Winter in the delta does not want to let go this year. Temperatures have risen slightly, with winds around 35 mph, however the rainy season continues. We are reminded of this at least 3-4 days a week, adjusting our work accordingly. In order to complete work on the A-Frame and aft mast our new generator sets need to be craned in. We are anxious to do this, but wind speed has been prohibitive.
Along the starboard side there are a number of situations with metal plates. Fir is a riveted boat where two metal plates lap one another and are joined by a series of metal pins, or rivets. This assembly creates a ridge allowing water to collect, and leak between the jointed plates. A lack of regular maintenance, and operational scuppers, have exacerbated the issue, spilling water along the upper decks. For reasons unknown the problem is more prevalent on the starboard side, where a key joint runs the length of the boat, and is just above the 01 deck portholes. Over time, water settling in the joint did damage, and four portholes on the starboard side required significant restoration. This entailed removing the metal trim ring, and welding a piece of steel in place. The steel was cut, protected, and the porthole reinstalled.
One of the many great things about Fir is that past repairs were done to the highest standard. An exception was found in the old ward room, where a door was replaced with a thin layer of Luan plywood. The Luan was bolted to the superstructure, and painted to resemble a metal plate. It was thin enough to bend or easily punch a hole through. On this trip, we asked Joe to tear out the false panel, and weld in a suitable metal plate.
We have made some significant progress with painting. SInce it requires a great deal of preparation, we are lucky that Fir has very little corrosion. Spots are about the size of a quarter, and her navy reinforced primer is still largely intact. Rather then chipping old paint, we're using Duraprep 88 from PPG to clean the surface, then applying Amerlock 2/400 as a primer. Once complete, we begin to apply the PSX 700 top coat, and color making a tremendous visual difference.
The anchor and anchor boxes lost most of their paint over the last decade. We made them the focus of this trip. Both required a needle gun to tediously scrape the barnacle remains before we could paint. The Amerlock 2/400 is excellent for underwater paint, and requires a relatively thick coating to accept underwater service. We put two coats on the port anchor box, and on one side of the anchor. Weighing at least 1000 pounds the anchor is more than cumbersome to deal with. We began by trying to suspend it between Fir and a piling. After moving the piling to a 70 degree angle, we abandoned this idea, and lifted the anchor from the bow of the Aurora. This gave us access to one side of the anchor. Next, we will use a chain fall to lift the anchor from the Fir's bow.
Another big change was the application of blue top coat below the port side bumper. FIr is nearly dry. All but 1,000 gallons of fresh water, and less than 400 gallons of diesel remain in Fir so she is sitting high in the water. Once we finish the paint and fill her tanks, she will be painted to the waterline.
Over the years Fir has had a number of paint schemes. The one constant is a dark grey lower freeboard, and white superstructure. At one time the dark grey started at the bottom of the 02 deck and met the water. When she was decommissioned in 1992, the dark grey went from a line near the 01 deck down.
Instead of the somber grey she has worn for years, we are changing her colors. opting for a more inspiring flag blue. The blue will start at the bumper, running the length of the boat (much lower than previous paint schemes). The remainder of the freeboard will be white. The brighter lighter paint scheme will help shed and deflect the absorption of heat in warmer climates.