Thursday, April 29, 2010

Minor problems.

Back to normal. Our reputation as bad weather boaters is safe, as we head off tomorrow to Little Venice it seems we are due for much colder and wetter weather. Ah well.

I can't seem to get rid of the paintbrush yet. I've been repainting the gangplank to match our new colour scheme. This time I remembered to put a layer of sand on the middle coat to give some grip to our feet. The previous glossy paint resulted in Jacob falling into the Wendover Arm three years ago during the canal festival there.

I also have to do something about catches to hold the rear doors open. The previous cabin hooks that did the job left circular paint scratches as they swung loose. I can't face the thought of our lovely new paint being defaced. Standing in front of fixtures and fitting in Wickes, I can see a number of potential ideas - magnetic catches, roller catches etc, but I need to have a detailed look this weekend at the doors themselves to see what might fit. I need something elegant and practical - not always an easy compromise. Any ideas?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Clearing up and totting up the cost

Thanks everyone for all of your supportive comments about the paint job. Much appreciated, and we'll pass them on to the team. We got further praise today at our moorings where other boaters commented as they passed.

It took us most of the day today to clear the boat of all the dust and rubbish accumulated. Now we are ready for our first outing in our new livery. On Friday we go to the Canal cavalcade at Little Venice along with other boats from our moorings.

One other job we did today was to return unopened tins of paint to Uxbridge boat centre. The paint (craftmaster) went quite a lot further than we anticipated, but luckily UBC gave a refund on the unused tins (about £90!). That means that the final bill for paint was down to about £375. And we still have a couple of half used tins to keep for touching up future wear and tear. I reckon the total job cost (paint, abrasives, dock hire, brushes, tools) comes in at just under £1000, plus something like 50% more for food and drink. Well you have to keep the workers happy.

Compare that with the cost of £3000 to £5000 normally charged by professional paint shops (more for the top places). Not that I think their prices are high. There is a huge amount of labour involved if you do the job right.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Of borders and coachlines - how we did it.

Having contrasting borders and handrails on your boat looks nice, but it sure makes a lot of extra work. If you are paying a painter, they will charge a lot extra for this. The coachlines in between panel and border can be done in three different ways.

We went for the old fashioned way, which was to paint the coachline before the rest of the top coats. We marked out the coachline with a pencil on the undercoat, then painted it twice the proper width, feathering the edges. At this point it looks like this.
Note the red handrail paint is also feathered down. Then you stick masking tape where the final line would be, covering the coachline paint. Then we masked the edge of the red handrail. Then paint your panel and border, edging over the masking tape. Then when all is dry, pull off the tape and hey presto you have a sharp coachline.The professional painters at our dock do it another way. Just mark a single line for the centre of the coachline. Carefully paint the panel and border, meeting at the line. Then mask up either side of the finished coachline and paint it in, covering the other paints where they meet.

Lastly there is the Phil Speight way, which is to mask over the proposed line and paint border and panel, then unmask the line and mask either side, then paint the line in.

Each to his own. I don't think our way was best, in terms of the finished line, but it was the easiest and quickest.

As to the borders, its a good idea to do them a little less than the width of a roller, so once masked, its easy to paint. Our bottom borders, by the gunwales were too narrow to accommodate a full width roller so we cut our roller down, leaving a stub to run along the gunwale.
That made it really easy to stay on line and we flew along.

Monday, April 26, 2010

How to cheat at signwriting

Let's get this straight. I am not a good signwriter. I managed to produce a passable name on Herbie, but it needs improving, even before I start to add the shading.

In the wet dock it wasn't easy because the boat was continually disturbed, not only by my good friends climbing all over it, but also because passing boats outside created a drag which pulled Herbie back and forth against her ropes.

So I opted for a masking tape solution. using my previously prepared (see earlier blog entries) measuring strips top and bottom, I masked off the edges of all the vertical lines in the letters, and a good few of the horizontals too.

All I had to do then was paint in between the masking tape and do the freehand curves into the serifs. Easy,although the first strokes were somewhat nerve racking

The big curves on the R and B were a different matter and they were entirely freehand.

