More Trailer Work

All evidence suggests that I enjoy working on the boat trailers.  On my days off I keep finding myself crawling around under the trailers tinkering or fixing something.  Well, since the boats live on their trailers and the trailers deliver the boat to the water it is probably a worth while time investment to keep them in decent condition.
When we took ownership of Spy Hop her trailer was in good shape (compared to Tiger’s trailer) but still required a bit of work.  The only major problem was that the tongue was bent about 15 degrees to the left.  I wasn’t prepared to replace the tongue in the previous owners drive way so I towed it home with the bent tongue.  Being a true procrastinator I proceeded to ignore the issue for three months.  It wasn’t until a friend saw the trailer and was shocked that I towed it in that condition that I took seriously the need to replace the bent tongue.  Some people had suggested having the tongue straightened by heating it and bending it back.  I didn’t like that idea because I’ve seen what happens when a paper clip is bent one too many times, so I decided to simply replace the bent tongue.
Bent trailer tongue
Side by side with old and new trailer tongue
Ordering the required part from a Load Rite dealer was easier than I had anticipated and the best part was that it came pre-drilled to be installed onto the trailer!  I wasn’t looking forward to drilling several holes into the steel.  The replacement itself took a bit longer than I expected and was a little more involved than I thought.  The wiring harness runs through the tongue and then into the other frame members and dealing with those wires was a challenge I hadn’t really expected.  But, when all was said and done it went smoothly and the Load Rite design allowed for good access to all fasteners and for the frame members to come apart simply and go back together just as simply.
Replacing trailer tongue
Replacing bent trailer tongue
So whats the verdict?  The straight tongue is much better than the bent one.  I’m not surprised that the straight tongue is less squirrelly and easier to control but I am still glad that it is.  Oh, and it is nice not having the boat canted off to the side while towing.

Brightwork Part II – Some new thoughts

Update: Do not use this method of wood sealing.  The epoxy will seal the wood however doing it as I have described will lead to an unappealing visual result.  Please do not use this method until I update this page and remove this message.

After a bit of time to experience and live with the epoxy sealed thwarts I have some new opinions.  The easiest way to say it is that I am a little disappointed in the results.  I knew that the epoxy would react to UV rays, but I didn’t realize that it would apparently happen very quickly.  The deterioration hasn’t been structural or decreased the protection of the thwarts in any way, but it doesn’t look great,  and that is still a bit disappointing.

Daysailer coming
The varnished coaming wood kept out of sunlight still looks nice, however the UV exposed part looks less so.

While working on the coamings I have developed some thoughts about improving the way I go about sealing the wood.  First I’ll do thinner coats of epoxy.  On the thwarts I went the route of applying thicker coats but less total coats, next time I’ll do more coats but make them thinner.  Heavier coats of epoxy became difficult to control and led to unnecessary run off.  Also, the complex curves of the coaming meant that achieving an even coat was difficult while going heavy on the epoxy.

A heavy coat of epoxy also meant that sanding would likely be required to even out the coat.  My experience is that sanding ended poorly.  The epoxy would sand but would also become cloudy from I assume the dust getting I to the small scratches left by the sand paper. A less course sand paper would probably mitigate that some what but my resolution became to sand as little as possible. I have yet to find a good way to remove the cloudiness once it is produced.

Daysailer comings
Coamings before and after being covered in epoxy

Varnish on top of the epoxy does do a little bit to bring back the visual appeal of the coated wood but it doesn’t fully eliminate the cloudiness created by the sanding process. A couple coats of varnish does add a luster to the wood that epoxy doesn’t which adds a nice level of finish to the final product.

So yeah, I might be a little bit disappointed by the results of this first experience with sealing bright work but I have learned some things in the process as well.  The tiller is the next wooden piece that needs some improvements,  I plan on applying some of these lessons  on that when the time comes to brighten it up.

Brightwork Part I

Update: Do not use this method of wood sealing.  The epoxy will seal the wood however doing it as I have described will lead to an unappealing visual result.  Please do not use this method until I update this page and remove this message.

O'Day Daysailer thwart
Unfinished thwart

To thwart or not to thwart, that was the question.  My lack luster knowledge or Shakespere aside I did need to decided what to do with the thwarts in Spy Hop.  They were both unsealed wood and each was falling apart where they attached to the seats. From my perspective I had two options, refinish the existing thwarts and repair the damage that had occurred, or build new ones.  Well, the wood that made up the thwarts was still in somewhat good condition so I decided to refinish and repair rather than start over.

