Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hull finish paint

Of course, in all things boat building, this job took about double the time I figure and posted about in my last blog post. The reason for the underestimated time was worthy of the extra time in my opinion.

When I had completed the body work on the hull, and sprayed the last coat of primer, I had thought I had the sanding to a good enough quality to paint. That's kind of a loaded  response, as the primer was probably smooth enough to paint, I just wanted it a bit smoother. The problem I was fearing was that not having the primer perfectly flat would cause the top coat to have some blemish. Without more sanding, the top coat would still be shiny and pretty, but the blemish I was worried about would make it a problem to revive the finish years down the road with polishing and wax. The primer needed to be flatter. So given the lessons learned on the transom and wanting a more user friendly finish, I decided to re sand the hull.

Sanding the hull ( I'm only talking about the port side today) to 320 grit was not to bad of a job. It's kind of hard to describe what I'm talking about, but once you start to sand with 320, minute high spots in the primer start to appear. More sanding flattens the primer, and the high spots disappear. The primer starts to get a shine to it, and it is almost as if it is being burnished by the finer grit sand paper. 320 seems fine enough for a boat paint job, but I'm sure body shops working on cars would take primer to at least 400 and more likely 600. There are for sure better ways to spend ones time than sanding primer so I approached in my not getting in a hurry way of doing things. Spending an hour  before leaving for work in the morning and a hour after work in the evening, helped me keep the patience  needed for this type of work.

Wanting to break up visual size of the hull, I decided to paint the rub rails another color. The lower rub rail extends around the back of the boat and becomes the swim platform. I don't know how many of you have painted the color red  in your house, but I can tell you that I now know that red industrial paint has the same problems as red house paint. You have to prime anything you intend to use red paint on. I had already painted the swim platform white, and the swim platform part of the rub rail green. I re sanded the swim platform rub rail, taped it off and began spraying red over the green. The green makes the red a few shades darker than the other ( primed) rub rail. The few spots on the swim platform rub rail  where I sanded through the green in to the white primer, the red does not cover the white. This part of the rub rail is going to  have to be sanded, primed, and re painted. Truthfully, it doesn't look that bad, but it is noticeable enough that I want to re do it.

Taping off the hull took also took quite a bit more time than I had figured. I probably have five or six hours invested in taping. Once I had an area taped, I wiped it down with a tack cloth to remove the dust. I started taping on Thursday night, and finished it Friday after work so I would be ready to spray Saturday morning.

When I blasted and painted the barrier coat on the hull bottom, I brought the barrier coat six inches above the water line. I brought the green two inches down past the barrier coat, so when the boat is in the water, about four inches of the bottom paint will be seen. The white barrier coat will be covered with red anti foul paint. 

The weather here has suddenly turned hot, and Saturdays forecast was for temperatures in the 90's. Figuring it would take four hours to spray the port side, I wanted to be spraying by 7:00 am and finished before the 90's found their way into the barn. As I began spraying, I immediately had an issue with the paint pot which took and hour to resolve. While I finally got the pot working correctly, it caused me to have a less than ideal finish on the area under the lower rub rail, between the water line and the rub rail. I'll have to do some paint repair in this area, but now that I know what's involved in doing that, I'm not to worried about it.

Getting three coats of paint on her requires more of the elusive patience, and keeping track of where one is in regard to where one just sprayed. The first coat to hit the metal covers the primer, but not too heavy. The second coat goes on while the paint is starting to get tacky which allows the second coat to cover while not  sag. If the spray gun volume and fan width is tuned in right, the second coat is probably good enough to call the area finished. The third coat gets risky, because you now have some thickness developed and the paint wants to start sagging. The second coat needs to be well on it's way to being tacky, or you could develop a sag on the third coat. You have to wait for the paint to tack up to accept more material, but you can't wait too long or it will to dry and you get dry spots where you start and stop the  spray pattern. I'm using up to 10% by volume of reducer in the paint, so it tends to dry quicker. I have one spot below the bulwark at the wheel house, where I had a drying issue on the third coat and I'll have to polish it to blend it back together. This is where sanding the primer perfectly flat pays off as it makes polishing much easier.

