Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bottom Paint

After patching the hole left when the through-hull was removed and finding and fixing a few other defects in the bottom of the boat, I needed to get some bottom paint back on those spots so the sea life that likes to make itself home on boat hulls would be deterred.  With all the patches, and since the boat is already out of the water, we decided that I should put a coat of paint on the entire boat.

While we were at the boat show, we checked out a few vendors of boat bottom paints trying to decide what we really need.  There are a variety of paints out there.  There are hard bottom paints as well as ablative varieties.  If you already have paint on the boat, you also need to determine compatability of the new paint with the existing paint.  For instance, you can't put a hard paint over an ablative paint.

Since we already had an ablative paint on the boat and we didn't want to strip off all the existing paint, we needed to choose an ablative paint.  Most ablative paints have copper oxides as one ingredient to deter marine life.  Some also have other chemicals that deter algae and grass growth.  Yet others have additional biocide chemicals.  Recently, new water based paints have appeared on the market that tout easier cleanup with lower VOC content.  It can get rather confusing.

I liked the idea of the water based options due to their easier handling, thinning, and cleanup.  We also liked the more "eco friendly" (if you can call a bottom paint that) concepts of some of the non-copper based paints.  Unfortunately, at $200 a gallon or more, some of these paints I felt were just too expensive for my first foray into bottom painting.  In the end, we decided on Pettit Hydrocoat.  It is water based, claims it can be applied to just about any other bottom paint (and we didn't know what had been previously used), and was the cheaper of the water based paints on sale at the local hardware store for about $150 a gallon.

The lightly sanded and taped off bottom

The preparation instructions on the can said to lightly sand the bottom before application.  The yard claims they just power wash, scrape off any growth and loose paint, and then paint the boat.  I decided I would go with the manufacturers recommendation and lightly sand.  I bought a pole sander, some 80 grit sandpaper, sanding sponges, goggles and a respirator.  Let me just say, in hindsight, I should have picked up a Tyvek suit as well.  The result of sanding is very fine particulates of the old bottom paint and the stuff sticks to everything.  After sanding, I rinsed off the boat to get rid of as much of the dust as possible.

Painting isn't that difficult.  One of the keys is to have the paint well shaken before application and then keep it stirred during application.  Apparently the copper tends to settle so you need to make sure it stays mixed.  First, I took some painters tape to mask off the waterline so the bottom paint only goes where it is supposed to. After using a brush to paint the corners and hard to reach places, the rest of the paint is rolled on with a short nap paint roller.  The Pettit Hydrocoat didn't have any obnoxious fumes and really reminded me of exterior home paint during application...other than the need to keep stirring it.

I applied a couple coats over the patched areas and then put a coat over the entire boat.  The result wasn't perfect (it would probably look better if I did a second coat) but it accomplished the goal.  The patched areas are well coated and everything looks fairly uniform now.  Hopefully this paint will work out OK.

The (almost) finished paint job

I'll need to paint the spots covered by the stands just before we launch the boat, but it is otherwise done.  The new paint is slightly darker than the old paint, so I'm glad we painted the whole bottom.  It does look a bit better now.  It took about a gallon and a half of paint to cover what I've done so far.  Looks like it would take about 3 gallons to do the whole boat with the proper two coats.  Hopefully that, and the sanded paint below it, will keep the barnacles away for a while.

And I definitely learned one thing...if I ever want to strip all the old paint off the boat, I think I'll hire someone to do it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

So, I need some fiberglass and....Squirrel!

I've been feeling a bit like Dug from the movie Up a lot since we bought the boat.  I don't remember being so scatter-brained, but recently it sure seems I have been. (By the way, if you haven't seen this Pixar film, it is definitely worth it).

Today I put kettle of water to boil, then...squirrel... forgot about it and did some tasks on the outside of the boat.  By the time I got back, the kettle had turned the bridge deck into a steam sauna dispersing 5 of the 7 cups of water into the air.  So much for the automatic off feature of the kettle...but I never trusted it anyway and that is why I usually don't leave it unattended.  The big black electric Aroma kettle is handy to have on the boat, just don't leave it alone.  Another 30 minutes spent opening all the hatches and wiping down the walls...and ceiling...and to work on more projects for the day.

