Last week I went over the grueling process of fixing the companion way hatch, we left off when most of the fairing was completed. However, I really wanted to make sure to have a nice durable finish. I thought about painting with an epoxy bilge paint or something like that but just didn’t like the idea of using a second type of paint that may be incompatible with the petit we are using in the rest of the boat and that would inevitably cover the hatch as well. So instead I mixed up another batch of fairing epoxy but with only a very small amount of 407 fairing filler and more 406 colloidal silica. This I painted on with a paint brush to give the entire job a protective coating over the fairing filler. Once it cured I took a fine sandpaper and and sanded it down again resulting in a really hard, smooth surface. Its important to remember, though I may not say it each time, I am cleaning in between coats with acetone to get rid of any “blush” or waxes that the epoxy may generate and creating a clean surface for the new epoxy coat to bond to.
At this point I really had to focus on some of the details that I couldn’t hit with the orbital sander. I usually find something to wrap in sandpaper like a contractors pencil or a screw driver that gives me the shape im looking for and the leverage to sand in some tight spots. Here I am working the corners smooth:
There are quite a few moldings in the fiberglass that I was careful to maintain. Working the epoxy into the exact shape I needed for the final product was extremely time consuming. I would say that it took a few months of off and on work to get the shapes correct and silky smooth. I am sure the pros have a quick way to do this with a mould or something similar but I really enjoy doing things by hand and leaving the small, mostly unnoticeable, imperfections that are the trademark of a hand made object. Not only does it add character but I think it adds a narrative and meaning to an object.
And then the day came. I was able to stand back and clean her up one last time. At this time I’m out of acetone so I’ve switched over to the more expensive Xylol and here I am carefully wiping everything down, making sure that the surface is 100% clean and ready for paint.
Using the petit EZ Cabin Coat that we’ve used for most of the other projects in the boat I went to work:
After the first few coats of paint you can really start to see the shapes emerge but the dark epoxy still shows through:
Then, after about 6 or so coats, the color really starts to pop and things start looking beautiful. Its hard to describe the feeling but after so many years of work on this particular project its quite liberating to have it complete.
Once the paint has a week or two to really cure, I will lightly sand it again and add the final coats. 🙂