Pylasteki is a 1961 Pearson Triton sailboat. She is one of my personal project boats... I am rebuilding her as a blue water cruiser.

Enjoy, if you have any questions or comments, drop me line:


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Not to much progress to report... 

The fairing compound is sanded out and the worst of the low spots circled to be filled. 

The boat yard I am in has turned into a salvage operation, demolishing a big old fishing boat on the railway beside me.

They blew a hydraulic line on their excavator and sprayed hydraulic fluid all over Pylasteki...  I am seriously considering going with an enamel and being done with the paint job aspect.  Cutting torches everywhere and soot on everything...

So, I am waiting until things get cleaned up a bit and I can go back to work without dodging back hoes and scrap metal!

It's the age old... Hurry up, and slow down...


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Editors note/update: Don't roll sprayable fairing compound. I always forget exactly how much sanding it takes to get the roller stipple to go away. Added about 3 hours of sanding. I ended up using 60 grit hookit on a 5 inch random orbit sander, and 40 grit on a 16 1/2 inch long board, and 80 on a 3M flexible Marine fairing board to get it blocked down.

I borrowed a set of hands to wrap a wooden batten around the hull to address whether or not my question mark areas were high spots or the edge of low spots, marked them and will spray her with another coat or three of fairing compound. She has an 1/8th inch low from the stem to where she starts her turn, just aft the chain locker bulkkhead. There is another low about where the forward large portlights are where the hull goes from round to flat that needs a bit of love.

Those holes will get an extra pass for each coat sprayed. The whole boat needs to be build out a bit more than a 1/16th to get past the high ridges left by the old bulkheads and stringers that telegraph through with each sanding. The goal is to stop sanding when you see the previous coat start to show its self, add another coat and average out the surface. When you hit harder paint, or fiberglass through soft primer it makes a halo, the high spot never gets lower, but digs a low spot all the way around the high.

Until the whole panel is one color, its very hard to get the last of the ripples out.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Sanded out...

I forgot in my last post to mention why I'm fairing the hull, putting the cart before the horse with as much deck work as I have to do for the cockpit and deck.

First, the toe rails have some old damage on the starboard side I need to repair, where the shape has a bunch of wiggles and gets wider. The top surface of the toe rail isn't fair either, on either side so I'm going to build it up, and block it back down with a long board so it is fair and true.

I'm going to fiberglass over the hull to deck joint on the outside, and want to make sure I am low compared to the faired hull, and don't have to float out the top half of the hull, or grind half the fiberglass I put on back off. This was an oversight on my part, as the bulkheads were originally installed in the boat before the deck went on. The deck was tabbed to the hull, around the bulkhead tabbing. I should have tabbed the deck to the hull where the bulkheads sit to keep things water tight and avoid having a path for water to get to the main bulkhead.

Second, I'm going to have an outboard well on Pylasteki, and it is difficult to sand out and fair up to a hole, so I'm pushing the boat to finish primer, so I can scuff it and shoot top coat and not have to try to fair up to the hole.

I finished sanding the first layer of Awlgrip Hull Guard Extra down smooth with 80 grit on a 5 inch random orbital sander. I pulled a skim of awlgrips pink fairing compound in the worst of the lows, old docking scars and pin holes, stress cracks that I opened up.

It was blowing 20-25 yesterday, so I rolled on a coat of sprayable fairing compound on the hull. I'll be sanding it with a 5 inch random orbital, followed by a 16 inch file board with 80 grit, and the occasional wooden paint stirrer with sandpaper stuck to it. The fin along the counter, under the transom, I'll sand out with a piece of styrofoam shaped roughly to fit the curve and push in towards the fin at an angle in a cross hatch pattern. 5 inch orbitals don't sand inside corners very well, and hand sanding puts in grooves... Just have to make a board to fit the shape and not sand inline to the inside corner.

The process is to sand off the roller stipple and get a smooth even thickness coating, then to use the 16 inch file board to identify the holes (low spots) if the material is thick enough, I sand evenly over the whole surface until the sandpaper starts to scratch the low spots. If I start to burn through to the white primer, or hit fiberglass at any of the high, high spots (where a hard spot along a bulkhead or stringer might be) I will apply another coat to build the whole surface out evenly.

