Archive

Varnish

Under the category of regular maintenance, I’ve finished (refinished?) several varnish and paint projects noted in recent previous posts.  I’ve built up 6 coats of varnish on my fresh re-do of the fore hatch, and reinstalled it. But this time, I also painted the under-side of the hatch, so that it’s nice to look at while we’re lying in bed. It’s also easier to clean now, with a fresh smoothly painted surface.

More coats to come, as the seasons progress and I refresh the varnish 2x per year, but 6 coats is a good place to start.

More coats to come, as the seasons progress and I refresh the varnish 2x per year, but 6 coats is a good place to start.

Fresh paint and no mildew! Just couldn't get the stains off the old finish, no matter how much I scrubbed on it.

Fresh paint and no mildew! Just couldn’t get the stains off the old finish, no matter how much I scrubbed on it.

I also completed a paint project that I’ve been threatening to do for years, and I’m so happy with the result. This isn’t one of those projects that gets a lot of public attention.  It’s another hatch under-side that only we see – our companionway hatch slider. That ugly is hidden with the hatch open, which nearly all the time when we are on board. But at night, and in bad weather we close up, and there it is. . .  scraped, scarred, mildew-stained ugliness. But in the immortal words of Inspector Clouseau, “Not anymore.”

This has got to be one of my favorite accomplishments! It has niggled at me for a long time.

This has got to be one of my favorite accomplishments! It has niggled at me for a long time.

And an on-going project – the varnish repair of the top-side of this same hatch. Occasionally, a small bubble of moisture will form underneath the varnish. I’m loath to strip and refinish the whole thing for a 1-square-inch imperfection. So I cut out the spoiled section and slowly build up the layers in that area, gently using a combination of scrapers and razor blades to shave the excess varnish as it builds up in the wrong place.

See where the repair is? About 2/3 to the right, slightly above center?

See the repair? About 2/3 to the right, roughly centered in the vertical axis.

I applied the sealer coat of varnish to the fore hatch, and re-coated several other pieces of bright work at the same time. This round of varnish re-coating will carry me through the fall until I put the boat away for the winter.

The raw wood soaked up thinned varnish (50% thinner) like a sponge. You can also see an area that I filled with thickened epoxy that was chronically problematic due to the uneven surface. Though not pretty, I think it will hold onto the varnish now.

The raw wood soaked up thinned varnish (50% thinner) like a sponge. Upper right: you can also see an area that I filled with thickened epoxy that was chronically problematic due to the uneven surface. Though not pretty, I think it will hold onto the varnish now. I keep threatening to build a new hatch because of this one’s imperfections imperfections. . .

Slider/companionway hatch decking - I've patched 2 places in the varnish, but they're not complete yet.

Slider/companionway hatch decking – I’ve patched 2 places in the varnish, but they’re not complete yet.

Another revarnished piece that's been problematic. The vent was a Home Depot purchase - it wasn't assembled with waterproof joints/glue, so water has spoiled some of the areas. I'm looking for a different solution to the wood slatted vents.

Another re-varnished piece that’s been problematic. The vent was a Home Depot purchase – it wasn’t assembled with waterproof joints/glue, so water has spoiled some of the areas. I’m looking for a different solution to the wood slatted vents.

 

I’ve been working on a several small maintenance projects – stuff all boaters (especially sail boaters) can relate to.

The first project is a continuation of the previous post – re-bedding stanchions. I’ve done two on the port side, and have moved over to the starboard side, again chasing rainwater leaks. I removed the stanchion opposite the galley cabinet, cleaned all the surfaces, repaired the corroded toe rail with epoxy, and remounted the stanchion bedded in butyl. Access to the fasteners was very difficult – literally, finger-tip access to the nuts under the side deck. I managed to get the washers to stay in place with a bit butyl to stick them on, while I threaded the nuts back on. Photos follow:

Lying on the galley counter on my back - with a boat cushion underneath. Inside the cabinet, underneath the liner.

Lying on the galley counter on my back – with a boat cushion underneath to keep the fiddle from permanently denting my back. Inside the cabinet, underneath the liner.

Corroded aluminum toe rail from galvanic interaction of dissimilar metals.

Corroded aluminum toe rail from galvanic interaction of dissimilar metals.

Missing material filled with thickened epoxy and shaped with a grinder.

Missing material filled with thickened epoxy and shaped with a grinder.

Stanchion remounted. Butyl squeezing out around the edges is visible. I trimmed most of it off before this photo as taken.

Stanchion remounted. Butyl squeezing out around the edges is visible. I trimmed most of it off before this photo as taken.

Next project: hand-sewing strapping for bimini frame (not shown) and sail fore deck stowage bag. This only involved sewing a couple of loops. I had broken one of the bimini straps that was UV rotted. I’ve been gradually replacing the material with UV resistant strapping as they fail. For the sail bag, I just needed to replace a UV-rotted loop that had broken. It involved sewing the loop in the right place on the top of the bag – 10 minute job, tops.

Not a very good photo - I just created the loop by sewing both ends to the top of the bag. I used the Speedy Stitcher.

