Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Status of the Gelcoat Spraying

Malaysian Gelcoat Chip compared to Singapore Gelcoat
We are now sourcing our gelcoat from RP Malaysia in Johor Bahru.  They custom mix whatever gelcoat specifications you want.  I gave them some Duratec and told them to mix it 1:1 with the gelcoat to give a 25 second #4 Zahn Cup viscosity.  It was spot on. Their ISO-NPG is high quality, they arrange shipping, and we don’t have to deal with import duty paperwork.  They were also able to provide Styrene, MEK, and MEKP.  All, at a very reasonable price.  We made the arrangements during our Road Trip to Singapore.

The Sunshade also blocks the wind
Chinese New year cost us a few weeks delay while waiting for delivery of the resin.  Malaysian businesses are all shut down for the holiday.  We did some sanding during that time and found out that the gelcoat we previously applied is continuing to cure and is getting extremely hard.  It seems to be best to do the initial sanding within a few days with 100 grit discs.

Starting the next 4m section
Just finished spraying the Inboard Side
Spray days are a real challenge.  We try to arrive at sunrise.  It is not possible to tape out the day prior because it may rain at night or the morning dew will make the tape peel off.  It has to be done in the morning.  

Setup and test panel spraying takes about an hour plus.  The wind builds up and is usually too strong to spray after around 11AM.  This gives us 2-3 hours max to git'er done.  The sunshades block the wind somewhat and that extends the time a little.

We started spraying sections from work scaffolds.  The nice thing with gelcoat is that blending and repairs are a piece of cake.  You don’t even have to be a very good paint sprayer since any runs will get sanded out anyway. 

We started with the Toe Rail to Rub Rail, Bow to Stern, on the Outer side of the hull.  I apply 5 thick coats to 4 meter sections and then overlap the next 4 meter section.  Guide Coat is sprayed the next morning and sanded that afternoon.  We then did the Rub Rail to waterline, Bow to Stern.  Guide Coat, then Sand.

Repeat for the other hull, Top to Bottom, Bow to Stern.  Guide Coat, then Sand.

Next came the Forward part of the Inboard Side of the Hulls.  Port, then Starboard, Guide, then Sand.  In all, this took us 8 weeks.  We had pretty much used up 40 liters of gelcoat and were ready for a break.  About 80 percent of the boat has been done and it looks pretty good.  Not sanded and buffed shiny yet but consistent bright white without dings nor cracks.
The Nacelle is also sprayed when doing the Inboard Side

All that remains is the Cockpit, Salon Roof, Swim Platforms, and some tie-in areas.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Road Trip to Singapore

The 8 hour drive

We left the Marina at 5AM.  The drive is mostly 4-lane tollways except for the first 2 hours which is a local 2 lane road with truck traffic and lights.  The early departure allowed us to beat the morning traffic mess.

On the drive down, our plans changes tremendously.  Instead of doing all the errands the following day, we had made good time and decided to press on and get Singapore done that very same day.

The most common way for cruisers to go the Singapore is to take the bus or car to the JB Sentral Checkpoint, clear out and take the bus across the causeway to clear in at the Woodlands Checkpoint.  We were going to do that but came up with a different plan on the ride down and decided to try to drive all the way into Singapore.  We had heard it was not going to be easy.

Clearing out with the car at JB Sentral was easy.  Stamped and Go.
We then crossed the causeway to Woodlands and things got interesting.  Car documents, insurance, registration, and passports had to be verified.  Similar to if you were going to import a vehicle.  After all, how do they not know you aren't going to sell it while you are there and never pay import duty.  A temporary permit had to be purchased, and lastly, a toll pass had to be linked to our license plate to allow us to pay the bridge toll.

We stopped at the bus terminal to top up the toll pass and exchange US dollars for Singapore dollars.  We made it to Wee Tee Tong Chemicals before they closed and picked up their last remaining 6 gallons of Duratec.

We fought the afternoon traffic also heading to Malaysia, got back to Woodlands, cleared out, and drove back across the bridge.  At this point it got interesting.

Customs searched the trunk and wanted to know about the ‘paint’.  I showed them the invoice and boat papers which allow us to bring boat repair materials into Malaysia free of duty.  The inspector wasn’t sure of the “Yacht in Transit” tax exemption and didn't understand the high cost of the ‘paint’  ($1000 Singapore dollars).  He had to call his boss who was incredibly nice.  He said “…you absolutely have the right to bring boat parts into Malaysia free of duty…. just have the documents ready next time you come through here…”. 

Of course I had the documents ready on this crossing, but they feel they always have to say something.  I thanked him, shook his hand, and off we went to Immigration.

Immigration seemed to take forever and we caused quite the traffic backup.   There aren't that many foreigners driving across the boarder apparently.  Malaysians just get the 'wave through'.  

This is where it all comes down however.  We gave them all 4 passports.  Then each one of us was called out of the car to have our fingerprints scanned. We saw a bunch of stamping happening.  Malaysians love stamping things.  Our passports were returned, and off we went.  It wasn’t even 5PM.  Wow, what a day.  The four of us headed off to the hotel for a drink.

Oh yeah, 3 of us got 90 day visas.  Booker only got until the ‘investigational’ visa that she just received in Ipoh the day prior was set to expire.  79 days.

Thanks Trump.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Return to Malaysia, January 2018

Sorry, It has been almost a year since the last post. I will catch up soon.  

We returned to Malaysia at the end of January 2018.  Booker got hassled by Kuala Lumpur Airport Immigration and only was given a 14 day visa instead of the 90 day visa which everyone else gets, including myself. She supposedly had to be investigated for some such nonsense. No reason was given but we suspect that the Immigration official had a problem with the US Muslim Ban and was retaliating by hassling Americans. 

Thanks Trump, actions do have consequences.

Lunch at the Lam Fong Biscuit Shop, Ipoh
We were instructed to go to the closest Immigration office within 14 days and they will do an 'investigation'. We went to the office in Ipoh, the Capital of Perak State. We also gave a ride to Claude and Georges from the sloop CARIAD. They are French and needed a visa extension.

The 'investigation' went fine and Booker received the remainder of her 90 days as a visa extension sticker in her passport.

Claude and Georges were not so lucky. Apparently the EU is banning Malaysian Palm Oil for use in their biodiesel. In retaliation, Malaysia is not granting visa extensions to European Union Citizens. Georges and Claude must now leave the country within 2 days.

Our next errand was to make the 8 hour drive to Johor Bahru (JB) to arrange for a new supplier for Gelcoat. JB is across the river from Singapore. We could also use some more Duratec Additive which is only available from our source in Singapore. Since Claude and Georges now needed to go to Singapore and then re-enter Malaysia to get another 90 day visa, the next step seemed logical. 

We're all driving to Singapore.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Train to Bangkok

No, This is not our train
We traveled the 600 miles from the Malaysia/Thai border to Bangkok by train.  The trip is 17 hours long and most of it is at night.  The last train out is a sleeper car train.  Since we didn't make our originally scheduled train, we were even lucky that there were berths available.   

Our Thai Railway System Sleeper Train

The Sleeping Arrangement
We had upper bunks across from each other.  The folks in the lower bunks, Paul the German Windsurfer, and Add the Thai businessman were very congenial and made for good conversation during the many monotonous hours.  There was food available in the Club Car but we brought our own and even shared a bottle of wine.

All the Flip-Flops lined up outside the bunks

It's actually not that great trying to sleep on a train.  It is much noisier than an airplane and it is a bumpy ride.  Needless to say, I got a few hours sleep and Booker didn't get any.  At least it was more comfortable lying down that sitting in a train seat.  The cost was $35 US each.

 We arrived in Bangkok at noon and took a Tuk-Tuk to the hotel.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Train to Thailand

Train Tickets to the Border

Bus Ticket to Penang

We researched everything there was to know about taking the train to Bangkok.  First step is to walk to the bus station in Lumut.  Then take the bus to Butterworth, Penang.  From there we take the 'Komuter' train to Pedang Besar on the Thai border.  There we would clear out of Malaysia and into Thailand, board the train at the Pedang Besar station and be in Bangkok 17 hours later.

