Friday, July 12, 2019

Sanding off the old topsides paint and saving the boot stripe

Sanding the old paint off the boat's topsides was going to be a pain. It took more than a week. I used 60-grit 6-inch sandpaper on a Bosch random orbital sander with a soft backing pad, attached to a shop vacuum. The paint was in bad shape; chalky, cracking and flaking off. Along the way I saw some repair patches where the boat had taken some bumps. I'm guessing that the paint had been patched there too. The gel coat under the paint was still in acceptable shape - it was crazed but not cracked or falling apart, so thankfully I didn't need to sand off the gel coat too.

Since the waterline was going to be sanded away, I put some notches on the hull to mark the location of the top and bottom of the boot stripe for future reference, to paint it back with its original shape and location. Laser marks can be used to strike a straight boot stripe but boot stripes are not supposed to be perfectly straight; they're supposed to have some shear (widen, and rise up at the bow and under the counter-stern) to prevent the boat from appearing as if it is "hogging". There is no easy way to do that, except by eye-balling it, so using notches to keep track of the location of the boot stripe and waterline is the best option.

Salvaging the rubrails

My sailboat has wooden (red oak? definitely not teak) rub rails which were in bad shape and which had to be removed for the paint job. It took some effort to take them off in one piece. My goal was to try to salvage them since making new 35-foot rub rails and steam-bending them to shape was going to take a lot of time and effort.

Each rub rail actually consists of two long pieces of wood. The first was bolted onto the hull side, and the second one was glued and screwed onto that piece. (The glue holding the two parts had failed along the way in most places.) The bolt heads holding the rub rail to the hull sides were hidden underneath the second piece of wood, and the nuts were glassed-over on the inside on the hull in inaccessible places. Getting to the bolts without further damaging the rub rails was going to be difficult, but luckily the sealant used between the rub rails and hull was damaged enough that I was able to run a hacksaw blade under the rub rails to cut through the bolts holding them in place. I didn't bother trying to dig out the fasteners; I just ground them back flush with the hull.

I was able to remove the rub rails largely intact though the wood cracked in a few places along the way. I sanded the rub rails to remove the old paint and sealant, scarfed-in some patches to replace the cracked portions, epoxied the two parts together where separated, and then primed them in preparation for painting. I plan on painting them the same color as the rest of the boat.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Old boat name

While sanding the paint off the transom, I found a faint outline of the original name of the boat: Tingueby, homeport: Chicago.

Since that's a pretty unique name, I was able to identify it online as once having belonged to MF Sasgen. Interestingly, the Coast Guard records say that the boat was built in 1968, though my title says it was built in 1967.

Matthais F Sasgen Jr. was associated with the Sasgen Derrick Company in Chicago, (I'm guessing based solely on the name similarity.) He passed away in 2006 but his wife apparently lives near Port Lucie, where the boat was originally for sale. Other relatives apparently live in St. Augustine too. I sent Mrs. Sasgen a message on Facebook, asking about the boat history, -- when and where it was purchased, what color it was originally etc. -- but I have not yet received any reply. It would be nice to know about the boat a big more, like about the little love note, "MJ hearts Cappy" I found written inside the power distribution panel, or the "Glued in 1978" written in pencil under one of the drawers in the galley.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Preparing to sand the topsides: Sanding and scaffolding

Around the beginning of June, and after priming the deck top, I started getting ready to paint the topsides (that's the sides of the boat, above the waterline.)

First, I removed the skin fittings and the exhaust port and sealed up the hole, and then I built scaffolding to stand on while sanding the old and cracked blue paint off  the topsides. The paint had started cracking and peeling off long ago, so there was no saving it. I had decided to go with a lighter color, which would be cooler in the tropics too.

The exhaust port was a fiberglass pipe built through the lazarette and removing it was simply a matter of using my oscillating tool to cut it off (I prefer to use an oscillating tool over an angle-grinder with a cut-off disc because it distributes much less dust and is much less dangerous.) Then, I cut several pieces of 1708 fiberglass mat (which combines woven roving and chopped-strand mat) to cover the hole, applied it with epoxy, covered it with a piece of plastic to minimize moisture exposure, and after it cured, I sanded it all down & faired over it with 3M Premium Filler. (The old exhaust port diameter was quite a bit smaller than the 2" dia. exhaust hose attached to it. I will be re-routing the exhaust and installing a new, larger exhaust port after I install the below-deck Raymarine autopilot.)