Anyway, lots of projects are ongoing as I try to push to get the boat in the water and headed south.  One was the hole in the bottom of the boat I mentioned in this post. My wife and I decided that we really didn't need the secondary head discharge since we already had one as well as the pump out option.  I also decided that my very first marine fiberglass work should probably not be in one so prone to quickly sink the boat should it fail, so I had the "fiberglass guy" in the yard do the work and hopefully learn a thing or two as there will likely be one more of these to deal with in the future.

I understand the basics of patching a hole, that you need the patch to be wider than the hole on both sides so it makes a good seal and can't accidentally be knocked out.  Since the hull is over a half inch thick solid fiberglass at the bottom, I wasn't exactly sure the best way of filling it.

Mark, the "fiberglass guy", started by sanding and cleaning around the inside of the hole.  Then he laid in some biaxial fiberglass mat to seal the hole from the inside.

Next, he mixed up some vinyl ester resin (boat fiberglass resin) with some chopped fiberglass strands to make a filler and filled the hole.

Once all of that cured, he ground down a fair amount of the filler, feathering into the existing hull fiberglass to make that "larger than the hole patch" for the outside of the boat.

More fiberglass was applied to the now saucer shaped hole and then fairing compound (Bondo for boats) was applied over that so it could be sanded to create a smooth, even finished result.

Finally, a barrier coat was applied for added protection against salt water, the inside painted, and the hole was no more.  Now I just need to put a few coats of bottom paint on and this task will be complete.

While he was working, I noticed a few other small voids in the bottom of the boat where the keels and skegs attach and had him fair over and barrier coat them as well.  It may have been a bit of overkill, but small holes going through the gelcoat seemed like a bad thing to me and since he had most of the materials handy, it made sense to me to get them done too.

With all the little patches, I'm debating putting one coat of bottom paint over everything after adding a few coats to the patches even though the existing bottom paint is in pretty good shape outside of the repair areas and a few chips.  I hope that Rover appreciates the care and work going into her.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Paying It Forward - Book Giveaway #1

Wow, it's been a year and a half since I was so graciously awarded a slew of sailing related books from my friends at The Retirement Project.  Guess I must be reading at a first grade level...or at least speed.  Actually, I think I've just been too busy to find much time to read.  In any case, I've managed to make it part of the way through the collection.  So, in the tradition of cruisers helping cruisers and the book swaps often found at marinas (not to mention our downsizing efforts), it is time to pass those along.

The original book donors, The Retirement Project

So, here is part 1 of what I'm calling The Retirement Project Sailing Book Swap (yes, it is a giveaway).

What You Get

I'll call this the "Basic Boat Info" set, although it is not a strict theme.  The winner of this set will receive the following titles:
  • Cruising Catamaran Communique - Kanter - 2007
  • The Best Used Boat Notebook - Kretschmer/Sailing Magazine - 2007
  • Inspecting The Aging Sailboat - Casey - 2005
  • The Essentials of Living Aboard A Boat - Nicholas - 2005
  • Do Dolphins Ever Sleep - Bely - 2007
  • A Year In Paradise: How We Lived Our Dream - Watterson - 2001
  • One or two more surprise titles.

Da Rules

I would like to pass these books along to someone that is starting to prepare or seriously dreaming about going cruising.  So, to toss your name in the hat for this giveaway, tell me your story of why you would like the books.  I think it would be fun for people to hear about those of us following this cruising dream.  You will also need to promise to keep the  "tradition" going and pass the books along when you are done with them.  In a week or so I'll choose from the entries and send out the books.

Here are a few more details:

  • I would prefer that you post a comment to this post to enter the contest.  Please include a name but no e-mail addresses (you probably don't want the spam that could be generated by the web crawlers from a public posting of your email address).  If you are uncomfortable with commenting, you can also use the "send me an e-mail" form found on the right side of the blog page (but don't be surprised if I ask you if I can post excerpts from your email on your behalf).
  • Entries should be submitted by Wednesday, November 5th.
  • I will choose from the entries and post the winner on the blog within a few days of the date above, so give me some name or ID that you would like me to use to identify you.
  • I will contact the winner (or if I don't have contact information will ask the winner to email me) so we can arrange for the shipment.
  • I will ship the books to U.S. postal addresses for free.  If there are overseas entries, I will need to check on the costs to ship, as it may be cost prohibitive to ship to some overseas addresses.
  • The winner must agree to pass the books along to others once they are done with them in the spirit of cruisers helping cruisers.  This can be done via a blog contest like this, donated to a book swap or marina library, etc.  If possible, please provide credit to the original donors of the book, The Retirement Project (a worthwhile blog to put on your reading list if they aren't already there)...and I wouldn't object to a shout out as well.
I'm looking forward to hearing from you.  Good luck!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Tale of Two Holes

In case you haven't guessed yet, I'm back on our boat in Deltaville VA.  After the boat show, my wife and I came down to try and get some work done on the boat.  My wife flew back to our house earlier today (can't really call it home anymore...more of our things we intend to keep are  now on the boat) and I needed to take a break so I thought I would try to catch up on my blog writing.

Of course, right now even writing posts is a bit of a challenge.  One of the holes I mentioned in the title is the technology black hole of Deltaville.  The Stingray Point Boatyard, where Rover is currently on the hard, has internet access...but only if you are within about 2 feet of the office building.  Even my Wirie, that can pick up a number of locked signals in the area, can't get a reliable connection to their access point.  And forget about using my cell phone.  Unless you have Verizon (the most expensive wireless carrier in my experience) you are lucky to get any voice coverage and no 2G internet access.

So, sometimes I'll go sit on the chair in front of the office with my tablet in the evenings...until the mosquitoes chase me away.  Or I go to Patti's Diner, who has WiFi, to read some news, research my tasks, look for parts, and upload posts.

If atmospheric conditions are just right, I can occasionally get a local TV channel for news...but most of the time the digital TV is doing it's best Max Headroom impression.  It really is a technology/information black hole around here.  On the bright side, I guess I'm not getting barraged by all the political ads that are probably plaguing the country right now.

The other hole is a hole in the boat.  One of the tasks I left for the boatyard was the replacement of two through hull valves that were seized or otherwise inoperative.  After some other labor snafus and after reading about other Leopard boats that were having electrolysis issues with their through hulls, I decided we would take care of all the through hulls when we got back to the boat.

There's a hole in the boat dear Liza...
I ordered about a thousand dollars worth of bronze parts to replace all the through hulls such that they would arrive at the boat the same day we did.  When we got to the boat, I tried disassembling one of the through hull and seized valves and, as expected, corrosion had essentially welded the parts together.  So, out came the grinder and I was able to remove the entire through hull/valve assembly.  In the process of grinding out the through hull, I was able to determine that my bronze fittings weren't suffering from the same issues that others had experienced so I shouldn't have to replace all the other through hulls now.  So far, so good...but it is a boat so we know that will probably change.

Cut out through-hull and valve
And, it did.  I ordered the shortest through hull I could find and dry-fitting the new parts revealed that they simply would not fit.  The through hull itself is just too long and as a result the valve will not fit under the floor.  I tried all sorts of configurations but it just wouldn't work.  So, I decided we had nothing to lose and cut down one of the through hulls so it would fit.

Here is where we get into the semi-technical explanation of NPS and NPT threads.  Through hulls are typically NPS (straight) threaded so they will mate with nuts or seacocks and can clamp to any thickness of hull (a nut can spin all the way down the threads).  NPT is a tapered thread that only tightens so far before binding and forming a seal. Since there isn't enough clearance between the hull and the floor board, the Leopard through hull goes straight into a 90 degree elbow and then a valve is attached to it.  The elbows are only available with NPT (tapered pipe) threads.  Since many manufacturers are going to this configuration, some through hulls now have a combination thread so the very end of the through hull is NPT and the remaining thread is NPS.

