Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Guy Who Came In From The Cold

Ed. Note: This was to be published originally in March, but never got there . . .

If you live in New England, what I am about to say won't shock you:  The weather this year has been down right inhospitable if your goal is to restore a wooden boat outdoors. To wit: the average maximum daily temperature for January, February and March was 35, 36 and 42 respectively. Moreover, half of each of those months were either snow or cold rain.

I get it. January and February are supposed to be cold in New England.  By the time March rolls around, however, one kind of expects to get a few milder days when epoxy might cure - even with heat lamps. But it was not to be.

After Lazarette is behind wheel
So, I retreated into the shop where a whole tick list of things awaited.

The first on the list was the hatch cover for the after lazarette.  It is fiberglass over wood and was crazed by the elements and neglect and delaminated along it's forward edge.  In the picture to the right, it is the hatch cover aft of the wheel. The dark stripe across the front is where the glass cracked and water seeped in.

After pulling off the delaminated fiberglass to let the wood dry out, it was obvious that some of the plys had begun to separate too. Last, one of the corners needed to be built back up where there had been some significant chipping.

This hatch presented another opportunity as well. Desiree's deck and housetop was sheathed in fiberglass and fifteen years in the elements caused significant crazing in several places. My experience with crazing is that even several coats of paint will not minimize it - the crazing will still show through.

So, I thought this hatch could serve as a guinea pig for addressing the crazing because it is all over the boat. My main concern is to seal it from water, but it would be an added bonus if I could make it not so noticeable.

The first job was to grind away any loose fiberglass and epoxy the plys back together. Thickened epoxy squirted in between the plys with a syringe and clamped tightly made quick work of that.

The second part of it was to re-glass the leading edge fairing it into the existing, good fiberglass.

Once the fiberglass cured and was faired, I turned to the crazing. My solution here was to try a high build epoxy primer.  If you're not familiar with this stuff, it is a two part epoxy that should be used in a very well ventilated area. A word of warning, here: Failure to pay attention to this venting admonition may cause you to see the Deity of your choice and make you incapable of finding your bottom with both hands. This is potent stuff.

At any rate, it goes on and hardens thickly and fills the minute cracks. Once dry, it can be sanded easily and faired.
Hatch with one coat of high build epoxy
On top of that, go two coats of topside paint.  As can be seen, I still have to trim up the buff non-skid, but will do that as part of a larger painting project. While these photos don't show it without extreme close up, the crazing is all but gone (at least for now - crazing is notorious for "coming back). The result, for now, is encouraging and pleasing.


There is a lot more crazing around the vessel, but I liked what I saw, so we will continue to use the high build epoxy and see how it goes long-term.  Often, when we do this sort of work, we want it to be perfect but I keep coming back to something a wooden boat friend once told me:

 It's not furniture; it's a boat. 

And so it goes . . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment