Monday, August 18, 2014

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...

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