If it sands out, I'll spray a coat of high build primer over the hull and sand it out to 220 grit, followed by 545 and topcoat.

Making somethings shiny is easy, making it fair takes leveling the surface to average out all the imperfections.

I do prefer to spray primer, but I've got nearly 250 feet of a run from where my air compressor is sitting on Noel, to Pylasteki and not quite enough air line to make the run.


Friday, April 13, 2012


Since the last update I have been sanding.

I've faired in the lower cabin top, which wasn't exactly straight forward. The mast had crushed the shape out of the inner skin of the deck. I put the new main bulkhead in, which held the inner skin in the, not an arch, shape. So, it took a few days and cycles of puttying last week to slick everything out and get it right. Not to count that the back edge was an extra 2 layers of cloth thick over the bevel to get back on to good glass, meaning that once it was round it also had a slight taper.

Normally you can use a long straight edge as a batten and ride it on both ends of a surface to pull a layer of fairing compound so long as the two edges are right. In this case, neither the front nor the back had the right shape or even the same shape. Normally you can use a thin flexible batten and wrap it around the curve, and pull from back to front, so long as the center of the curve is straight... not the case either, as the front end of the cabin top was well low.

This took a varying array of putty knives, and flexible long boards to work out, as battens and sreeds did not satisfy the eye. This was all together more trouble than it was worth, given it will be under non-skid... but at least the non-skid won't have any low spots.

For non-skid I am planning to use kiwigrip as it sounds interesting!

In between puttying and sanding cycles on the cabin top and side decks, I've floated out the main cabin with fairing putty, so that it is possible to sand with a 5 inch random orbital, which is about the limits of what I'm after. As smooth as decent sheet rock is good enough for me. Pylasteki did not have a molded headliner, instead the inside finish was the hand laid fiberglass as it came out of the mold. This was good enough for the first 50 years, but when you want to strip all the old failing paint you can't, really. At least not without tipping the sander up on edge and digging the paint out of the low spots.

I bought a quart of Petit Easy Cabin Coat, as it is supposed to have a good resistance to mildew and you can recoat it with out sanding. I haven't used it before, but I am tempted by both those factors. First though, I'm going to apply a layer of Mascoat Insulative Coating, a ceramic loaded paint that reduces the emissivity of a surface. Emissivity is a fancy word, meaning that heat doesn't transfer as easily through the material, reducing the formation of condensation. I haven't used this before either.

I left the main portion of the house roof alone, other than stripping the paint, as it will be repainted and insulated with reflectix. The same goes for the underside of the side decks. I'm going to put a few furring strips up, and use some 3M scotchlock, velcro on steriods, to hold up a liner. I haven't decided if this will be a sheet of thin varnished plywood or white formica.

Sanding continued:

I've started getting the hull ready to paint, as prime painting season is coming up soon. The ideal 80 degree days with 70 degree nights, for a few weeks. I'm going to get all the outside topics knocked out and get started on building an interior.

I finally got the last of the stress cracked gelcoat off the hull. This has been a long term project, as it is about as interesting as putting cotton balls in pill bottles, but much more serious. The smoother you remove it, the easier the paint job is to get fair.

I used an 8 inch pad sander with 80 grit 3m gold stickit discs and sanded both sides of the hull smooth. Then where ever the guy who sprayed the gelcoat in to the mold, sprayed two passes over the same spot, I dished it out with a 5 inch disc sander. Horror of horrors, as this is a slow speed grinder, that quite easily can turn something smooth into one big grooved up mess. However with care, and a very light touch you can take off only what needs to go, and come back and sand the slight ripples out with a random orbit sander.

Then I started dishing out stress cracks along the boot stripe with a dremel and a ball burr as I didn't grind the gel coat off this area, as there is a pretty decent transition from the bottom of the boat to the topsides that I didn't want to have to re-fair. A boot stripe with wiggles and bumps just doesn't look all that great.

