For the final coat, I mixed in a bit of this
surface curing agent.

It rises up to the surface of the gelcoat
during the curing process, and lightly coats it
to cut off exposure to the air.

Base for my new pedestal

Home -- s/v Stella Blue home -- Steering Page -- Projects

December 2005 --
This big idea spun out of control
and consumed an enormous amount of effort,
so it deserves its own page.

Nothing like a "big idea"
to make things a little more difficult.

To keep water away from all the pedestal holes,
even if there's an inch of standing water in the cockpit,
I'm putting the pedestal up on a block of fiberglass.

It's ground down on all four sides
so that the edges and corners
won't be toe killers, and to help water drain
away from the pedestal and guard.

This jig from home depot is really handy
for helping to keep holes vertical.
Note the two big holes for the pedestal guard.
When installed, the Stainless Rail for the guard
will fit down into those two holes.
They're sockets.
That should make the guard rock solid.

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There's a two week period where I didn't take any pictures, because it wasn't supposed to be that big of a deal.

I started out painting it with "finish" gelcoat, which contains a surface curing agent. The local "Huge Marine" store only carried normal gelcoat in quarts, and I thought that was too much. I figured I'd just
sand down between coats to prepare for the next layer, and wrap this up in a couple of days.

The problem was that I had a really tough time thinning it with enough Styrene to make it brush easily,
and every time I tried to sand it smooth between coats I ended up sanding through in a spot.
So I ended up having to buy a second pint of gelcoat, and *still* screwed it up every time.

So I was six coats and $60 of gelcoat into it, and the finish was still uneven, with spots that were too thick
and other spots where the underlying red block was showing through. Arr.


Instead of painting it, I used gelcoat.

This block is going to become part of the cockpit sole, so I thought that gelcoat would last longer than single part paint, and that two part paint would be too expensive.

Actually, I was wrong on the expensive part, but only because I kept screwing it up had to redo it six times!

To start, I lightly swabbed the FRP block with Styrene,
to soften up and slightly reactivate the cured resin.

Finally, I did what I should have done in the first place, and got a pint of normal gelcoat at Tap Plastics.

It was fresher, thinner, and ten bucks cheaper.

Normal gelcoat doesn't surface cure.
Air will impede the curing on the surface, leaving it ready to chemically bond to the next layer.
This allowed me to build up three layers without sanding.

I still thinned it a bit with Styrene,
but this stuff flowed out much better than
the stuff from the local Huge Marine store.

Then it was time to epoxy it
to the new cockpit sole.

Getting it level is going to require some careful measuring, as I don't want my
new pedestal to look like
the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

That's covered in
the Cockpit pages,
still in progress.

I hope I don't regret not painting it. I didn't buff it to a high gloss, because I was really afraid of wearing through to the fiberglass again.
Besides, if it's
too shiny, it'll make
the rest of the boat look bad.


There are still visible brush strokes in this pic,
but they're thin enough to sand out. I know there are two layers of gelcoat under the visible surface, so I can sand it down a bit without hitting the underlying block.

I wet sanded
with 320 grit,
then 600 grit,
and finally 1500 grit
to get it perfectly smooth.
Then it was buffed out with buffing compound, followed by
Microfinishing compound.