Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Scraping Bottom

Sunday, November 18th, I spent a few hours scraping the bottom.  On Froonie, the Sea Sprite 23', I took the orbital sander directly to the bottom paint.  The work was long and arduous - removing the stubborn bottom paint until I arrived at the gelcoat.  The oppressive Florida summer heat made the work all the more less appealing.  My approach to removing the bottom paint on the Westsail was founded in experience - a miserable experience!  I used a hand scraper, something similar to this but without the high price tag, and found the removal very easy.  

I will spend, hopefully, very little time with the random orbital to clean up the balance of the bottom...

Time Today: 3.5 hours

Saturday, October 13, 2012

1st Round Foredeck Fairing

     For Saturday, October 13th, I spent time fairing out the foredeck.  From the previous work session, I had applied thickened epoxy to the low spots and to the areas from which I removed loose gelcoat.  I first went to work by removing the amine blush that forms on the cured epoxy.  Working around the foredeck and starboard side deck, the day's windy conditions provide a dry surface by the time I completed the gentle scrub to remove the blush.  Next, I worked 80-grit paper by hand and board on the foredeck; getting in the tight places by hand, and then using the board for the open deck.

     Sanding is sanding, so I included no pictures.  However, feast your eyes on this Heather Neill piece, entitled "Red Sails"(oil on panel).  Enjoy...

Time today: 2.5 hours

Sunday, September 30, 2012

     On Sunday, September 30th, I turned my attention back to the deck.  The initial work I had done removing the flaking gelcoat begged for completion - filling and fairing.  With just this in mind today, I stepped aboard the Westsail with intentions (and tools) to work on fairing the decks in preparation for primer.

     I focused my time on the foredeck and starboard side deck.  I had "tested" a portion of the forward starboard side deck a couple months back - visible in the lower portion of the picture below - and the results were very good.  I was a bit aggressive in the amount of fairing material I used on the test area, requiring a bit more sanding.  I would go into today's fairing work keeping the rule in mind of applying thinner skim coats, and applying subsequent coats if the surrounding surfaces remained proud of the targeted work surface.

     The work progressed relatively well:  wash deck surfaces with water, sand the areas in which the gelcoat had been removed or where the nonskid surface had been removed, vacuum the surface and wash with solvent in preparation for epoxy resin.  Once I had the surface properly prepped, I went ahead and mixed up a batch of the epoxy fairing material.  I am using West System epoxy and fillers for the fairing work. I first painted on a "neat" coat of resin to saturate the work surface and ensure a good mechanical bond.  I then mixed a combination of 406 colloidal silica and 407 low-density filler until I achieved a low viscosity blend.  Using a small squeegee, I applied the filler material over the various areas that required it.  Picture below is of the starboard side of the foredeck.

     Pictured below is the port side of the foredeck.

     Looking aft along the starboard side deck.

     Looking forward along the starboard side deck.

     Aft portion of the starboard side deck, and deck scupper.

Time today: 4.5 hours

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Final Removal of the Overhead

     With but four hours working time on Labor Day, I managed to complete roughly 60% removal of the overhead in the main cabin salon and v-berth.  On Saturday, September 8th, I completed the removal of the overhead tongue-and-groove boards.  I had originally thought that the wood species was ash; however, upon closer inspection, I realized these boards were white oak. Sorry to see all of this white oak end up in a pile...with a good varnish, the oak would have created a sense of warmth.  Water damage (leaking staysail track) and sketchy overhead light wiring made the decision to remove the overhead an easy one.  Well, good things to come.

     Several boards ran the length of the overhead, and for a few of the boards, where the primary bulkheads sandwiched them to the fiberglass surface of the cabin overhead, I cut on either side and left the "spacer" material to help support the overhead itself.  I used a Bosch oscillating tool for this job.  Originally, the Westsail factory chose not to tab the tops of the primary bulkheads to the fiberglass surface of the overhead.  Later in the completion of the interior, the bulkheads were to be bolted to a mast-support beam.  Today's builds generally have the bulkheads tabbed to the hull and overhead, as will be the case with this Westsail 32 - the mast-support beam will also be bolted to the primary bulkheads.  These bulkheads will be replaced with BS1088 Lloyd's certified meranti 18mm ply.

