A major project – the Deck

Rolling Stone is finally in the condition that technical issues can take a back seat. The ship is watertight and almost every piece of equipment & hardware was proven and tested and is working properly – yeah! Therefore the decision was made to go for a major „esthetic“ project and leave the boat ashore for the year 2018. Because the deck surface suffered from blistering filler and paint due to some delamination between the plywood structure and the glass-fiber our choice was simple. We go for the deck!
To avoid any overload we wisely limited the respective deck area, because in 2019 we want to go back into the water. However, taking into account our given time schedule, this would still be a challenge. Also, the whole work will take place outside and therefore we are quite dependent on the weather. With the beginning of this project we will also start to change the whole color scheme of the ship – and it’s the very first major cosmetic engagaement to improve the overall appearance of Rolling Stone.

Stripping and Grinding of the Deck
On a sunshiny day in May we began with the disassembling of all deck hardware: bow rail, windlass, deck switches, bow clamp, stanchions, T-track, toe rail and miscellaneous hardware. After that we immediately started grinding the whole area between bow and cabin until the plywood structure became visible. With slow-wheel angle grinders and grinding paper with Velcro fastener we achieved the fastest progress and after 6 working days the deck was ready to be coated.

Epoxy & Glass Fiber Job
We gave the plywood sufficient time (in fact some weeks) to dry and cleaned the „fresh“ surface with acetone. The new coat consists of a mininum of 2-3 layers of glass fiber (Silane, plain. 163 g/m2 ) + 2k epoxy resin. In some areas, especially where the hardware was attached, the wood had suffered to some extent and we had to reinforce these areas with more layers and self-made epoxy filler. Finally we applied a layer of peel ply. This is very advantageous for many reasons:
– Absorption of excessive resin
– Plain surface structure of laminated surface
– Slighly rough surface and after removal absolutely clean & dust-free
– NO time-consuming and dirty sanding and NO cleaning afterwards required
Summing up: you get the ideal surface for further treatment like glueing, painting or filler application. Working „wet-in-wet“ the whole process only took us 3 days including preparations. The very hot summer in Germany this year did the rest and we had to work really fast. Pot life was very limited in these days…

AWLFAIR but do it smart!
Already one day after the last layers of peel ply were applied astern we ripped off the first layers at the bow and began with the application of fairing compound. The material our choice is AWLFAIR 2k epoxy lightweight fairing compound – in my opinion the best product in the market. It’s mixed 1:1 by volume, which sounds easy. You just fill up and press the material in two identical plastic cups and then you dig the whole compound out of the cups and smear it on your mixing board. Easy?? Oh god no, please don’t do it that way!  Especially to get the material out of the cups is far too complicated, unprecise and quite messy. This only works for fluids but not for a pasty filler material like AWLFAIR.
The smartest way of volume mixing – in our opinion – is to cut a pair of pipe sections so you get a cup WITHOUT a bottom! Then you just put the pipe sections on the mixing board, fill them up with the AWLFAIR components and simply lift them until the filler has emptied itsself on the board. The rest of the compound can be easily scratched out with a wooden scoop. The pipes are re-usable as long as needed and of course you can build different pipes to match any filler amount you need. In October we will start with sanding & fairing – by hand and with sanding boards.

Hardware & Fittings
An important and time-consuming step is the replacement and reconditioning of worn and corroded hardware and this should be thought over carefully. An example was the „simple“ replacement of the corroded T-track. It was nearly impossible to get a fitting piece in Europe. Not only the spacing of the mounting holes is different to metric dimensions, but also the track section dimensions. Shipping from the US to Germany „simply“ doubles the costs (120 US$ for shipping only!), so with VMG Technologies we were very happy to find a Schaefer distributor in the UK to get the required 11/4“ x  3/16″ T-track to a fair price. Now we can still use our existing heavy duty cars & blocks and don’t need to drill new holes in the deck. Thank you, Cameron for your help, advice and courtesy. For our deck hardware we made the following decisions:
– Windlass – replaced by a stainless LEWMAR V3
– Deck switches – replaced by stainless LEWMAR switches
– Bow clamp – replaced by new and slightly bigger AISI 316L clamp
– Toe rail – we intend to re-anodize the old rail cause European rails don’t fit to US bolt spacing.
– Forestay T-track – replaced by SCHAEFER track to meet existing mounting hole spacing & track section
– All other stainless hardware (bow rail, spi pole holders, etc.. ) „just“ need to be cleaned and polished.

After completion of this whole project we expect that the foredeck area between bow and cabin will look like brand-new. We’ll see, so stay tuned!