By cutting down the through hull, I removed the NPT threaded end.  I knew this would likely be an issue, but didn't really have much of an option.  Now the elbow would only screw on about a turn and a half before the straight threads would bind in the NPT threaded elbow.  Not a safe option for something that, if it gives way, leaves a 1.5 inch hole in the bottom of the boat.  What I need is to be able to re-thread the through hull so it would again have the NPT tapered thread on the end.  In theory, this should be do-able.  In reality, not so much.  You see, pipe threaders apparently expect a long straight pipe to be inserted in them and the now 2.25 inch long through hull with the mushroom head on one end won't fit in any reasonable pipe threader.

I spent a good couple days trying to find options to get the tapered threads cut, but had little luck.  One machine shop in town said he could setup one of his machines to do it, but it would be several hours of labor to setup the machine and the cost was rather prohibitive...not to mention the hassle if when we ever need to replace the thing again and don't have access to a well equipped machine shop.

Doing a little more research, I found that most people that have had to deal with these through hulls have simply gotten rid of them.  The through hull is the direct discharge for the head and the boat is designed so you can direct discharge through the holding tank so it is somewhat superfluous.  And getting rid of a 1.5" hole in the bottom of the boat is generally a good thing, so I think we will be glassing over the hole and changing the plumbing.  Just wish I had decided this before I bought all the parts and replaced all the hose.

Hopefully I'll get the work that needs to be done finished soon, as the chill in the night air indicates I really need to be heading south.  Of course, with my wife back in Colorado, I need to see if I can find a hand with that task too.

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Stack Pack

Just a quick post our new stack pack and matching genoa UV strip installed.  Wife wanted a high visibility color...that ought to work.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Annapolis Sailboat Show 2014

So, what do you do the weekend after your estate sale?  Well, in our case, we headed out to the 2014 U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis Maryland.  The biggest sailboat show only happens once a year and we hadn't been in over two years so it was time to go.

This time our focus was quite a bit different than the last show.  If you recall, the goal of the last visit was to look at boats as we didn't yet own Rover.  This time we are boat owners and are now looking for things that we need or want.  My wife didn't have proper foul weather gear yet (waterproof gear that can take a wave isn't available in Colorado) and we could both use some decent sailing gloves. The laundry list of items that Rover needs (or we want her to have) keeps expanding too.  Solar and maybe wind power, water maker, more eco-friendly bottom paint, various interior and exterior cushions, a dodger, a better anchor, baskets of hardware, and maybe some toys like a kayak or SUP are all of interest. I also wanted to see a friend who lives on the east coast and since our broker Pete was at the show, wanted to see him too.

If you are shopping for a variety of items for your boat, a show like this is a real time saver as you can see a lot all in one place. We were able to check out most of the items we were interested in.  My wife was able to try on rain gear from several makers, and I was able to talk with several vendors about solar installs, bottom paints, etc.  We found an interesting nesting cookware set for the galley that seemed to be decent qality.  And we got to check out a few of the newer style anchors available today.  You could easily spend a LOT of money at one of these shows, so while it is nice to see all the newest and latest things, you do want to hold onto your wallet.

We did end up buying a few things at the show.  My wife now has some new Slam rain gear and we both have sailing gloves.  Since Rover needs a new dodger set and interior and exterior cushions, we had the idea we could make our own and picked up a Sail-rite sewing machine.  Sleeping at night is high on our desire list so we also bought a new Mantus anchor that we think will help when out on the hook.  Most of the items will be shipped, so I will let you know more about them once we have a chance to play with them.

Here is an interesting thing we discovered at the show.  We attended the last two days of the show this year.  Our first day at the show was the third day (if you count the VIP day), and I think most of the people working the booths were getting a bit worn down by that point.  We were having a bit of a hard time engaging some of the vendors to get information about their products.  Or maybe it was because the Sunday was the only nice weather day at the show.  Monday was the complete opposite.  There are no seminars on the last day of the show and it was a bit rainy so there were no crowds. We found it much easier to talk with the vendors that day. Some vendors were even offering additional discounts (probably not wanting to lug unsold product back to their trucks). This was the day we made most of our purchases.