     After 5 hours of work, the overhead removal was complete.  You can see the screw pattern on the overhead...do some quick math on roughly 1 to 1 minute - 30 seconds per screw removal time, and you can imagine how monotonous this milestone was.  The picture shows but half the overhead surface area. Good times!  The removal technique was to drill out the bung with a 3/8" bit, clean out the remaining remnants, clear the phillips screw head of debris, and then back the screw out...repeat.

     A sad ending for some lovely white oak...firewood?

    Probably 85% of the total number of screws securing the overhead boards.  Next on the to-do list is sanding the interior surfaces: overhead, under the sidedecks, hull; removal and replacement of the bulkheads; laying the floor...the list goes on.

Monday, July 16, 2012


     On Sunday, the 15th of July, I spent a several hours on more deconstruction.  This old photo, depicting the overhead, belies the current state of affairs with this Westsail 32 - though not far off.  The veneered cabin sides have been removed, as have the ports (8 total)...I'm embarrassed to admit so little forward progress.  I have been somewhat distracted by the purchase of a new home; also, setting up the wood working shop; and finally, I purchased a '76 Cape Dory Typhoon (19) for day-sailing.  Oh, and school work too...did I mention a full-time job??  And most important, I have two beautiful little ones that are just so much fun to be with.

     Anyway, the project is slowly unfolding and I fully expect to develop a rhythm for work on this build-out...at some point.  So the overhead has to go.  In addition to showing some water intrusion in the forward portion of the installation (it appears that the staysail track fasteners were allowing water below), as well as the need to bond the new structural bulkheads to the overhead (the original Westsail build manual suggests not bonding the bulkhead to the overhead), I do generally have plans for an improved look to the overhead.  The current overhead is comprised of 2" x 1/2" ash tongue and groove boards.  The boards are secured to the overhead with stainless steel screws that have been drilled for, countersunk, and bunged.  The bungs...this is making the work relatively slow and tedious.  The process is: attempt to drill out the bung, use utility knife to clean out the void, and then back the screw out.  It actually is not that bad; however, the fact that there are probably close to 1,000 fasteners and the work is above one's head...this makes it real fun!

     Here is what I am working with at present...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

For Saturday, June 2, 2012, I was anything but focused on one task; rather, I spent 4.5 hours on boat clean-out (bought a new Rigid shop vac), practice session for finding the cabin sole floor (level), and a test area for fairing the non-skid.  

I thought it best to go ahead and get the spring cleaning behind me.  So after arriving and running my old shop vac for a brief time, the motor finally succumb.  It had gobbled up lots of nasty during its time on Froonie, and I can only imagine that the sight of this Westsail 32 just brought it to its last quaff.  Conveniently located across the street, I paid a quick visit to the orange big box and picked up a new one.  I finally cleared the hull of the last few remaining pieces of teak and doug-fur, and then began to remove debris which was the result of previous work sessions (namely removing the ports).  

     After I cleaned the W32 out, I set-out to practice creating the cabin sole level line.  I am preparing to replace the existing bulkheads (original, factory-installed in 1977), and thought it might be good to go ahead and try the exercise of finding the cabin sole, as described by Bud Taplin.  Let me first say that the boat needs some fine-tuning on getting to level.  My earlier post describing the process of leveling the hull mentioned the need to come back and dial things in a bit.  This I have not done.  So, the exercise today was purely meant to become familiar with the practice, so when the new okoume bulkheads are installed I will be an "old hand" at it.  
     To start, I measured 14" from the bilge surface - top of the glassed in ballast.  I then drilled a hole through the primary bulkhead, slipped a string through the hold and secure the bitter end to a washer on the opposite side.  

Here is 14" up from the top of the bilge floor.

This is a pic showing the step-up as one moves from the main cabin and into the head area between the main cabin and the forward double berth.

...back to the process.  I then stretched this string the length of the main cabin area, and using a line leveler, I found my next attachment point on the aft, engine bulkhead.  I put this line oh so very slightly on the low side when I drilled it, as you can see that I did not get perfect level in the following photo.  Oh well, this is practice right?!  Note that this engine bulkhead will be replaced as well.