Not a very good photo – I just created the loop by sewing both ends to the top of the bag. I used the Speedy Stitcher.

Finally, I’ve started the fairly lengthy process of refinishing my fore hatch. The varnish has irreparably failed, and the only thing left to do was to remove all the varnish. I had undercoated the varnish with epoxy, but haven’t had a lot of success with this. It seems that, no matter how well I’ve prepped the surface, the substrate of clear epoxy fails, then the varnish in that area is compromised as well. I think I’m going back to varnish only. It’s a lot easier to repair, and I somehow think it won’t fail as completely/quickly. Also, once the epoxy substrate is compromised, it is very difficult to remove. I spent several hours this afternoon removing all the finish from the hatch. Photos below illustrate:

Tools I used (or tried). For my money, the block plane is not the right tool. Someone else might get it to work, but I couldn't. Scrapers were the correct tool - kept sharp with the mill file every 10 minutes or so.

Tools I used (or tried). For my money, the block plane is not the right tool. Someone else might get it to work, but I couldn’t. Scrapers were the correct tool – kept sharp with the mill file every 10 minutes or so.

2016-08-24 13.02.312016-08-24 14.11.59

Done! Whew - long couple of hours of scraping.

Done! Whew – long couple of hours of scraping.

After scraping, I sanded with 120 grit. Tomorrow I’ll sand through to 220, then start building the varnish layers.

The entire nav light assembly on Cay of Sea was in an advanced state of decrepitude about 4 years ago. You can only imagine what they were last week when I finally replaced them. The old fixtures were literally falling apart (had been for several years) and I couldn’t put them back together again. The ancient original teak mounting boards didn’t have any soft wood left – it was all baked and scrubbed out, grey and weathered.

I patterned new boards from the old with some scrap teak I have – my scrap was actually twice as thick as I needed, so I sawed the correct thickness with my table saw, effectively splitting the thickness with the saw blade raised high, then turning the piece over and sawing through the other side to create two identical pieces of board half as thick as the original. A little work on the stationary sander removing saw marks and relieving edges, then hand-sanding to a smooth finish gave me pieces that were ready for a coat of Cetol.

Mounted and wired, the new assemblies look like this:

The LED diodes in these little lamps are  actually brighter that the 10 watt incandescent bulbs were, as they shined through the dull, frosted-over colored lenses of the old fixtures.

The LED diodes in these little lamps are actually brighter that the 10 watt incandescent bulbs were, as they shined through the dull, frosted-over colored lenses of the old fixtures.

A photo of the bow. Don't fuss at me for my rusty, unpainted anchor!

A photo of the bow. Don’t fuss at me for my rusty, unpainted anchor!

 

I finally wrapped up the starboard side eyebrow trim, paring the plugs and coating each plug twice with Cetol. My slip neighbor had a box of teak plugs containing a number of different sizes and I was able to match the two remaining fastener holes with plugs from his collection. Thanks Frank!

DSC_4936

Here the plugs are trimmed with a razor-sharp chisel. All you have to do is set the chisel at the base of the plug, leaving enough to sand flush, and touch the end of the chisel with a mallet. The top of the plug splits away cleanly.

DSC_4939

Here it is sanded flush and coated twice with Cetal.

I also cleared Cay of Sea of all the stuff that should come off for winter storage ashore – bed linens, pillows, foodstuffs, liquid soap and shaving kits, sleeping bags – and schlepped it up to the house. I managed to choose the dock cart with a flat tire, but couldn’t tell, of course, until it was loaded. I used it anyway.

DSC_4946

Bags of stuff to come ashore.

I left the by-products of oil changing (two seasons’ worth) on the galley counter so I would remember to empty them into recycled oil drum at the boat yard. There is also a special bin for old oil filters and absorbing pads.

DSC_4947

Waste-oil products for disposal, and a gallon of pink stuff the last bit of winterizing after haulout.

I brought down the winter storage hatches from my shed and removed the the varnished drop boards and fore hatch for stowage below, out of the rain, ice and snow for the next four months. These old hatches still keep the weather out, but aren’t serviceable for daily use. They are ugly, broken, and worn, but can be left out in the weather without consequence.

DSC_4948

DSC_4949

These didn’t get their fall re-coat of varnish and now it’s too cold. They won’t suffer, though, being inside the boat. Next spring I need to strip and completely refinish the board with vents in it. Water has gotten under one side and begun to turn black.

I removed the headsail and its bag, which needs repairing over the cold months (the bag, that is). It’s old and the stitching is giving way. New stitching will put it good as new, though.

I also brought the dinghy gear ashore. I’ve been inspired lately by Dylan Winter’s video blog KeepTurningLeft that chronicles his love of small boats and his gradual, multi-seasonal circumnavigation of England and Scotland. He posts delicious, beautifully edited videos of his experiences in boats as large as a Westerly Centaur, and as small as a duck punt. So inspired by Dylan this winter, I’m going to sail Sea Minor on nice days as far as time and inclination allow.

