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Old 17-08-2015, 13:32   #1
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Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

First post. I thought I'd start off strong out the of the gate I live in the SF Bay Area, and no, I donít work in tech. I actually keep bees and take photos for a living. Itís a gold mine! Just kidding, but I digressÖ My new boat is a Skookum 47. I crewed aboard her for 6 months from Mazatlan, Mexico to Costa Rica and know the boat well. The captain reached out to me a while back and wanted to know if Iíd like to purchase her. I tentatively agreed pending a 1st person visit/survey. So last January I drove myself down for a look. (Ah, nothing like the smell of Mexico. Thereís something so familiar about smoldering trash, exhaust fumes, and grilled jalapeŮos that just gets me. I love it.) Anyway, back to the boat. Sheís as big and sturdy as ever - daunting almost - as my first boat was a Pearson Ariel (all of 26ft). The only (wink wink) problem is that the gelcoat (topside only) is delaminating.

My first question is, with such an impressively overbuilt boat where quality seemed to matter most, how and why is this happening? Did the factory take a short cut? Was it just sloppy workmanship? Was this a chemical reaction they were unaware of? Iíll attach some pictures to give you an idea of what's happening. What I do know is that she was laid up in 1980 at the yard in Washington, but not launched until much later, maybe even as late as the early 90's. Wondering if anyone knows the history of Skookum, or even possibly some kind of first hand knowledge about the current issue? I don't know how many 47's they built or whether this is/was a common issue. Any help/insight would be greatly appreciated. Iíve looked down a few avenues, but have come up short on information.

As she lies, the gel on the walkways and the coachroof, are in places, coming off in slabs. In a way, I guess is a good thing, as it will mean less grinding for me The delamination stops an inch or so from the bulkworks for the entirety of the boat, so I am hoping/guessing I can grind a clean line and work from there. I donít really care about getting the decks perfectly faired, as I will be putting an aggressive tread coating over that will mask imperfections. Iíve got a pint of Kiwigrip coming soon, and will throw down a test patch on some plywood to see what I think of it. On my Pearson, the molded non-skid was toast, and I used a one-part poly with coarse grip and liked it. I also did some deck-coring repair work, and the non-skid/paint + primer masked my rough fairing job perfectly.

I do, however, want the sides of the coachroof to look nice and faired (nay, factory finished!). Iíll be pulling all hardware, ports, etc for a clean working area (the ports need re-bedding anyway - what's the best bedding compound for ports out there so I can make a reference of it?). Iíve been lurking here for a little while, typing in searches to gain as much knowledge as to the varying roads I could take. I have to say a big ďthanksĒ to the Nauticat 52 thread by Minaret. I was tossing and turning in bed the other night asking myself, ďIs this even possible? Can I even tackle this and not majorly muck it up?!Ē But after seeing his thread, I believe I can do it. I also was blown away by the abrupt change with the course of the thread. I hope everything is righted in the end.

I am putting together a list of equipment to bring down to tackle this job. My crazy plan is to head down in early November from SF, hauling most of what I need to get this done in my trusty í84 VW Westfalia. Now before you scoff, sheís rebuilt with a bigger engine and is very reliable. Iíve already made it down once with her! And itís perfect in that I donít have to live aboard while work is going on. Already did that once, and it sucked.

Based on the decision to re-shoot gelcoat, as I think itís the more repairable and forgiving material to work with, I still have a few questions. I am not looking for perfection like Minaret, but I would like this to look nice. My main concern is not having this ever happen again, and looking good is a close 2nd. Doing anything less to this beautiful boat would be a disservice. I used to be a paint contractor with good spray/masking skills, and as such, I have a pretty good idea of the prep involved (weíll see if that statement comes back to bite me!) The caveat is Iíve only got 3-4 weeks to rock and roll, and then I have to get back home. I donít know if I can even get the decks prepped in that period of time, let alone get a layer of gel on. Maybe Iíll only be able to grind and put on a layer of primer? Maybe I just do a section at a time? I dunnoÖ still trying to work a plan.

One of my big questions is how to go about stripping the gelcoat that still remains intact? Grinders? A peeler ($$$)? Iíve seen some murmurs about using a concrete/mason grinder (I think?). I donít currently own a grinder, so any recommendations for this specific job would be helpful. But once I accomplish stripping the deck, I am thinking Awlgrip 545 for the base coat, then a coat of Awlquick, and then starting with the gelcoat. Does that sound like a decent game plan? I am also going to take Minaretís advice and purchase these items for spraying the gelcoat:

Amazon.com: DeVilbiss 802342 StartingLine HVLP Gravity Spray Gun Kit: Automotive

along with a 20-30gal compressor. Will I need some sort of extra pressure regulator for proper flow rate? Iíve only ever used Graco airless sprayers, so technology wise, this is sort of new territory for me.