I still have to finish paint the starboard side, so I'm starting prep work on it this week. Given how busy I'm getting with work, I doubt I'll have it completed by next weekend, so I'm giving myself another week to call the paint work a wrap. I'm big time happy to see so much shine when I walk in to the barn but I'm more happy to have reached this milestone.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bottom paint

The below the water line part of the boat is painted with the barrier coat. The boat can now be removed from the building cradle.

Having purchased the metal for the boat wheel abraded and primed, getting her bottom ready for the barrier coat was not to bad of a job. There is not much good anyone can say about sand blasting, but as far as sand blasting a boat this size, this job could have been worse. While grinding metal may make the metal look like it is in an ideal surface for paint, the profile created by sand blasting is the gold standard for a mechanical bond of paint to metal. Because the metal had already been blasted, my focus on preparing the hull was to blast to white metal the welds and weld zone, all the print through from the interior frames and longitudinal stringers and the grinder marks. All the rest of the metal was blasted to "scuff" the existing primer to give the barrier coat paint a profile to stick to.

I had talked to a commercial blaster about doing this job, and while his price was reasonable, I felt as if I had  decent enough equipment to do the job. The air compressor in the barn is a single phase 10 hp with an 80 gallon tank. Because the mill scale had already been removed, and I was not taking all the hull to white metal, the barn air compressor could handle the job. Before starting blasting, I cleaned the shop and gave the floor a good sweeping with a back pack blower. The blasting pot I used only holds 100 lbs, so after the pot was emptied, the sand was swept up off of the shop floor, poured through a screen and re used. After three screenings, the sand was thrown away. The weather was about as perfect as one could fine to sand blast with 70 degree temperatures, high pressure, and darn near zero humidity. Blasting was started late in the afternoon and finished the next morning. About eight hours was all it took to do the job.

Because the blasting was done inside during picture perfect weather, blooming of rust was not an issue. Before starting the first coat of paint, the floor was swept again and the hull blown off with compressed air. The paint I decided to use is a PPG product called Amerlock and is a two part paint. My paint rep has been selling it to the operators of push boats and tugs, and that's what they're using below the water line. Because the paint is so thick, I decided to roll it on vs using reducer and trying to spray it. I did reduce the paint 5 % by volume which gave it a better consistency and seemed to help roll it on. As long as I did not allow more than 24 hours between coats, a chemical bond between coats would occur and no scuffing was needed. Three days gave me three coats. Once the boat is off of the cradles, I'll blast where the cradle was, scuff the rest of barrier coat and apply the anti foul.

Because this paint is designed for below the water line, and the rest of the primer on the boat is not for below the water line, I painted the barrier coat six inches above the water line. My plan is to bring the top coat green hull paint down on the barrier coat by two inches which will allow me to bring the anti foul bottom  paint four inches above the water line. The boot stripe should start at the six inch elevation which will hide the parting line created by the barrier coat. The boot stripe will not get painted until after launch once we are able to see just where the water line ends up.

Having the bottom painted allows one to better see how the boat will sit in the water. With this job finished and all the cut up fore and aft paint work completed, painting the hull green is now a reasonable job that should take only a few hours to  as I'm only going to spray one side of the hull at a time. Scuffing, taping, and minor repairs should take a day , maybe a day and a half. The paint should be wrapped up by early June.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Having put a hurting on my pile of air dried Cherry lumber, and since I'm going to be finishing the salon and wheel house next winter AT THE LAUNCH SITE it was time to replenish my inventory. I really should have done this job over the Winter when the trees were dormant, but such is life.

There is a pretty nice Cherry tree growing along side the barn that I've been eyeballing for the last year so, and after much thought,  I made the decision to harvest it. There are plenty of trees on our property, and while this one will be missed, it's going to good use. All the lumber will go into the boat build, and the wood from the top will be used to help heat the house and barn this Winter.  My interest in this particular trees was mainly for the large diameter trunk. The trunk was about 44" in diameter and split off into a nice crotch. The crotch didn't appear to be cracked, and had a nice "U" shape to it, so it should work well for making table tops. The tree also had  two leads both with decent size to them, and looking up in to the tree it was obvious there was some board footage in it. I knew the tree was old, and the risk of such an old tree getting storm damaged was real. Cherry trees, with their shallow root system are susceptible to being blow over.

