Friday, October 19, 2007

Grinding... Why did there have to be grinding!

Spent the last two days grinding out the keel seam. In order to lay in enough fiberglass to make the joint strong, I'm taking out quite a bit of fiberglasss with the grinder. While the project is still fun, theres a lot not to like about grinding. It's messy, loud uncomfortable work. I still have more to do and the shop vac already has about 3 gallons worth of dust in it, thats not counting the dust that has attached itself to my skin either...

There's really nothing fun or interesting about this part. Here is a photo anyway:
What is slightly more interesting is the job Im trying to convince Niki to help me with tomorrow, keelbolts. As long as I'm doing the seam repair, I might as well (theres that saying again...) tighten up the bolts. So tomorrow I'm going to loosen all the bolts, put some new glass under the backing plates, and tighten them all up with God's own torque wrench. Not exactly fun, but it's a nice break between grinding sessions. It's also going to be most effective before I glass the seam.

Heres a shot of one of the things I really liked about 88. Most Chris Craft Shields have a bunch of plywood that makes up the mast step support. This one has a more modern fiberglass support, which is certainly stronger, and probably lighter than a mass of rotten plywood. This also makes it much easier to access the forward bolt. If the boat didn't have this, I would probably have to make one.

I keep trying to think of a way to make the last couple days work sound interesting, and all I can thnk of is sitting on the trailer, grinding a steady stream of abrasive dust into my face. The only fun part is every couple minutes I stick the shop vac all over my head, and into the glasses, to get rid of dust and condensation. That much look funny I suppose.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Repairing the dreaded keel seam

Nearly every Shields I've seen has a telltale crack running the length of the keel, right below the hull/keel intesection. It's caused from an inperfect joint between the molded hull and the deadwood ("filler" area between lead of keel and the hull)

Theories on how best to fix this vary, some people say since the joint moves, the fix should be flexible putty, others have tried epoxy filler to seal up the crack. Below is a shot of 88's crack, it's not as bad as some, but its definitely there and it was definitely annoying me to look at it.

The fix we're trying is a bit more involved, but hopefully more permanent. Im going to grind the area around the keel seam, and cover the seam with fiberglass and epoxy, then fair and repaint. This will sheathe the seam instead of trying to fill it, and hopefully banish the cracks. This is the one fix all three of my Shields repair/fiberglass people agree on!

To start out, I had to get rid of the paint over it. Easy way would be to sand it off, but since this is bottom paint and the boat is inside, I didn't want to throw copper dust in the air.

I decided to try the soy strip on a large area and see how it went. This stuff is great! Here's how it went:

First I masked off the keel, with a 7" gap left open over the seam. I taped plastic sheet to the bottom of the masked area and draped it over the trailer. I used the plastic to protect the lower keel from drips, and to catch the scrapings which would (hopefully) be falling off.

The soy strip is pretty odorless, and looks a lot like honey in consistency. I brushed it on pretty thick, and it hangs well on the vertical surface. I probably had about 1/8" thick layer on the keel.

Within about a half hour, the paint was lifting right off! I was really impressed with this and couldn't help scraping a section. It came off really easily, but I figured it could only get better with a little more time so I reapplied and walked around the yard to measure other Shields for waterline locations.

I gave it about 2 hours, and started scraping. The paint came off in sheets from the deadwood, and was only a little more stubborn coming off of the bottom of the hull. The difference between the two was that the deadwood had been repainted at some point and had a barrier coat primer, and the hull was gelcoat under the VC17. Even on the gelocat the paint came off with one or two good scrapes. To scrape off a 7"x6' area took about 5 minutes.

When it was scraped I washed with water, then acetone to take off any tenacious globs of paint, and the water again. All the mess did indeed land in the plastic and tossed away.

When I was done I took a step back, and was pretty pleased with the way I had just taken a pretty ok looking bottom and made a great big ugly stripe across the bottom. As you can see in the photo, theres quite a lot of different paints and materials left underneath, as people have tried many times to fix the keel joint. Hopefully my fix is the last!

