Restoration jobs

Like our boat and our blog writing, this page is a work in progress.  If we knew how, we would have an index where you could click your topic of interest and jump to it, but for now you'll have to wade your way down.

  • Just a spot of painting... How we repaired our gel coat
  • Coppercoating
  • Yes we can build a rudder...
  • Non - skid system using fly screen, paint and tape (no use for egg cartons or sticky backed plastic yet) 

More to follow in the future...
  • Scarfing - a beginners guide
  • Yes we can build a mast...
  • Yes we can lift 'Pip' the engine into the boat...
  • Winch pads
  • Carpet trouble
  • Teak deck
  • New cockpit locker
  • Chart table and quarter berth a little rethink of the layout

As you can see from the early photos, Impetuous needed alot of work. This page should hopefully give you an idea as to some of what we have done so far.

We have done loads since these photos were taken. But we're meant to be going in the water next month. What we had wanted to post were a series of photos of then and now.
No rudder; series of pretty pictures of us smiling and the rudder being built; then ultimately super smiley us, rudder finished and hung. Unfortunatley nothing is finished! The rudder, though hung needs red stripes of paint; the cockpit, massivley improved from the above still lacks teak deck and a finished locker; not to mention winch pads complete with winches.
Having both restored and built boats in the past I know that things do all come together. Usually in a frenzy of 'autumn's coming next week best get the boat in the water and go somewhere'  this time we have American Immigration to deal with instead, and but mere six month visas 
For you we intend to remove the years of work.  The uncertainity that we have somtimes felt when embarking on a new job.  The dusty photos when a project has been, well, left to one side for one reason or another and of course the sheer delight when finally it all comes together.  Images and our gabblings could never convey the joy we have felt when we have stepped back and viewed our efforts complete for the first time. Not that any really are truly complete; yet!
Hopefully this page should become a record of what we started with; if anything.  The mast, rudder and hatch were all missing. And what we have built, or to be more precise what we are currently building...  The weather is good at the moment, maybe that rudder might get properly painted before this page goes out! 


By far the biggest job we've undertaken in the restoration has been repairing the damaged gelcoat and repainting.  In terms of the time it has taken, I would estimate that well over half our time out here has in someway been to do with painting. When Ruth read through this post prior to posting she said, “Even more of our time than that!”

Fortunately the previous owner had removed the antifoul so that task; at least, was complete. We started by sanding all the hull with abrasive paper and revealed small voids in the gel coat.  We bore these out with a rasp like tool that fitted in to our drill. These were then filled and faired.  We also needed to fair where the previous thru hull fittings had been and the previous owner had started to fill. The hull was then given six coats of epoxy coupled with additives as a barrier.
The rounds are previous thru hull fittings, removed by the
previous owner, dishing these out was an awful job which would
result in days of itching from the fibreglass that would get
Ruth became obsessed with changing the colour of the boat the only solution we found was graphite powder.
The hull then stayed black with impetuous looking a little like a sad whale until we were ready to add our antifoul. 
The next visit out and after we'd made real progress on the deck and the topsides we allowed ourselves this treat.  We have opted to use copper coat so hopefully we will not need to come out to be antifouled every year. Its neccerary to apply all the coats in the same day as its an epoxy so that all the coats are chemically bonded to the previous one. The guys at copper coat suggested that you “roll it on like you want to go the pub” and so we started one morning with the thought of a cold beer to reward our hard work not to far away. It took hours. The 11 o'clock closing time of our great English pubs merrily rolled past as we continued to paint.  To make matters worse it appeared we had too much paint remaining after four coats so we had no other option than to keep on painting.  Two further coats went on plus another around the water line strecthing down a couple of feet. We collapsed in to bed around three in the morning.

The deck and coach roof had a lot of damage to the original gelcoat. This we heavily sanded then repaired with epoxy mixed with cab-o-sil.  This had to be repeated over and over again in order to get deep into all the cracks and still come back to the right shape. Then we applied awlgrip's primer 545. With a coat of white on the boat we were delighted to see it suddenly transformed after all that work and dust.
There is a path so we could get on to the boat.

