Friday, March 28, 2014

Sun N Fun starts next week. Don't miss the fun!

I'll be giving a few seminars through out the week. Stop by the room and say hi or stop in on seminar if you want more information. 

Practical Aircraft Buyers Guide
Wednesday 11:00 room 8
Saturday 10:00 room 7

Practical Home Built Project
Tuesday 11:00 room 8

Friday 9:00 room 5

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Boat Service - Exterior

Getting the boat ready for the season is a lot like getting the boat ready to sell.   You want it to look good and operate without any problems. That means you need to do a little preparation before you take it out on the lake for the first time. The last thing an owner wants to do is experience and engine failure or even worse, a fire on the first boating weekend of the season!

To make sure the first flotation is good for the family, let’s talk about a little spring season preparation.  Breaking the springtime maintenance into about five different steps makes it seem easier. There is no way we can go over all the details necessary but I’ll try and give you a pretty quick rundown.  

Each boat is going to be different, along with each boat owner and what they feel comfortable undertaking. 

Exterior hull.
Do a general cleaning of hull, deck and topsides using a mild detergent or vinegar and water.  At the same time check to make sure all the drains and scuppers are clear of debris and flow freely. 

This is also a good time to put on the coat of a good quality carnauba paste wax.  Okay, if you don’t want to use a paste wax, use a good quality liquid wax.  Whatever kind of wax you decide to use, it is important to get a good coat on the gel coat to protect the finish. Gel coat will oxidizing and develop a chalk like coating.  Gel coat also breaks down over time due to the UV rays. Waxing the surface helps to prevent UV damage. If there are any small spider cracks, wax will help to seal the cracks to moisture.  Plus the boat looks better and has to go faster, because the surface is so slick.

This is also the time to look into repairing any chips or cracks in the gel coat surface.  Small nicks and scratches can often times be polished out with a cordless power buffer or even a cloth and polishing compound.  If you don’t have any polishing compound you can always do a temporary polishing with a tube of original Crest tooth paste.  The fine abrasive in the tooth paste will help smooth out the scratches and imperfections.  

If the scratch is deep enough that it needs touch up, buy a gel coat touch up kit or simpler yet, use finger nail polish to hide the scratch.  Finger nail polish is not a permanent solution but it is an easy way to cover a scratch and the color choices are almost unlimited. 

If you have any big nicks or blisters that need to be filled you can use gel coat to do the job. One thing you will have to do is carve or grind the edges of the nicked area back to remove any loose gel coat and bevel the edges so the filler can bond to the underlying fiberglass.  The edges can be beveled with a razor knife or even a Dremel cordless tool.  If fiberglass repair is not your specialty, take the boat to a shop and have them touch up the nicks.  One thing you don’t want is holes, blisters or chips allowing water get under the gel coat. 

If you have an aluminum boat you look for dents, dings and signs of loose rivets (black soot around the rivet).  Dents just slow the boat down (not much if they are small) and loose rivets need to be re-set to make sure they do not leak. 

If you leave your boat in the water for the season, make sure your barrier paint and anti fouling paint are in good condition.  This is the time to do any touch ups.

Of course, this is also the time that you will look over all the fitting.  Check cleats, stanchions, brackets to make sure they are tight and do not have sharp edges or corrosion. Any damage to the fittings can catch clothes, skin and damage ropes. 

Most new boats have reduced the amount of wood and carpet used on the exterior of the boat, but if you have wood or carpet look for chips and tears.  Wood should be sanded or smoothed to prevent splinters and catching of skin and clothes.  A good wood sealer or teak oil should be applied to the wood to help protect the surface from the elements.  Depending on your location you may need to add a coating to the wood again later in the year.

Carpet should be kept vacuumed with a good wet and dry vacuum. Clean, dry carpet lasts longer and has less opportunity to build up mold and mildew. 

Each boat is different so the list can get quite long.  That’s why it is best to start on the outside of the boat and just start working your way around it.  By going slow and taking your time inspecting everything you will have a better chance of catching even the smallest of details.   And don’t for get to look at items like rub rails, swim platforms, boarding ladders, sacrificial zincs and even running lights.