I am also putting together a spread sheet of materials (plus quantities needed), tools, and equipment that I'll upload at some point, but this is what I have so far:


Materials
3m 5200
Gelcoat
pigment
sandpaper
port sealant
solvents
rags - tons!
razors
grinding discs
ziplock bag
sharpies
duck tape
nitrile gloves
tack cloth

Tools
Respirator
tyvek suit
Grinder
Compressor
Spray Guns
Caulk Gun
knee pads
drill + bits
drill paint mixer
chisel
hand sledge

I will be getting a few tyvek suits, using a fully enclosed face mask/3m respirator, as I plan to enjoy life moving forward I welcome recommended ideas on materials/tools that will make the job move along quicker, more efficient, etc. The list I have now is pretty bare bones, but I just wanted to get this up and get some feedback. Thanks in advance!

Here are a few images of the decks.






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Old 17-08-2015, 17:30   #2
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

Looks like they missed the bond window when laying up the decks. On the road now, but I'll make a more lengthy reply later. Happy to talk you through it.
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Old 17-08-2015, 18:08   #3
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

You are going to die wearing a sweat suit down there. You should consider just being the brains of the operation and get some local young guys to do the nasty part.
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Old 17-08-2015, 23:59   #4
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

Thanks Minaret! Any help would be most appreciated.

Guy, I wish I could let go of things like that. Guess I am a glutton for pain. I don't think it will be too bad - it cools down in November to around 80F!
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Old 18-08-2015, 00:21   #5
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

Wow. You're ambitious. Wish I could offer some suggestions so just want to wish you the best of luck with your plans!!
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Old 18-08-2015, 09:13   #6
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

Thanks Gamayun. I should clarify that I'll go back down when I can to work on her, and the plan is to keep her Mex for at least a year or two. Being so far away and nothing less than two very long days driving, I want to get as much done as I can.
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Old 18-08-2015, 10:56   #7
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

3-4 weeks? You will definitely need to split this up. Forget the 545, no gel over paint. It would cost a ton for no good reason. Prime for gelcoat with gelcoat. This should be a very doable job, but quite time consuming. The suggestion to hire cheap local help might be wise, if you can find the right help.
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Old 18-08-2015, 11:04   #8
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

Gel coat when sprayed into mold should only be a few mm thick, I seem to recall 10-15 mm. This looks like it was applied much thicker than that probably double.

Gelcoat stinks faster than the Fiberglas lay up. Thus breaking down and separating.

Grind it off fair edges prime and paint but do not use gelcoat Gelcoat will result in a very rough top coat and you will spend more sanding than you did in the original prep to remove.

Use a good topside paint or Awlgrip or such which would be more self fairing and requires much less work after sprayed or rolled on
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Old 18-08-2015, 11:17   #9
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

[QUOTE=KadeyKrogen38;1893778]

Gelcoat will result in a very rough top coat and you will spend more sanding than you did in the original prep to remove.

That ain't so. A gel coat paint job is as shiny as can be. Perhaps there is a difference in how you spray it on a mold but a gel coat paint job is pretty amazing.
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Old 18-08-2015, 11:39   #10
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

I've got a recommendation for a quality worker, and will look into possibly finding someone else. Yes, this is going to have to broken up. I have 4 weeks for sure, but still, it's going to take time.

KadeyKrogen38, I am still in a slight debate with myself over whether to use high build primer + awlgrip/nonskid for the decks and use gelcoat for the cabin house sides. As to your point regarding the gelcoat
Quote:
Grind it off fair edges prime and paint but do not use gelcoat Gelcoat will result in a very rough top coat and you will spend more sanding than you did in the original prep to remove.
how would applying paint be less rough than gelcoat?

Minaret, I am guessing direct fiberglass to gelcoat contact will result in the proper bond that was supposed to happen at the factory? Any recommendations on grinders + grit?

I will be documenting this with photos, video, stop motion stuff, so it's going to be fun for everyone to watch me suffer
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Old 18-08-2015, 12:09   #11
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

I knew a guy on the East Coast who was a wizard at spraying gel coat. Evidently it doesn't spray like anything else. He says it took him a long time to get the technique down. That's why you can get an awlgrip paint job at any boatyard but few have ever even seen gelcoat sprayed.

