Mast:  Awlgrip (Page 2)
This page was last updated on 24 April 2005.

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Mast Paint, V. 3.0

After two frustrating attempts to paint the mast successfully last October, I ended up shelving the project for the winter.  With cold weather and other time limitations, there was no way I could have succeeded at that time.  [Revisit last fall's project.]

To ease the pain of the frost-related mast paint damage, at the time I tried to wet sand the mottled paint, hoping to buff out the damage.  It didn't work, but at least it removed the roughness and prepared the mast for later steps.  If I had had to, I could have used the mast in that condition; it looked fine from a short distance, but lacked the depth and gloss of properly-applied Awlgrip.

With too much going on inside the shop, not to mention a lack of space, I couldn't hope to get the mast inside in a timely manner.  Therefore, I moved the spar over to the side of the shop, where it spent the winter buried deeply in snow.  Never was it far from my mind, however...one could say it hung over my head the entire winter.

Never one to give up without a fight, I determined to try again in the spring.  It took forever for the snow to melt, but finally the piles shrank enough to allow me to move the mast out of purgatory and over to a location where I could work on it.  Now, all I had to do was wait for the appropriate weather, or an opening inside the shop (ideally).

It soon became clear that, once more, getting the mast into the shop simply wasn't a viable option, given all the circumstances at hand.  Therefore, I decided that I would have to risk painting it outdoors yet again.  Still, with some warm spring weather on tap, and fairly long days (much longer than October), I thought I had a fighting chance.  My weather window finally arrived a few weeks into April; Sunday the 17th was forecast to be into the 70s, dry, sunny, and calm, with overnight lows expected to remain around 40.  It sounded like my best chance, so a few days before I made final preparations to the mast:  taping, hanging it from two horses, and preparing the paint equipment.

I was ready to paint early Sunday morning, but at 0600 there was still frost on the mast from the surprisingly cold night.  I hoped this wasn't a harbinger of doom, but I waited, and by a little before 0800 the sun was already strong, and the frost was gone.  It was now or never, so I mixed up some snow white Awlgrip and prepared to paint.  This time, I chose the standard reducer:  my HVLP turbine equipment tends to force the reducer out of the paint more quickly, often leading to orange peel if care is not taken, so I had taken to using a slow reducer to allow the paint more time to level once it was on teh surface.  However, the slow reducer was...well, slow, so it lengthened the tack-free cure time.  I hoped the faster reducer would help me succeed; I simply needed to stack the deck in my favor wherever possible.

By 0900, I had applied two coats:  the first coat was a sort of mist coat, quite light; the second coat, assisted by the tackiness of the first coat, was heavier and covered completely.  With already 6 coats of Awlgrip on the mast from October's attempt, 2 coats was ample to cover completely.  With the sun setting after 1900, I thought I had a good chance to make this job a success.

The next morning, I approached the mast with much trepidation.  It had stayed above freezing all night, and from the house it looked like little or no dew had fallen; I could see some shine on the mast in the rising sun, but didn't dare hope just yet.  Fortunately, the mast looked great, and had suffered no overnight damage.  Phew.  I was thrilled that this project had finally come to completion.  The end result looked very good, with good shine and depth and little or no orange peel.  I found a run or two high up on the mast, but these would never be noticeable when the mast was stepped.

A few days later, I attended to the spreaders, jumper struts, and spreader bases.  Rather than try and bother with the Awlgrip system on these small parts, I instead elected to use basic spray paints in cans.

I began by cleaning and lightly sanding the pieces.   Frankly, I didn't worry too much about it, because these parts would be easy to repaint down the road as needed, since I unstep the mast each year.  Once the parts were clean and prepped, I hung them from an old ladder with some small twine, choosing an inconspicuous place to attach the hanger.  The inner ends of the tubes, where the spreaders and jumpers insert into their bases, was ideal for this.

Next, I sprayed the aluminum with zinc chromate primer, which is generally similar to the yellow chromate primer used in the Awlgrip system.  I applied a couple coats in order to get complete coverage.  It was rather breezy outdoors, so I positioned my spraying station where the overspray wouldn't get on anything important (like my nearby mast).

After allowing the primer to cure for a couple hours, I continued with some gloss white topcoat, and spray-applied several coats until the parts looked completely covered.

Next:  reinstalling hardware and accessories. 

Click here to continue.




Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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