My first attempt at finding the level cabin sole...I will no doubt attempt to strike this line again prior to removing the original bulkheads in preparation for the new material.

Also, on my list of interests today was getting at a test area for the fairing of the non-skid.  As mentioned in a previous post, the gel-coat became brittle on portions of the non-skid - mainly on the port side.  As a result of the cracking and flaking gel-coat, I worked to remove all the loose material in preparation for filling and fairing.

     I settled on a forward area of the starboard sidedeck and got to work.  I took some coarse griot sand paper and "roughed" up the test areas in hopes of getting as good a mechanical bond as possible.  Next, I vacuumed up most of the sanding debris and then solvent washed the test areas.  I then applied epoxy resin in a "neat" form, and proceeded to thicken the balance of the resin with 407 and 406 additives.  

What you see here is the first application of fairing compound.  I will sand with a longboard, and determine what is needed next.

Another shot...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Removal of the Portlights

     The work on hull #667 on Saturday, May 5th had a bit of semblance to that same day in May, 1862 in which the Mexicans, vastly outnumbered, overcame a much more powerful French army.  I, too, felt a bit outnumbered: one man versus 80 2" bronze screws, nuts, and washers to battle in order to remove the 10 bronze portlights.  Alas I was victorious, overcoming the odds, but without a nice victory meal of mole con pollo from the great town of Puebla - no doubt a lot of mole was consumed yesterday!! 
     The Westsail 32 has a total of 10 portlights:  6 in the main cabin (3 to port, and 3 to starboard), with 8" openings, and 4 forward with 6" openings. The portlights are as heavy as they look, being cast from bronze, and are as sturdy as the Westsail itself.  A couple of the portlights' glass will need replacing, and the gasket material for all lights will need replacing.  For now, they are going onto the storage shelves...looking forward to the day that I dust them off and begin to prepare them for re-installation.

     Each portlight has a flange that is place over the full-circumference "eyebrow", with the 2" bronze machine screws securing it to the cabin sides.  The cabin sides are sandwiched between the flange and the main body of the portlight itself.  Bronze washers and nuts are secured to the machine screws from the interior.  

Seen at left, each portlight has 8 bronze fasteners.  The process for removing the fasteners was pretty straightforward, though time-consuming by working alone.  I secured locking pliers onto the nuts from the interior (3 at a time), climbed out onto the deck and unscrewed the machine screw until the locking pliers, holding the nut, came free from the machine screw.  I then placed my fingers over the washer and carefully continued to back-out the screw until the washer was free to remove.  Finally, I continued to back-out of the machine screw.  Repeat 7 additional times per portlight, and then remove the exterior flange.  Last step was to rap on the exterior eyebrow a few times with a hammer to "loosen" things up a bit, and then head down below to work the main body of the portlight out of the opening. 

The cabin sides are solid glass, and will require solvent washing to remove the old caulking - which remained flexible in all but one of the portlight installations.  The area covered by the exterior flange will get the same sanding treatment as the balance of the topsides in preparation for painting - 80 grit, moving to 120 grit. 

As I removed the portlights, I re-assembled with the flange, machine screws, washers and nuts.  I labeled the portlights to keep track of their location in the cabin sides.  In the original installation, I noticed that the machine screws were installed and then the excess length cut-off from the interior.  Since the screws contained ample amounts of caulking, I will most like replaces the screws and opt for ease of re-installation. As the current screws are all similar in length, I plan to come back with a length that will not require trimming on the interior.
All portlights accounted for, and will now be set aside for later rejuvenation.  

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Starboard Side Deck / Grab Rail Removal

     Having the Westsail 32 so close to home provides the opportunity to seize even a couple hours work from a day.  While I was restoring the Sea Sprite 23 (Froonie), because of the half-hour drive to just get to the project, my workdays were often 7+ hours – making it necessary that I plan for my workday.  While I really do need to begin putting some serious hours in on the W32, so far I have been stealing two hours here and 3 hours there from a typically busy schedule – a busy professional pursuing a master degree is a recipe for no spare time! 