The whole effort took ages. A proper signwriter would have done a better job in a fraction of the time I took.

However, it's a start and I look forward to making it better with a few tweeks and the addition of some shading. That's just one side of the boat, I still have to start the other. Maybe I'll learn and do it better and quicker.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ten secret tips they don't tell you about boat painting

1. This is the most difficult challenge. Find several friends, competent at DIY, who have more free time than sense, and persuade them that they would enjoy long days of strenuous dirty work for little reward. Our paint job took 45 person days of labour over two weeks !!! Alternatives are:

a. Do loads of prep in the weeks before the official job starts
b. Pay someone else to paint the boat. Even at three or four times the DIY cost, they are not ripping you off.

2. This is the most vital appointment, needed in order to keep the team from rising up against the management. . Nominate a catering manager and allocate them a large proportion of the total project budget for tea, cake and biscuits and order refreshments at hourly intervals. Do not expect the catering manager to provide evening meals if they are also part of the prep /paint team. Allocate a further budget, approximately equal to the cost of the paint, to spend on booze and pub grub in the evenings.

3. Even though you should use a clean, well lit indoor wet dock like this

it also would be a good idea to cultivate friends in the met office to arrange for dry weather with stable, comfortable temperatures throughout. Alternatively choose to paint your boat in spring or early autumn to get the right conditions.

4. Make a plan at the start with a daily list of jobs and then because it never goes to plan, rewrite it each day until one day near the very end it actually does go according to plan.

5. Get lots of little envelopes. You will need these suitably labelled to store all the little fittings you unscrew from the boat.

We didn’t , and it cost us hours of trying to work out which screws went where at the end.

6. Allow hours and hours and hours for masking up. To calculate how much masking tape you need, multiply the length of the boat in feet by three, then buy that number of metres. We used nearly 150 metres of it! Buy the red plastic stuff. Expensive but worth it.

7. Work out the area of carpet in the average house, then bring along that much clean rags to wipe brushes, mop up spills, wash down the boat with white spirit etc. We got a roller towel roll from a car boot sale and it was just the job. Also buy loads of tack cloths. We used over 40.

8. Buy paint from somewhere that will take back unused tins and give a credit note. Paint goes further than it says on the tin.

9. Whenever you have a wet paintbrush after painting a large area, look around for something small to paint in the same colour. Maybe a locker lid handle, or a T stud. That way, all the little bits get done.

10. Andrew Denny of Granny Buttons likened our paintfest to an Amish barnraising. That leads us to our final tip. The Amish always leave a small fault in the symmetry of their patchwork quilts to show that only God is perfect. When painting your boat, always leave imperfections to show that only Phil Speight is perfect! That’s our excuse anyway.

Lastly, remember - putting on the paint is the easy bit. Preparation is all.

Tomorrow - signwriting secrets

Saturday, April 24, 2010

We emerge into the daylight - the finished paint job

Herbie approaches home in her new livery. How will she look?

Like this:

A very busy last day in the dock and I did manage to get the basic name signwritten on one side only. The shading will have to be done later. Trying to paint the sign with people continually hopping on and off the boat was a nightmare. The panel was rocking and bobbing and sliding left and right as the brush hovered over the marks. I'll be glad to finish it off properly in more sedate surroundings sometime soon.
Many many many thanks to Rick, Marilyn, David and Simon, who freely gave of their time and expertise. There is no way we could have done this without their help.
I have plenty of pics and info to share when I have more time next week, and some interesting lists of do's &dont's and unusual suggestions for the shopping list of would be boat painters.
Meanwhile I'm off home for a nice bath.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wow !!!!!

The masking tape came off one side of the boat tonight and we can see the results of all our work. To say I am pleased is an understatement! Herbie looks great. The colours, the layout, and the quality of finish we have managed to achieve is better than I had dared hope.

Today we had Rick and David with us, so we made good progress with final coats of paint and the start of re attaching various bits of hardware previously removed for painting.