Overall, it was a good show for us.  We acquired some stuff we needed as well as information we needed. And we might even have our first sponsor...we will see.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Estate Sale Day 3 - A Little Faith Restored

Sunday was the last day of our estate sale. We decided to do something we found fairly common in the estate sale business, we made Sunday a half-price day.  Most items, there were a very few exceptions that were specially marked, were half off the marked price. This doesn't necessarily get you a lot of cash per item, but it does help move a lot of stuff out the door that wasn't moving at the marked least that was the theory.

I think we were finally getting the hang of running the sale as it was our smoothest opening of the three days.  Signs were all out well before the start of the sale (we retrieved signs each night since there are people that will deface or remove signs...calling them street spam...and we didn't want to spend more money to replace the signs), we had time to walk the house and make sure everything was in order, and get an OK from everyone that we were ready to open. It also seemed like there wasn't quite as big of a rush on the Sunday and that helped.

Overall, I don't think it was as busy all day, but we still had good traffic (better than our typical garage sale).  One thing happened that day that helped restore a bit of faith in my fellow man.  A lady had come in on Friday and purchased a jewelry box.  She came back on Sunday to return all the jewelry that was apparently in the box.  She said the jewelry looked like family heirlooms and wanted to make sure we got it back.  Most of it didn't have sentimental value, but was real gold and silver and we appreciated getting it back.  We gave her one of the pieces as well as a stuffed animal one of her children liked as reward for her honesty and integrity.

While we didn't get rid of as much stuff as we would have liked (much of the nicer furniture remains), I think we did all right. If you recall, the estate sale companies thought we would gross between $7000 and $8000 leaving our cut at about $4500. The first day of the sale we made over $5000, the second and third days were a bit over and a bit under $1000 respectively. This put us right at what the companies thought we would get without taking the 40% loss and we still have a few big items to sell.

Would I do it again...well...that is still a good question and I don't know if I would.  But the past couple days we have spent a couple thousand dollars on the boat so it is nice having that extra money...but that is the subject for a couple other posts.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Estate Sale Day 2 - Continuing The Purge

Day two was a bit more organized than day one.  I started putting the signs out a full hour before the sale started...with an added note on the sign in front of the house that read "Open @ 10 am". When I got back, we had time to walk through the house and make sure things we didn't want to sell (or have stolen) were hidden away behind locked doors. There were a number of people waiting as we opened, but I don't think quite as many as the day before...which was a good thing.  Adding that all three of us were there for the start I think made it a bit less hectic.

Attendance was still pretty good for the second day of the sale.  I think it probably helped that it was a Saturday so all those with real jobs during the week could finally attend.  It is only a guess, but I presume more people stumbled across our signs than came because of the online ad after the initial morning rush.

We were able to sell a number of items that I originally wasn't sure we would one of our artificial Christmas trees, our patio furniture, a computer monitor, and a work desk. Sometimes it amazes me what sells and what does not sell.  Someone found our stash of a few garden tools we needed to keep to clean up the yard and asked if they could buy the cheap, broken, duct-taped-together leaf rake.  Someone else dug out our stashed half package of toilet paper that was guarded by a baby gate and a "Nothing for sale here" sign.

There didn't seem to be as many people that were rude in their negotiation efforts that day. On Friday we encountered several people that were obviously looking for things they could get cheaply so they could resell them on Ebay.  When they realized that we wouldn't sell a collectable item for 1/10 of its actual value (we were priced below typical market prices), we would get snotty comments on price (and the item would often sell for the marked price just a little later).

While we didn't recoup as many freedom chips as we did the first day, we did OK and managed to clear out a fair amount of stuff.  Unfortunately, some of the bigger items (furniture) do remain.  Wondering get if we will have to figure out another option for selling that.  One more day to go and the estate sale will be done.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Estate Sale Day 1 - Disappointment With Humanity

After getting to sleep at 4 AM, we awoke at 6 AM to prepare for the first day of the sale.  We make some coffee...a lot of coffee...and continue pricing things, moving items around, and actually creating the estate sale signs that you saw in the last post.  My wife makes a run to McDonald's to get us something to eat before the show started (not a great option, but about the only option we had for something quick that early in the morning).

