Sunday, November 22, 2015

Painting with warm honey

"Well, that's a strange title."

You know what they say -- any attention is good attention on the Internet.  No wait, that's not quite true.  Hmm.  Anyway, you're here now.

What's the warm honey bit about, then?  Epoxy, as it turns out, is just like painting with warm honey.  Nowhere near as tasty, but a quite similar texture.  It's my first experience with the stuff, and I'm pleased to say it hasn't been wholly unpleasant.  Which is good, because I've heard some stories that have sounded wholly unpleasant.

Here's a quick view of home sweet home garage, way back when I was totally new to using this mysterious substance and not yet an expert (about 10:00am today):

It took longer than you would think to spread that fibreglass cloth out.  I couldn't get 5 foot wide cloth, so I'm joining 2 sheets by kind of spreading together the little fibres at the seam.  Though this apparently becomes quite thin stuff, I have a sneaking feeling it might require some fairing, even after a couple of fill coats.

It is kind of neat stuff though, very strong and silky like a spider-web.  It also makes you itch like fibreglass insulation, which makes complete sense, unfortunately in retrospect.

Here we are again, all prepped and ready:

I was planning on using acetone to clean the wood prior to application, even going as far as buying a bottle of the stuff.  However, when it came right down to it, I didn't.  I used to use acetone in a shoe repair shop I worked at in the industrial revolution, and the stuff is simply nasty.  It eats holes in your mind.  Every decent sniff deletes something important, like how to tie your shoes or who you're married to.  I think that's why I'm colour-blind and I can't swim.  Also, gerkashnitzel.

What instead?  Well, elbow grease.  I started with a brush, then a vacuum, then a shop cloth.  Terri had some micro-fibre cloths, and those worked great on the final lap.  Any remaining dust (not much) will be forever encapsulated in the epoxy, and that's OK.

Cutting to the chase, here's the workshop after the few hours it took to mix and spread all this gunk out:

I'm now at the "hope that worked" stage.  I mixed lots of small batches of the West Systems epoxy (that's epoxy that boat -builders approve of, so, yeah, I'm pretty cool).  I measured carefully with the approved pumps, and I made sure to mix the heck out of it, like I was told to.  It is a little tedious with all that mixing, but not as bad as, say, transferring a 10-pound bag of rice grain-by-grain to another bag and back again.

It's thick stuff compared to paint.  It soaked into the wood doors (no fibreglass going there) quite easily, but it took some patience and persistence (and a lot of epoxy!) to wet out the fibreglass cloth.  It likes to grab dry cloth and pull it all out of alignment, so you need to hold it down and go very slowly.  No problem. I do have, you know, an unlimited amount of time for this.

It's pretty easy to kind of shift it all around as you go, since it's a loose weave.  I don't have any folds or anything dramatic, but I have a suspicion that some of the denser areas might wind up a little ... wavy?  I hope not.  Who knows. I've never done this before.

I mainly used a thin roller, which I'm not totally sold on.  It does OK, but it leaves texture and little fibres every once in awhile.  I may try the next round with a brush (which I will use the acetone for, in an enclosed jar) and see how it goes.

Here's a closer view of the stuck-on cloth:

The ends (left) will get trimmed off, but the sides (right) will get wrapped over and epoxied on once the first coat is cured.  This makes the roof joint all the tougher.  The plan is the same for the roof: I'm told that this fabric should blend into the fibreglass-less walls fairly easily.

Apparently, I'm on a bit of schedule now.  To avoid sanding the thing every time, I apparently need to apply the next coat within about 24 hours.  We'll see.  If it needs a sand anyhow, I might just do that.  Read: if I'm tired after work tomorrow, I'll decide it needs a sand anyway!

Hopefully, I look at this stuff tomorrow and it's nice and hard.  Otherwise, the next blog post might be, "Why I decided to cut the camping trailer into little sticky pieces."

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