Whats next is to grind out the seam, wide and deep enough for a couple layers of fiberglass cloth tape to be epoxied in, then fill and fair, barrier coat and in spring repaint. The rest of the bottom is in really nice shape except for the fairing strips, and can be wetsanded and repainted.

Oh, and Niki's parents stopped by to see the boat yesterday. In this photo I asked them to give me a skeptical look for us buying a boat. They don't look too skeptical, so I will assume they think it's a great idea!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Big day for Shields 88


Lots going on with the boat this week:
-Received title for the boat, ITS OURS! (along with something called a Sea Nymph 12, which Im told is a nice way to say "giant ugly metal dinghy")

-met with Mick, our local fiberglass guru

-started the nasty work on the boat

Although it's just a paper formality, it still felt great to have paper in hand. Turns out our boat was built in 1968, so it's going to turn 40 next year! Just the right time for a refit I'd say.

Our neighbors large orange cat stopped by to join in the celebration, and it looks like he's laid claim to the title!

Meeting with Mick our fiberglass guy was great. He can tell more in 5 minutes of looking at the boat than I could in a week. When in doubt, go with a pro! From his point of view, what we need to do is:

-fix toerail seam, which is seperated in a few places. I'll be grinding back 2" from the edge along the deck and hull, and glassing in fiberglass tape and fairing. Sounds straightforward enough, but labor intensive. See the joint below, and also, it turns out our boat was first blue!

-Mick is going to do the repair on the bow, after I do the prep. This is not a structural area (until we hit something) but I still want it done right. I'm hoping to learn as he does it.

-He was strongly suggesting that we spray awlgrip on the topsides, but I don't think its quite in the budget. We shall see, it would be really nice as the finish with AG is just great. Would kind of be straying from my philosophy of speed first, and its much more expensive to have sprayed, than to roll it myself. If I could, I would absolutely use Mick to do all the glass and paint work, he does really amazing work.

Theres a little story that I think is a good testament to his skill: Both Mick and I were doing some last minute rush work to an Etchells on its way out of town. He was doing gelcoat repair, and I was doing some rigging upgrades. The whole time we're working, he's swearing up a storm and declaring his work to be utter crap. After an hour of this I go to take a look at this lousy job he's supposedly doing. I couldn't even find the repair he was making until he pointed it out (when I almost stuck my hand in it!). I don't know why, but I instantly trust eastern europeans that downplay their own quality work! He can be found at Lakeshore Marine

I started today by removing the toerail. Not hard work at all, but has to be done. Felt good to be launching into the work. Also removed the vinyl rubrail. It makes some sense to replace it with new rail in better condition (to protect against dings, etc). BUT. I hate the way that stuff looks, it gets ugly fast, and is easy to tear, which means you end up with a duct tape repair:
In addition to the fact that it's ugly, and extra weight, I dont think it does all that much. In every collision I've seen between Shields (about 8), the rubrail has been no where near the collision. I think we'll go 150-style and delete the rubber.

Also did a test on how to remove the paint. Tried scraping, sanding (with DA) and soy strip. The scraping was ok, but lots of effort for a small area, coupled with the scratching if you're not careful, make that seem like a bad idea. The DA sander worked really well, clearing a 6"X 24" area in about 2 minutes. Left a nice finish too. The soy strip softened the paint, but didn't make it through the primer.

I did try the soy strip on the bottom, its unreal. It took all the VC17 off, leaving the barrier coat intact, in about an hour at 60 degrees! Wow. If I strip the whole bottom I will definitely use this stuff!

Kristian, 4 hours to remove toerails and rubrail 2 hrs to test paints and shoot the shit with the fiberglass guy.

Mood: jubilant but achy back

Monday, October 8, 2007

How we ended up with a boat...

All it took for us to end up with our very own Shields was Niki coming home from work, and saying, in a very offhand way, "maybe we should just buy a boat".