Assuming he's right, I'd find a similiar guy in the local area to do the spray. Insist on seeing some boats he's done.

The prep and post spray sanding will be the vast majority of the hours and you can do that yourself. The spray guy will be able to give you lots of advise that's probably more reliable than you'll find on an internet board and will save you money in the long run.
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Old 18-08-2015, 12:33   #12
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

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Originally Posted by SF Bay Dude View Post
I've got a recommendation for a quality worker, and will look into possibly finding someone else. Yes, this is going to have to broken up. I have 4 weeks for sure, but still, it's going to take time.

KadeyKrogen38, I am still in a slight debate with myself over whether to use high build primer + awlgrip/nonskid for the decks and use gelcoat for the cabin house sides. As to your point regarding the gelcoat
how would applying paint be less rough than gelcoat?

Minaret, I am guessing direct fiberglass to gelcoat contact will result in the proper bond that was supposed to happen at the factory? Any recommendations on grinders + grit?

I will be documenting this with photos, video, stop motion stuff, so it's going to be fun for everyone to watch me suffer


Since you are just re-gelcoating and not prepping for fresh laminate, the key for you will be removing the existing problem gel (I would remove it 100%) without causing yourself a fairing nightmare with grinder marks. I would use an 8" soft pad sander for all the large open areas. For a less experienced grinder operator, I might suggest a mud hog instead. Edges and corners will be the trick. You need a good die grinder with a bunch of different sizes and shapes of grinding burrs. A good roloc grinder setup is key too. These days I often resort to the M12 cordless mini grinder/buffer. Just take it down to bare glass, prep and degrease carefully, and roll/brush apply 4-5 coats of gel with wax in the last coat ONLY. Then very carefully sand that out nice and fair to 180 profile. Now you are ready to layout for finish gel. Spray apply, thinning with styrene monomer and MEK 50/50. Again, 3-4 coats (full wet coats), 1/2 hr between coats, catalyze 1%, wax in last coat only (surface seal). Full cure overnight, then guide coat and wet sand 800, 1000, then 3M ultrafine sponge, then polish with 3M Gelcoat compound. Guide coat again between 800 & 1000.

I'd probably take the first 3-4 weeks to go down and stage everything, checking for local availability, sourcing labor, finding a way to cover the boat for no dust in finish but not too hot, pull all hardware, etc. Don't grind and then leave bare glass in sun, no UV barrier. You should grind clean, clean up and wipe thoroughly, then apply the primer coats. Then you can leave and come back for the next stage of sanding. We'll talk more about it, currently traveling with the kids.


PS: Buy a cheap window AC and plumb the output into a duct you can tape to the back of your Tyvek between your shoulder blades. Use small diameter vac hose. Even clean shop vac output is good.
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Old 18-08-2015, 13:47   #13
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

Quote:
PS: Buy a cheap window AC and plumb the output into a duct you can tape to the back of your Tyvek between your shoulder blades. Use small diameter vac hose. Even clean shop vac output is good.
This could be the most amazing advice of all! There's actually an A/C unit on the boat already.

I looked up the Mud Hog, but they're pricey. I don't have a problem spending money on quality tools, but since this is hopefully a one time thing, maybe I could get by with a step down. Would something this sander on amazon? be a decent alternative?

So dumb question, but when you're spraying 3 coats of gel on every 1/2 hour, you can only do sections at a time, no? So do I break those spots up depending on the flow of the deck? I am guessing so, but again, new territory. OK, enjoy the family Minaret, and get back when you can. No big rush, but it will be nice to source some tools and maybe even do a dry run on some plywood for practice. I'm off to harvest some honey from my hives. Tis the season!
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Old 19-08-2015, 09:54   #14
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

Yeah, the cheap IR is what I use. Just be aware they are fragile. The backing pad is thin aluminum and will bend easily, ruining the tool. Just make sure to oil it hourly and always set it down face down on a flat surface, and it'll give you loads of service. I must have gone through at least a dozen of those.
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Old 19-08-2015, 10:39   #15
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Re: Skookum 47 Refit - San Francisco to Mexico

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Yeah, the cheap IR is what I use. Just be aware they are fragile. The backing pad is thin aluminum and will bend easily, ruining the tool. Just make sure to oil it hourly and always set it down face down on a flat surface, and it'll give you loads of service. I must have gone through at least a dozen of those.
Thanks. I'll get 2 and keep one tucked away just in case. Will the 20 gal compressor keep up with it, or do you think I should go bigger?
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