Tomorrow is our last day in the wet dock and we still have plenty to do. Touching up minor bleeds at masking tape edges etc, refitting doors and hatches, clearing up the mess and yes, I will attempt the sign writing!

I'm starting to feel the tension reducing, although it's not over till it's over. Simon (Tortoise) and Carrie called in at the end of the day and we all went up to the Packet Boat pub to celebrate our delight at seeing the tape come off.. It was supposed to be a quick pint but we were there for nearly three hours and had a long rambling and amusing conversation.

Tune in tomorrow f to see if I mess up the signwriting and for the first picture of the newly repainted Herbie in the daylight.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Paintfest day 12 - details details

As well as further top coats today in various places , we had a huge list of detail jobs to do. Gas locker handle, mushroom vents, T studs, etc etc. We are now deploying a daily list so the little jobs don't get overlooked.

I really like the contrast of the red and dark grey paint where they meet, as on the foredeck.

Tomorrow will be the final day of painting apart from perhaps some tiny details. The reason for this is that we have to leave the wet dock at 5pm on Friday and we don't want any wet paint at that time. Friday will be paint drying, clearing up and packing away, and possibly some of the signwriting.
All very exhausting but we have been fortified by regular evenings at the pub, and tomorrow we promise ourselves a lunch of all day breakfast at the cafe at Cowley lock. Yum. We desrve it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Paintfest day 11 - hard work, good results

Too knackered to write much! When all this is over I'll have loads to tell you, but for now here is where we are with three days to go before we finish. The roof is finished -hooray!

The sides are in their proper colours but with one more dark grey and two more light grey coats to do. Most of the rest of the boat awaits a final top coat.

Still a bit hard to see how it all looks because of the masking tape, but I reckon it's going to be good.

You'd never guess the most dificult and exhausting bit so far - the masking up! Trying to get a bit of sticky tape to exactly follow a forty foot line to millimeter accuracy with the boat moving and your body twisted at an awkward angle is agony. The actual painting is a doddle in comparison. And quick too. Rick and I painted both boat sides in two colours in two hours.
Things won't look a lot different tomorrow night except that the paint will have more layers.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Paintfest day 10- the beginning of the end

At last we get some top coats on. Hooray! Today we put a coat of raddle on the roof by half past ten and then spent hours masking up the side panels - not easy until you discover how. meanwhile Kath painted the well deck sides and the front doorway.

Then this afternoon, the piece de resistance - the main side panels. All our diligent prep seems to have paid off and we got an amazing finish, me rollering and Rick laying off with a brush. The colour is great and as you can see, the gloss finish is superb. The dark grey had no trouble in obliterating the overpainting of the coach lines, even though we still have two more coats to put on.

Tomorrow, the roof again, the rear deck area, the main dark grey panels again and the first coat of the light grey borders. Phew!
Looking good though.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Worse before it gets better!

Herbie looks a right mess at the moment. We've rubbed back the undercoat to get a flat surface, taking off half the paint we've already put on (par for the course) and then marked out the coach lines and roughly painted them in, very wide to feather out the paint level. Tomorrow we mask over the true line and then paint the surrounding area in the side colour. When all the top coats are on, we take off the masking paint revealing the neat coach line. That's the idea anyway.

Something similar has been done to the handrail red, so now we see the boat with patchy undercoat, a coach line which looks like its been done by a two year old, and a ragged edge to the handrail paint. It'll all be OK, provided that the grey side colours cover the other colours adequately. We'll know tomorrow. Am I anxious? Yes, a bit, although we have three top coats of grey so that ought to cover OK.

Rick is back with us today, so now we are three. Much to do and only four days painting left.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Paintfest day 7 - we glimpse the real colour

Over half way through now and we face the most scary bit, prepping and painting the gloss coats. We can put it off no longer, the whole boat sits in the requisite number of layers of undercoat. It looks like the final rub down will not be easy if we are the get rid of the brush marks in the undercoat. A hard day's sanding is in prospect.

We have quite a few shallow indentations where we have rubbed down spots and although they have all had extra dabs of paint I reckon some will remain visible at the end, despite the sanding. Disappointing.

