Saturday, December 6, 2008

Other People's Boats

Working for a living has been the story for the week.

Just before I was offered a new full time job last week, (that I accepted) I had taken on the job of bottom stripping another boat.

Now I have two jobs.

I initially started with 40 grit paper in my DA. This has worked for me in the past. After all, there was only a little bit of paint to take off...

Well, the red 'signal coat' that was supposed to be the bottom layer before the barrier coat was in reality just a layer on top of several more layers. The paint is quite thick. Sanding was going too slow and I was using a sandpaper disc every square foot. Since materials are coming out of my pocket I went to plan 'B'.

A couple of months ago I helped a friend strip another boat bottom. While I was there I was shown the proper way to use a scraper. It's brutal work but very effective. Putting one's full body weight into the scraper you can take off 10-20 years of paint in a single swipe. Its also a great cardio workout. Scrape for 30 seconds and then stand back and rest for a minute or two. It isn't fun but it gets the job done quicker and safer than any other method I have tried. Don't skimp on scraper blades, changing them on the hour keeps the progress coming.

I didn't take a picture but in the past, around the rudder, someone had used a pressure washer to remove paint. The pressure washer managed to fracture the laminate along with the paint and left pock marks in the hull. I looked into soda blasting the hull, supposedly relatively safe and effective, but the equipment is very expensive and the blasting media alone would cost around $500. If I had a full time business stripping boat bottoms this would be the way to go but since I am being paid a flat rate for this one boat, scraping was my answer.

The owner suggested a disc sander and we tried it. I was hesitant because I had seen grinders with sanding discs make a real mess of the hull; creating a scalloped surface. The disc sander was better but 36 grit was still incredibly slow and while 24 grit worked, it was leaving deep grooves in the hull that would have to be sanded out later. In a side by side comparison the scraping was still a bit faster so I just had to suck it up and scrape.

As far as my own boat, she is well. I took some measurements for some hoses so I can do some cold weather tolerant projects; namely, cockpit drains, bilge pump plumbing, and engine exhausts.

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