Friday, June 11, 2010


So, while the Mrs. and I were celebrating our 2nd anniversary, my dad ended up back at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston for a record-busing fourth round of heart 'procedures' to tweak the performance of what's left of his heart. This was a very unscheduled visit, but he returned home just last night, which I view as a sign of good things.

Anyhow, after his last round of surgery was delayed by about 6 hours, I ended up being the only one to be there when he was able to receive visitors. What amazes me is that he ended up 100% coherent and alert only 30 minutes after waking up. I suppose that's the sign of a hell of an anesthesiologist at work.
We talked of this and that, and, of course, we discussed my 2nd anniversary, as well as my folks' upcoming 49th. At the end of the visit, I headed home to the welcome of my family, where my wife had a fairly hefty glass of scotch and ice waiting for me.
The next morning, I drove down the coast a ways to the welding shop of my old roommate Johnny Sparks. Johnny's boat is now a ripe antique of 28 years, and in excellent shape, with the exception of some panels of the after deck, which has gone spongy with years of water having intruded into the core of the fiberglass. Johnny had pried up the worst panel of the deck, and transported the panel to the shop.
Johnny and I share a common work ethic. Once we settle in, we start to work hard and fast. I haven't spent 8 hours with John since we lived together back when I was dating Inappropriately Hot Foreign Girlfriend, and I had forgotten how enjoyable it could be. Working in a well-equipped welding and metal fabrication shop meant that every tool conceivable was available at arm's length. Working together with chisels, mallets and prybars, Johnny and I pried out all the rotten fiberglass and plywood coring of the deck panel, ground the panel down to bare fiberglass (making it nothing more than a flexible shell about 1/8 of an inch thick, and fragile as glass, then Johnny stepped back and I went to town.

John invited me to help him out, but I'm no pro, and I'm certainly not at John's level when it comes to building anything. I've built a couple of little boats, and I've repaired some boats as well, which has made me comfortable with fiberglass. John and I settled on a core for the panel which we split down the middle, to allow the panel to flex a little (thin fiberglass can flex to 3-7 degrees of inflection before it fractures, so the 'give' has to be right- too much and it will age and grow brittle- too little and it will shatter under impact stress). I then bedded the core against the
panel with a glue made up of polyester resin and a thickening agent, bonding the two, and, after an hour's wait (lunch), the two were bonded solidly. After that, we layered fiberglass matting and woven fiberglass strands over the core, sealing it and stiffening it. At the end of the day, the end result was as pretty a thing as my craft can produce.
I had forgotten that I'm actually pretty good at that. People get turned off by the chemical stink and the pain in the ass of working with woven glass fiber, but with practice, it's actually pretty neat work.

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