Then I spent some time making some pretty solid saw-horses (or trestles) to support scaffolding planks around the boat. I needed a pretty solid footing since I was going to be spending a lot of time and effort sanding off the old paint. I also hung tarps off the deck since needed some shade to work under to minimize the heat, not just for my comfort but also to allow paint to flow and spread evenly
 before drying. (Needless to say summer in Florida is not the best time to paint, but my options were limited.)

Also the "trick" to painting a boat with a roller is that it has to be done in one smooth go per side, with no stopping or slowing down along the way and no going back to re-paint a patch that you already covered, in order to maintain the 'wet edge' of the applied paint. If the paint is allowed to dry on one patch before rolling paint over the next adjacent patch, you'll see a line in the finish between the two patches. This means that you have to have a pretty solid structure to work on, with no chance of you or your paint cans and supplies falling off the scaffolding along the way as you move along at a pretty rapid pace.

A dusty breakfast

Priming the deck, cockpit, and cabin top

Around the end of May I primed the deck, cockpit and cabin top with Alwgrip Hullgard Extra. It was very hot so I did a bit of a rushed sloppy job of it but I figure most of it will be sanded off anyway. The white surface made a big difference in the temperature of the deck -- no more burning my foot soles when walking around

Boat cats

Sasha and Pasha and enjoying the boatyard and all the creepy-crawlies they can catch. I have to put separate fans near their favorite sleeping spots to keep them cool in the 98 degree heat and 90 percent humidity of a summer in Florida. For some reason Pasha loves to sleep on my computer bag.

Foredeck and aft hatch lids installed

My foredeck hatch blew off in Hurricane Irma in Sept. 2017. That was the second hurricane in 2 years I experienced in St. Augustine - the other was Matthew. When I first bought the boat, the dealer reminded me that there had been no hurricanes there in 60+ years. Well, we got hit by two in a row, but luckily they had both been reduced in strength a bit by the time they blew by us.

Newly-built exterior hatch frame
 I had been working on the deck so I had removed the hinges and lock on the hatch lid, so I put my old manual windlass on the lid to keep it shut through the storm. However due to the camber of the hatch lid and the force of the wind, the windlass gradually "walked" off the lid and fell off. I was laying down on the v-berth cushion at the time and watched as the hatch blew straight up into the air. It fell into the floodwater and floated away (we had about 2 feet of flooding in my part of the boatyard).  I didn't want to go after it because there were all sorts of sharp, pointy things flying through the air. The funny thing is that barely any rainwater got into the boat because the rain was traveling horizontally.

New v-berth hatch with frame trim piece; lotsa light in the v-berth

I decided to replace the hatch with a Lewmar Ocean 60, to get more light over the v-berth. While I was at it, I also put a Lewmar Low Profile 20 over the head as I previously wrote, and a Lewmar Ocean 40 under the boom. I had decided to install them before painting the cabin top because I didn't want to have three large holes in the ceiling while working on the boat.

Those two went in rather easily, since they required me to only cut a new opening (for the head) or slightly enlarge the existing hole for the aft hatch.

Cutting off the aft hatch frame.

The Lewmar 40 fit easily into the slightly enlarge aft hatch hole

Butyl sealer under the hatch, to be scraped off later
Installing the fore hatch was a bigger project because I had to make the existing hole slightly smaller (by about an inch all around) and build-up the rim to take the screws for the hatch. Down below, the hatch rim had to also be faired and straightened so that the ceiling camber didn't cause an unsightly gap with the frame trim piece (the hatch frame trim piece has a bug-screen which is handy.) 

I used vinyl exterior trim pieces purchased from a local hardware store along with epoxy filler to build-up the rim above and below, then spent hours sanding and shaping it. Lewmar Ocean hatches have a pretty high profile so I had to reduce the height of the rim a bit, so the whole thing wasn't sticking up too high like a turret. I brushed just one coat of gel coat beneath the rim to seal it, and didn't bother sanding it smooth because it was all going to be hidden under the hatch frame trim piece anyway.

While doing all this I noticed a suspicious, weeping bump on the deck near the hatch rim that turned out to be a small patch of rot, which had to be dug out and repaired. No big deal.

After that it was just a matter of making sure the hatch rim top was as flat as possible to minimize chances of water intrusion, and then screwing down the hatch frame using some butyl sealer and one-inch #10 screws.