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 old 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; 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

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