Lazarette Modifications, Part 7: Pre-Painting the Components

The portside lazarette shelf, pre-painted and ready for installation
Having completed the glue-up of the various cleats in the lazarette of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, it was now time for me to do some pre-painting of some of the components, specifically, the shelves that I would soon be gluing into place. By pre-painting these shelves I would save myself a lot of hard work, since it would be much easier to apply the paint to these shelves while standing around a work table than it would be to apply it in the uncomfortable confines of the lazarette.

Before I could start the painting, I had to go back and do some additional epoxy work - epoxy work that I really should have done back when I had done the original epoxy-coating of these plywood shelves. Specifically, I needed to daub each of the ventilation holes with epoxy. In each of these holes there was exposed end-grain. This plywood would never be fully protected unless I coated this exposed end-grain with epoxy.
To apply the epoxy, I propped up the shelves in the cockpit of the boat and hit each hole with a small, 1/2 inch wide chip brush. As was the case with my early epoxy work on these shelves, I did two coats, with the second coat being applied several hours after the first.
A couple of days later, after the epoxy had cured, I took the shelves to my work table on the front porch in order to sand off all the excess.
By the time I was finished, I had gotten the shelves to look much as they did before I had started. The only difference, of course, was that the ventilation holes were now protected.
This sanding job, required work on both sides of the shelves, since the epoxy had dripped out on both sides.
Next, I coated the holes in the shelf that would support the house battery bank.
Then I hit the holes in the shelf that would cover the first half of the water tank.
I did the same on the shelf that would cover the second half of the water tank.
A couple of days later, I sanded all the excess epoxy off each of these shelves.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again, 40 grit sandpaper, in my experience, is necessary for making any headway on epoxy.
Without 40 grit paper, you'll waste a lot of time and energy.
You might recall from the previous posting that it was necessary for me to trim the corner off one of the water tank shelves. I saved this corner, since I had to use it as a shim. I had epoxy-coated the end grain of the shim at the same time that I had coated the various ventilation holes. Therefore, I gave this piece a sanding at the same time I sanded the other pieces.
Having completed this necessary epoxy work, it was now time for me to get down to business with the paining. I used Pitthane, a two-part polyurethane from Pittsburgh Paints. I've described this paint (and my procedures for using it) in great detail in other articles, for example, "V-Berth, Aft-Locker, Holding Tank Shelf, Part IV: Installation and Painting." Therefore, I will spare you the details here.
To prep the shelves, I wiped all of them down with acetone.
I also hit them with the Shop-Vac, which was helpful in getting the dust out of the ventilation holes.
In painting the shelves, I began by hitting each of the holes with paint on the end of a 1/2 inch chip brush. Then I rolled-and-tipped the flat parts of the shelves. I made sure to avoid those areas that would be receiving epoxy during the glue-up process inside of the boat.

On the house bank battery box shelf, I only painted the ventilation holes, since I knew that I would be applying quite a bit of cloth to this shelf during the glue-up, and since it would be easy to paint this shelf at the very end of the project. This shelf, after all, would be front-and-center and easily accessible, in other words, easily paintable.

While I was at it, I decided to use some of the left-over paint to test the compatibility of this two-part polyurethane with the original gray paint on the hull. I began by wiping down a small area of the hull in the lazarette with toluene.
I monitored this spot for many days, and I never saw the paint buckle or wrinkle. This to me was a good sign.
Also at this time, I did a compatibility test with the proprietary thinner sold by Pittsburgh Paints for its Pitthane line of two-part paints.
I soaked a clean rag with the thinner, and then I stuck it on the side of the hull.
About fifteen minutes later, I came back and checked the spot. Fortunately, the original gray paint was unaffected by the solvent.
The thinner had removed the dirt and grim, but not the paint. That was good.
These two tests told me that it was safe to paint over the existing gray paint with this product.
Back at the work table, I made preparations to apply the second coat of Pitthane to the shelves.
I used 320 grit paper to scuff the first coat of paint and provide it with some tooth for the second coat.
Afterwards, I wiped each of the shelves down with the Pitthane solvent to remove the dust.
Here's a shot of my work area for the mixing of the paint. Notice that I have propped a small piece of wood against the thinner and the paint in order to block the amount of light and the amount of heat reaching these products. I did this work in the heat of the summer. The cooler I kept these products, the better.
Now it was time for the second coat.

Having applied two coats of paint to the bottom side of each of the shelves, I now needed to pause to figure out how I would secure the reserve battery bank to the portside shelf.
This box from West Marine came with a single strap and two plastic footman's loops. These items did not seem to be sufficient for holding the box and battery securely in place. At a minimum, there needed to be something that would prevent the box from sliding around. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this box needed a frame of sorts.
Therefore, I constructed one out of scrap pieces of mahogany. I had to leave one corner of the frame open in order to account for the curvature of the hull.
At first I thought it might look good to secure this frame to the shelf with oval headed wood screws and finish washers.
I decided, however, that the finish washers were a bit too much, so I simply countersunk each of the holes and used flat-head screws for the installation. In the picture below, I'm experimenting with the flat-heads (every other screw).
These pieces of mahogany I would put away for the time being. Later, I would stain them and varnish them (at the same time I stained and varnished many other pieces of mahogany), before installing them for the last time on the painted shelf.
Having completed this digression on the battery box frame, I could now focus on applying the paint to the top side of the the shelves. I began by sanding the excess drops of white paint that had spilled through the holes when painting the bottom sides of the shelves. Note that on the shelf below, I had also done a little more epoxy work - filling imperfections in some of the holes that I had previously filled with epoxy (holes that concealed screws for the horizontal brace).

