Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Going Blind

When I was figuring out how much primer to order it made sense to get one color for the hull and deck and since neither would require that much and the whole boat, hull and deck, could be done with a gallon of primer and a gallon of catalyst. That thinking was short sighted.

As it turns out, trying to sand a white hull perfectly smooth under a bright sun is quite painful on the eyes. Torturous really. I finally went home for my dark safety glasses and half face respirator which made things easier. Not good but easier. And to rub it in, because the first coat went on a bit rough (from too much wind I am sure) I had to sand quite a bit off. Between the heavy sanding and the light color I have a few of the dark fairing spots coming through faintly. The only solution is more primer. I ordered a quart of gray primer today...

The 545 primer actually sands quite well. Much better than the high build after 24 hours. Because it was so rough though I tried hand sanding and found it too slow and switch to my palm sander. That took most of it down on the hull in about 3 hours. To be safe I skimmed over the low spots so as not to burn through. I went back over the whole hull by hand. It seemed to be going quite well but I found the sun going down and my arms aching as I was finishing up. The hull is smooth sanded with 220 grit. I would show pictures but it looks just the same; only much much smoother and slightly duller.

At this point my boat is starting to look better than some other boats in the yard and an interesting thing is starting to happen. Random people are starting to come up to me and say nice things. These same people have avoided me, shaking their heads and laughing, for the last couple of years and now they are all smiles and being friendly. It is taking some getting used to.

The hull is really really smooth. One issue I had was that a single wipe with the sandpaper was covering up any visual signs of roughness. Between that and my growing blindness I found my hands to be much better indicators for finding spots that need more sanding. I bet tomorrow I will go back and find lots more to do after the wind has blown away the dust. The hull is so smooth that a minute amount of dust is hiding the rough patches. I think that means I am getting close.

I have to say that this whole experience has given me a whole new view of my boat and an intimacy with her design. The subtle hull curves are burned into my mind (and my aching arms) in a way that no book learning could ever do. I have a new found appreciation for the designer, Carl Alberg, and the masterful subtle shapes incorporated into my boat. I also have a new perspective on the builders and some of the odd shapes they put into the hull as part of the manufacturing process. Who knew a Triton had tumblehome on the stern? Did Carl draw in that little bit of flair right at the deck height or was that a Pearson mold issue? I know Carl hollowed out the bow a bit. I can see it in his drawings. He doesn't seem to have done it with his other boats so maybe it was an experiment that didn't pan out particularly well. I could go on and on...

Finally, this whole experience has been teaching me something else too. It would have been cheaper and easier to pay a professional. Of course I would never know that until I had done it myself but when I factor my hours and the cost of materials it is clear that paying someone $10,000 would have been faster and less costly. Maybe my labor was free but I could have worked a second job at McDonalds for the money and have been done sooner and with less hassle. Now if I had an indoor shop and spray equipment that would be another story. That is what the pro's use and that is why they can make money at it. No regrets though. I am learning tons and I never would have understood the true costs of the job until I had done it myself. There is also the pride in seeing it come together which is really priceless. All in all, I am quite happy, I just say this little bit in case someone is thinking they can save money by doing it themselves. They won't unless they cut corners and settle for a less-than-stellar job. They will gain knowledge that simply can't be obtained any other way though. There is nothing like hours and hours behind a sander to learn from...

Now I am late for dinner.

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