But there were still flaws, these were identified by appying a guide coat prior to sanding, then all imperfections were filled and faired with awlgrips epoxy filler; much easier to sand than the west system epoxy we had been using I may add. For guide coating we used graphite powder.  It had the advantage over the recommended spray paint of not clogging the sanders.
Each bit of pink you see is filling an imperfection. 
            Catching them all is the path to madness.
                                           Spray paint as guide coat before Ruth relaised we
                                           could use graphite powder.
Finally came the day when we were able to paint the gloss. We would need at least three coats possiby four. So it came that every penultimate coat was brillant; few sags, no bugs, no hoildays ( Roger's phase for when you miss a bit) but its not quite enough paint which you knew before.  You know you have to do another coat to get the depth of colour and protection.  So we would start our final coat full of optisim; if this coat goes as well as the previous it will look fantastic. Of course it dosen't. It looks crap! Sags a plenty, bugs with great big wings still flaping away, holidays the lot. So with heavy heart we would sand again and prepare for another final coat. Its been this way with just about everything we've painted!
I think it was one of the first days we were out here in the begining of the first year.  We were shuffling in to a supermarket and a scruffy looking guy was walking in at the same time; now being a scruffy guy myself I gave him a smile and said hello. We got our shopping and went to the brokers office which is within a marina. Who should be there but the same scruffy guy working on a boat, this time I say hello and go and look at what he is doing. He had been applying non-skid to a deck. It was brillant. So we copied his technique. Just goes to show if I wasn't a scruffy guy we might not have our smart non-skid.  Ruth explains the technique in more detail lower down in the page.
The topsides had severe crazing and pitting.  We had learnt from our work on parts of the coach roof that these have to be very thoroughly ground back and filled otherwise you run the risk of the cracks printing through into your lovely paint job. The topsides were sanded back in many places back to the glass lay up before we eradicated these cracks.  It took weeks. We could see the boat from our bedroom window across the street.  It slowly changed colour to grey and red as we got though the white gel coat. Very depressing.

Finally came the time to prime, we had learnt that awlgrips filler was really great to use so dispatched with any other fillers. But we still had a very uneven hull where we had had to remove cracks. We used long boards and gradually sanded the shape back to what we have now by hand.
 This process took three months. During that time we did nothing else.  I remember it well, because on my birthday it started to rain. We were delighted as it meant we couldn't sand. I hid away in the house and sewed all the cushion covers. A week later it was still raining.  For all of the remaing time we were there, a chance of rain was always about. For painting you really need a spell of good weather, dry and the right tempreature. We finally got the sun but the temperature rocketed, though we did get one coat of gloss on, just to protect and seal, the painting had to wait.
This 2012/2013 trip we have finally put all our beautiful topcoats on, though choosing the red line position was a challenge to say the least.  We'd measured it carefully before we sanded it off.  However, when we taped this on we didn't like it, looking back at old photos we agreed there was room for improvement.  Cut to several days of looking at photos of other examples and trying out tweaking the measurements; taping and re-taping... we chose our own new curves.
So we hope to be in the water soon and we have finally finished painting. We're amazed at how succesful the paint job has been. Impetuous has been transformed in to an elagant beauty ready to see us on our adventure. We can see our reflections in her and at night the glow from all the lights twinkle down her side, but its been hard.  So if you're wondering; No, we don't want to paint your boat!

The Rudder

It still amazes us, when we think on it, that one of the items washed away during the hurricane Ike storm surge was the rudder. We're not talking about a little rudder either.  We had to scarf together 8' x 4' plywood to total the 12' + required in its length. Nor was it light; it weighed around 300lbs according to the previous owner. But it was not there so a replacement was needed.


We might have bought a rudderless boat but we were fortunate enough to have another Alajuela 38 owner not so far away so a template for the rudder was soon gained. Thanks to Ivan our new Bulgarian friend.

After a little deliberation we set upon the idea of scarfing lengths of plywood togther and copying the template on to these lengths. We then epoxied these together. This gave us our basic rudder 12 ' + in length and 2 ½ '' thick. Not quite a hydrodynamic foil yet!

 The first cut, very rough, just to allow a little fudge factor as the scarfing was a bit of an unknown.  Once we had all 10 pieces they were scarfed and joined.

Of all the electric tools I have used, the electric plane has to be my least favorite. However it has its uses. Using the laminations of the ply as a guide, shape was created in to the rudder whilst the walls of our flat took on the shade of merianti plywood dust. The leading edge was but the simple task of a 2'' round over bit in a router.

 Individual pieces prior to routing. Shape still basic. We consumed alot of epoxy wetting out and glueing all five pieces. You can now see the shape starting to develop.


The foil starts to be added

In what was but a couple of weeks we had the rudder, not complete, but it was going to work. We carried it over from our flat where we had built it; fortunatly only 25yds away, but with considersble effort and rest. With a little ingunity we hoisted it in to place. Possibly the most joyous moment of our first years work. One of my favorite photo's is of me pointing to a scarf in the middle of the rudder with the rest of impetuous's hull as a backdrop; look close you can see the scarf.