After I felled the tree and cut off the usable timber, I used the loader with forks to bring the logs to the yard. I've always painted paraffin wax on the fresh cut ends of all the logs I harvest, and it's my belief that the wax helps prevent the wood from drying to quickly. A lot of moisture escapes through the log ends, and waxing the ends helps seal the end and helps prevent the lumber from cracking.  Because I'm afraid of fungus growing in the log, I don't like to let them sit to long, so once they were waxed, I loaded them on to my trailer for the trip to Carl Claypools saw mill.

Carl lives in the next town away from us, does a nice job sawing, and knows how to use his saw. He drives around his place on restored tractor with his dog "pekerwood".  "How come pekerwood always  has a scraped up nose  every time I see him" I asked Carl. "Well I guess he keeps putting it where it don't belong" Carl answered after his poorly aimed shot of tobacco juice missed a wasp. " You ought cut that big crotch log into 2" slabs and make some coffee table tops" said Carl as he felt the log with his three fingered hand. "So you think we should cut the crotch log in to eight quarter stock, and the rest of it into four quarter eh Carl" I asked. "Sounds like a we developed a plan, so now I got to get going and plant some corn" said Carl. " You payin cash right" Carl shouted as he walked towards the tractor. It sounded not much like a questions but more as a reminder. The work order was in, Carl was going to cut the crotch log into 2" stock and the rest of the timber into 1 1/8" stock.

A week or so later, Carl called an told me my lumber was ready. " Damn if you didn't get over 1000 board feet of lumber" Carl said as we talked on the phone. " I also cut you some sticks so you can get it stacked as soon as you get it back to your place" Carl told me. Before we hung up, Carl let me know I owed him $300.00 for the work, and that cash was the agreed upon method of payment.

I stacked the lumber in to three piles using the sticks Carl had cut for me. I was happy to see I had quite a few boards that were 20" and a bunch that were 15" across. Most of the widths are 10 -12", with very little under 8". The wood has nice figure, and is dripping with character. The crotch log turned out nice, and most of those 2" slabs are 28" wide. He sawed some of the log "wild" which means he left the bark on it and as Carl told me " that bark on them slabs could make for an interesting table top, if a guy would learn how to think out of the box".

I'm happy I have my wood inventory replenished,  and like I said above, I'll be burning it up next winter. I'll have to keep and eye on how dry the wood gets, as I doubt it won't be dry enough until late Winter or early Spring. The 2" stuff for sure will not be dry enough until the following winter, but I can wait on that. I'll put the lumber up in the loft this week and in another month, I'll aim a low powered fan at the pile and try to help it dry. A good rule of thumb is air drying takes one year per inch of lumber to get it down to 7% moisture. I have about 400' of dried lumber left, but the choices are getting skinny so I needed to do this. The lumber I have dried will build cabinet door frames, and  cabinet face frames, so I'll have plenty of stock to get started on the galley. Having a nice supply of lumber of this quality for the price I paid goes a long way towards keeping me under my non existent budget.

I want to use the 2" stock to build a coffee table between the two comfy chairs that will be in the salon. I also want to build a table for the back wall of the wheel house using the 2" slabs. The dinner table will be larger than the other two tables, so I'll use some of the 4/4 stock for that job.  I want a real old time shippy look to the wheel house and salon, so I plan on using all wood for the interior with the only painted surface being the bead board ceilings.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Aft deck and swim platform

I've finished the aft deck and swim platform, and can check it off of the soon to be developed list.

Finishing the aft deck consisted painting the swim platform, painting the hand rails on the swim platform, painting the transom, painting the aft deck and aft deck bulwark, hanging the two bulwark doors on the aft deck and installing the wood cap on the aft deck bulwark.

By the time I fabricated the jamb and the stainless steel keepers,t he two bulwark doors took almost a day to hang. I built these two door handles a little different than the Portuguese bridge door handle, and they were much more simple to install. I had allowed these handles to project more in to the deck area so I had more meat on the jamb, which let me do the installation without mortising the jamb. I'm totally happy with how tight the door closes and how the handles look. I'm glad I went the extra effort with this style vs going to a big box store and using an off the shelf gate latch. There are two doors on the aft deck. If we are tied to a dock on the starboard side, we'll step up and enter the boat via the starboard door. If we are tied off on the port side, we'll step on the the swim platform and step up the aft deck using the transom steps.