After they were dished out I painted the hull with Awlgrips Hull Guard Extra, with a 4 inch chip brush and a squeedgee. It did not look very good, but I used a plastic squeedgee to force the primer in to the pin holes in the bare laminate and did not reduce it until it started getting to thick to work with. I had not used Hull Guard Extra before, as it is relatively new in the Awlgrip Lineup, I normally use 545 as a base coat but my Awlgrip rep talked well of it. No sanding needed to overcoat for 6 months, adhesion promoter for pink putty! I like that, because sanding the grooves and shiny spots of the lows is hard on your finger tips. Pylasteki is the test subject... Seems to be a common theme.

I am sanding off the brush marks with a random orbital sander and 80 grit. I'm going to lightly pull awlgrips fairing compound as a skim coat over the whole boat to fill more pin holes and dished out stress cracks. Hopefully Sunday I will be able to spray the hull with a few coats of sprayable fairing compound, to long board out with 80 and 120. Then a coat of high build sanded out to 220 followed by 545, and top coat.

I am going to spray her snow white, with a good bit of flattening agent in it. I don't want her to look quite like a million bucks for the world tour, but the foundation will be there for a 15 year paint job that is 2 days work away from being a mile deep. I must say, I'm almost tired of shiny boats.

That is all for now,


Saturday, March 24, 2012

March 24 2012


I used sheet wax to build up a dam around the hatch opening on the lower cabin and laid up a tapered wedge of fiberglass to make a flat pad for the hatch to sit on.

The stress cracks above the portlight got ground out. Dremel with a ball burr through the gelcoat and filled. I started filling the lows in the interior, on the underside of the deck.


I built some staging to go around the back of the boat. 8 foot 2x4's. I cut a 28 inch drop, and a 54 inch piece. One rung 24 inches off the ground, 28 inches wide. The top 24 inches wide... Cheap easy and stiff.

After that I added some more fiberglass to the hatch flange.


I ground the gelcoat off the starboard side of the boat. Everything except the underside of the counter at the transom.


The sun had eaten my old epoxy fiberglass work on the deck from 3-4 years ago. For peace of mind I decided to redo it, to not have to think about if it was still strong enough...

I ground the fiberglass off the starboard side deck, and replaced a some coring that I didn't do a few years back. The piece of divinycell went from the cockpit up to the aft deadlight of the main cabin, and resin coated the exposed balsa coring.

Leah came by for a bit and helped sand the old paint off the toe rails.


I finished grinding the bevels around the outside edge of the deck, water washed and sanded the epoxy coat. I wanted to jack a bit more crown in to the deck at the front of the cabin, so that under foot it would be stiffer. The camber of the deck makes it stiff, when you step on it the arch tries to flatten... When that arch is upside down it isn't doing its job.

When I laid the core a few years ago... I used a tool box to weight down that section, and it made a low spot. I screwed a 2x2 strip of pine, to the underside of deck and stacked paint stirrers in the middle by eye until the side deck had shape. I then ground the screws that were sticking through the deck off flush.

This cracked the coring along the center of the arch, so I ground out the crack and filled it with epoxy, let it gel and cut a strip of fiberglass for the side deck.

After that, I mixed up a batch of slow epoxy and started laying three layers of cloth. I air rolled it and worked all the excess resin out, and continued to roll until it had gelled. After that, I applied a quart and a half of Adtech Proseal to seal the weave of the cloth.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Update March 18, 2012

I took part of the week off of Noel, to do some work on Pylasteki.

A few weeks ago I recored the cabin top the traditional way, cutting off the top skin digging out the core and replacing it with divinycell foam topped with 3 layers of 17 ounce cloth.

I used pocket hole screws to hold an assortment of boards up to the underside of the cabin top, forcing the skin straight and flat where it wanted to sag down in the center.

I cut the bow deck out from just ahead of the cabin top up to the stem as I wasn't pleased with some of the first glass work I did on the boat, reusing the top skin to recore. It wasn't stiff under foot. I ground a 2x2 foot section off before picking up the saw and dropping the whole deck overboard.