To test out the top coat I painted the front doors, which spend most of their life in the gloom of the cratch so I reckoned that any mistakes would be less visible.

After the thick primers and undercoats, the coach enamel is a revelation. Much thinner, flows readily and very easy to paint with. Although it is thin, the coverage is amazing. It seems to obliterate the undercoat colour easily. I guess that's why you pay all that money for this good paint. It really does the job. So, now we see the main colour of sides of the boat, a dark graphite grey which will be surrounded by a lighter grey border.

Temperatures have been ideal for painting.
Our digital min max thermometer indicates centigrade temperatures in the mid teens for most of the day and a minimum of ten degrees at night. No need to use heaters.
Must press on, see you tomorrow.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Paintfest day 5&6 - paint over paint over paint

Yesterday was a day of bits and pieces, undercoating doors, hatches etc and it didn't feel like we'd come far. Today however, in a single day, we have undercoated or re-undercoated the cabin sides, the roof, all six steel doors, the rear deck area and the foward bulkead and the foredeck, and all the fiddly bits round the side hatch, and we now have half the hand rails resplendent in the shocking pink undercoat for the red paint. Now wonder Kath looks knackered!
The wet undecoat, for a brief period gave us a glimpse of what the shiny sides might look like when we come to the gloss coachpaint.
Tomorrow another undercoat on the cabin sides, lots more bits and pieces and then we start to prepare for the gloss coats. Very scary.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Paintfest day 4 - an anonymous boat

Herbie now looks like any other anonymous grey sailaway we see all over the system. Covered all over in grey primer, she is a blank canvas. At least all those spots have gone! We practiced the system we will use for the top coats, one person rolling paint and another close behind laying off with light vertical strokes.

Nearing the end of painting the roof we ran out of primer, so bought some in the shop here at the wet dock. It said grey on the tin, but it came out at the other end of the greyscale, almost white. Never mind, the undercoat should cover that up.
We had a visit from Claire and the kids at lunchtime

and shortly afterwards Rick and Marilyn departed for home. Many thanks R&M, where would we be without you?

Now Kath and I soldier on on our own until Rick returns at a later date. It suddenly seems very very quiet.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Paintfest day 3 In our prime

Looking at this picture you'd think we were in an art class, but no, it's just spot priming. Its good though to be painting at last, and we do have one area that now looks smart. The aft deck area which I had rubbed entirely back to bare metal now has a smooth covering of grey primer thanks to the efforts of David, who even did the deck drain channels sitting in the engine bay.
This is the first bit we have that looks like proper new paint and is a great boost to us all.

The rest of us have been busy too, priming every place that we had rubbed back.

Tomorrow we should see some real progress as we undercoat large areas. By the evening Kath and I will be on our own for the rest of the week, so it's going to feel very quiet.

Paintfest day 2 -Out damned spot

Day 2 completed and every square inch of Herbie above gunwale level has been rubbed down, every (we hope) tiny speck of rust has been rubbed back to bare metal and Fertan-ed. The boat at this stage looks awful.
Still we've had a jolly time with frequent breaks for tea and cake. Our picture above shows the whole crew -Simon, David, Kath, me, Rick and Marilyn.
Today we start priming all the Fertan-ed spots, and getting rid of all the dust. Now we're starting to ponder the order of the real painting - which bits to do in which order - a bit of a conundrum with three colours to incorporate. - four if you count the lining, five ifyou count the raddle for the roof. Blimey!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Paintfest day 1

End of day 1 and Herbie is looking very scruffy.

We entered the dock with a full crew at 9am
and seemed to take ages to get ourselves sorted out before the useful work began. Then all of a sudden teams of volunteers (well six people), swarmed over the steelwork rubbing, scraping and sanding and the transformation was under way.

There was a poignant moment when Herbie's name dissappeared from her side.

Even before we entered the dock there was drama, because our main water pump chose the previous evening to fail. A quick strip down revealed that water had leaked through the diaphragm and seized the bearings and the motor, so a new pump was required.
So fitting a new one was the after dinner job last night!
Lots more rubbing down for day 2. Stay tuned