Wednesday, August 27, 2014

To Bow Or Not to Bow?

After I cleared all of the leaves and leaking water jugs (buoyancy bags) out of the bow, and gave it a good scrubbing it became quickly apparent to me that someone had done some major fiberglass work in there at some point. I suspect it was replacing core, as little else would really justify the scope of their repair.

The glass work on the prior  repair was very poor.  It was not done with epoxy, or if it was, it sure isn't the epoxy I work with.  The cloth had wrinkles all over, showing either a lack of preparation in properly trimming the patch, or a lack of care in installing it.  These wrinkles trap air, dirt, and become weak points.  With that in mind, I decided that I would hit them with an aggressive grinder to knock down the high spots and open any air pockets in the laminate.  I could then either fill them or lay in some patches depending on the size and depth.  I could then throw a quick and dirty fairing job at it to clean up the worst cases prior to painting.

As I crawled into the bow, prepared to work in a small encapsulated swirling fiberglass dust tornado, I noticed something that made me cringe a bit.  Visible, although subtle, flexing in the bilge.  It's an area about 12 inches wide and 16 inches long, tapering near the bow on the starboard side.  I can flex it about 1/8", which is 1/8" more than I'd like.

Since it's an area that's never visible, it's pretty easy to do some exploratory probing and clean it up without cosmetic impact, so I cut out a section of the bilge, thinking it would come right up.  It did not.  Even after prying on it.  Giving it a bit more thought, I decided that a small area with a narrow span at the bow is probably going to be fine, at least for a year or two.  I ground a quick 2" bevel into the cuts I'd made, filled the bottom of the cut with colloidal silica, and then laid in glass strips to repair the cuts.

With the cuts repaired, I threw a sheet of cloth over the entire area to give it a bit more rigidity, and to help fair the awful surface left by the prior glass work.  It made a big difference, and once painted it will look great.

I have so many projects to do right now that I just don't need to work on anything that's not necessary.  After everything else is done and I've had some sailing time I can make a Spring or Fall project out of laying in new core in the bow bilge.  For now, it's back to the critical path and my tight grip on scope creep.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Blush and Mosquitos

This almost-Fall shorter daylight hours thing is messing with my momentum.  Last night I managed to get all the first layer patches in place, but there were a few places I wanted to build up a little thicker laminate.  Unfortunately, about 75% of the way through cutting out the cloth the mosquitos came out.  And I mean, the whole mosquito air force.  It was brutal. Right about the time I was running out of daylight a dew fell pretty hard on the boat, wetting the cloth, and the surface I need to be clear.  Mother nature put a curfew on by boat works.  Got up early this morning and finished trimming patches, which only took a short time.

The only problem is that since the epoxy cured overnight, it has formed its layer of amine blush which needs to be removed with some warm water and a scrub brush prior to adding layers.  Because the interior of this boat has a mildly textured finish, it doesn't dry out that quickly.  This means that if I have time to get it scrubbed over lunch, it should be ready for lamination this evening.

I would have liked to be done with patching this morning so that I could work on the stringers tonight, but c'est la vie.  Its all about putting one foot in front of the other and making whatever progress can be made.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stringers and Ants are Out!

It took about four hours, but the stringers are out, and the bilge is ground to a reasonably fair profile.  The harbor freight variable speed multi-tool worked like a charm cutting out the tabs, saving me from using the grinder initially.

Upon cutting out the forward stringer, I was surprised to see a stream of ants come pouring out of the rotted center section of the stringer.  They were not pleased with my renovation efforts.

You have to look close, but the tiny ants are in the picture.  I laid down an ant trap and went about working on other parts of the boat while they died in a sugar-water bliss.

There are a bunch of miscellaneous small repairs I need to do where there were laminate "bubbles" of detachment.  They are now ground out and awaiting new layers of glass.  There is also a crack in the bilge-topsides joint over the aft trailer bunk which will be easy to fill and repair.  The last odd job was grinding out a complete adhesion failure of a stainless plate on the aft bilge.  The installer never roughed the surface, to the fiberglass never adhered.  I've removed the top laminate, and should have no trouble fixing that problem.

