Friday, January 25, 2008
I tackled my refinishing project incrementally, spending a lot of nights aboard at my slip in between days of grinding, filling, sanding and then more of the same as I worked my way around the deck and cabin top. I wanted to be able to hose down the deck as needed, too. Thus when I removed the machine screws fastening the stanchions, pulpit and pushpit, I tapped golf tees into the holes.
I also did not remove the fresh water fill fitting abeam the mast on the starboard deck until just before I was ready to start applying primer on the decks. I was surprised at what I found.
Did someone replace the original fill fitting and need to enlarge the hole? I can't imagine this is the way Ericson made a hole in the deck when they built the boat. It was a mystery, since the chrome-plated bronze fitting that was in place was much smaller than this hole. Yet it was obviously old.
The balsa core was rotted away for an inch or more, but easily scraped away to prepare a clean receptical for epoxy filler to repair the deck. To use the fitting to create a mold for the filler, I waxed the exterior of the pipe and installed it upside down in the opening, using only the outermost bolt hole. I also taped the fitting to the underside of the deck, which is in the hanging locker and easily accessible.
After the epoxy cured, this is the perfect mounting hole that resulted. I was able to put the fitting in place, right side up, each time I left the boat while work continued. And when the refinishing was done, I drilled to two inboard holes and permanently re-installed the fill fitting with LifeCault sealant.
I spent a lot of time exploring various coating options and eventually decided to use Interlux Brightside one-part polyurethane coating. A neighboring boat had been recoated with it several months earlier by a professional refinisher, and it looked good. The refinisher told me it was easy to maintain by sanding and coating with a single new coat every four or five years.
Interlux's top product for amateurs is Perfection, a two-part polyurethane. I gave it very serious consideration, but finally decided against it because it's optimal application method requires two persons. Brightside works fine for solo workers like me.
Brightside is a high gloss finish for smooth portions of my deck and cabin trunk. For the nonskid, I chose another Interlux product, Interdeck, which is a low sheen one-part polyurethane containing a fine aggregate.
A much greater range of colors is available in Brightside than in Interdeck. In fact, except for white, there are no color names in common between the two products. I chose "Hatteras Off White (1990)" in Brightside, very pale beige tint to my eye. For Interdeck, I picked "Beige", which is darker than the Brightside hue, and has a tinge of orange.
Brightside requires two coats of Interlux Pre-Kote primer. But Interdeck goes directly over the old fiberglass nonskid after appropriate preparation with filler and a wash down with compatible thinner.
With the product decisions made, the next step was deciding how to paint without touching wet paint as I moved around, and without ending up where I'd have to jump overboard to leave the boat before the paint dried. The solution was to start with the deck perimeter first, beginning at the stern and moving forward on each side. Then, beginning at the bow, I painted the smooth center of the foredeck moving aft to do one side of the cabin trunk and then the other. The cockpit was last.
I took my time, thought about each move before I made it, and managed not to touch any wet paint as I progressed. I did that three times, each time a day's work.
Brightside was easy to work with, but I kept it thinned according to the directions as I worked. It brushes easily, flowing slowly into a smooth, glossy coat, and isn't prone to running as long as is brushed out.
The most difficult part was seeing where the last brush strokes ended in glaring sunlight. Recently I discovered clip-on polarized sunglass lenses, which I'll use on my prescription glasses the next time I do this. I think the polarization will make it easier to see where the last stroke ended and the new stroke should begin.
I gave the Brightside about a week to fully cure after I finished the three coats, and then applied blue masking tape over it and rollered the Interdeck paint in place. I gave it only one coat, but struggled to finish the cockpit, the last step, before the single quart ran out. The boat really needs one and a quarter quarts for a single application of nonskid paint. A second coat is on my list of tasks.
The nonskid paint needs to dry three days before it can be walked on, so a took the rest of that week off.
I think the final results were great. It doesn't look like a new boat. But it does look like a very well-cared-for old boat. And the finish is tough. Several months after I finished, on a trip back from Catalina Island, the Bruce anchor fastened into the bow roller worked loose in the waves and for several hours, its shackle slid sideways back and forth over the glossy Brightside paint at the bow. I figured the finish was gone. It certainly looked gone, with curved black streaks tracing the movement of the shackle.
When I finally had the courage to examine the damage closely the following weekend, there was no damage! I rubbed off the black marks with a rag, soap and water and found the finish beneath unmarred.