Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Episode Two - Brightwork

Rock This Boat

Episode One - Brightwork

Watch Episode Two

Materials needed for Episode Two - Brightwork

In this episode, we take on a huge job. Refinishing all the exterior wood on this old Chris-Craft. And there's a lot of wood. We take you through the steps to properly remove the varnish, how to prepare the surface for the new varnish, and how to properly apply the new varnish.

As always, before starting this project make sure you watch all of Episode Two. 

There will be many folks who argue that the best way to remove the old varnish is by using a product like Strypeeze. We found products like these to be more of a strip tease. They're messy and, in our opinion, don't work very well. Sometimes the best way is the hardest way and that's with a heat gun. We show you how in Episode Two.

After you've removed as much of the old varnish as possible with the heat gun, go over the wood with 120-grit sandpaper. Your goal is to just get the remaining varnish off. You want to take the least amount of wood with it as possible. Then go over it with 220-grit to smooth your surface for the first coat of varnish.

Next you'll want to vacuum the surface to get as much dust as possible. Follow that with acetone (wear gloves for that), then a tack cloth. Now you're ready for your first coat of varnish.

There are many varnishes out there. Quite frankly, we haven't tried many, but we do know the Captain's Varnish is great to work with. It goes on smoothly and looks fantastic. The trick is to get enough coats to where it gives you the look you're going for. We stopped at nine coats but some will tell you to do more. That's your call.

We also experimented with several types of brushes and found the foam brushes were the easiest to work with. Plus, there's no hassle of cleanup after. You just throw them away. Some folks are purists and love a fine bristle brush. We started off using a bristle brush but no matter how fine it is, you're always going to leave brush strokes in the varnish. When you buy a foam brush, get the best one they have. They're usually around $3 as opposed to a buck for the cheap ones. The cheap ones will fall apart on you pretty fast.

After each coat of varnish, except for the last one, you'll want to go over it lightly with 320-grit sandpaper. Some prefer steel wool. Either works fine. The idea is to cut down the imperfections from the last coat. You can cut those imperfections ever further by straining your varnish each time to get any foreign objects out of it. You'll notice the 320-grit will haze the finish up somewhat. That's normal.

After you've gone over the varnish with 320, you want to vacuum, then wipe it down with acetone. Right before you apply another coat of varnish, wipe the wood down with a tack cloth to get any remaining dust or foreign objects.

This sounds like a lot of stages and it is. That's what it takes to get a great result, but you will be thrilled with yourself once you've finished. There are few transformations as dramatic as revarnishing old brightwork.  Just be sure to come back over spots that start to break down because of exposure to sunlight. Stay on top of it and you'll be proud for many boating seasons to come.

Feel free to leave any questions here and we'll try to answer them for you. Good luck!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Episode Two is finally on the way!

Ahoy, mateys! (Or is that 'maties'? Whatever)

First, we must apologize for taking SO long to release the second episode of Rock This Boat. Believe me, we have an excuse.

We shot all of the video for the second episode last summer over a month or so. I was entrusted with the hard drive that contained all the video. Yes, you can see what's coming. Before I could back it all up, the hard drive crashed. I mean crashed hard. 
Still shot from Episode 2 of Rock This Boat

I had a couple of folks look at it. They said it was shot. The second company said they could send it off to their forensics lab in Illinois to see what could be done, but it was a long shot. I said, "What the heck. Let's do it." I didn't hear from them for months. When I did, it was partially good news. They thought they could reconstruct some of the video, but they had no way of knowing how much. I had to give an authorization to do it, which would be very expensive. I decided to go for it.

Long story short, they were able to reconstruct 80 to 90 percent of what we shot. Some of the clips were partial recoveries. There were some key elements missing that included my sons who had helped me so I had to wait until college was out for the summer to re-shoot some of those scenes.

We finally completed production and the episode is currently in post-production for editing. It should be out very soon. The third episode is also missing some pieces so we'll have to re-shoot those, but we plan to start on that immediately. Hopefully, Episode 3 follows closely on the heels of Episode 2.

I always look for the silver lining and the expensive lesson I learned (that hopefully you'll learn from my stupidity) is to back up everything often. We now have couple of backup drives in different locations plus a cloud account. What a sickening feeling that was and I hope you never have to experience it.

All that to say that we're back in business. Let's Rock This Boat!

