Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kitchen Chemistry 101

Many thanks to Sir Seb of the Wendy Ann II for his simple way to clean portholes, I've been putting his method to work in a solution of cola and vinegar for a week or so. Of course they say the real thing is the bomb for cleaning anything that way but I was filling up a garbage bin so I opted for the cheaper no-name variety. He soaked his for a month or so but I don't think it will need to take so long really. And I twelve or so portholes to clean-up to mount into new construction.

These came from the Bowie as we had taken them out before selling it at the end of the summer as they were starting to get ripped off by the crackheads and others over there. At the time it was best to remove them for at least we'd keep them as intact as possible, the provenance. notwithstanding, they could at least go from one WWII subchaser to another WWII subchaser. We had negotiated to return them in the sale pending that the new owner would return a few other things off the Bowie but he failed in his end of the bargain. (Of course we should have known we had yet another wanker on our hands. Did I mention that we found out much after that he was was a convicted pedofile? Yup. Really, how could we have known as we were so glad to just get OUT of there. Honestly, I couldn't dream this crap up if I tried.)

I've had stored them away in safe local and I dragged out a couple of parts the other day to finally have a go at them.

Here I started to chisel away at the old double-thicknesses of ply
before having the where-with-all to photograph.
Oh, and can I have a "YEA baby!" the new workbench?

I wanted to show just how thick that old Bowie ply was!
A double layer of REAL 1" thick. Seems true 1" ply you get these days is shy of a true inch.
Apologies for the overexposure as it was hard to photograph with the left and
hold the ruler with the right.

Cola and vinegar smells just de-lovely, and these were covered
in paint the day before.

These letters spell out Eloquent, the main charter vessel Greig CDs and engineers on and so I threw them into the sauce too. There are two sets of brass letters.
Oh how I love typography!

Here is a view after chipping away for two hours. This one is too big to put in the garbage bin though I had parts of it in a Rubbermaid bin which it stretched all to heck and I could only get a quarter of is soaking at a time.

The screws into it of course are flatheads and covered in paint. (I'd like to change those to Robertsons if I can find them to match). This is one of the larger portholes. Attempting to get a good turn on these is impossible for me as the metal is so soft and you can easily wreck the screw head. I think the sauce was doing a good job of delaminating the ply in what bits I was able to submerge. I figure I was making pretty OK time with all of it. I do enjoy picky chores like this for I putter and get in a meditative zone. Greig is dreaming up of a faster way to do all this. I had also considered doing slices through the ply with the sawzall blade and then chiselling the ply away. However, I couldn't figure out how to put a shorter blade in the sawzall as the one on it was 14" long and a recipe for me to slice off my hand.

I've been nursing a bad thumb for almost lobbing off the end off it with a mandoline cutting prosciutto and as it turns out, thumb. I had visions of another visit to the Royal Columbia emergency given my luck. There has been too much of that too lately I think they are getting far to familiar with us.


rob said...

Great post Tana The coke and vinegar is a good recipe, we have also used HP sauce to clean up copper, how about cutting across the ply tangentually like say otagonally almost down to the flange and the ply should split a lot easier? mind your fingers though.

bowiechick said...

HP? I had no idea but that is a great idea but having vinegar (malt isn't it) and it being thickish would have body and not evaporate.

Rob, between the rim of the brass and the ply is what looks like a sort of malleable concrete (hard in some spots, with cotton batting. I don't think it is asbestos So one side is what looks to be cotton and the other this grey stuff. Forgive me for being uniformed but what is it? It is certainly a kind of weatherstripping between the plywood and the brass rim. You may be able to see it in the last photo bottom, middle.

bowiechick said...

Actually, I think now it is just good old window putty.

rob said...

Sorry for the delay in replying It is probably a similar sealer to that used on the decks caulking putty made of various things such as linseed oil white lead powder (or red) and turpentine! If you intend cutting into it wear some sort of mask and treat the dust as toxic (given that it might just be lead oxide etc. Window putty is "whitening powder" and linseed oil with a drop of turpentine or substitute.The original gap between the porthole and the wooden hull would/may have been caulked with hokum or a cotton derivative and then filled with the "Putty" hich ould be normal.
Hope this helps, Oh if it is dusty take a spray bottle and keep the dust down by spraying the area with water before you cut into it and as you go along.

bowiechick said...

The material looks like a cotton batting for sure. In some spots it is quite pliable and where it has been exposed to the air it is hard like a cement. It isn't dusty at all and is pretty intact. I will apply a spritz of water to it as I go along too. Many thanks Rob.

rob said...

Once you break through the actual ring it should come off easily as the gunge shouldn`t stick too well to the bronze! maybe :o))

Jamie said...

Brock and I had to look up what a Robertson screw was. Crazy Canadians! It's a square head...thanks for broadening my world again :)

bowiechick said...

Ah-Ha! Yes another brilliant Canadian invention. It has always been a mystery to us Canadians why the amazing Robertson screwhead, aka "square-head" took so long to be adopted and is seemingly still unknown to our American cousins. A brilliant way to fasten that stays put. My friend Glenna, fellow boater and carpenter swears by the true robertson heads that you can get through Lee Valley tools. As there are many squarehead clones out there that just aren't quite the same as a true robbie.

I love Lee Valley too. Fantastic quality tools if you've got the dough for some of the stuff here.