 This was to be done many more times before it finally was hung for good.
Look carefully and you will see a scarf.

Once fitted the rudder was coated in fibreglass.  The cores where the gudgeon and pintail's hang were overbored, epoxy cored and re-drilled the same for the rudder cheek bolts.

in the bottom right you can make out four white
spots where we had cored with epoxy.

We had one rudder cheek, the other, you've guessed it, had washed away! Teak may be pretty heavy but i'm led to belive that it does float. The second cheek was made from a board of 1 5/8'' teak this was cut and stuck side by side to give us our required width. The cheek was then crudely cut to shape before being routed, using the existing cheek as a template.  There's nothing quite like using a several hundred dollar chunk of teak as a template to sharpen the senses. The detail and bolt holes were added followed by copious coating's of varnish.


Hanging the rudder for the last time was done on one of those days that you have plenty of loose ends that need sorting before you hang the rudder, hence the photos are taken in the dark....

The hull had now been painted and to give the rudder the same lines we needed it on the boat before we struck off any lines and painted. Though we should have this done in the next couple of weeks its not done yet, the same comment could apply to pretty much anything currently, but that's boat building folks.

Non-skidding the decks

After sanding, filling and fairing the decks and cabin for what not only felt like but really was months it was time to paint the decks.   In our first week out, that first visit in autumn 2009 while we still had a hire car we went down to clear lake to look at the boats.  Duncan had a serendipitous meeting with 'Dwight', I believe in Walmart, who was painting the decks on a boat.  Duncan visited, admired them and Dwight taught him how to do it.  This was his method and we are delighted with the results.
First of all you choose your paint system.  This method of non-skid relies on the strength and longevity of the paint so as far as I know can only be done with one of the high tech two part polyester urethane paints.  We chose Awlgrip which is recommended only for professionals for a reason - it is a nightmare to get right!            The decks had to be treated before priming and gloss painting all over.  This is another story altogether which I will glide over with a cursory sniff for now; it suffices to say that on our boat this was not a small job!
So your deck is primed, you gloss the whole thing then tape out your pattern for your non-skid.  It helped us to sketch a drawing of the deck so as to decide what would be traced around as part of the pattern such as the samson post and hatch in this photo and what would be ignored and merely picked out amongst a patch such as the chain thingies seen at the bow.  The tape is covering what you want to remain shiny so you are providing a margin.  Next you cut out fly screen to the rough shape and tape this down.  It needs to be fairly taught, we used duct tape here as it's stronger to pull against and then taped over the perimeter again.
 The fly screen we used was made of fibreglass and was grey in colour, we don't know if other types work too but we do know that you cannot reuse it.  We tried to use it for one side then flip it to paint on the reciprocal piece of deck and save ourselves valuable pennies, it was not successful and got stuck to the deck, it is the reason we are doing this one patch now. 
Yes, they are dirty foot prints in the foreground... roll on the time we are in the water and won't be tramping grass onto the boat all day.
 Dwight was very clear that you do not reduce (thin) the Awlgrip when you do this technique and that you should paint on three coats all in the same day.  This avoids you needing to (what would be impossible) sand between coats and ensures a nice strong adhesion.   
 This patch we probably put too much paint on but it is surprising how much it does use up.  When you are aiming for a shiny finish such as around the windows you can see here we have found it necessary to add quite a bit of reducer (thinner) to the mix as without the brush marks are too pronounced.  Therefore this one patch probably soaked up about 5 or 6 times as much paint as when painting on a thin glossy layer for each coat.

We're very pleased with the finished effect, it certainly provides good grip and is not too abrasive on the skin.
Updates will be available on the efficacy once we've been flung about on it a bit more by some tossing waves but so far the rest of the deck patches have been done two years and are holding up great.


Yu and Frank said...

I just found your blog and have been reading through some of your older posts.. Wow! You two have put in ALOT of work! Amazing transformation.. Really well done. Looking forward to reading more about your travels now.

Conrad Jenkin said...

Mutual friends have just drawn my attention to your Blog - and I am reading it with a mixture of awe and admiration, both for all the work you have done and the courage with which you seem to tackle each scary job. Two mini points; first, could you possibly put in a few more pictures of yourselves (people really are important too!) and second, though I am very much a boat diyer myself, some of the words and phrases you use, mystify me; like your use of "graphite powder"
and "guide coats".
I could not wish you both more luck if I tried. Conrad Jenkin