Thursday, May 21, 2015

Alberg 30 Refit: Bottom paint removal

And I've already run into an issue. I started working on the bottom, beginning with the nasty job of removing bottom paint. When I got Sal out of the water I realized she has between 5-6 layers of paint. This being the dirtiest job, I decided to tackle it first. Upon inspection of the hull I noticed some weird coloring where the paint had chipped or cracked away. I decided to start where I noticed this weird coloring.

That small white area is where I started. Small pin holes and the funny looking pattern immediately had me concerned.

Sanded a small area, the odd pattern and pin holes seemed to be wide spread. Can of worms opened! 

As I began to remove the paint I quickly realized that this was going to be way more nasty than I ever imagined. Blue dust was everywhere. I did have a respirator but that was not nearly enough. A few days later with a the proper PPE I decided to investigate that area more. I began sanding with a 6 inch disc sander. Very good tool for the job. Within an hour I had removed about a 4' x 3' area and the odd pattern just kept going. I was looking for the original gelcoat and it was nowhere to found. The gelcoat is the outer protective layer of fiberglass boats, that seals and protects the fiberglass. My immediate thought was that the boat had suffered some damage in the area. I was starting to get worried.

This is the area I sanded. Almost 2 hours of nasty work. 

This is a close-up of what I found

I decided to stop because I was getting pretty discouraged with how widespread the affected area was. I sent a few pictures of it to people I consider "Plastic Classic" (old fiberglass boat) gurus. After a few days of emails and a few calls the general consensus was that the boat was not damaged and I was just seeing crazed/cracked, thinned gelcoat. These pin holes were voids in the layup between the gelcoat and the fiberglass. It seems as though somewhere in Sal's past someone sanded way into the gelcoat. At this point I am still weighing options about how to address the issues I found, but in the meantime I have to finish sanding the hull. I hope to have it completed soon. I believe I can do it in a week if I just buckle down.
Stepped back a bit to get a better view, have a lot of work ahead of me!

I have been pretty busy away from the boat with everyday life. I picked up quite a few extra hours captaining the ferry to get some money into the refit fund. I also had a milestone birthday (40!) and we had some special family members come for visits. I will blog about that in coming days.

Take care~


  1. Grinding the bottom is one nasty job, but it's good your starting with this because just about everything else will be easier.

    1. Yea, I agree. I owe you a huge thank you for taking the time to help me with the issues I had. Maybe I can buy you a beer or 3 someday!

  2. I've been using a scraper to get my old bottom paint off. Some comes off easily in sheets and other parts take quite a bit more effort. At least you have a smooth hull. The lapstrake of my hull adds to the needed effort. Still more to go but I moved to Northern VA over the past week but the boat is still in TN until I can find storage.

    I was looking at getting a half face respirator then someone told me I should get a full face instead. I spent the extra money on the full face and glad I did. That blue dust gets everywhere. Takes a few days to get it all off. I now have blueish socks that were once white.


    1. Hopefully the boat will soon follow. I tried using a scraper, it worked fairly well but the 6" sander seems to take the layers off quite nicely. I am using a half respirator and goggles, seems to do the trick but I do see a full face unit in my future!

  3. Looking good Jason, yeah for progress, as slow as it may be. We just got #456 home last week and into the back yard yesterday. I still need to get her positioned how I want, but progress is progress.

    1. I am glad you made the trip home, any photos of the trailer and/or journey?
      Progress has been very slow to none existent because of the hours I have been putting at the ferry. I have been work 70-80hours a week between full time job and p/t captaining the ferry. I am trying to build up the refit funds. I should have more time coming up here in the near future. Good Luck with your refit!

  4. Hey man,

    That's pretty much what our hull looked like when we took the paint off... the reason I've heard is that back in the day they laid up gelcoat much thicker than they had to and thermal expansion/contraction of the hull causes the gelcoat to crack. We hit it with a coat of epoxy and then used a spreader to work thickened epoxy into the cracks. Barrier coated on top, turned out pretty good. Good luck!