By then end of the day, which coincidentally, was about the end of my endurance for hunching over a grinder, I was very pleased with the prep work.  The bilge is ready for me to start laying glass into place.  I'm getting very excited anticipating seeing the cockpit with fresh paint.  Still quite a bit of work to do before that happens though!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Paint Planning

Once I get through the fiberglass repairs, Anyela will need to be painted.  Each area of the boat has unique requirements for either prep, paint, or both.  The repairs will be completed to the underlying laminate first.  Next will come surface priming, and finally, top coating.  But before I can do any painting, I need a plan so I can figure out what to order.

After consulting with Interlux tech support, I'm currently tempted to go with their Perfection 2-part LPU paint for the topcoat.  It's significantly more durable than most of my alternatives.  While more expensive, having to repaint the boat will also be expensive in both money and time.  The 2-part LPU should last about twice as long as a 1-part paint.

As I'll be dealing with some pretty nasty and toxic paint, I will using a respirator with organic cartridges (3M 7178 set), and all painting will be done wearing gloves.

Interior (Bilge and Interior Topsides)

First step is to remove all that wood so I can get to the fiberglass.  Then, clearly, repair any flaws, which is a whole other project in itself.

Anyela's interior currently has a fairly rough texture to it; Not just the texture of open weave fiberglass, but also like 220 grit sandpaper.  While that's great for traction when wet, it's also proven to be an amazing retainer of dirt and muck.  What's more, all areas of the interior which require traction are covered in teak boards.  Additional texture on the fiberglass is just not necessary.

I want to use a filling primer that will tone down the texture a bit, while ending with a smoother finish that will be easy to clean.  Interlux Primekote 2-part primer appears to be the right product.   I don't need to fair the cloth texture out completely, but I don't want it cultivating algae any longer.

The final cockpit color will likely be white.  Not as easy to keep clean, but it's bright and shiny.


The deck currently has gelcoat texture in the form of lines running parallel to the center line of the boat.  While very functional, it is going to be difficult for me to uniformly retain that pattern after all of the repair areas I need to grind out and fill.  I already see many spots where previous glass work has filled the texture.  Considering that I really want her to look well finished, I think my best bet will be to use a coarse disc on the 6" random orbit sander, and just grind that texture right out to a smooth deck.

As with the interior, I plan to deploy two coats of primer over the newly sanded surface.  The topcoat will be white Perfection, flattened with an Interlux additive to reduce glare, and with Interdeck texture to provide a non-skid surface.

Topsides (External)

The topsides will be prepped with 2 coats of Primekote, then top coated with Navy Blue Interlux Perfection. There is only minor work needed to prep the topsides.  One or two small surface cracks, some crazing, and a lot of area to do basic sanding on.  This, in theory, should be the easiest part of the project.


I would like to add a boot stripe between the topsides and the waterline.  I'm thinking of something like a rich gold color, but even white would work for me.  I'm still working out order of operations on this part.  Not sure if I should paint all the topsides blue, and then over-coat the blue with boot stripe, or paint the boot stripe directly on the primed hull.  Then again, do I use Perfection for the boot stripe?  More research is needed...


Because this boat will be dry-sailed, I don't need anti-fowling.  The general consensus I'm finding on the Internet suggests that Interlux VC Performance Epoxy is the stuff to use on dry-sailed boats.  It is also both a primer and a top-coat, so it saves me some time.

The bottom currently has a paint with adhesion failure which I will need to remove.  An 80-grit disc will make short work of that, after which I'll fill any dings and fair.  80-grit is the recommended surface prep for this paint, so last step will be apply 3 coats of VC Performance Epoxy using a tip and roll method.

The final coat will be wet sanded down to a very fine grit and polished.  Should be extremely durable, and hopefully I'll not have to think about the bottom again for a long time.