I left the house about 20 minutes before the start of the sale to put up signs and there were already a couple of people parked outside waiting for the sale to start.  I ended up miscalculating the amount of time it would take to put all the signs up and I didn't return to the house until 20 minutes after the sale started.  When I returned it was a zoo.  Cars were lined up and down the street. Apparently advertising the sale on can bring in quite a crowd.  Hope it didn't bother my neighbors too much.

In our exhausted state, no one thought about doing a walk-through of the house before we opened the door.  As it turned out, I had left my laptop running so we could continue pricing items when I was distracted with making the sale signs.  It wasn't until someone tried to buy it that my wife realized it was still sitting out and rescued it.

Sales were very brisk throughout the day and we made a majority of the entire sale proceeds this first day.  We didn't even have time to stop for lunch (or even notice lunch time passed by).  The 60" LED flat screen TV, home theater with custom speakers, stainless steel gas grill, front loading washer, futon, one bedroom set, and other miscellaneous items were sold the first day.

Unfortunately it was not all good news.  Even though we had three people running the sale (the estate sale companies only planned on two), theft was an issue.  Two of us tried circulating through the house to answer questions and prevent theft but it apparently wasn't enough.  While I was busy demonstrating the home theater equipment to a buyer, I noticed that a rare CD collection (KBCO Studio C Box Set, numbered and one of only 200) was missing.  Later in the day we found a few boxes that used to contain items but only the empty boxes remained. And a few of these items were priced less than $1. The camera bag that went with a 35mm camera I was selling also walked away (I kind of wonder if it was used to smuggle the Box Set out).

One of the more disturbing things we found was discovered after the sale closed the first day.  In addition to the computer being left out, the old digital camera I was using to take pictures for the estate sale site was also left out.  The camera itself wasn't stolen, but the compact flash memory card was missing (you know the old, "big" by today's standards, cards).  Really?!?!  Why would someone take a 64 MB compact flash you can buy a 1 GB card for a little over $6?  Other than pictures of the sale, my wife had taken pictures of some of the items she was selling so she could remember them and now those are lost.

So, while we got rid of a lot of stuff and recouped a fair amount of our freedom chips, the thievery put a damper on our excitement. Guess I forgot that not all people are as good as most of the cruisers I've met.  All we can do is hope that karma catches up with the thieves one day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Getting Rid Of Our Stuff - The Estate Sale

As is usually the case, by the time I get to write about an event it has come and gone and so it is for our estate sale.  But let me take you back to the beginning of the process...

When I came back to Colorado to help wrap things up, one of the big items on the list was to sell all our stuff. Having lived in our home for about 18 years, we certainly managed to collect a lot of stuff (I guess George Carlin was right).  Looking around our house, and after dealing with my father-in-law's estate, we thought it might be a good idea to hire an estate sale company to come help us get rid of everything.  Yes, indeed, there is an entire industry devoted to getting rid of your stuff...wouldn't George be proud.

While looking for estate sale companies, we quickly found the site and decided it might be a good idea to check out how some of the businesses run the sales.  So, one Saturday we found a few sales from the companies we were interested in and went to check them out.  Some were better than others, but the basic idea is that an estate sale is kind of like a garage sale, only on a larger scale and more organized.  They also seem to generate a lot more traffic than the usual garage sale.

We came up with a short list of the companies that we liked that seemed to be doing a professional and organized job and started giving them calls.  A few of them were not interested since we wanted to remain in the house during and after the sale (having to stay in a hotel for a week or two as the house was set up was not an option).  A couple others came over to the house to give us their pitch and look around at what we had for sale.  The estimates on how much they thought we could get out of our roughly 2000 square foot (186 square meter) home was between $7000 and $8000 U.S. This is where we found out that the companies would take 40% of the proceeds as payment.  Doing the math here...the fee for the sale would be around $3000.

Since I'm no longer employed, we thought it would be nice to keep that $3K ourselves to put toward the boat improvements.  I also found out that and other estate sale advertisement companies allow private individuals to advertise sales on their sites and to their subscriber mailing list.  We pondered the potential loss we might have being less experienced in pricing for the sale.  In the end we decided it is unlikely we would be off by more than $1000 so we would do the sale ourselves.