While you are inspecting the exterior of the boat make sure you look for soft areas of the deck. Many boats use a core material between two layers of fiberglass. This core gives the boat strength without the weight required if it was all glass construction. But the core is often made from a porous material such as balsa wood or foam. The core can become damaged by moisture that seeps in through holes, cracks or seams. Once the core is saturated it gains weight and losses its strength and integrity.  If you have ever walked on a deck that felt spongy…that’s probably from a damaged core. Soft or damaged cores are usually not an easy or cheap fix.  Making sure the fittings, stanchions, blocks or any other items mounted to the deck are sealed and tightened appropriately.

If you happen to be the owner of a sail boat you will also have the additional inspections of the standing and running rigging.  Make sure you look for corrosion, bends or wear spots.  The sail track should be cleaned and lubricated with a dry lube.  Don’t forget to check the spreaders and boots so that they do not have damage that can ruin your sails. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Finally, Spring is here. Time to start getting the boat ready.

The boat has been stored waiting for the first signs of spring. Depending where you live, now might be the time to start preparing for the boating season.  

First let me start with a quick outline of what I think makes a good spring checklist for boat owners. In the next posting I'll go into more detail.

This is just a very brief overview of the preparation a boat owner needs to go through to get ready for the season.  Each boat will be a little different depending on the specific systems. If any of this seems like something the boat owner doesn’t want to undertake, call the boat service center and have them get the boat ready. 

Before you take the boat to the water
1.     Exterior inspection
a.     Wash, wax and repair
b.     Fitting and cleats
2.     Interior    
a.     Clean and patch  cushions and carpet
b.     Clean and protect wood
c.     Bilges, tanks and through hulls
3.     Systems
a.     Head
b.     Water
c.     Galley
4.     Engines
a.     Oil change
b.     Fuel systems
c.     Cooling systems
d.     Drive units
e.     Propellers
5.     Trailer
a.     Couplers
b.     Tires and wheels
c.     Bearings
d.     Lights
6.     Extras
a.     PFD
b.     Fire protection
c.     Registrations
d.     Insurance

Monday, March 10, 2014

Homeowners Spring Checklist

Homeowners need to be reminded that they should practice preventative maintenance at least twice a year.  Spring is the time of year to make sure that your home is ready for the warm, wet and buggy season.   My routine starts in the basement.  I can work my way up the inside of the house and then move to the outside, weather permitting.  Inspecting the inside of the house can be started in any weather.  I actually like to do the inspection in the rain or wet times.  This helps find any leakage.  Each house is unique but the basics are the same.   Most of the items will be applicable to homes in any metro area.