All that sounds easy enough, but the bottom is, well...  The bottom.  It's upside down, and very little in life is as tedious as sanding over your head.  I would like to get the boat off its trailer, and flip upside down so I can work on the bottom without pain.  I suspect that will be an interesting operation.


Interlux data sheets make estimating fairly simple.  I just need to come up with estimated square feet.  To do this, I divided the boat into triangles and rectangles, which were slightly than the actual area.  Better to be safe than to run short on paint.  For example, the bow is two triangles back-to back, and the sides decks and transom deck are rectangles. 

My rough (and intentionally generous) square footage estimates are as follows:
  • Deck: 57 ft2
    • Bow: 30 ft2. 
    • Side Decks (2):  14 ft2
    • Aft Deck: 13 ft2
  • Interior (bilge): 100 ft2
  • Interior (topsides): 64 ft2
    • 32 ft2 / side
  • Topsides (exterior): 64 ft2
    • 32 ft2 / side
  • Bottom:  100 ft2

According to the product data sheets, the following guidelines can be used for coverage:
  • Interlux Primekote: 450 ft2 / gallon (brushed)
  • Interlux Perfection:  488 ft2 / gallon (brushed)
  • Interlux VC Performance Epoxy:  200 ft2 / gallon
  • Interlux Intergrip 2398c:  4-6oz per quart / 16-24 oz per gallon.
  • Interlux Flattening Agent for 2-Part Finished:  mix 1:1 with finish coat for satin finish.

The resulting painting schedule should be as follows:

  • Deck (57 ft2)
    • 2 coats white primer (114 ft2)
    • 3 coats white Perfection (171 ft2, or  1.5 qts )
      • Cut required paint by 50% due to flattening agent:  .75 qts
    • Flattening Agent (1:1 mix with Perfection top coat.)
      • Assume need for 1:1, or .75 qts
    • Interdeck texture additive 4-6 oz / quart.
  • Interior Bilge (100 ft2)
    • 2 coats white primer (200 ft2)
    • 3 coats white Perfection  (300 ft2)
  • Interior Topsides (64 ft2)
    • 2 coats white primer  (128 ft2)
    • 3 coats white Perfection (192 ft2)
  • Exterior Topsides, includes Transom (64 ft2)
    • 2 coats primer (128 ft2)
    • 3 coats navy blue perfection (192 ft2)
  • Bottom (100 ft2)
    • 3 coats VC Performance Epoxy  (300 ft2)

Which leads to a Bill of Materials as follows:

  1. Interlux Primekote Primer (white):  570 ft2 = 1 gallon + 1 quart  (5 qts)
  2. Interlux Perfection (White): 663 ft2 = 1 gallon + 1 qts (5 qts)
  3. Interlux Perfection (Navy Blue):  192 ft2 = 2 qts.
  4. Interlux flattening agent: 1 qt.
  5. Interlux Intergrip 2398c Additive:  1 qt.  Not sure how much will be needed until I try.
  6. Interlux VC Performance Epoxy: 300 ft2 = 1 gal + 2 qts (6 qts)

I will revise this page after I complete the project to show how much I actually used.


Marine Hardware: Dinghys are Yachts Too!

If you maintain a "big boat" properly, you know that most hardware should be proper 316 stainless steel, excepting specific scenarios for avoiding corrosion due to dissimilar metals.  You also (should) know that all hardware penetrating a permeable material (like deck core) should be potted using thickened epoxy.  Hardware bases are also supposed to be sealed to avoid water ingress.  But on dinghys?

If it's cored, or has wood under an active stringer, then I'll buck common convention and cast my vote for properly potting everything that has a permeable core.  Why?  For the same reasons we do it on big boats.

As I was removing the bolts which fix the benches to the stringers I had a heck of a fun time due to the nuts being rusted in place.  That rust has also left stains in certain places on the hull where its had time to weep.  Proper 316 SS hardware would not have rusted in place and gripped the wood in the same way, nor would it have left stains.

