I've been spending the spring reworking all my running rigging (the lines that control the sails) so that it's both convenient to use, and extremely robust. I've also been doing a bit of archeology on my spars to uncover evidence of how the Blue Moon was originally built & rigged.
I've had my spars off the boat all spring and been working on them, so I've had lots of time to get up close and personal with them. It's amazing how much information you can learn about a boat's builder -- and subsequent owners -- by doing a little 'digging'.
For example, I've always assumed that the original color of the spars was beige... the lighter color in this picture:
|The Multi-Colored Spars|
I assumed this because both the main and mizzen booms are a darker brown color (bottom spar in photo above), and the paint on those spars is in the worst shape. Because of the way the paint has worn on the booms, it looks like the color underneath is that beige color. Thus, my assumption that someone, for some reason, had slapped some dark brown paint over the beige.
Wrong-O. Under the beige paint was that brown paint, and under the brown paint was a very hard white epoxy paint.
It was that white epoxy paint that killed my varnishing plans. Last weekend, I borrowed a heat gun to see if heat and a scraper could remove the paint that had thwarted my miracle paint remover.
The heat gun did remove both the beige and brown paint, and pretty briskly, too, but had no impact on the white epoxy paint, underneath.
|Heat Gun Meets Epoxy Paint; Paint Wins|
I say that heat had little or no effect on the epoxy, but really, I didn't push it as far as I might have. In one test spot, I left the gun on one spot for a bit, until the wood under the epoxy turned black -- I could see it visibly darken under the thin coat of paint. When I saw that, I gave up on the whole idea of varnishing.
Instead, I decided to give the spars a good clean up, fill in all the screw holes, sand and scrape them smooth, and give them a couple coats of good Kirby paint.
|Well scraped, sanded, and almost ready for painting|
There must be a solution to this problem, but it has defeated me for the moment. If you know how to remove the leather without causing a bunch of problems, please share your knowledge below in the comments section.
I learned a lot about the Blue Moon's builder and subsequent owners from removing the outhaul sheave on the main boom.
I admire the determined way the painter jammed his paint brush down the hole, trying to get paint in there, but wouldn't it have been easier/neater to just remove the sheave?
The sheave is an interesting one. It's galvanized iron with bronze rollers inside. They are crudded up from not being cleaned since 1996, but after a night's soak in kerosene and a good oiling, they are running and looking fine.
It was while removing this sheave that I had my metalworking brain storm.
I'd been wondering how to attach a topping lift to the end of the main boom. Again, there is no fitting for this line, and as far as I can tell, there never was. But a topping lift is practically mandatory for a big gaff mainsail. I don't know how you'd manage the sail without one.
Actually, I don't need to imagine it, because I struggled without a topping lift for about 5 days, back in north-west Florida. Then I just tied the darn thing around the end of the boom and said, that will do!
And it did, for about 1500 miles, but it was really in the way of the rest of the rigging. I needed a better, stronger attachment point. But what?
Finally, it hit me. A stainless steel tang bolted to the end of the mast, using the outhaul sheave axle bolt!
I happened to have some 1/8" SS bar that I bought to make steel-stropped wooden blocks, and I have my new Delta drill press ($75 on eBay -- whoo-whoo!), that I also bought for my block-making project. With a hacksaw, a few files, and a bit of oil for drilling, I was all set.
|Pride of the UnlikelyBoatBuilder's Power Tool Fleet|
Anyway, in short order, I had a quite usable tang, nicely rounded and smoothed so it won't catch or tear anything.
|Topping-lift tang with shackle attached.|
The sheave bolt will go through the bottom hole, attaching it to the side of the mast, out of the way of the outhaul line, and the topping lift will clip on to the shackle.
So there you have it. A perfect solution with a few tools, a couple inches of material, and some elbow grease. And another check on my boatbuilder's skill list. No one else will even notice this little fitting, but every time I top up the end of my boom, I will smile just a little bit.
>>> Next Episode: Department of Duh!