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