Friday, October 18, 2013

Applying gel coat to my boat

     Yesterday, after months of sanding and other prep work, I finally applied the first coat of bright yellow gel coat to my row boat.  It was definitely a learning experience.  First of all I learned that the roller worked much better than the brush.  It went on both faster and smoother with the roller.  I had to buy a natural fiber roller as chemicals in the gel coat will dissolve rollers made of foam. The roller puts on a much thinner coat so it will take more coats to get the thickness I want. However, I think I will be much happier with the results. The second thing I learned was that I only have time to apply a half pint of gel coat before it sets up in the container.  I now have a bright yellow gel coat paper weight left from the half pint I didn't get applied in time.  Just like fiberglass resin, a catalyst is added to the gel coat which causes it to set up. It doesn't dry like paint. I had mixed up a pint because I was expecting to put on a thicker coat than I ended up doing.  I also expected to have a little more working time as the temperature in the shop was at the lower end of the recommended range. The cooler the temperature, the longer the working time. The good news is that a half pint is sufficient for one coat on the entire exterior of the boat. Gel coat is pretty expensive so I'm hoping not to waste any more than that half pint left over from my first effort. After I finish with the row boat I have a couple of kayaks that also need new gel coat.
Did I say it was bright yellow?

It still needs a few more coats so the color will be more even.

      My preparations for the new gel coat consisted of first removing all of the wood trim work. It was in bad shape and needed to be replaced any how. Secondly, I had to sand the boat to remove all of the old white gel coat which had oxidized, collected a layer of algae, and had numerous scratches and dings. It was in very sad shape. The most difficult part of the sanding was removing the name of the boat from its prior life,   "Dalliance". That was probably the name of the larger boat for which it had served as the tender or dingy.  The boat's new name will be the "Linda Joye". Linda is anything but a dalliance in my life so I didn't want the old name showing through the new gel coat. The painted name had protected the gel coat underneath it so it had to be sanded flat to match the rest of the surface. Lastly, I had to use bondo to fill in any cracks and gouges and sand it yet again to make for a nice smooth surface.

     As gel coat cures it produces some fairly noxious fumes, so appropriate lung protection is in order. I actually have a nice chemical respirator (i.e. gas mask) that is intended for jobs like this. I couldn't smell the fumes at all until I finished the job and took off the mask. Hopefully the fumes will have diminished  significantly by the time I open the bee store this morning. It was very obvious that I can only do gel coat at the end of the day, right after I close the store. That is just as well, as the limited working
time requires about a half hour without any interruptions.

    The boat has been taking up space at the bee store's wood shop for the last few months. After the new gel coat is finished, Quentin is going to help me install the new wood trim. That is a pretty complex task as it involves building a steam cabinet in order to bend the white oak trim to match the curve of the boat. I had originally intended to use some of the maple I have drying in the shop in order to replace the wood trim. As we looked into it we learned that white oak (also referred to as "bendy oak") is best suited for this purpose. Most of the old wood trim was installed using copper nails and washers in order to make rivets. I looked at all of the local marine supply places and nobody carried them.  It took a serious internet search but I was finally able to locate a source for the copper nails and washers as well as the specialized tool needed for the job.

     The whole point of restoring the row boat is to be able to use it for taking grand kids fishing.  I have personally developed a serious fishing deficit over the past few years. Rumor has it that a number of my grand kids share that fishing deficit and would like me to take them fishing. Judging from my experience at cousin camp this past summer I think it will take quite a while to fully remedy the situation. Once I have sold the store next summer I plan on spending a lot more time fishing with grand kids. Maybe Linda will also want to take a ride in the boat once in a while.  One nice thing about this row boat is that it is small enough to fit in the back of my old beater cargo van. Also it is light enough that I should be able to get it into and out of the van with only "short help" available.

1 comment:

  1. Cool! Any of my kids would be happy to go fishing with you...when they're around.I love the yellow too. :)
    The wood trim sounds like a huge task. I'm glad you'll have Quentin to help/guide/save you. :)