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Deck Preparation and Surfacing
This page was last updated on 18 August 2000.

Completion of Fairing  |  Sanding  |   Final Paint Preparation

The decks and coachroof will require a lot of prep before painting.  Of course, there is the completion of fairing the sidedecks and foredeck to complete the recore job, but just as significant is the amount of work that needs to be completed on the coachroof and cabin trunk.

The gelcoat is uniformly crazed, but they are shallow, so I expect sanding and epoxy primer to take care of most of these.  The coachroof is marked with holes from the handrails and mast wiring, which will be patched and redrilled later.  Minor dings and damage must be repaired.

 

The proposed procedure is as follows:  sand all areas with 80 and 120 grit on a DA sander, then resand with the same grits on a palm sander to help remove any orbital marks.  Fill all gouges, dings, etc. and fair as necessary.  Prime with Awl Quick epoxy sanding surfacer.

This photo is a close up of the main coachroof, starboard side.  The top of the picture is forward, and the right area, showing signs of blue color, is the starboard sidedeck.  The elliptical black marks to the left are where the handrails were attached.

 

 

This (right) is the original mast step, made from several layers of plywood or the laminated pressboard that was used on much of the sailing hardware.  It appears to be in pretty good shape, although the top ply has come off here and there.  We are undecided as to how to treat the step.  It seems so lightweight and unworthy of its intended task, but, on the other hand, it has been in place and effective for 37 years.

No matter what, though, I wanted to remove the step to inspect the screw holes and the oak support beam for damage.  Removal was quick and easy, and the two lag screws backed right out with no trouble.  I cleaned off the old caulk and the area was ready for sanding.

I began deck preparations one day in late February--above normal temperatures made for very comfortable working conditions inside the shed.

The first thing to do was sand down any remaining nonskid--pretty much limited to the forward coachroof, part of the starboard foredeck, and the starboard sidedeck outboard of the cockpit.  The rest of the starboard deck had been sanded during the recore project, and the port deck is raw fiberglass.  Using my random orbital sander and some 36 grit discs, I sanded these areas so that the nonskid texture was gone--this required going through one to two layers of gelcoat (blue--the color of the nonskid--and a layer of white beneath) and, in some cases, into the raw laminate to completely rid the surface of molded-in bumps.  This left harsh scratches, which I smoothed using 80 grit paper.  Later, I'll go over these areas again with finer paper.  On the nonskid areas, however, the preparation does not have to be quite as meticulous, since they will be covered with a textured surface eventually.

That done, I began sanding on the cabin trunk and coachroof, using 80 grit sandpaper on my orbital sander (again).  The old gelcoat sanded easily, and it was a pleasure to finally rid the surfaces of their accumulated grime and hardened blotches of resin and the like.  I sanded the entire cabin trunk, the smoothed nonskid, and the toerail on the starboard side. (The port toerail is raw fiberglass.)  This is only the first of several sandings the deck will receive, using a variety of paper grits and eventually switching to a palm sander for a swirl-free finish.

 

Next steps:  repair and patching of any and all gouges, blemishes,  and the like in the deck, and completion of fairing of the sidedecks.  Then:  more sanding as I prepare for primer application.

 

COMPLETION OF FAIRING

March 8, 2000

The deck has been partially faired since mid-December of 1999--cold weather ended my epoxy operation at that time.  Now that the weather is, again, unseasonably warm, I was able to work some more on completing the deck fairing.

As you can see in the photo directly above, as well as photos elsewhere on this page and on the recore page, the starboard deck required fairing not only along the edges where the panels that had been removed for the recore were glassed back in place, but also in a few areas in the middle, mainly where the screw holes from the recore project were placed (see the recore for details).  The photo, left, shows the starboard side after applying a coat of fairing compound, but before sanding.

I mixed West System epoxy resin with #403 low density fairing compound, as well as some #406 (cabosil) to make a fairing putty with a consistency similar to peanut butter.  This ensures that not only will the epoxy not run, but will be easier to sand.  I troweled the mixture on, trying to get as smooth as surface as possible.  I concentrated on the deck seams on the starboard side, as these were ground out slightly lower than the surrounding deck (description on the recore page) for exactly this purpose.  The port deck required application over the entire surface, some areas thicker than others.

It is hoped that after today's application, what will mainly remain will be spot fairing only.  Spot filling is easy, while the fairing of the entire deck (especially port) is somewhat of a challenge given the limitations of the epoxy and the size of the tools used to lay it down.  The photo to the right is of the port foredeck after application of the filler.

Next step:  final filling and fairing, and rough/final smoothing and sanding of the sidedecks.

Click on the thumbnails below for more pictures.

deckfairport30800-2.jpg (40716 bytes)      deckfairport30800-3.jpg (37884 bytes)      deckfairstb30800-2.jpg (38016 bytes)

SANDING and FINAL FAIRING

March 13, 2000

After letting the fairing compound set for several days to fully cure (plus, I was busy doing other things), I was able to sand the surface smooth.  The port side had already had several applications of filler, while the starboard side required less to begin with.  Therefore, the sanding would get the decks close to their final shape.