O'Day Daysailer thwart
Damage that developed over time that prevented the thwarts from attaching to the seats securely.

I trimmed out the portion of the thwart that had broken out and made a plug to fit each of the notches to recreate a solid piece of wood.  I didn’t have any old and faded mahogany laying around the shop (yes, I should be ashamed of myself) so I ended up using some meranti mahogany left over from a different project.  The colors don’t perfectly match but the patches are small and I doubt anyone will notice if I don’t point it out.  After some final shaping and sanding it was time to consider finishing the wood.

O'Day daysailer thwart image
Thwart coated in West System epoxy. Reflections are making the surface look somewhat milky.

Varnish has been the go to finish for many many years.  I tend not to have varnish on hand let alone spar varnish since I prefer to finish wood with my own concoction of oil and beeswax.  Sadly that concoction doesn’t lend itself to water and UV protection, both of which will be needed.  Conveniently, I do often have epoxy on hand and when epoxy is coated with varnish the combination becomes more protective then either of the parts alone.  Or so the West System literature tells me.  I do like the West System and like the idea of not needing to put on twelve coats of varnish every few years.  So I went ahead and coated the thwarts in a couple coats of slightly thickened epoxy resin (with the 206 hardener of course, resin alone just makes a mess.)  Once the epoxy cured the result was rather striking, a remarkable amount of life was brought back into the somewhat old and tired thwarts.  Honestly I haven’t applied varnish yet but I am already rather impressed.  I do intend to add varnish in the future, however I got side tracked by actually sailing Spy Hop.  Well who could blame me, I had to see how she handled with the newly repaired and sealed thwarts.

Trailer Troubles

Bearing race after being dislodged from the spindle.

Sailing season is here again, so it’s time to catch up on last minute boat projects.  Thankfully the list isn’t huge this year, just some improvements and spring cleaning. Actually Tiger’s biggest issue is her trailer not any particular part of the boat.  Sure, the hulls could use a patch here or there and both could use a good polishing to bring back some life.  The big thing for the boat will end up being a new dolphin striker and trapeze kit.  But, all these changes don’t mean a lot if the boat can’t get into the water and doing that requires a trailer.

The problem with the trailer is a common one, the bearings have gone bad. Complicating the situation is that one of the bearing races seized to the spindle. So, what should have been a straight forward bearing replacement turned into quite an adventure. I tried several methods in trying to remove the race.  Heat sounded the most promising option but heat alone didn’t get the mission accomplished.  I ended up using a grinder to grind a notch into the race (being very careful not to grind the spindle.)  Using a cold chisel and a hammer I hammered on the notch to rotate the race to get it to break free of the spindle.  That method along with heat worked.  Now just to rebuild and re-install everything and Tiger should be good for the road.

Sanding Hobie


Removing a layer of paint from our Hobie 14’s hulls was not a job I was looking foreward to.  The above picture clearly shows some peeled paint covering originally yellow hulls.  However, truth be told it hasn’t been as much a pain in the butt as I expected. At first I nievely thought that I could sand down the boat by hand.  After an hour with sand paper Asya and I could hear the universe laughing at us as we got absolutely nowhere. As with woodworking I accept that boat maintenance is a learning process. We quickly learned that removing the rquired layer of paint would require more mechanical muscle then I could supply in a timely manner. So I invested in a Porter Cable sander/polisher.  The Porter Cable worked wonders, I cleaned half the port hull in a couple hours instead of the several hours or days it would have taken by hand. 

There is still plenty of sanding to be done to fair up the current sanding job and prepare the 40 year old gelcoat for polishing.  In addition to sanding and polishing there are also a few repairs that need to be made to the gelcoat. I’m thinking of using epoxy to fix some of the small raw spots in the gelcoat.  Epoxy is by no means the most esthetically pleasing option but color matching the faded gelcoat will be impossible.  At this point I would rather create a structurally sound boat rather than a pretty looking boat.  But a patched yellow boat will look much better than a fading and peeling yellow and white boat.

With every day that passes sailing season comes closer, and I am anxious and excited to get the boat back on the water. But until then sanding continues.