It will go back as a water tight bulkhead at the chain locker and a deck accessed hatch.

Saturday and Sunday I cut out the chain locker bulkhead, and ground the tabbing out. I took the stem head fitting off, and tried to remove the bow chocks. The nuts on the underside were glassed over, so a saw will be needed.

Monday I sanded the paint off the inside of the cabin and underside of the deck. I brought in my rudder and ground the paint and glass off one side and started inspecting it. I need a new rudder shaft, and pintles and gudgeons. The hole in the gudgeons is about a half inch larger diameter than the pin. The bronze rudder shaft has gone pink, not pitted badly but on a blue water boat I don't want anything in the back of my mind that might be on the edge...

Tuesday I ground the old epoxy glass work I did on the port side deck. 4 year old work that the sun got the better of. Epoxy and UV light don't like each other much and the thin coat of paint I put on was long gone. I cut a template for the new glass out of tar paper, and cut three layers of cloth for port and starboard sides and laid glass on the port side. The glass work was probably fine, and was still solid and stiff, but for the time and cost of a gallon of resin I didn't want to think about it half way through the gulf stream...

Wednesday I sanded off a portion of the paint on the deck, and started faring the side deck. I removed the deadlights, and cleaned the old sealant off.

Thursday I started recoring the lower cabin house. I sounded it out, and drilled some test holes. It sounded dull on the port side and had some wet balsa in the center where the old pad eye was for boom bang. I cut around the line of the old non-skin. The skin popped up with no effort, the first layer of mat that bedded the core to the deck was dry except for two 2x4 by 2 foot sections that ripped some of the good balsa core out.

I ground out the bad balsa, and laid a 22x26 wide piece of divinycell foam in the center where it was in poor shape. I screw laminated this down with fender washers to pull the foam down into the glue after perforating the foam with a board that looked like a spike strip full of nails.

I made a template for the new glass work, tar paper again, and cut three layers of cloth. My new hatch takes a 24 11/16 x 24 11/16 hole, so I scooped out the balsa to the edge, but left the old hatch to retain the shape of the deck. I only put two layers right up to the hatch hole, as I'll be glassing in a drip edge on the underside, and building up a flat surface for the hatch to sit on. Directly behind the hatch is my solid glass pad that spans the bulkhead to accept the mast step, which I'll be building up level and flat.

While grinding the bevels around the edges I found the bad glass work extended up into the round of the front of the cabin, the top 3/16 of the 1/4 inch laminate was in good shape, but the lowest layer of mat directly against the core was dry. Grinding the bevel for the new work, meant half the bevel would be lying up against dry junk. I ground up into the fillet, and 1 1/2 inches into the solid face of the cabin just under the forward facing port lights. I hate grinding into fillets, as it goofs with the paint work and makes things more complicated. I'll end up pulling a 3+ inch radius fillet to cover the tabbing, and hopefully be able to float out the difference without changing the style of the boat to much...

With that done, I spent some time doing glass work inside the cabin where I found some old repairs to grind out in the cabin top, and cracks in the lower skin of the deck. After that was laid up, I acetone wiped the side of the hull and ground out some of the last of the gelcoat on the port side, up by the stem head fitting.

Then I went down and ground two of the through hull fittings I had glassed over previously and brought them flush to the hull.

I ended up working in the morning. It looked like it was going to rain at any moment after the dew burned off (around 11) so I went out and water washed the epoxy, acetone wiped everything and sanded the lower cabin top. Then with fast hardener I laid the first layer of cloth down, and went back to working on Noel. That afternoon I sanded off the semi-cured epoxy and laid the next two layers.


I water washed and sanded out the glass work on the lower cabin top feathering out the edges, and worked out some of the highs and lows. With that done I started sanding off the paint around the cabin. Normally I leave the old paint beside the new glass so that the film of resin that sticks around, even after acetone wiping, gets sanded off and doesn't take any of the substrate with it. I'm sanding with 80 grit, though it takes awhile longer than 40 grit to get through the paint, you can do less damage with less scratches to fill later on.