A properly potted hole in a cored laminate also provides a compression post which keeps the outer laminate from cracking and admitting water.  I removed many nuts that had been tightened right into the laminate.  This made them not only difficult to remove, but it also damaged the underlying wood by crushing it, allowed water into the cedar core via the cracks, and over time may have allowed sufficient water in to freeze and expand causing failure of the stringer tabs.

Over time that same water which was trapped in the laminate would rot the stringer, or at least the area where the crack occurred, giving the appearance of a loose bolt.  After a few times being tightened, the washer and nut would crack their way right through the fiberglass.

Dinghys are usually not off-shore vehicles, and are not subject to the same loads that a "big boat" deals with.  But unless you plan a short life span for one of these boats, they need the same care to keep them structurally sound, and save a future owner the hassle of structural repairs.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Stringer Replacement

The seats and floor boards had been providing some degree of structure for the stringers, although by design it should have been the other way around.  Once I removed those pieces of wood, the remaining foundation was found to have de-laminated quite badly.  A light touch of a finger tip was sufficient to impart a 1/4" wiggle to the frames.  Some of the cracked tabbing is visible in the picture below.

I also couldn't help but notice that most of the screws I removed were no longer biting into anything solid.  They were completely stripped out.  With that in mind, I decided to replace the active cores of the stringers as well using the old ones for rough template lines.  The original material is (thought to be) western red cedar, and having no better ideas, I plan to replace them with the same.

The first step was to come up with a materials list, and get all my supplies together...

  1. Sanding Supplies
    1. 50 grit discs for 4.5" grinder
    2. 80 grit discs for 4.5" grinder
  2. Fiberglass Supplies
    1. Fiberglass cloth
    2. Epoxy resin + hardener
    3. Colloidal silica thickener
    4. Mixing sticks
    5. Mixing cups
    6. Chip brushes
    7. Spreaders
    8. Acetone
  3. Wood
    1. Western Red Cedar - not sure of standard dimensions available 
      1. Assume 8' long, nominal width:  96" x 3" x 1":  2/board = 8 boards
      2. Assume 8' long, 6" width:  96" x 6" x 1": 4/board = 4 boards

I tend to over-estimate, as it's more expensive for me to have to make a return trip to the store than it is to have a little scrap left over (or extra material in case I goof up!). Assuming 8 stringers per side, 16 total gives me plenty of margin for error.  Each stringer needs to be 2" high and 7/8" wide, so I need to purchase 1" thick boards and plane them down.

High Level Plan

  1. Use multi-master flush cut-off tool and 4.5" angle-grinder to surgically remove the existing stringers with as little damage to profile as possible.
  2. Grind surface where new stringers will go, including tabbing width, to clean, bare fiberglass.
  3. Cut out new stringer following profile from old.
  4. Laminate one layer of 8oz. or 10 oz. cloth as a weight-distributing base for the stringer.
  5. Bed new stringer in same position as original in epoxy thickened with colloidal silica.  Make 1/2" radius fillet all around.
  6. Once cured, remove amine blush, then grind any imperfections or epoxy spillage.
  7. Lay up two layers of 6oz. cloth over stringer with 1/2" reduction / taper per side.
  8. When kicked, paint on 1-2 coats of neat epoxy to fill cloth texture.
  9. Once fully cured, remove amine blush, then grind any surface imperfections flush.
  10. Prime repair area with Interlux Primekote 2-part epoxy primer.

Removal of Damaged Stringers

This went mostly according to plan.  First I took many careful measurements to ensure I could put the stringers back as they were intended.  I  then used my Harbor Freight Multi-Master knock-off to cut the tabbing on each stringer.  I used the multi-speed version of their tool, which felt more substantially built than the single speed unit.  I have to say that each time I've used it I have been impressed with how well it works.