     Well, I was able to concede another couple of hours on Sunday.  My focus for this short work session was to continue to remove the loose, cracking gelcoat from the starboard side deck.  After sanding the starboard side deck on Feb. 25th, more areas of concern were revealed and would require another “once-over” with the chisel.  I spent roughly 70% of my time on the gelcoat removal, and failed to take pictures of my progress.  Not to worry, just refer to my earlier posts for the visual explanation.
     After I wrapped up my work with the chisel, essentially prepping the area for another round of sanding with the PC 7335, I switched gears and worked on the removal of the starboard grab rails.   

      Working with just a few hand tools (scratch awl, flat head screwdriver, and a utility knife), I worked my way forward removing the three grab rails.  The removal was very straightforward:  remove bung, dig out detritus, remove philips-head screw, and then gently remove the rail.

     The teak grab rails were extremely weathered; not in the usual “nice weathered looking teak” way, but with the rails splitting along the grain in several places.  It was very apparent to me that the rails would need to be replaced.  A lot of the bright work on the Sea Sprite was saved through a TSP wash, sanding, oiling, and varnish; however, most of the woodwork on the W32 will need replacement.  Simple neglect will cause such a thing.

     The picture here is of the forward most rail.  Very little bedding compound existed beneath the teak grab rail, though there was some sealant used between the screw head and the bung.  This sealant used within the bunged screw was hard and brittle, and was removed without too much fuss – not sure what this sealant was.  Despite the curious lack of bedding compound between the rail and cabin roof, I found no sign of compromised core by sounding the surface.  Future installation of new grab rails will be done in such a way to protect the core from any potential water intrusion – over drill of top skin and core, fill will thickened epoxy, drill and tap for machine screw fasteners.

     Three rails were removed today, with 13 screws; aft rail (7 screws), middle rail (6 screws), forward rail (3 screws) - 2” #6 or #8.

Work Date: February 26th, 2012; 2 hrs.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

     In the last week I have migrated over to the starboard side deck to take care of the worst of the cracking and flaking gelcoat, also to apply the first round of sanding.  On February 20th, I began the removal of the cracking gelcoat - using the 3/8" chisel once again on the areas needing the most attention.  The chisel allows me to cut through the gelcoat to the first (outer) layer of glass easily.  Using a 1/2" chisel would reduce my work time a bit, but the 3/8" tool is doing the job...and allows me to work with a little more detail such as around the non-skid borders.  The picture to the right is the aft portion of the starboard side deck, with the cabin trunk showing in the upper left of the frame.

     There are random areas along the bulwarks where the gelcoat is heavily cracked, necessitating removal.  The next step in working the decks, after I removal the loose gelcoat, will be to sand through two stages (40 grit to 80 grit), and then prepare surfaces for fairing.  The entire deck, cabin trunk and roof, etc., will not need fairing; only those areas requiring gelcoat removal.

     The smooth deck between foredeck and starboard side deck non-skid areas was especially bad.  As you can see from the photo, nearly the entire area required removal of the gelcoat.

     Finally, I rounded out the day with the starboard deck scupper.  This one was not quite as bad as the port side....sanding to follow.

Date of Work: February 20th, 2012; 2 hrs.


         On February 25th, I took the non-skid pattern off of the starboard side deck.  Adjacent to the areas initially showing concern that were removed the week prior, revealed yet more cracking after the first round of 40-grit sanding.  Though smallish in size, I will need to come back with the chisel to quickly move through these areas. The picture to the right shows nearly the length the starboard side deck after the factory non-skid had been removed.

     Pictured left, the starboard deck scupper with the non-skid taken off.  Again, there are some small areas that will need some additional work to take off the worst of the offending gelcoat.

     Finally, a closer pic of the starboard deck scupper, with non-skid removed.

 Date of Work: February 25th, 2012: 3 hrs.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Removing Loose Gelcoat

     Today's focus was to take the loose, cracking gelcoat off in the most efficient and cost-effective way...or some combination thereof.  Brought the 3/8" chisel into the line up.
My initial sanding effort (40-grit PSA disks on the 5" Porter Cable) worked well to take the factory non-skid off; however, in areas, where the gelcoat was applied a bit too thick, I needed a better approach.  The age of this W32, coupled with the harshness of the sun and rain, intense cold and heat...will overtime expose the weakness in the gelcoat's surface.  I would have spent quite a bit of unnecessary time sanding thick gelcoat off had I not broken out the chisel.  The chisel allowed me to remove large portions of loose material quickly, not to mention cheaply.  There were sore muscles on the back end of this, but I'll sacrifice some muscle discomfort to save a few bucks!