Phil Valentine

Monday, July 25, 2016

Episode One - Fiberglass Repair

Rock This Boat

Episode One - Fiberglass Repair

Watch Episode One

Materials needed for Episode One - Fiberglass Repair
  • Dremel (with a cone-head tip)
  • Acetone
  • Rubber gloves
  • Mask
  • Rags
  • Gelcoat
  • Tongue depressors
  • Mixing container
  • Wax paper
  • Sanding block
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • 320-grit sandpaper
  • 400-grit sandpaper (wet/dry)
  • 600-grit sandpaper (wet/dry)
  • 800-grit sandpaper (wet/dry)
  • 1500-grit sandpaper (wet/dry)
  • Paint Respirator
  • Wax and grease remover
  • Painting tape
  • Foam paint brush
  • Foam roller
  • SeaGloss Pro white paint

    As always, before starting this project make sure you watch all of Episode One. One little tip for you. You may have a hard time finding the higher-grit sandpapers at your local hardware store. Head on over to an automotive shop like NAPA or O'Reilly.

    For the gelcoat, we used West Marine Finish Gel Coat in white. We used SeaGloss Pro white paint in high gloss. We tried semi-gloss and decided the finish was too dull for our taste, so we went back to high gloss. This is a matter of your own preference.

    You're dealing with several chemicals during this process. MAKE SURE you take proper precautions for your health. Wear the appropriate masks and eye protection. Take your time with each step and don't move forward until each step is done to perfection.

    Feel free to leave any questions here and we'll try to answer them for you. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Watch the trailer

The trailer for Phil Valentine's upcoming DIY series, Rock This Boat, is here. Subscribe to this blog and get ready for the fun!

Here's a link to the YouTube Channel:

Friday, April 15, 2016


We're excited to launch the Rock This Boat blog featuring the restoration of Phil Valentine's 1968 Chris Craft Constellation. Soon to follow is a video series of the same name. So many of you have expressed an interest in Phil's boat. You share Phil's love for these old wooden boats, or some of you are just curious, and that's fine. It is, indeed, a curiosity to see someone so passionate about saving a piece of history. It's a good thing he has the passion because it's going to take every ounce.

Yesterday's restored transom
There's a lot to keep a body busy on these old classics. Instead of keeping all that fun to ourselves, we're going to share with you the joy (and pain) of restoring a boat like this. You'll see the steps, the missteps, the lessons learned, and the gratifying results.

Keep in mind that this vessel is almost 50 years old. It's lived all up and down the East Coast for the better part of that half-century and it's had many owners. Like an old movie star, it has a semi-scandalous past. The dealer who originally sold it was involved in an infamous mob trial in New York City. It was once seized by the federal government, though the circumstances are murky. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that one of its former owners was murdered in Mexico. It's been named and renamed and, at one point, nearly scrapped.

It has made the long trek from the east coast of Florida to Knoxville, TN then back to Nashville. It survived a harrowing crossing of the Gulf Coast along the way (which you can read about in the Cruising the Great Loop blog).  In short, she's got a lot of nautical miles on her and she really shows her age.
Phil on the trip back from Florida

Phil knew that going in, but there are so few of these boats left that restoring them is almost an obligation. Restoration on a boat this size (she's a full 57 feet) is tedious and time-consuming. There's wood everywhere that needs to be sanded and re-varnished. And where there's not wood there's fiberglass, and fiberglass — contrary to popular belief — is not maintenance-free. Not to mention re-chroming and replacing some rotting wood here and there.

Starboard toerail with
first 3 coats of varnish
The first video in the series will feature the fiberglass top that covers the salon. When Phil first bought the boat, the fiberglass leaked like a sieve. Phil and crew learned that the first hour out when they hit a torrential downpour. Water was leaking all down in the salon and the galley and had ruined the headliner in the salon. Phil made it his top priority to address that once the boat was safely under cover.

After the interior was deemed watertight, he turned his attention to the brightwork. If you're talking automobiles, the brightwork is the chrome, but in nautical terms the brightwork is the varnished wood. It's not as simple as slapping a coat of varnish on the wood. You'll see what a difference meticulous prep work makes when revarnishing. Phil spent countless hours stripping and sanding things like the toerail, re-sanding each coat of varnish until he got the result he was looking for. And it's a learn-as-you go process. Phil is not a boatwright. He's not a professional carpenter or painter, but he'll show you that practically anyone can succeed at this undertaking if they're willing to have patience and perseverance and a general love for the project.

We'll inform you here when the video series launches. It'll be augmented with details like supplies used and other things that can't adequately be covered in the videos. 'Follow by Email' at the top of this page so you don't miss a thing. Trust us. It's going to get real interesting.

The Crew
Rock This Boat

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