The slots in the fiberglass had pretty significant lips at the cut lines, as well as depressions where the stringers had been.  I try to avoid using a grinder whenever possible because it just sends dust everywhere, but when there is a lot of material to remove, nothing else works as well.  So, out came the grinder with a 60 grit disc.

It took me about four hours to completely grind and rough-fair the remainder of the stringers, and by the time I was done, I was pretty sick of grinding.  I stopped after every other stringer to vacuum up the dust, so I perhaps could have saved some time if I'd been less neat.

I also ground out a few places where the laminate had separated from the core so I can relaminate, and I cleaned up a few places where prior repairs had been done in less careful manner than I prefer.  So now, I'm ready to start filling in holes.

Repairing the Laminate

Each of the slots that had housed a stringer is now ground out in a concave manner.  I wanted to allow the stringers to ride a bit higher, just to help keep the water a bit less likely to pool on them as before.  TO fill the cavity I will lay down one narrow layer of 8oz cloth as a foundation, and then one wide 6oz tab to distribute the load.  This will not only add some rigidity, but also help to fair the bottom a bit.  I know, only I would care about fairing the bottom.

More to come:  I will continue updating this project page as I make progress.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Scope creep: The stringers are shot.

The port side floor and seat have been removed from the boat, allowing a good inspection of the stringers, or "riblets" that provide an anchor point, as well as some structure to the mid-boat hull area.  Unfortunately, that inspection ended in bad news.

Once clear of the wood framing, all but one of the stringers was found to have de-laminated from the hull with cracks in the laminate, and in most cases complete tabbing failure that allows between 1/4" and 1/2" of play from the push of a finger tip.

So, all the stringers will need to come out.  Once out I can assess the condition of the wood, which I believe to be western red cedar.  I suspect it has lost its integrity as well by the way all of the screws were stripped out.

Since the boat had three inches of sitting water, and none of the holes had been properly potted, it's not all that surprising to find laminate and core issues in this area.  The good news is that it's relatively simple to fix.  I just need to acquire some board material, and a whole bunch of fiberglass cloth.  Shouldn't be too hard to laminate in new stringers.

So far I have only checked the port side.  I left the floor and bench in place on the starboard side to provide a guide for me in case I needed to see how it all looked.  I think it's coming out soon too so I can see if I need to plan for double the structural effort.

Splashing the boat this season is very much in jeopardy, but I'd rather do the job once the right way than have to come back and do it again.

Tiller Restoration

Character...  That's the word I would use to describe the wood on Anyela's tiller.  Or perhaps, "distressed" is a better word for the finish?  Unfortunately, the problems went more than skin deep, as the tiller had a very solid split where it attaches to the rudder.That split was holding on by a thread of wood on one side, and a bolt on the other side.

Upon removing the bolt, and giving it a slight twist, the remaining wood gave way and it separated cleanly.  The inside had some kind of residue which may be a prior failed glue joint.  Whatever it was, it gave way easily to 80 grit sandpaper.

I wet out each side of the tiller with neat epoxy, and then thickened up a batch with colloidal silica to the consistency ketchup, and then clamped it up to dry.  In the morning, the glue had set up, and the joint appeared solid as new.

The next step took the longest. I attacked the failed varnish with an 80 grit sanding disc on my orbital sander.  Even though it's a failed layer, it hung on for dear life.  After almost an hour of carefully sanding through the profile of the tiller, it came out fantastic.  The tone of the wood evened out, and the split is barely visible.

The next problem turned out to to be the tiller extension, or "hiking stick".  It had been wrapped with an amazing amount of duct tape which was no small feat to remove.
Lots of duct tape...
Once clear, I could see the wood at this end of the tiller had some problems.  There was a split here as well, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad.  The wood where the hiking stick mount had been was also a bit damaged.

After trying all kinds of fluids to remove the duct tape residue (and believe it or not, Acetone does not work all that well here), I settled on snowboard base cleaner, and finally cleaned up the wood.