My main areas of concern were the aft portions of the port and starboard side decks, and especially the deck scupper depressions.  While both side decks had areas of flaking, cracking gelcoat, the port side was especially bad; and so bore my initial focus.  

The aft portion of the port side deck holds the worst of it.  The picture just above shows a large area just forward of the deck scupper - which also was in poor condition, and required removal of nearly all of its gelcoat.

 The decks themselves were not the only areas with gelcoat showing poor conditions.  The bulwarks also had areas showing concern.  Here, just aft of a molded stanchion mount on the port bulwark, you can see the area that required removal of the gelcoat.  Also, the radius transition from deck to bulwark needed sporadic attention for the length of the side deck.

     The picture to the right shows the port deck scupper after I applied the chisel approach to taking care of this cracking gelcoat.  It will, no doubt, take a patient approach to fairing this area out.  Unfortunately, the extent of this removal was necessary.  The last thing I want, and I keep this fresh in my mind as I spend time on the W32, is to have substrate failure beneath hours devoted to a great paint scheme and fresh decks.  The labor continues.

     A close up of the removal work...fairing with low-density filler and colloidal silica to come.

     Finally, here is a portion of the foredeck that required gelcoat removal.  The gelcoat lifting off just aft of this removed section, showing a smiley face, is exactly the type of area that I was addressing on this work day...nothing funny about it though.

Date of Work: February 18th, 2012; 4 hrs.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Removing The Nonskid

     It is easy to see the condition of the nonskid - port side deck represented in pictures here.  The original gelcoat application might have been applied a few mils too thick judging by the amount of cracking and pulling away from the hand-laid glass work.  Freeze-thaw conditions, over time, have this impact on gelcoat applied much too liberally (from what I have read).  Since the Westsail's decks will be painted, I knew the best approach to dealing with proper paint application over factory molded-in nonskid was to just remove the nonskid all together and come back with a sanded paint product (e.g. Interlux Interdeck).  So, on to the removal...

     The removal of the factory molded nonskid was made relatively easy through use of the Porter Cable 7335, outfitted with 40-grit disks.  The work here represents 1.5 hrs of sanding, and two disks.  My intention here was to go over the worst of the areas on deck (port and starboard side decks), and to get a sense of what I would be up against in bringing the surfaces back to fair, and ready to receive primer.  After some thought, and consultation on the matter, I clearly will need to remove all 'loose' material and then prepare the surface for fairing.  The good news is that nearly all of the deck if free from this type of degradation - leaving larger patches on both side decks, both scuppers, as well as portions of the bulwarks and cabin sides seeing the worst of it.

     My next job, with respect to the side deck nonskid region, would be to take all loose material off with the sander, and prepare for fairing.  Likely the most difficult aspect of removing this loose, cracking gelcoat will be the tighter areas.  One of those tight areas can be easily seen in the picture to the right:  raised nonskid surface to the radius transition of the cabin sides.  A careful and controlled removal of this material might be a challenge for the 7335, and so as I have been recently reminded, my future will at some point see taped fingers and loose sheets of sandpaper. #agony!


     The fairing work will require some finesse no doubt.  My concern with total removal of the molded nonskid plus the gelcoat is that I might be left with a nonskid region that no longer sits 'proud' of the surrounding glossy surfaces (i.e. the cabin sides and bulwarks).  Because there are regions of the side decks that are not suffering from this condition, I may be forced to remove all material for the length the side deck and then blend the surface levels at the foredeck.  We shall see...there is still some sanding work ahead, and clarity will be achieved through the impending dust storm, aching forearms, and ever-vibrating hands!
                                                                                        Pictured at left, the aft portion of the port side deck as it makes its transition to the scupper depression.  Aft of the scupper and at the foredeck, all gelcoat is strong and in good shape - though the nonskid surface will still be taken down.

Date of Work: January 12th, 2012; 2.5 hrs
Date of Work: January 14th, 2012; 1.5 hrs