essential tool. I’ve used orbital sanders with 60 grit – hardly touches it. Grinder is the tool. Keep it moving quickly, though.

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The other essential tool is a respirator. I got a new one for this job, because I could smell the dust when I wore my old one. This is a much more comfortable mask too. Fortunately, this was a windless day, so the dust didn’t spread. I vacuumed extensively after today’s work. Probably took a half hour to pick all the dust.

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Two hours of steady grinding removed the paint from the bottom and transoms. I’ll also grind down a couple of inches onto the topsides so to be sure to cover the panel seams again with glass and resin – I’m sure I’ve ground a lot of the original tape away from the seams, though I’ve tried to be careful in these areas. No matter, it’s easy at this point to re-glass the seams.

Finished for the day, I covered the work with a tarp against rain in the forecast.

Pieces of firewood are heavy and hold the tarp down in wind.  There are couple pieces securing the loose sections tucked under the dink too.

Pieces of firewood are heavy and hold the tarp down in wind. There are couple pieces securing the loose sections tucked under the dink too.

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5 comments
  1. Anonymous said:

    I’ll have to look for the flap grinder you’re talking about. All I know about is the standard discs. I really like the pram style and I know they can handle the waves and carry a huge amount of weight for their size. I want to build one myself for our boat. So the dagger board really helps, does it? Looking really good, Rick.
    Greg W.

    • You can get the flap discs at the hardware store. My grinder has a 5/8″ spindle, and you may need to pay attention to that.

      The dagger board is helpful if you don’t like sailing sideway;-)

  2. while I have found that a Grinder is a great way to reduce a boat to dust (been using mine to grind away old ‘glass supports on my sea sprite) I think a regular drill with a sanding disc and 40 grit paper does a better job as it is easier to control and does not tend to dig in like a grinder does

    • I hear you. Perhaps the orbital sander with 36 grit pads would have served well – haven’t tried that angle to know for sure. I contemplated other methods of removal as well, knowing that I wouldn’t get a smooth finish from a grinder. However, considering that I am applying glass and resin, and will need to fill low spots anyway, I chose to grind. Certainly a skim coat of fairing compound and follow-on work with a fairing board might be expected were this a racing dinghy. But for timely paint removal on the bottom of a plywood pram-yacht tender, I think the grinder is just right, fairing or no.

      Also, drills aren’t really designed for that kind of duty. I’ve done it with a drill too, and wore out the bearings pretty fast. We’re talking about a couple of hours’ worth of paint removal. Drills are designed for a shorter duty cycle. However, small jobs are certainly within reach of a drill and sanding disc.

      • An additional thought – I would NOT use a grinder to remove antifouling paint from the yacht. Bottom paint tends to be softer (unless epoxy based). Also, I value a smooth surface more than speed in this application. When I removed bottom paint I used an orbital sander, 60 grit discs, and committed myself to many days of sanding. It was hard, but I had a lot of time.

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