Some of you may know I recently restored an old flatbottom boat. Mostly it just needed a paint job, which in itself was an excercise in frustration, and a great deal of work. The paint specifically Duralux Aluminum Boat Paint (almost 100 buck a gallon!), was very difficult to work with. It was way too thick to use the HVLP spray gun, having many years of experience as a custom home finisher (quality painter) in my younger days, I decided to brush it on. That was a disaster. The paint was so thick it wound up sagging terribly (I had cut the paint with MEK already to its maximum recommendation) so I had to spend a couple of days sanding that out. My expectations of a good finish are very high. So with spraying out, and brushing out, I decided to try rolling. That worked. But it took a great deal of time and effort to get there. 🙂
That was a few months ago (during my blog absences) but a few of weeks ago I found another boat to adopt. This one is a 1978 Terry, it’s 15’5″ long, tri hull design (which I love, they ride like Cadillacs) nice and wide, and has a solid floor. Terry manufacted boats of very good quality back in the day as evidenced by how solid this boat is today. The boat had a 1978 80 hp Mercury on it, that as it turned out runs good. Though the lower unit needs seals. $200 fix. But wait theres more! I also got a 90 hp Mercury, newer model, unknown running condition in the deal. I did a compression test it looked good, all 3 cylinders at or around 105 lbs cold. Also verified spark at the plugs. With those conditions met I figure I can make it run. Also and this was important in me deciding to get this boat, I have another Mercury engine identical to the 90. This one is a 70 hp but they are pretty much the same except for carburation, which mostly accounts for the added hp. My old 70 can be a parts engine for the 90, or if I can’t get the 90 to run as it should, I can use the 70. Or I could fix the 80 that was on the boat when I got it. Decisions, decisions. All to be determined by the running condition/or not of the 90. But I have to a lot of gelcoat restoration to do, and I need room to work, so I have to wait until I get the boat shiny again before I can slap a motor on it and begin the process of making it work.
The gelcoat (fiberglass finish, topside/most sun exposure) was beat down, oxidized, and felt like 80 grit sandpaper when you ran your hand across it. My first line of attack was wetsanding with 800 grit, then 1000 grit. Then I had to buy some supplies. The recipe for restoring fiberglass finish in rough condition generally requires a good adjustable speed polisher, $200 for a good one, buffing pads of various grades, and some finishing compounds. Well those finishing compounds were $200 too. This is getting expensive quick.
I have a dual action (DA) air sander and a 60 gallon air compressor so I thought I’d look into making the DA work, instead of investing $200 on a tool I’d use for one job. And lo and behold I can (and did) get the buffing pads and backing pad to make my DA do the job of the pricey polisher. It will take more work because the DA has a slower speed at its highest running capacity than the polisher has at its lowest setting. Which means I have to go slowly, and use pressure to generate some heat. A little heat is the trick in bringing out a good shine, and/ or some long lost color. And elbow grease doesn’t cost much 🙂
So after wetsanding I went to a wool pad on the DA and some 3M super compounding polish. Componding polish is much like liquid sandpaper and with the wool pad is its most agressive. I got the topside (really the worst area due to constant exposure) compounded, and have recently moved to a finer grit polish this time 3M Finesse It II and a heavy foam pad on the DA. I did that run, and made another pass with a finer pad and the Finesse It. This time I am pulling some color out of that old finish and it is starting to look and feel glassy smooth. I understand I will never get the original finish back out of this boat, but I’m happy enough with the color I’m getting, and I don’t have to have it perfect, darn good is good enough for me. So that’s what I’m working for.
I know a lot of my friends probably have little interest in some old fool restoring boats but with all of my years working out of a boat I guess I became a boat guy. So you’re just going to have to put up with me…
You should know the heat and humidity has been horrible, just a few minutes in on anything I try to do has me soaked with sweat down to my knees. One day I was soaked to my shoe tops. As a result of this hard labor I contracted a good case of heat exhaustion! Gee that was fun. Fatigue, light headedness, woozy, headaches, night sweats. For three days I was barely able to get around. That was tough. Good news is I have lost darn near 15 lbs. from all of this. All sweat and hard work. I’m back down to 201 from darn near 225. But had to pay a price to get there. The thing is I’m just that kind of guy. I see a job that needs doing I get in there and hammer down till the job gets done. A side effect of having been self employed for most of my years. That and seeing progress is somewhat addictive. I just can’t help myself. But I see now that I need to take it a little slower. And a little smarter. That bout of heat exhaustion was miserable, I’m only now getting over it, and do not want to experience that again.
So, during my time with my mistress, I mean boat, I found the first serious issue I did not see whan I bought it. In fact I even asked the seller “any issues with the through hull fittings leaking?” He told me no. He lied. A below the waterline through hull fitting (someone decided that for a live well system on a boat that through hull fittings were a great idea, I strongly disagree) for the live well system was bad. Very bad. The wood in the transom (back of the boat, very important) was rotted away for about three inches in every direction from the fitting. I found the stuff I need to fix it, 100 dollars worth of stuff, on the net. I have it on hand and am really looking forward to that job. Well, not really. The plus side is I got the boat and 2 motors on the cheap and know when I am done this thing will last me the rest of my days. So spending a little here and there doesn’t bother me too much. I knew what I was getting into 🙂
I’ll try to get a few pics and put em up. Sadly I have not taken any before pics, so you just have to trust me when I tell ya it was pretty rough when I picked it up. It already looks much better, but a long way to go.
So that my friends is where I have been lately. Out in the ole shop, working and sweating, bleeding occaisionally, and mildly obsessed with getting this job done. I try to get around and see what y’all are up to, but my blog posting will likely continue to be light until I see this job done.