We started digging through our stuff, throwing away the trash and cleaning up the stuff we wanted to sell.  We moved around furniture and started to set up our house and all our stuff for display.  We learned some tricks from the estate sales we attended like how to use a board and a couple small waste baskets to make a second shelf for your displays on folding tables. And we learned what the standard prices are for many smaller priced items like clothing, bedding, CD's and DVD's, flatware, stemware, and kitchen utensils.

We spent several weeks slowly going through stuff and separating it into:
  • Stuff headed to the boat (the smallest group)
  • Stuff headed to storage
  • Stuff to sell
  • Stuff to donate
  • Recycling
  • Garbage
You don't realize how much stuff you have acquired in almost 20 years until you try to go through and sell it all.  It didn't take too long until we realized we were going to need more tables.  This is where we also found out that renting banquet tables at the local rental places ran $10 a day per table.  That can get pretty expensive when you consider the amount of time needed to rent the tables (in addition to the 3 day sale, the set up and tear down time makes it a pretty long rental).  This is where having friends comes in handy.  I pleaded for help from a few friends and one had tables we could borrow for the sale.  Thanks Tom!

We planned on a little over a week to get everything set up and really turn our home into a showroom for all our stuff.  We set up the ad on including a preliminary list of items, a few pictures, and our terms and conditions of the sale (Cash only, no moving labor provided, everything sold as-is/where-is, etc.).  Half way through the week, we realized we were not going to be anywhere near ready and ended up pushing the sale off by a week.

Not how our master bedroom usually looked

We continued to set up tables in our house, clean and collect like items together (it is recommended that you put similar items together and in the rooms they are used in as that makes for a more organized sale).  Kitchen appliances and cookware in the kitchen, dishes and decorations in the dining room, entertainment related stuff in the family room, etc.

Living Room or Showroom?

We bought some white corrugated plastic signs from the local quick sign shop and a really fat permanent marker and made signs for the sale.  To keep the signs easy to follow, they simply said "Estate Sale" in big letters and a big arrow indicating direction and in smaller print the hours of the sale (10am to 4pm for us).  When we used to go to garage sales, we found an arrow was far more useful than writing the address on the sign (who memorizes where every street in their part of town is) or a list of contents at the sale (usually too small to read as you are driving by).

After getting a lot of the stuff set up, we started going around and pricing items.  For cheaper stuff we generally took our best guess on prices.  For more expensive things or items we simply had no clue on, we checked retail prices as well as the sold prices of items on Ebay or similar sites.  The general rule of thumb we were using for pricing was to price items that were practically new at 1/3 of retail and reduce down to 1/10 of retail for more used items and a little below the bottom line Ebay price for items of a more collectible nature.

We had a few surprises on prices.  For instance, my wife had a Beatles White Album vinyl record and I had a hunch it might be worth a bit more than the $2/record standard price.  I checked and they can go from thousands of dollars down to a few dollars or so.  The pressing and condition of the one we had put it's price at $20~40.  I had purchased an electric bass guitar my senior year of high school and, as it turns out, the guitar is apparently pretty rare.  Ovation made the Celebrity BC-2 guitar and apparently it was a flop so the best information I can find says they only produced them for a single year.  I was having a hard time finding information on it and most of that was in forum threads that usually started by asking questions related to their existence or legitimacy.  I found one thread that indicated someone found a beat up one in a pawn shop, bought it for $100, and then sold it to a collector for $750. And the one I have is in near mint condition.

The day before the sale we were busy pricing items and still digging out more for sale.  We worked through the night to try and get everything ready.  Finally around 4am the morning of the sale my wife and I decided we should try to get at least a couple hours of sleep before the sale started.  So we pushed all the stuff that wasn't even close to being ready to sell into the closets and bathrooms, blocked them off and went to bed.

Were we ready for the  Were there things out that were still bet.  But we were out of time and needed to push forward.  In one of my next posts, I'll cover how the first day of the sale was definitely interesting.