The Final Coat


All the time, the long hours of building, sanding, cleaning, taping, have come down to what you do in these last few hours. It is not the time to take short cuts or to barge ahead without forethought. Be orderly, do the compulsory stages of what is needed in a clear measured way and don’t let your mind run away with a load of ‘what ifs’.

You have already checked the weather report and maps – there is no rain forecast and none visible on the map and neither is there strong wind predicted for the day, so you feel completely comfortable on that score. What you are about to do you have done many times before, so you have already determined the best time of day to start, you know with accuracy when you will finish and that will allow sufficient time to dry before nightfall. The surrounding areas are clean so the passage of your body as you move around the boat does not disturb dust. You have wiped down any dew or water from the wash down the day before and the job is dry and you have informed your neighbours about what you’re doing, so nobody is going to come and wash down or polish their boat in your vicinity.

Lay out your drop sheets and set up your work area. If this is on board, ensure that you have taken steps to guard against spills and splashes. Set out your brushes, the ones you intend to use on the day. These are clean and dry, or if they have been kept wet, you have given them a good rinse in the appropriate thinners and spun them dry. There is a spare brush, also clean and ready to go in the event of you dropping your active one or fouling it in some fashion. You have the tins of product, mixing containers, mixing tool, kettle, filters and lots of clean rag.

If you are using a catalysed material that needs an induction time, now is the time to mix it. Then start the final cleaning process which is to solvent clean the surface to be coated. Some latex gloves will protect your skin and prevent the transfer of body oils to the job. Using your Prepsol or Wax and Grease Remover you work with two rags – the first containing the solvent is wiped vigorously across the surface and is followed by the second, which wipes it off. Don’t leave out the second – if there is contamination on the job, simply wiping with solvent may not get rid of it. Also, when wetting the rag, pour from the container onto the rag – don’t allow the rag to contact the container or its contents, because if there is contamination on the rag, we don’t want to contaminate the source as well.

NOTE: If you are wisely using sunblock to protect your skin, you have applied it before your set up and washed your hands thoroughly. You need to be aware that those parts of your body that have been lathered with cream do not come in contact with the job, either before or after the solvent wash.

Now mix your product having ensured all the receptacles are clean beforehand. Pass all components of the mix through a paper cone filter. Mix a bit more than you need but not a lot more. Whatever is left over cannot return to the original can so a spare sealable container is useful if there is too much left over to throw away. If you have several hours of varnishing ahead of you, see if there is a natural cut off point that will divide the process up, and mix enough to do that. Then mix again for the next section. The longer the mixed product is exposed to the warm day, the more it can change in the pot through natural evaporation of the solvents. This will change flow characteristics of the varnish, so consistency is achieved by mixing smaller amounts more often, providing you don’t end up in the middle of a shift having to rush off and mix enough to finish. This would be disastrous for your wet edge.

The final stage of prep is to wipe down with a tack cloth. This will collect any bits of fallout that have landed since degreasing, and any lint left from the rags as you were doing it. The tack cloth contains oils, which hold the dust and lint when the cloth is passed lightly across the surface. If you lean on the job with your tack cloth in hand you can transfer those oils onto the job which will not assist adhesion and can even contaminate the surface. So be gentle. Don’t rub the surface – wipe it lightly then put it back in its plastic wrapper for its next use or it will dry out.

Now you’re ready. Hat on, sunnies on, long draught of water, rag in pocket for sprints and drips, final girding of loins……..go for it!!

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