I delivered Cay of Sea to the boat yard across the the creek today and left her beside the travel lift slip. She’ll wait patiently through the winter as I plan and execute another slate of maintenance and improvement projects.  A tentative list includes servicing the prop shaft coupling, replacing cockpit drain hoses, inspecting/replacing any engine hoses that need it, neatening up the engine compartment, rebuilding raw water pump (it’s beginning to leak), replacing circulator (coolant) engine pump (it’s leaked ever since the engine was installed new!), re-bedding fasteners in cockpit sole.

2015-12-04 12.59.24

Here she is waiting for high water to haul out for the winter.

This also may be the year that I open up the side decks and recore as necessary, which, of course, will occasion the beginning of repainting the deck. Repainting the deck will be a multi-year project, as I’ll just do sections at a time. I don’t want to have the boat out of commission for an entire season. So we’ll see how far I get next year. I still have a few projects I didn’t get to from last spring!

Finally. But. . .  I’ve been out-of-town. The weather’s been uncooperative. I ran out of gas. The dog ate it. Well. . .  chose the excuse you like best. Regardless, I got it almost complete today, and managed to clean the gutters and rake a lot of leaves too.

Truthfully, my initiative has sagged when all other factors were right. When I got going, it was a relatively easy task, except for cleaning up the caulk: I made my usual incredible mess with it.

I cleaned up the old caulk from the mounting area with a rag, Goof Off solvent (which smells suspiciously like toluene), and a putty knife. The Goof Off softened the old caulk, which allowed me to scrape it off. Then I wiped the residue with a solvent soaked rag, which finished the cleaning job.

I taped off the area to be caulked, then applied Boat Life polysulfide (mahogany/teak colored) caulk to the area. I set the screws into the trim before spreading the caulk so as to minimized time and opportunity for making an even bigger mess.

DSC_4932

Tools and materials. Trash can is essential to capture all the caulk-smeared paper towels.

DSC_4931

Taped off and ready for caulk.

DSC_4933

First piece mounted, plugs set in varnish.

I ran into an unexpected issue. I had measured the fastener holes as 5/16, and deepened them slightly. I ordered a 5/16 plug cutter, but when I tried that sized plug in a fastener hole, it was too small. And 3/8 was too big. I re-milled all the holes to 3/8, and that worked out well, for the most part. These are old trim pieces that have been through 34 years of who-knows-what. So two of the holes were too big to really hold a plug. I’ll have to do something special with those, I guess. Regardless, I installed all the trim on the starboard side, and all but two plugs.  I’ll leave them a couple of days to give the varnish/glue ample time to cure – we’re into the 30s and 40s overnight, and 50s during the day, so it may take a few days for the plugs to stick well. Then I’ll trim them and spot-Cetol the plugs.

DSC_4934

I lightened these photos quite a bit, as it was drawing towards sunset when I finished. We had a real masterpiece this evening as the sun went down.

DSC_4935 (1)

 

In the past I’ve stated that I’m okay with less-than-perfect brightwork, and I’m standing by that story. Yes, I really mean that. . . But my trim is getting worse and worse. The eyebrows are missing half of their bungs, and a closer examination of the pieces disclose a sad state of affairs.

The long horizontal piece is missing more than half the bungs.

The long horizontal piece is missing half the bungs.

Prior to bung removal and unseating from caulked location.

Bungs removed, waiting to be unseated from its caulked location.

It’s time to rebed all the deck hardware and trim anyway. May as well remove it and refinish it off the boat. That will also let me thoroughly clean the place where it was bedded, replace the fasteners that are bent or wrong sized (?! – why are there different sized screws in the same piece?) and rebed it with less aggressive caulk.

Although not impossible, removal was more difficult that it should have been. These little trim pieces shouldn’t be bedded with really aggressive adhesive. I’ll use Boatlife when reinstalling. I encountered only one section on the longer piece that threatened to split off in two pieces as I worked it off of the coach roof with a putty knife and mallet. Fairly easy to repair, I’ll also need to examine the fastener holes – seemed like many of them were never deep enough. Of course I have no idea regarding the original dimension of the eyebrow stock – it is likely that much material has been sanded away – but for some of these missing bung holes, the screw heads were just under the surface of the material, and there was a lot of room remaining to set the fastener deeper into the stock. That will take some careful deepening of the holes. I’m thankful once again that I have a drill press.

Eyebrows removed, and no tweezers were involved!

Eyebrows removed, and no tweezers were involved!

Lots of surface cleaning ahead of me where the eyebrows were bedded. I’ll refinish them with 3-4 applications of Cetol, then reattach and bung the all holes properly.  Piece by piece, I’ll gradually get it all done before haul-out time. Varnish? Nah. Not here. These little pieces are too fussy to maintain a varnish finish. One imperfection in the application and water would start lifting the finish, then I would have to spend lots of time on my hands and knees repairing it, or renewing the whole piece. Cetol is much easier to maintain and repair, and doesn’t look too bad to my eyes.

Although not pictured here, I’ve covered the fastener holes with little bits of duct tape to seal against rain.

%d bloggers like this: