Monday, 2 April 2012

Sanding - lots of it.

Limbo has hardwood bulwarks (no sniggering) atop a 6-inch wide hardwood strip, with a protruding 1-inch wide rubbing strake at the lower edge. This should be an attractive feature, and used to look briefly acceptable when freshly oiled, but was now horribly patchy and grey.

'Before' is on the left.  See what I mean?

What was worse, the port strake was coming away from the hull in places.
I removed some of the old screws, which were only just long enough to grip into the hull, replaced them with slightly longer ones, removed the perished rubber bedding strip, and filled the gap with Sikaflex. This was a slow job; squeezing the horrible viscous stuff upwards into a small crack took the best part of a day. It seems to have worked, although I suspect the same will need doing to the other side sometime soon.  At least it’s only cosmetic.

That done, it was onto improving the finish.
The wood seemed to have had some kind of stain applied at some stage, and the thin strip at the lower side had been painted brown.  The stain had worn off in varying degrees.  The only thing to do was get it back to bare wood. That’s about 52 feet to do..and it took a correspondingly long time.  


First I went over everything with oxalic acid teak restorer, scrubbing it in then scraping off the surface layer before rinsing. At this stage, an encouraging light-reddish wood appeared below the grime.  I started to see that it could come up quite nicely. 

Once I’d finished the scrubbing, I (and the First Mate) sanded everything down with coarse then fine paper.  Don’t ask why we didn’t use power tools for this..but we got there.  It took some heavy work to get rid of the blackened parts and the vestiges of the old stain.   

Sanding almost done at last. Pretty, isn't she..
At this point it was really starting to look good. Before this stage, I also filled in the screw holes and some other cracks with woodfiller.

This doesn't look too stable..The newspaper was overkill, just wide masking tape did the job.
That done, we got the first coat of varnish on. I’d recently done the rudder with 'teak' Sikkens Cetol, but wasn’t completely happy with a slightly too-dark, streaky look. I had oiled the wood for a couple of years, but found that the effect wore off after a few weeks and it was back to the dark, grubby look again.  

The answer, it seemed, was a new product by International called Woodskin. We’re promised a durable, breathable finish which should only need sanding down and recoating once a season.  

First coat on.  Lovely.
Time will tell.. but it was easy to apply, and I think looks fantastic so far.

Actually putting the varnish on was by far the quickest part, and definitely the most satisfying, of what amounted to easily 40 hours of work on the wood, over several visits.  She looks like new (if you squint a bit). Just two coats to go.

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