The Late Train
Well, the best-laid plans of mice, men, and cruisers always go awry.   

The bus ride was long but got us to the train in time.  The train to the Thai border was late and immigration was closed when we arrived at the Pedang Besar station.  Since we hadn't cleared-out, the train left without us.  Train tickets wasted!  Plan B was to clear-out at the road crossing and take a shuttle bus to the next up-line station, Hat Yai, about an hour away.  This would allow us to board the waiting train.

Shuttle Tickets to Hat Yai
In an ideal world, we could have caught the train at the Hat Yai station and been on our way.  

However, Immigration was crowded and it took a half hour to clear-in to Thailand.  We arrived an hour after the train departed.  Plan C:  Get a hotel and book the train for the next day.  There are 5 daily trains but only 1 has sleeper cars.  17 hours is too long to sit in a train seat so we killed the day in Hat Yai and took the 24 hour delay in stride.  

It doesn't get any easier than staying at The Train Hotel

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Finishing up Phase One

We are getting ready to leave Malaysia and head home for the holidays.  We accomplished spraying about a quarter of the boat with 20 liters of gelcoat.  We worked out the bugs, had a steep learning curve, and developed a good repeatable system to apply large quantities of gelcoat. 

When we return in January, we will buy more gelcoat from a local source vs. having it shipped from Singapore.  Unfortunately the Duratec will still have to be shipped.

Freshly sprayed and unsanded.
We used up the remaining material by spraying under the bridge deck.  This is an area where any variation in color will not be very visible (all whites are not the same).  The new gelcoat will all be from the same batch and be exactly the same color and viscosity.

Here is a video of our last section of work.  The green tint is from the sunshades that we used to cocoon the boat.  This allowed us to spray even when the wind was howling with minimal overspray.

I applied four thick coats with one being a cross coat.  Later the edges were sanded to ease the thickness at the masking tape which keeps the gelcoat from cracking when pulling off the tape.

We will be taking the overnight train to Bangkok and staying there a few days before flying to Europe for our connection to Philadelphia.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Going Even Bigger

Binks Mach 1 PCX with Pressure Regulator
Now that we have proved the concept of spraying Externally Catalyzed Duratec Additive mixed with ISO/NPG Gelcoat using a Binks Mach 1 PCX spray gun, the time has come to go big.

The New Air Compressor
I was renting an air compressor from Joe, one of the painters in the boatyard.  It worked out well for the cockpit locker lids but did take a while to pump back up to pressure and couldn't keep up with continuous spraying.  It was costing $4/day and there were many days when it just sat while we were prepping, or sanding, or whatever.  I found a larger compressor online for $400 delivered, so I bought it.  It should pay for itself by the time the job is done and I'll be able to sell it to recoup some of the cost.

Spraying Gelcoat like Paint
Starting small has been our mantra all along and even though the confidence factor is good, we still expect that we will encounter unknown factors.  Repeatability is the key to this project.  The area above the transom rub rail seemed like a good place to start.

Sprayed Transom and Hulls
Catalyst Pressure - 2.6 psi
We set up to spray and used the new compressor.  Since it seemed like all the bugs had already been worked out, we started spraying.  Big mistake.  The cutoff pressure of the new compressor is 120 psi whereas the rented one was 100 psi.  This changed the pressure pot pressures which were checked during initial compressor run but not at full pressure.  This made the gelcoat pressure 5 vs. 6 psi.  The gelcoat was way over-catalyzed and in this case, refused to harden, even after 24 hours.  So, we had to scrape and sand all the gelcoat off of the transom.  2 days wasted.  Live and learn.  Always spray a test pattern on something other than the boat and wait for it to kick, then spray a small area of the boat checking both test area for proper catalyzation.  It is time consuming and may kill and hour but it is well worth it and a good lesson learned.
Gelcoat Pressure - 6 psi

Here are some photos of the transom sections that were sprayed with gelcoat and guide coat.
Partial Application of Guide Coat

Fully Guide Coated

Starting to Sand off Guide Coat

Sanded a small test area with 120/330/800 grit then Compound