Sunday, September 18, 2016

Boat Hopscotch

My recent descent into blog silence has been due in part to an injury brought on by sheer stupidity, not something you really like to announce to the whole blogosphere. Due to some moving around of cover straps to stabilize our shade cover during the last tropical storm, I ended up catching my foot on a strap that wasn't where I was used to it being, and dumped myself onto the side deck. In addition to injuring my right arm and shoulder in the process, I think I may have shaved off a few days of Tim's life expectancy as he was down below when I fell. For nearly two weeks, all boat projects came to a screeching halt while I tried to rest the offending appendage. Telling a Type-A workaholic personality with a project list and shrinking time frame to lay still for two weeks is difficult at best. I found a good series of books and settled in for the duration. While it still makes its presence known on a regular basis, the injury is healing slowly and boat projects have once again commenced.

The blog silence has also been partly due to the fact that the particular project I'm tackling right now is a long-term one. I'm refinishing the very old, discolored, dented, and completely disgusting floor inside Kintala. We had debated off and on about doing it at all, afraid that the veneer might be too thin to sand and not wanting to try to tackle the job of replacing the teak and holly plywood entirely while we were also living on the boat full time. One day that I was waiting on parts I decided to sand the worst section, the small  piece at the head of the V-berth which had been damaged by a previous owner's neglect in repairing the head which then leaked into the V-berth (ewww). It was an isolated piece, one separated from the rest of the salon floor by a ledge, so if it didn't turn out well it would not be staring us in the face. Anything had to be better than the stained, peeling stuff that was there. Using my cheap old Black and Decker mouse sander I went to work and was pleasantly surprised. Most of the stains and dents came up, leaving just a few places that were too badly stained to sand off. I got some Oxalic acid and treated the black mold stains that were left, but the damage had been too long standing to treat. The Oxalic acid did a nice job of lightening the teak overall and I suspect it would do well on newer stains, but this had been there over 10 years. Nonetheless, the floor took a finish nicely and encouraged me to proceed with the rest.

The problem with refinishing a boat floor while you're living in the boat is that you can't walk on the piece you did for 24 hours. This means that I'm having to do one small section at a time so we can hop over it while it's curing. Fortunately, the floor in Kintala is divided up into sections that make this possible with a minimal amount of hopscotch. After a lot of research I decided to use Jamestown Distributor's Circa 1850 finish. It's a very hard, very fast-drying polyurethane, the kind they use on bowling alleys. You can recoat in 3 hours if the temp and humidity are ideal. Since I'm doing five coats, a quick-curing finish was essential.

One of the major challenges with this project has been a large fuel stain right in front of the port side settee that was caused when a fuel tank leaked two owners before us. It completely saturated the marine plywood subfloor as well as the teak and holly plywood. It had turned the wood dark, especially the light holly strips. In this photo you can see the stain in the bottom left corner. The top of the section is where I had begun sanding. Since I was less than pleased with the results of the Oxalic acid treatment of the V-berth section, I started researching online to see if I could find something to remove oil-based stains from teak. A couple of the forums kept mentioning a product called K2R, a dry-cleaning solvent that removes stains from fabric as well as concrete and wood. I remembered using the stuff when I was young and decided to try it. It was emphasized that multiple applications would be necessary on tough stains so I anticipated using a bunch of it, but I ordered only one can to try it. There is a household 5-oz size, but there is a 12-oz can packaged for marine use that is surprisingly cheapest at West Marine. This stuff is amazing.

The second photo here on the right is after sanding, showing the stain. This photo is taken from the opposite direction so the stain is in the top right corner. The photo below is after 6 applications of the K2R. You spray it on, let it sit for 10 minutes until it completely dries into a white powder, sweep it off, then rinse it with water and let dry.

The only problem with long-term fuel stains is that they continue to seep up from the sub floor and into the teak and holly again. I was surprised just how much it continues to seep, even though the leak was years ago. Each application leaves a little less seep, but it will take 3 or 4 cans of K2R to get it done. When I rinsed it with the water I was able to gauge the color it would look like with the finish and, while I'm satisfied with the evenness of the color, I'm still a little concerned about the fuel seeping up under the finish and damaging it, so I'm going to continue with the K2R for a few more applications to see if I can get the seepage down to a minimum. Here's a photo of the way it looked when I rinsed it with water and it was still wet. Considering how damaged the floor was, I think it's going to look great.

Here's a detail of just how damaged the floor was, with the top part of the photo the freshly sanded and the bottom unsanded and damaged.

I was able to take all the hatch boards out of the boat and sand and refinish them outside which helped to minimize the interior mayhem quite a bit. Once I start with the finish inside the boat, though, it will take quite a few weeks to complete so that each section cures enough to walk on before I start the next section. In the mean time we'll practice up on our hopscotch.

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