In the last post I mentioned we did a little gelcoat and sanding resulted in some bare spots. Well, we managed to get gelcoat on the remaining handrail edge of the top and the result was similar all the way around. Given the third-world conditions in which I'm building the top, it isn't too much of a surprise that the surfaces aren't as fair as I would have hoped.
|Working in the rain.|
Then it donned on me that part of the issue may be in the application. Brushing gelcoat on is not easy and the chance of getting a nice, even coat is unlikely. So, we went looking for a small roller that would work around the curves of the rail. Finding a small diameter roller was easy, finding a cover that works with gelcoat (or polyester resin for that matter) is a bit more difficult...they don't tend to list resin or acetone compatibility. Best you can hope for is if they list that it is safe for oil-based paint and thinners.
The roller produced a much more even coating but it was also much thinner than the brush approach. We did two coats with the roller and tried sanding things smooth and fair again. Unfortunately, there were still a few spots that we sanded a bit too thin, but not as many and not as large. So today, we applied another two coats and that should hopefully do the trick.
Because the bottom side of the top is facing up we are working on that side first. The beams that run along the underside of the top divide the surface, so we also started applying gelcoat to them today. Since it is difficult to reach the middle of the top from the sides, I climbed onto the top to do the "cut in" of the beams. Unlike the handrails, we will not be making them smooth but will be applying an orange peel like texture to them. Originally, I had thought of making them smooth, but with time running short, we decided it would be just too much sanding to get it looking good. Application of the gelcoat with the roller can easily be given an orange peel effect if you run the roller over the gelcoat after it has been applied for a few minutes. A few minutes running the roller over the gelcoat sure beats days of sanding and re-applying gelcoat.
|Working at night...again.|
By the time we were done today it was actually tonight and I was applying the PVA to our newly gelcoated surfaces in the dark. Then the heater was again used to under the tent to aid in the cure. Tomorrow we should know if everything worked OK.
Once we get the handrails sanded smooth (and without bare or thin spots), we can mask them off and paint the remainder of the underside of the top. It will be getting the same orange peel texture to hide any minor issues with the underside finish and to reduce glare in the cockpit.