I did not apply any putty, as the dew point and humidity was on the verge even before sunset rolled around. Epoxy and dew don't get along.

Sunday: So far, its been foggy wet and rainy. I've got some things to work on, laying up blanks for the bulkheads and foam for the foredeck.

Pictures to come, my camera died midway through so they don't include the "good stuff" of destruction.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Built a mold.

I spent some time building a mold off the hatch cover on Pylasteki last week, for practice and to make a spray hood.

I've been reading a lot about mold making, and polyester based products, as I don't have a whole lot of experience outside the realm of epoxy.

I sanded off all the old paint down to the gelcoat, and faired the top with a polyester fairing compound, akin to the infamous "bondo" but different brand. I long boarded with 80 grit, and worked the lows to shape.

I then applied a skim coat of 3m's Pirranah finishing putty, and sanded with 120. The last of the pin holes I filled with Evercoat's Ultrasmooth finishing putty, applied with a razor blade.

After that, I acetone washed everything. I scuffed the surface with 80 grit, and sprayed 15 mils of Duratec Surfacing Primer, and let it sit. I used a mil gauge to verify.

In the morning, I wet sanded with 800 grit all of the orange peel. I buffed it with a power buffer (Makita 9227c) and Aquabuff 2000. I goofed, and got saw dust on the buffing pad... some swirl marks.

After that I washed it with soap and water.

A few weeks ago I took two pieces of dura-rock tile board and epoxied them together on the top of my table saw, and contact cemented a sheet of formica over the top. I used this as a mold plate by placing the hatch lid on top.

I took plasticine modeling clay and filled all the cracks against the formica, and filled the openings at the front, with clay and smoothed it out as best as I could. Then I cleaned up all the dust around, and applied 3 coats of honey wax, a mold release wax.

I came back the next morning, and buffed off the wax and put on one last coat.

With that done, I got out mixing buckets and some black CCP sprayable tooling gel, catalyst, and stir sticks. I pulled out my binks 95, and put my biggest tip in it... catalyzed the gel, and put it in the cup, pulled the trigger... and nothing happened. It is a siphon feed gun, but would not pick up the tooling gel! (Will have to make an attempt to re-create this...)

So, with tooling gel that has a 15 minute pot life, I grabbed my junker hvlp gun with a 1.5 tip, and cranked up the air pressure to squirt it through after quickly tearing down and making sure it was clean. At this point, there wasn't much pot life left. I sprayed what I could, catalyzed another 16 ounce batch and sprayed almost all of it. before it gelled up. This resulted in just over 15 mils of gel. Ideally a mold would have 20-30 mils, but I decided to proceed with the thinner coat.

Thin gel coat, can alligator, or shrink and pull loose when you lay over it with the first layers of mat. I have seen pictures, so I wanted to see if it would happen for the sake of education... it didn't.

4 hours later, I came back and laid two layers of .75 ounce mat over the part. No scissor cuts, just tearing the mat off the roll so that the layers would blend together.

The next day I came back and laid 3 layers of 1.5 ounce mat, and the day after three more. When the last three layers had hardened, the mold broke loose from the formica sheet, so I decided to de-mold the plug (the original hatch cover)

I used plastic mixing sticks, and plastic squeedgees, and in a few minutes time it was out.

Then with a jigsaw, I cut the excess from around the edges with a jigsaw equipped with a diamod grit blade. It worked like a champ, until I hit an air pocket that was longer than the blade could cut without hitting the bottom of the pocket, bending the $12 little bugger... I switched over to a metal cutting blade.

Ideally when the glass is still "Green" and hardening but not all the way kicked you cut off the overhanging edge. I left each layer alone, as it was sitting on top of my table saw, and didn't want to blow fiberglass dust everywhere.

I will make a spacer to go on the flange around the mold, about an inch thick, and round it over. When I lay up the part in the mold, it will work as a sea hood, that happens to be the same shape and style of the original sliding hatch. Lots of work to build a sliding hatch, but the education has been worth it.