Painting 1 – tackling the rust

So! It can be put off no longer. It’s summer, it’s warm, it stops raining for more than 24 hours at a time and it’s time to sort out the mess that is Swallow’s exterior paint job.

I’ve scared myself looking at blogs of grown men apparently reduced to tears by the task, and also had the usual ‘it’s easy’ pep talk from the marina guys.

On arriving home from Spain last week, Em and I headed to Paints and Lacquers in Halifax and between us spent about £400 on paint for our boats. Flo will be a beautiful shade of turquoise know (in the car trade) as Turkissblau, whilst Swallow will be a cute pillar box red.

Before any of that fun can start, though, there’s a heck of a lot of prep to be done. Which is what I started today.

The sun wouldn’t last all day, so I thought I’d simply tackle the horrible rust-bucket that is the area of the roof between the hatch runners.

Behold this hell:

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Sad huh? All for the lack of keeping a few drainage holes clear, water and silt have repeatedly built up here, causing nasty pitting and rusting over many years.

Em and I looked at various options for de-rusting our boats. A few seconds with wire wool showed that that was a silly idea, the mouse sander was too gentle for this part of the job, and industrial sanders were too unwieldy when combined with the balancing act of sanding some parts of the boat. Then the woman at the builders’ merchant in Mytholmroyd suggested some cool sanding disks for use with an angle grinder. Perfect!


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Back to my roof. I got the worst loose stuff off with a wire brush:

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Then I attacked with the angle grinder. It was a bit uncontrollable at times but the surface came up surprisingly smooth:

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In places I was able to discover that before she was this putrid sky blue, Swallow (or rather Tingletrees, prev. Chemainus, prev. Mary Garth) had been royal blue and before that green. Here’s a section around an air vent where previous painters were too damn lazy to remove the covers to paint:

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Before any colour can be applied, the rusty areas will need several coats of lead paint. So here’s the first:

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Ahhhh so satisfying!

Oh…and then it got really hot and sunny so I thought I’d tackle the back deck:

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It’s just a first coat, not too neat, just protecting the steel cabin from water and rust. But already she looks a heck of a lot smarter :)