A Sound Hull…Check!

In the midst of a project of this scale, I find myself easily lost in the minutia of every task. I find it helpful to take a step back, I’ll walk off to the far corner of the boatyard where I can see the boat in its entirety. Last time I did this I was reminded to focus our efforts on the elements of a seaworthy boat- a sound hull, a sound rig, and robust steering gear. Keep the water out, the rig up, and point it in the right direction. Pretty simple stuff.  We’re both pretty excited to be able to check off the first item on that list- WOOO!

As you can see, boat is sporting a brand-new coat of paint on the bottom. This ain’t just any coat of paint however, it’s a fancy new high-build epoxy barrier coat. Damn strait. This protective layer seals up the laminate and half-dead gelcoat, prevents water intrusion, osmotic blisters, and further crazing of the gelcoat. The chemistry of this stuff is pretty intense, the hull needs to be prepped with the proper proprietary solvents and stuff. This is what we did:

1. Clean the hull with Bio-Blue 92. We call it boat soap because, it’s pretty much soap, but it costs boat-prices. The point of this stuff is to remove any remaining trace of Poly-vinyl alcohol, aka mold-release. PVA is a chemical used during the construction of fiberglass boats that allows the completed hull to be removed from the female hull-mold. PVA interferes with the epoxy paint bonding with the hull, thus boat soap.

So we rolled the stuff on, then scrubbed like mad, then hosed off boat.

2. The next step is to sand the hull, again again. Epoxy needs a rough surface to provide some “tooth” for the resin to grab on. Epoxy’s main advantage is the strength of the initial, physical bond it forms with a surface. So I hit it with the orbital palm sander (thanks Trixx!) and Ryan went behind me and hand sanded the entire hull. I think I got the better deal on that one.

3.  The boat then gets rinsed again to remove the debris from sanding, then liberally doused in acetone, which helps evaporate off any remaining chemical contaminants.

4. Next we had to mix the paint- it’s a 3:1 ratio of paint to hardener, so after some higher order math we popped open the cans to find that I definitely should have put the can on the shaker while I was at the store. The paint had settled into a thick fudge the consistency of peanut butter. So after a bit of rummaging around we were able to improvise a Paint-Stir-Er.

That’s a paint-paddle duct taped to a wooden dowel chucked into a hand drill. Ryan surreptitiously filmed the thing in action. Worked pretty well!

With that we mixed up the paint and rolled it on!

I’m super-pleased with the results, and excited to check a major project off the to-do list. We celebrated with a beer and some oysters!

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