     1. Look for cracks in the foundation walls and the floor of the basement.   Any moisture that seeps in over the winter could have frozen and expanded existing cracks or created new ones.  If you check in the fall, you should have an idea of changes or new damage.   Patch any cracks with a tube of chalking or instant patching concrete (in a tube). 
     2. Make sure that there are no visible leaks in any of the exposed pipes (water and sewer).  When looking for leaks, have someone run water and flush toilets at the same time you’re watching the pipes.  If any of the pipes are in a crawl space or next to an exposed wall, you might need to remove some of the insulation to get a good look at them.  Don’t ignore the pipes if they are difficult to get at.  Remember, “Out of sight, out of mind” can lead to expensive repairs later.
     3.  If you have a forced air furnace with central air conditioning, this is the time to clean the unit.  Replace filters and vacuum the inside of the cabinet.  The filter should be replaced on a monthly schedule.  Most service companies will provide a spring tune-up for a reasonable cost. 
     4.  Winter or summer, carbon monoxide is dangerous.  Warm weather means the central air will be on and the house will be closed up.  Always check the exhaust chimney/flue on the furnace and water heater.  Make sure they are free of holes and corrosion.    You can use a screw driver, or like object, to tap on the pipes.  This will help find damaged parts of the exhaust pipes.  Usually the damage will be on the bottom side of the flue where moisture collects.  This would be good time to install a Carbon Monoxide Detector if you didn’t install one in the fall.
     5.  Check your water heater for leaks.  Look inside the housing around the open for signs of rust or moisture.  If you see signs, call a professional and see if they can find other damage.  If you have followed a routine you should already be draining about a gallon of water out of the heater to remove sediment.  If not, now might be a time to start.  A word of caution, if your unit is old and has never had this might be asking for disaster.  Removing sediment could uncover leaks and pits that would generate leaks.   
     6.  Spring is also a great time to hang around the fireplace on cool nights. And spring is also nesting time so make sure that the chimney flue is not blocked by nests or animals.
     7.  Spring brings in all the animals, wherever they can get in.  Patch any holes or openings in the attic area.  Broken windows or attic vents, any access without screens, will be easy access for animals to enter.  Fall the animals came in from the cold, spring they come in to raise families.
     8.  While your in the attic area (whether it is a crawl space or not) you will want to look for stains or black spots that would indicate leaks.  You might also want to use a screwdriver or awl to gentle push on some of the roofing underlayment.  If the wood is damaged or rotted the tool will push into the material very easily.  Snow or ice that settled on the roof might have seeped into the underlayment.  Mark any area you find and keep a record of the size of the stain.  Compare it to the stains from the fall.  Did it get bigger?  If so, you need to find the source. If not it might be an isolated problem.
     9. Electrical outlets and switches should be inspected for signs of arcing (black marks, soot or melted areas) and cracks.  Replace as necessary.
     10. Lubricate the doors and cabinet hinges throughout the house.  Dry winter weather makes for squeaking hinges and hard to turn latches. 
     11.  Make you plans for wallpaper or painting.  
     12.   Winter cold and moisture dries out the garage door, tracks and rollers.   Lubricate everything you can get at.  Change the batteries in the portable units and adjust the door for proper operation and sealing.  Repair or replace the door edging and bottom seal. 
     13.  Check to make sure the garage openers automatic safety features work.  Spring means kids, bicycles and toys.  The safety stop allows the door to rise if something is in its way as it closes.  As you put the door down, grasp the handle and stop the door if it doesn't go up the safety system is bad or needs adjustment.

     1.  Take a walk around the exterior foundation and look for cracks or signs of winter damage.  Patch any cracks and holes with caulking or patching cement.
     2.  Make sure that the foundation has a good build up of dirt to direct the flow of water away from the foundation.  Recommendations run about an inch of slope for each foot of distance.  Ultimately, you would want about six feet of slope from your home or more.  This is not always possible, so get as much distance as possible.  Estimates are that over 75 percent of the moisture problems in a basement can be sure with correct drainage.
     3.  Clean and repair gutters and down spouts.  Add extensions to the down spouts if needed.  Make sure that the water drains away from the foundation (see the above number 2)
     4. Check around the windows, doors and vents for cracks or gaps.  Fill all with caulking or filler.  Remove old caulking before installing new. 
     5.  Replace storm windows with screens and repair tears or holes.  Windows should be reglazed, scraped and painted.
     6. Inspect your porch or deck for damaged wood or loose boards.  This is also a good time to clean the deck with a deck wash and waterproof the wood to prevent further damage.  While you’re under the deck look for cracks in the foundation and inspect the pillars and posts that support the deck.
     7.  If the posts are rotted at the bottom, you can often repair the base by removing the bad section and inserting another board in its spot.  This replacement piece can be removed in the future after it rots without having to remove the complete post.
     8.  Check the roof for damaged or loose shingles.  Loose shingles need to be glued down with asphalt cement.  Missing or damaged shingles need to be replaced.  If there is more than 50 percent of the roofing that need to be repaired, plan on a new roof. 
     9. Check the flashing for rust or damage.  Flashing, usually metal or tar paper, is placed where the roof meets the chimney, windows, and edges.  Flashing needs to be protected and sealed to prevent moisture from getting under and damaging the roof.
     10. Make sure the chimney caps and screen are in place.  Nesting forces the animals to hunt for dry area to raise their families.  It will either be your attic, your chimney or the neighbor’s house. 
     11. Check the siding for rot or damage.  Replace or repair the damaged areas and seal, prime and repaint

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Letting maintenance go unrepaired through the spring and summer months can turn a simple problem into a very expensive repair.  Need help; call contractors or do-it-yourself stores because answers only come after you ask questions.