I began with 40 grit paper on my random orbit sander.  This paper cut the heaviest areas of epoxy quickly and let me sand the surface to close to its final dimensions.  Then I switched to 80 grit and went over the area again, removing the sanding marks from the coarse paper and further smoothing the surface.  There were a few low spots here and there that will require another application of filler, but that will be easy to do a little later on.

I was pretty pleased with the condition of the decks after my several hours of sanding.  The fairing process has been long and tedious, not to mention messy!  I will be glad to finally put it behind me.  It looks like I am pretty much done, at least with the roughest part of the fairing.  There will be a little more filling and sanding, but the worst is now over.

Next on the deck:  spot filling and sanding, further smoothing on the coachroof, and then final finish sanding to prepare for primer.  

Click on the thumbnails for full size.

fair-foredeck31300.jpg (25080 bytes)  fair-portdeck1-31300.jpg (31552 bytes)  fair-portdeck3-31300.jpg (34360 bytes)  fair-stbdeck2-31300.jpg (35368 bytes)

April 6, 2000

After a few more less intensive spot-filling sessions, the deck was nearly done and ready for final sanding with progressively higher grits.  Before deeming things ready for that, however, I spent some time building a fillet along the edges between the cabin trunk and the deck, and around the edges of the cockpit.  The fillet will provide a smoother, more finished appearance, will be easier to clean, and will finish off the edges where the sanders don't quite reach.  

To make the fillet, I mixed up more of the epoxy goop I have been using all along, fairly stiff.  Then, using my finger, I spread it in place in the corners, smoothing it out to the radius of my finger.  The surface was quite smooth when complete, but will require some hand and machine sanding to make completely fair.

Click on the thumbnails for full size.

filletdoghouse4600.jpg (29500 bytes)  fillet1-4600.jpg (34068 bytes)  fillet2-4600.jpg (31452 bytes)  fillet3-4600.jpg (32000 bytes)  fillet4-4600.jpg (37000 bytes)

A couple days later, I sanded down the fillets--by hand to maintain the proper radius.  I then went over the decks with 80 grit paper one more time, including the cabin trunk and coachroof.  More filleting needs to be done in the cockpit, but the bulk of the deck work is done.  There will also be spot filling to be done as I continue through the various sanding grits.

Click on the thumbnails for full size.

fillet1-41100.jpg (29320 bytes)    fillet2-41100.jpg (23936 bytes)    fillet3-41100.jpg (22548 bytes)    fillet4-411200.jpg (26952 bytes)

April 6-18, 2000

Several days have been spent working on the final details on the deck, especially the cockpit.  This included reworking the scuppers and getting a final surface on the fillets.  I also spent a bit of time working on the corners in the cockpit, which required filling and hand sanding. (Forward corner of the seat shown at left.)  This took several applications, spot filling as necessary.  I have gone over the deck pretty closely, and have filled all the voids, cracks, gouges, chips, etc. that I can find.  I'm sure others will appear, but I'll take care of that minor, detail stuff a little later when I do the FINAL, FINAL sanding and prep before priming.  At some point, you have to look at the work you've done and say it looks good enough.  Otherwise, I could keep nitpicking for months.  Enough is enough, and the deck and cockpit look very good (well, as good as they can in their multi-colored, patched and faired state!).

I sanded the entire deck and cockpit with 80 grit paper one more time, then went over it again with 120 grit--all on my random orbit sander.  The remaining sandings will be done with my palm sander, which leaves a smoother surface, starting again with 80 grit, then 120, then 220, just before priming.

Click on these thumbnails for full size pictures of the deck and cockpit at the completion of fairing and sanding.

deckaft-41800.jpg (39296 bytes)   deckfwd1-41800.jpg (34920 bytes)   deckfwd2-41800.jpg (42300 bytes)   cockpitaft2-41800.jpg (32600 bytes)   cockpitaft-41800.jpg (38744 bytes)   cockpitfwd-41800.jpg (30224 bytes)

The good news is that by the end of next week I expect to have thoroughly cleaned up the boat and shed!  It will be great to get rid of the mountains of dust created during the project so far.  The photo to the left shows the bilge in the engine room--that's the stern tube at the top middle of the photo, and all that white stuff is dust, to the tune of about 5" deep!  (I often sweep the decks off, and push the dust through the cockpit openings into the bilge.)  Reminds me of that song by Kansas..."Dust in the bilge...all we have is dust in the biiilge...!"  OK, so I've been doing this stuff for too long, I admit!  Please forgive me.

With the major work done, on the hull, interior as well as the deck, the boat was swept and vacuumed down, then the entire shed was rinsed down with water to remove the accumulated dust, and the boat--inside and out--was rinsed and washed down with a Simple Green solution and lots of water.  This is probably the cleanest this boat has been in 20 years.  All this for the purpose of readying the boat for paint and further work on the interior.

In late August, I began filling any pinholes or other imperfections in the deck with Interlux epoxy surfacing compound, a smooth filler designed for the purpose.  When the filler was cured, I sanded the deck one last time with 120 grit on my palm sander, then washed the decks down with water and detergent.

Please click here to go on to priming and painting.


Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381
www.triton381.com 

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