Drilling all of these holes, epoxy-coating all of these holes, and then painting all of these holes was tedious and time-consuming. I'm glad, however, that I took the time to do the job right.
Doing the job right, meant that each of these shelves was lighter in weight. Doing the job right meant that each of these shelves would allow for better circulation of air. Doing the job right meant that the holes in each of these shelves were just as protected with epoxy and two-part paint as the rest of the wood.
At last the time had come for me to apply the final two coats of paint.
I'll spare you the details and only say . . .
. . . that these port and starboard shelves turned out great.
Next, it was time for yet another dry-fit.

The main reason why I needed to do another dry-fit at this point was because I needed to drill the mounting holes in the water tank shelves prior to painting them. Due to the cramped conditions in the lazarette, I was unable to use my electric drill in the normal fashion. Therefore, I purchased a Kobalt brand flexible attachment from Lowe's.
I had read online that flexible attachments of any sort were notoriously unreliable. I only had to drill a few holes, so I figured this simple and relatively inexpensive tool would be the solution to my problem.
I decided exactly where I wanted to drill the first hole, and then I marked it with a center-hole punch.
The flexible attachment worked well on this first hole.
Into the hole I screwed a lag bolt.
Then it was on to the next hole. The flexible attachment gave me no problems on this one.
By the time I started on the other side of the shelf, however, the flexible attachment had reached the end of its short and inglorious life.
I laid out the the dismembered remains of the flexible attachment for an autopsy of sorts. Seeing that there was no way that I, a mere mortal, could bring this tool back to life, I took the remains back to Lowe's for burial. Shortly afterwards, I returned to my house with a survivor's benefit in hand. With this money I purchased the tool that I should have purchased in the first place - the Milwaukee Tools right angle attachment. More on this in a few.
While I waited for my right angle attachment to come in the mail, I made do with what I had on hand; I simply drilled and countersunk the holes in the shelves while they were outside of the boat. I would worry about the holes in the cleats after I got the right angle attachment in the mail.

It was also at the time that I decided I needed some sort of reinforcement between the two water tank shelves. Whenever I placed an object on top of one of the shelves, it would cause the shelf to sag slightly below the level of the other shelf. To remedy this problem, I grabbed a scrap piece of aluminum and got to work making a reinforcing plate that would join these two shelves together.
In the mean time, my right angle attachment arrived in the mail. I have written about my subsequent use of this tool many times in many other articles. This tool is worth every cent of the $50 I paid for it. It's heavy duty steel, it can handle high torque loads, and it can get into all sorts of places that you need to get into when refitting a boat.
At the same time I purchased the right angle attachment, I purchased the StubbyBits you see pictured below. These have been just as handy as the right angle attachment itself.
Back on task, I used the center-hole punch to mark the spots where I planned to drill the holes in the aluminum reinforcing plate.
I used a metal-cutting bit along with cutting oil in the drilling of each hole.
Afterwards, I used the countersink bit to prepare each hole for the flathead wood screws that I would use to secure the plate to the water tank shelves.
To finish the plate, I used my Makita jigsaw with a metal cutting blade to round the sharp edges of all four corners.
Back in the boat, I marked the water tank shelves in preparation for the drilling of the pilot holes.
My center-hole punch, which had served me well for a long time in this refitting, broke at this point. As a result, I had to use the old school method of marking holes - the hammer and nail.
The reinforcing plate, screwed into place.
Satisfied for the time being, I removed the water tank shelves in preparation for painting.
Back at the work table, I prepared the Pitthane two-part polyurethane once again.
I can't remember if I have mentioned this elsewhere, but I should say that regular, disposable blue nitrile gloves are useless when working with the thinner/solvent that is designed for Pitthane paint. Heavy duty, reusable nitrile gloves, however, do work well. Unlike the blue ones, which quickly degrade, these endure repeated contact with the solvent. The same can be said for weaker solvents, such as acetone and MEK, which will also quickly degrade blue nitrile gloves,
As always (after I had learned the hard way when I first started), I used a new foam roller each time I mixed up a new cup of paint.
The first coat.

One day later, I sanded both pieces.

Then I wiped them down with solvent to remove the dust.
The second coat on both pieces marked the end of this stage of the project.
I would need to put the Pitthane aside for while. My next task was to glue the port and starboard shelves into place. Though seemingly simply, this would require a good bit of work, and a good bit of sanding.
This ends this posting on my pre-painting of the components for the lazarette of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

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