I drilled a 3/4" hole clean through using a forstner bit, and epoxied a oak dowel in place.  The next day I trimmed it flush with a pull saw and sanded the plug to profile.  It is clearly not Ash, but oak is tough stuff, and will be mostly concealed when I mount a new hiking stick.

Why a new hiking stick?  Because the old one was held together with...  Wait for it...  More duct tape!  After removing awful stuff it was clear that the extension could not lock in place without it.  So, another project gets added to the list.  That can wait until later though as it's not critical to getting the boat back on the water.

More to come...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Trailer is Resisting Restoration

Anyela's trailer is most likely an original trailer from same vintage as Anyela herself.  It has no vehicle identification number as a modern trailer would, and to add to the challenge, it wasn't registered by prior owners.  It's also lacking a functional electrical system, which means it's not precisely legal to drive it off private property.

Since I plan to drive it back and forth from my home to the dry-launch crane at the club, as well to an occasional regatta, I need to make the trailer legal.  In New York, that means I need to first have it be reasonably close to compliant with safety rules, and then take it to a weigh station where I will be given an official tare sheet.  I then take the sheet to the Department of Motor Vehicles, who will assign me a VIN number, and a temporary inspection certificate that authorizes me to drive the empty trailer to an inspection station, at which point it can become a legal trailer (assuming it passes).

After work this evening my son and I went out to the back yard with a trusty multi-meter, and great expectations of making some kind of progress toward getting the lights working.  Alas, it was not to be.  Upon carefully removing the lens cover from the light housing I discovered that the marker light opening was inverted facing the inside of the trailer (why?), and one of the rotten pieces of wood comprising the rear bunk has long since smashed in that side lens. As a result of this damage, the entire inside of the light housing is corroded.

After some staring and head-scratching, I came to the conclusion that this light and housing will never again be a working component.  They need to come off and be replaced by a modern light.  This isn't such a big deal in itself; I'm sure I can drill and tap the trailer frame for the new lights, and they aren't all that expensive.  The issue is that the location I need to mount the lights is completely blocked by the current bunks...  And there is a 700 lb boat on top of that bunk.

Looks like I will need to get Anyela ready to float for a week or two while I revive this trailer.  Either that or I need to make some kind of a temporary rack for the boat and carefully lift it up to slide the trailer out from underneath.  Seems like the trailer may be more of a challenge than restoring the boat...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

And So It Begins!

It really started last year...  Each year I've enjoyed sailing more than the past.  Last year when fall haul-out claimed my CS27, I found myself craving a sailing fix, but the best I could muster was sitting on shore staring out onto the water.

After a few conversations with The Guys at the yacht club I discovered that there a bunch of Lightnings lurking, and other folks interested in buying them.  That turned into a number of discussions about how fun it would be to have a boat I could dry sail in the off season (and during as well!).  It even evolved to how neat it would be resurrect a Lightning fleet at the club and do some racing.  The hook was set.

I started reading about Lightnings, and their history, which increased my interest.  One thing led to another, and suddenly I was monitoring Craigslist.  Before I knew it, I had found a boat.  The boat was located in Skaneateles NY, which is coincidentally the birth place of the Lightning Class.  Was it fate?  The survey was a very positive visit.  The boat certainly had some problems which needed attention, but it was overall very solid and well equipped.

The interior woodwork and trim is in rough shape, but enough is salvageable that I can use it for templates and make new fittings.  Most of the sailing hardware is in good condition, although there are a few pieces which will need replacement due to corrosion.  Some fiberglass work is needed, some lines need replacement, and the hull is ready for a paint job.  All in all, I believe I can perform some minor repairs, and get the boat on the water this fall if I'm gentle with her.

After some discussion, the owner and I agreed on a price.  I wasn't prepared with cash, or means to bring the boat home that day, so would need to make a return trip to bring the boat home.  This gave me time to dive head-first into learning about the boat I was purchasing.  Having never sailed in a Lightning, this is certainly a bit of blind faith.  A little faith goes a long way though, and so begins my journey with Lightning #10242.