I don't know if she was entirely serious at the time, but about 2 weeks later we were there at the yard, tearing the boat apart. Money had been sent out, parts were on order and we were definitely in "lots of stuff is happening quickly" mode.

Looking back, and judging by how fast we pulled it all together, it seems like I've been planning on doing this for a while, probably since about the second time I sailed a Shields. Seems that having someone else think that it wasn't a terrible idea was all it took to make it happen. And Niki is a bit boatcrazy too, and is in fact driving a lot of the cool upgrades we're making. I don't have to say it, but Niki is amazing. She's also going to be doing bow. (!)

So, the why is easy: they're absolutely great boat to sail whether you're daysailing or racing. This particular one had been sitting in the yard for a while, and our local racing fleet would be much better off with one more boat out racing. Since I own a boat rigging business, I could devote a lot of time to it in the slow winter season. I've sailed on Shields for the last 7 years, and have done pretty well as crew. The few times I've gotten to drive a boat it's been great fun. Niki has sailed Shields on and off for the last 3. We have somehow managed to sail together pretty well as a couple too.

The how is going to be, quite simply, a lot of work. We could probably do so a couple hours of work and throw the thing in the water next spring, but while we're doing it, we might as well do it right! We've got some big plans for the boat, to make it faster, easier to sail, and while we're at it, prettier.

The boats got some damage, where the last owner had a bad interaction with a powerboat on the 4th of July. Not that hard to picture if you've seen Lake Michigan on the 4th. Picture if you will a parking lot filled with cars, then picture everyone getting ridiculously drunk and driving around at max possible speed. It's great! What this means for us is that the bow of the boat is pretty messed up. The deck is peeled back for about 8", and the stem is cracked and shoved to the side for the top 6" or so. This is going to take a lot of grinding, glass work and fairing to make right.

While we're at it (may as well be the boat motto judging by how it's affecting our planning) we wanted to paint the topsides. Its currently dark green, and doesn't look too bad. I've always wanted a gray boat, and as long as we're painting the bow..... we might as well strip, fair and paint the topsides! We're probably using Interlux Perfection in the platinum color, which is a fancy way to say medium gray.

The bottoms in good shape, but in order to have no excuses, I wanted to fair it. So we might as well strip it, reglass the keel joint, fair it and paint it. Fast bottom's are cool.

The deck is nice and solid, but we're going to do a LOT of tweaking to the deck layout. The watchwords here are : simpler, easier, and lighter. So again, while we're filling in holes and things, we might as well paint the damn deck too. Just white, and no fairing. I can't make myself longboard something that has no effect on performance!

Of course we've got lots of plans for rerigging the boat, and I'll get in to that in later installments.

For now we just came back from a fun day of boatwork. I do this kind of stuff for a living, because I love it. Even when it's miserable difficult work, and hard business, I love it. So even I was surprised how satisfying it was to work on my boat, how much better it can be. Even though today was some pretty gross work, I loved every minute. Niki was there too, and it's always better working when theres someone fun around.

What we did:

Took an insane amount of stuff off the boat. This ranges from things like the padeyes for attaching the cover to (BAD WEIGHT) to lots of little storage dohickeys ( there are coatracks on the front bulkhead!!) to just extra crap on the boat (you do not need 4 vicegrips and 8 rolls of tape). I'm tracking the weight, with a goal of taking 200lbs off the sailing weight of the boat. That seemed like a lofty goal, but Im starting to think it's doable. I will photo some of the hilarious crap that we pulled off, such as two different ensign staffs. I don't think we'll need these , unless we get a burning desier to have more flags on the boat (no).

Started working on the bottom. This meant taking the old bronze keel faring strips off prepping for the new glass ones. I also drilled a few holes in the deadwood, which resulted in about a gallon of water seeping out. This boat has sat for two years with that much water in the wood! Hope that doesn't hurt us later.

Can't wait to get back there!

Total hours:
Kristian 4
Niki 4

satisfaction: through the freakin roof