Painting the transom and the swim platform gave me a chance to see the green color on the boat and how the green looks next to the off white. Like the fore deck hand rails, I decided to paint the hand rails on the swim platform. The hand rails on the swim platform were made of  1 1/2" 316 stainless schedule 40 pipe, but I did not want trust my ability to polish them bright, and felt paint would be the most maintenance free treatment. I really like the look of bright stainless, but I doubted I could prevent them from rusting. I also painted the stainless steps going from the swim platform to the aft deck. Like the rest of the swim platform and decks, I'll add anti skid once she' ready for launch and I"m not dealing with mud being tracked on deck. I like the green chosen for the hull color but it makes the off white look more like pure white when the two are next to each other. For a comparison look at the off white next to the pure white I painted on the wheel house floor as compared to the off white next to the green. I was afraid to go much darker on the off white for fear of heating the decks up to much.

I've increased the size of the aft deck which decreases the size of the salon. Having the covered aft deck large enough for a table and four chairs was more important to me than having the reciprocal amount of square footage in the salon. A lot of living and socializing will be happening on the aft deck, so it's an important space for us. The aft deck will also have a grill, and a hot/cold outdoor shower with a shower curtain. I'll add the shower and wash down hose fitting  after she's at the launch site and I have the salon welded in place.

While I've sprayed a fair amount of paint during the build, I am for sure no expert and I'm constantly flirting with the learning curve. I had an issue while spraying the transom which I'll now explain. I used my 2.5 gallon HVLP paint pot to paint the transom. I mixed enough paint to do the job, and had three coats on everything. I still had some paint left over so I figured I try to get a fourth coat. The paint started to run out and the gun began sucking air, which I was unaware of, but I kept on spraying. At first I though I had put the material on to thin so I sprayed the area again ( I spray small areas at a time), but the paint still looked bad so I stopped. After I cleaned up my gear and pulled the tape off, that 2' x 2' area looked like leather, and I was bumming.  The problem I encountered  was having the gun suck air caused the paint to dry before it hit the metal giving me this unacceptable texture. The paint was dry and would not lay down. The area is right by the steps leading to the transom door, so I wanted to fix it. Having never repaired paint, I decided to try a small area to see how I could make out. I mean the worst that could happen is I mess it up more and have to re paint the whole transom. Starting with 800 grit wet dry, I wet sanded a 8" x 8" spot, then used 1200 grit and finished with 1500 grit ( all wet sanding). The final step was to use some fine cut polish and a electric orbital polisher, and buff the test spot. I have to say the spot looks amazing. The paint texture is now perfectly flat, and the polish brought the paint to a mirror finish. I actually look like I knew what I was doing.  While the transom has a good shine to it ( except for the bad spot I'm trying to fix), my test spot now looks far superior to any other part of the transom. Fixing the bad spot is now going  to make the bad spot the best spot, so I  think I'll end up polishing the whole transom to make everything look even.  I don't want to get in to this habit for the rest of the hull, so I'm content with polishing this area, as this is the only way on and off of the boat. Having a crappy finish on this area will bug me every time I pass by, so I'm fixing it. I took a picture showing the messed up flat looking paint on the right side of the picture and the repaired shiny paint more on the left side.  The key is not letting the paint pot get to low, and making sure you have enough thickness in case you need to do a repair.. I'm not looking for a perfect mirror finish on the boat, but I want it to please me, be easy to clean, and be respectable in the eyes of those who know.

I'm now ready to start work on painting the below the water line area of the hull, but before I do that I have to organize the shop.  Under the boat has been used for storage of parts for the wheel house/salon, scrap metal, spare parts, scrap wood, and a host of all kinds of debris. I have a days worth of making things right, then I can start on prepping this part of the hull. Hopefully, within two weeks, the bottom of the hull is painted and I'll start getting the boat off of the building cradle. Before I can get axles  under her, I have to have the cradle removed and have her sitting on blocks. In the last picture,  you can see some of the below the water line paint I have already rolled on. I'm using a two part paint called Amerlock. Pretty nasty stuff that is too thick to spray so I'll be rolling it on.