Putting things together

That’s my dad.  Dean Hankins.  He spent a couple weeks with us, during with time I put him to work about half the time.  We also managed to do some fun stuff, like go to the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center. He pulled the chainplates for us and put some electrical muscle into cleaning them up.  As he reached past the minor corrosion, he discovered… All of the chainplates had corroded, some more deeply than others, and patches had been applied.  The part circled in green?  Perhaps you can make out the difference in the metal inside that area?  Anyway, that’s how extensive the old repairs were.  And does anyone remember the time when one of our chainplates broke?  Yup – must have looked a lot like this right before that happened. Rather than clean them up and put them back, we found ourselves in the unenviable position of needing to have new ones fabricated.  If you need stainless steel fabrication work done, talk to Dex.  He did great work, within the original time estimate, and at a better price than we were quoted elsewhere.  Even at a better price, we were out $600, just like that.  Ouch. Meanwhile, I kept sanding… And sanding… Patching… And fiberglassing… And fiberglassing… And fairing and sanding… And Dad went to work on sanding the hatchway, an inverted arch that holds the hatch to the head. It was great to have him around.  He does great work and has a good problem-solving brain.  And the weather, though somewhat gloomy, did give us one of these sunsets:

Read more

Filling and Fairing (Mast Project)

Let’s see.  Where were we?  Oh, right.  Bulkhead. This is structural filler.  It’s also called cat hair, because it’s shortish strands of fiberglass chopped up and mixed into an epoxy resin.  It comes in a big can with a small squeeze tube of hardener (like bondo).  Its working time is only about 5 minutes, so I couldn’t make up batches that were too big.  Kept having to dig more out and mix it with more hardener.  I was doing all this by hand, so I went through a lot of gloves.  I like the feeling of it on my fingers, though.  Through the gloves, of course. And on the back side. Meanwhile, I decided that the wavy fiberglass near the settee was a drag.  Someone repaired the other side of the bulkhead at some point in the boat’s history, and the fiberglass was delaminated from the repair.  Or never had adhered.  One or the other.  So I chiseled out the stuff that wasn’t stuck. This picture was taken after I filled some remaining gaps with epoxy mixed with colloidal silica.  That’s why it’s shiny. What comes after applying structural filler?  Why, sanding structural filler, of course! That’s a drag because of the fiberglass aspect.  It’s best to make the structural filler fit the repair as best possible, but I was hurrying and left some pretty good sized lumps.  The sanding blows fiberglass bits at me, so I gear up. With the delaminated section and the filled section sanded, it was time for the fairing compound.  I like this stuff once it’s mixed into the epoxy, but it’s a light dust and I always end up coughing while I mix it up.  Oh – maybe I should try a dust mask…hmm… The clamped-on wood was supposed to help make the shape[…]

Read more

Constructing the Arch (Mast Project)

The last post was about forming the patch at the top of the arch.  I got stymied when I couldn’t lever it into position.  Well, I cut the piece out and made this work. As you can see, I’m trying to protect our living environment.  The plastic sheeting makes the cleanup easier, but it also keeps us from having the sanding dust sift into our sheets, where we won’t see it.  I’m not even sure if we feel it, really.  Directly, I mean.  It’s just, well, creepy. The patch in the picture above isn’t fitting quite right, and the arch isn’t cut into it.  In order to shape it, I pulled out the following tools. You can’t see the chisel, but it was in the mix somewhere.  I didn’t get pictures of the process, because working, right?  But basically, I fucked it into place and slipped the other piece under it.  Voila! By the way, we were given this wood by a man named August.  He had a bunch of marine plywood left over from a project and gave it to James. It’s rough, but the next step is structural filler, epoxy, and fiberglass.  Once those are all applied, we’ll be ready to do some finish work. As usual, clean-up was a long process.  It involved more sawdust than fiberglass this time (yay!), which reminded me of one reason wooden boats are wonderful.

Read more

Very First Reconstruction (Mast Project)

Last thing we wrote about the mast project, we were going to hang tight through Irene and then get back to it.  As we posted, the hurricane wasn’t so bad up here in Fells Point.  When I got back to work, I pulled out the grinder again. I wish I’d gotten pictures of it, but…I taped thick plastic sheeting all around my work zone, trying to contain the fiberglass dust I would create.  It was not a complete success.  Three straight lines with the grinder = 5 min.  Set up and clean up = hours. Fiberglass dust makes you itch – it irritates your skin – it hurts!  So I filled a bucket with water and wiped down every single surface that got dusty, from the cabin top to the cabin sole.  It was far more of a cleaning than I felt like doing, but I made the mess. The whole reason I made those cuts?  In the picture below, you can see that I had chiseled the lower part of the plywood.  I got up to the fiberglass tabs that fix the bulkhead to the cabin top and wow.  The wood wasn’t rotten enough to come out! The wood is obviously not in the pink of health, but it was too strong for me.  The arch is the part I removed with the grinder. And then I chiseled.  Oh my.  I kept turning away, thinking there was a quicker way.  If there is, I don’t know it, so I turned back to the job and got it done. And then I cut the piece that would replace the old plywood.  I made patterns of the front and back, transferred those to a piece of plywood, and got out the jigsaw.  I love the jigsaw.  It makes such disciplined cuts,[…]

Read more