Bottom Job, Continued and Continued and Continued!

I removed all the red bottom paint and some of the blue with stripper and a DA sander with a 6" pad and 80 grit paper.   In the process of doing that, I sanded through a blister enough that water came out.  Uh oh, the water in the blisters was between the mat and the fiberglass core.  I grabbed the Dremmel and poked about 2,000 holes in every round high spot.  This resulted in identifying an estimated 400 wet blisters, 

I have now opened as many of the blisters as I know about.  As Rumsfeld says, "I have not opened up any blisters I do not know about!"  In these pictures you get an idea of how many test holes I had to drill with the Dremel.

 I opened the blisters up with a Roto-zip with a router attachment on it and fiberglass bits.  I wore out 4 bits grinding them out.  This gets the boat to the condition shown on the right, with much blue paint remaining. 

In the picture below, some of the largest blisters are shown.  By grinding out the mat around all the water, I cute the dry out time from months to weeks.  Indeed, the blisters dried out in only 2 weeks if I ground out all the wet mat.  After that same 2 weeks, blisters that had only been opened with the Dremel still had about 1/3 the water still in them. 

The blisters are determined to be dry enough by taping a piece of Saran Wrap over the blisters and letting it sit overnight.  If any moisture remains in the blister,  it will readily show on the Saran Wrap.  Pretty low tech, but effective. 

It took about 35 hours to get to this point!  Now that I know how to use the stripper, I could cut that down by about 10 hours.  The secret on the stripper is to swab it on thick.   Then let it sit for about 20 or 30 minutes.  I used a piece of cardboard to catch the scrapings and contain them so I didn't end up sitting in them. 

BE SURE TO WEAR EYE PROTECTION when messing with the stripper.  I ended up using 2 pairs of gloves.  When putting the stripper on I used two of the cheap latex gloves.  When scrapping it off I used a latex glove topped with a cloth glove to keep from cutting the latex glove. 

Once the stripper got most of the bottom paint off, I switched to the DA sander.  I tried using a half face respirator and goggles.  That is just not sufficient to keep dust out of one's eyes.  I coughed up the $100 for a full face mask from Grainger that allows me to work as long as I want without getting anything in my eyes!  A painter's head sock is mandatory as is a Tyvek coverall.  Any place not covered is going to get covered with toxic bottom paint. 

When I started grinding on the fiberglass, I thought I was going to itch forever!  A box fan sure helps to remove the dust! 

The next step is to remove the rest of the bottom paint with an air file.long board sander and 36 grit paper.  The air file is 17" long.  It takes one sheet of paper to go from one side to the other.  That also takes about 2 hours!  This is pretty demanding physical work for a CPA!  I have been at it every night since 4/15th and my arms are now in good enough shape that I have to wait for the air compressor to catch up.  Accordingly, this process could move along quicker with a bigger air compressor.  As it is, I will be one half done in another 3 or 4 hours.  It will take another  6 to 10 hours to finish  the other side.  Total time at that point will be about 50 hours.

Note in the picture to the right I used the DA sander to remove all the gelcoat around the waterline where is was covered with pox.  After removing the gelcoat with the DA sander, I used the air file to fair it.   This curved area will require much hand sanding with a long board that is flexible enough to bend around the hull.

I will likely let the blisters dry some more while I get to work on other stuff.  Hopefully, they'll all be dried out in another couple of weeks.  Then I get to fill them, fair them with the long board and spray a coat of primer to see how well I've done sanding up to that point! 

Bob Keim
S/V The Pursuit,  #6195
Nashville, TN