Thanks as always for following, and the kind words! Matt, I had the exact same thought - if I ever need to work on the hull, I want to be able to take everything out. I can also remove the full rear seats / bench to make working on the engine / hardware *way* easier, and lighten things up a bit for those top speed runs
Dave, I haven't managed to actually get the engine fired up yet - and likely won't for a while, maybe even until early spring. There's a few reasons for this - the first is that I want to do a cam (and maybe carb) swap before I drop it in the hull, and then spend a day tuning on the dyno before it goes in the boat...and that means I actually need to get around to spec'ing and ordering the cam and carb, installing them, booking the dyno...and I just don't think it's going to happen before snowmobiling season takes over! That being said, I *do* have most of my shinny new hardware that goes with the engine either on order or in house. Stuff like oil and water systems, exhaust, all of that fancy stuff...I need to fit it to the hull with my fake foam 454 to make sure everything fits.
All of that being said, unfotunately this update is a pretty bad / heartbreaking one - long story short, I'm going to have to completely redo the entire decking from the veneer up
Basically what happened is I did quite a bit of sanding - like way more than needed, I took off at least 2 coats of epoxy - and the cloudyness in my finish was still there when I varnished. So I sanded a *lot*
more - like for 20 straight hours with more aggressive grit sizes - re varnished, and still had crap in my finish
. To be honest, it might have gotten worse. I'm 99% sure that whatever it is has to do with the boundaries between layers of epoxy. In other words if a "high spot" only ended up with 2 layers covering it after fairing, but a "low spot" still had 4 layers, then I'd get 2 lines of shimmery stuff. Kind of like a topography map - see below picture.
This stuff didn't really show up when I was doing the rougher grit sanding between layers - I only started to notice it when I looked closely at the final, very smooth finish, and then when I sanded down to 220 for varnish and varnished it REALLY started to stand out. For reference, the above shot is after some heavy sanding with 80 grit...and the below is my entire deck after sanding down to 220
Anywhere that's "dark" in the above shot is a boundary between epoxy layers, and will show up as that shimmery crap when I finish everything. You'll notice it's covering the entire deck...so the entire deck has to be completely stripped of epoxy, which means I'll end up going through the stain as well, and needing to re do the entire stain (which was...painful, to say the least) and re-epoxy and fair (which took an entire summer), without
having this same issue appear.
The good news? 3 straight days of sanding later, I've poked through to the wood in one area - and I'm going very slowly to keep everything as fair as possible.
You wouldn't believe the number of belts, orbital pads, shop vac filters, and respirator filters I've gone through in that time...it's nearly 10 gallons of epoxy that I've now converted to dust. But, there's light at the end of the tunnel as they say, and now that the weather is pretty cold up north there's not much else to do with my days other than work on the boat! So, I'm hoping that by the end of Canadian thanksgiving, I'll be ready for epoxy again. Unfortunately that point it will almost for sure be too cold to
epoxy anymore, but that will give me the rest of the off season to fit hardware and get everything else done (seats, exhaust, etc)...and then I can epoxy and varnish in the spring.
I've also been doing quite a bit of research on what could have caused this and have come down to three possible conclusions:
1) Moisture. Apparently moisture can cause "cloudy" epoxy...though I'm not 100% sure that's what I'm seeing, I bought a humidity meter, and it certainly does vary widely based on the weather, so there's a good chance this was a contributing factor.
2) Aggressive rolling. It makes me cry to think that all the $$$ dropped on fancy mohair rollers was wasted because I "rolled too quickly", and similar to above I'm not 100% I'd call my problem "cloudy" epoxy - it's the inter-layer boundary that's causing the issue. Still, I definitely rolled about as quickly as I could, so could likely be a factor.
3) The brand / tactics used to apply. I did most of the deck with a new brand that's water clear, supposedly blush free, and supposedly re-coatable without sanding in ~4 hours based on temp, hardener, etc. I'm a little worried that either the brand I used was not meant for this type of lamination, and/or my re-coat time was off.
What probably ended up happening is that every day that I tried to get two coats on (which was nearly every time I epoxied), a combination of overcoating too early / late, with humidity and my fast rolling, meant that humidity or air bubbles got "trapped" under every second layer, or something like that. Either way, my plan for round #2 is to brush on West 207 only when my humidity meter tells me I can, and only according to their exact instructions. Fingers crossed! Of course, if anyone else has any other suggestions, or knows exactly why this is happening, or how to fix it before I DO strip the whole boat...I'm all ears