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Varnish

Finally finished up this little project. Always a challenge when I have to dodge rain drops. I installed the trim back into a fresh application of Boatlife teak-colored bedding compound, then installed the plugs with varnish as glue. Some folks use shellac, but varnish seems to work just as well. Gluing them in with anything stronger makes them difficult to remove next time.

Plugs set, waiting for the varnish to cure so I can trim and sand flush.

To trim, set a sharp (very sharp) chisel 1/8″ proud of the surface being finished, and gently tap. The top of the plug splits away. You can do this several more times for a curved profile to pare away excess material at the edges before you begin to sand. Just don’t set the chisel too closely to the base material, or the plug may split away below the surface. I set the beveled edge of the chisel towards the eyebrow so that plug tends to split up and away from the base. After trimming with a chisel, use a small block with 150 grit sandpaper wrapped around, and sand only the proud part of the plug, as much as possible. You will certainly sand a little bit of the base material as well, but careful attention to the level of the plug will keep it to a minimum. After all is smooth and flush, coat with your finish of choice. I use Cetol on these.

Done. Trimmed, sanded, and coated with Cetol.

No, I’m not plucking. . .

I applied the second coat of Cetol to both sections of eye brow trim today. Before all the rain and wind last week, I scraped and sanded smooth the trim pieces, and applied the first coat of Cetol. I also deepened the plug holes with my drill press for closing up the screw holes with bungs. However, I had to buy a new plug cutter, because I have mislaid the one I already own. Oddly, this didn’t work well at all. The hardware store sold me a 3/8″plug cutter, and I duly deepened the 3/8″ holes to accommodate a longer plug. However, the diameter of the plugs cut by the new cutter turned out to be slightly small, and didn’t bind into the holes at all. I rechecked my drill bit, rechecked the plug cutter. . . all the sizes matched, but the plugs didn’t fit the holes. I wound up buying some 3/8″ teak plugs at West Marine, and they fit fine.

Today I also cleaned up the coach roof edge where they will be reinstalled. I’ve found that a product called “Goof Off” works really well for this, but as I was in the hardware store today buying a new bottle of it, it occurred to me that lighter fluid might be a similar product. I know several craftsmen who use it for cleaning purposes. Regardless, I came home with Goof Off.

Materials and tools for this task.

Once back on the boat, I used a rag saturated with Goof Off and wiped in on a 12-14 inch section, then took a putty knife and scraped the loosened bedding compound. This took off about 75 percent. I re-applied Goof Off, and scrubbed it with a 3-M pad, which almost always removed the rest of the material. This entire process took about a half hour to do the port side (rehabbed the starboard side last year). So it’s clean now, and ready for re-installation of the trim.

Close-up of the cleaned vs uncleaned area.

Just a longer view of the project area.

Finally, I began the spring Cetol re-coat of the other teak trim still installed in place. I actually got smart this time, and didn’t try to do all of it at once, there by avoiding bumping into sticky Cetol as I work my way around the deck.

 

I started this project about a year and a half ago, and lost momentum. I’m finally back at it, as the port side eye brow is absolutely embarrassing now. Add to that the fact that half the bungs are missing, and it’s just in a very bad state.

I removed the screws after splitting out the remaining plugs. There was a fair amount of something in the screw head slots – not sure what it was, but probably whatever was used to stick down the plugs originally. I guess some of the material has been lost from the teak trim pieces, as many of the screw heads were not too much below the surface of the wood.  No way would a plug stay in there. That means I’ll need to deepen the recesses for the screws. Screws out, and that was the easy part. Next was to separate the trim from the coach roof. It was bedded on to the coach roof with a sealant that released pretty fairly well with paint thinner, but much better with acetone. Still, it took a patient and careful 45 minutes to slide a couple of putty knives between the surfaces.

Had to work it from both ends, as one of the screws (not an original) was too short to thread out, but too far in to easily release.

As I gently pried the trim from the coach roof, I poured a little acetone into the crack that was revealed. That allowed me to separate 3-4 inches. Finally I separated the last few inches, and the remaining screw lifted out of the hole. I was happy to get the trim off in one piece.

Now, just lots of clean up left to do.

Next step is removing the old sealant, and cleaning up the trim pieces in preparation for new finish.

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!

 

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