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.