Wednesday 21 February 2007

Paint and Varnish

I suppose all boat builders, at some stage, entertain the romantic fantasy of topping off their fine workmanship with nothing more than a dozen coats of well-applied varnish: no paint and no colours other than unblemished wood, gleaming under a crystal gloss, reflecting the clear cut faces of swarming admirers. And, I suppose there comes a time during the build when, after one slip with the chisel and another with the sander, plus a split cup of coffee and a rampant child with a felt-tipped pen, that the builder decides that it would probably be better to paint the lot. That way he can get on with the work and stop being so precious about the finish.

Speaking from experience it comes as something of a relief.

In the beginning I thought I would paint—a traditional black hull, a varnished deck, and maybe dark red under the waterline, which my Trow could flash, as cheekily as women showed garters in 50’s pin-ups, as it took up the gust and stood bravely to windward. But then I discovered that black doesn’t suit boats built with epoxy. It absorbs the UV rays, which weaken the resin. So I put the whole business on the back burner and got on with the building, but to my surprise it was all looking quite tidy and I started to entertain varnish fantasies—I would do the whole boat in varnish, my Trow would rival a Riva for depth of finish. It would be glossier than the glaze on glistening fruit pies in the window of my local pasteleria and would provoke the same surge of saliva to the mouth and a similar torrent of alliterative praise. Precious, priceless, princely…

Thank heaven that’s all behind me. The first coat of epoxy got rained on and turned white. Ok, so I sanded it back and repainted a thin coat with the roller, yes I have learnt how to apply epoxy, then I constructed a plastic tent for the panels to sit under during the night. It didn’t rain and the garden was dry in the morning. The inside of the tent, however, was as damp as a tropical rainforest, the panels were covered in beads of water and drips that weren’t dropping directly onto the curing epoxy were squiggling down the sides of the plastic to form pools under the panels. It looked as if the entire dewfall had gathered under the plastic sheet. I can only suppose that I’d put some physical process into gear—maybe the inside of the plastic had a charge of negative ions which attracted the neutral or positively charged water droplets, whatever, they all crowded in and had quite a party.

Here are the panels with their second coat. and here’s the steamy scene under the plastic sheet.

With all the frames and the two bilge panels assembled, cut and epoxied I couldn’t resist a dry run.

It all went together very easily with just a handful of screws. And it was straight; well at least to my eye.


Baddaddy said...

It looks great Ben! So what do you say? Follow the frames?


Unknown said...

WOW! I thought the lines of the Trow were beautiful on paper... Seeing your "dry run" makes me want to build one!

Anonymous said...

If you wait til I've made all the mistakes then you'll have an easier job of it. Good luck!