Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to Bed, the Second

Now that the hardware is up, look closely at the deck around the fittings. This is the time to repair any big dings or cracks in the gelcoat. If the crack or ding is under the fitting, no need to match gelcoat - just smooth the area with thickened epoxy. If the drilled holes in the deck are ovalled or otherwise suspect, you may want to fill the holes with epoxy and redrill them. To do this, put a piece of masking tape across the hole on the deckhead or underside of the deck. In case that leaks, put some newpaper under the hole. Then inject epoxy into the hole, using the syringe sold by West System dealers. Simply dripping the epoxy into the holes typically leaves voids and is ineffective. The syringes are cheap and reuseable.

Inspect the hardware too. Stainless steel generally does not fail without first showing signs of failure, including incipient cracks.

The stemhead fitting on Journeyman, which came off as part of this project, is stainless steel and runs about ten inches down the stem and ten inches aft of the stem along the centerline. The forestay attaches to this fitting, as does the jib tack, so you can bet it takes some strain. Journeyman is thirty-eight years old, and that fitting might well be a candidate for failure.

After removing the fitting, I carefully polished it with Bon Ami, removing every trace of oil, wax, paint and corrosion. After washing it to get the scouring powder off, I wiped the fitting down with ordinary light oil, "3 in 1" type. I then wiped the fitting with a dry paper towel to remove most of the oil, and I dusted it liberally with colored chalk dust, the type used in chalk lines. (Every hardware store carries it.) I wiped off the chalk, then inspected the entire fitting with great care, using a magnifying glass.

I was searching for tiny hairline cracks, made visible only by reason of the chalk sticking to the residual oil remaining in any cracks. This is a cheap but pretty effective form of non-destructive testing, a variation of dye penetrant inspection, one you can do at home. It's a good trick to know.

Continued tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. loving this post. I will be rebedding ALL of the hardware on Windsong in the next few months and some of the details here are new and useful.


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