good sense

You have the admire the sense of humor of a God who invents a bird the size of a walnut that eats by sticking its tongue in the throat of a flower and flies backwards and another that sits sideways on branches and says whippoorwill for hours without taking a breath.

shine on

With hummingbirds dive bombing the feeder behind me, this was one glorious spring day of work. The weather finally decided to give up winter and handed over a day of sunshine and not-too-hot-to-work weather that didn’t require choppers and Sorrels. A welcome relief.

I put the long aluminum pontoon rails — I think they’re officially called fence — on sawhorses on the deck to be spruced up. Last year I’d removed the panels that prevented small children and pets from crawling overboard. Having none of the above on the boat as regular passengers, this wasn’t a concern, but I did mean to eventually replace these panels. Trouble is, they look like this.

Believe it or not, they looked worse when they were on the boat. That chartreuse is the color of the boat when we bought it in 1985. I’m sure we paid extra for the color. Some year in the past, I couldn’t stand it anymore and painted it navy. A different year I painted it red. THOSE colors are very cooperative in letting go their grip from the aluminum. The School Crossing Guard Green? Not so much.

So, here’s what I’m doing. I found some CitriStrip, which I’ve used on a few projects in the past that eats right through Red and Blue, but finds Chartreuse a bit of a challenge. The Pontoon Factory back in ’72 no doubt had a torturous technique for getting that substance to stick to the aluminum under pain of death. It doesn’t help that the aluminum is stamped with a wood grain texture. Probably made from aluminum trees. Quite rare. Found in the arctic, I believe, where they can withstand the cold.

I finally did get to the bottom of things using some stray brushes and lubricant of the elbow persuasion. Metal scrapers are out of the question because that fragile aluminum scratches easily. The pressure washer was only partially helpful. The panel above is for the pontoon fence door. About two feet wide. I only have 3, 784 square feet to go. Both sides. I suspect this is a summer-long job that will be done while there’s a good book on my headphones.

Because that little piece started out looking like this:

I’m not sure I need to get it to bare aluminum as the paint I intend to use — Rust-Oleum that’s how they spell it on their website –Top Side Marine Paint claims the metal primer doesn’t mind a bit of residual paint. I’m thinking that if my elbow grease, scrub brushes and chemicals can’t remove it, then it’ll stay put under a coat or two of paint.

I did actually consider leaving the sides sans paint, but Ansel pointed out that it might be a bit hard on the eyes. Especially on sunny days. We’d look like a block of Reynolds Wrap with a motor.

De Rail

Meanwhile, there was the rail. It’s in good enough shape to re-use, so I bought a magnum tub of Flitz polish and began to get it all shined up.

Photos don’t do justice to the magnificent difference the polish makes. Rub on the Flitz and you can see the black corrosion start to come off. It takes a LOT of rags to get all the black stuff off, but it really shines things up. I cut up several old towels to absorb the mess.

Flitz sent along a couple of these buffers that attach to a regular drill. I kept wearing out the batteries on my cordless drills, so finally plugged in the old reliable and it did a great job. But this was hours of buffing. I preferred the quiet of hand buffing. The strain on my hand was about the same when you factor in holding a 50-year-old 350-lb Craftsman drill that wants to spin out of control every five seconds. Indeed I may have missed the cry of a loon flying overhead during the hours of polishing.

what the helm?

I could have bought a steering console — official name: helm — from the marina, but had all the materials for building my own. So several knuckle-busters and lots of colorful cup holder circles later, I had a laughable but functional helm for my boat. I had ordered an extra sheet of marine plywood for this purpose and used most of it. And, I’ve had the vinyl for this and other projects for quite some time. So.

I started out on Google Images looking at pictures of pontoon consoles to get even a rudimentary idea of what I wanted. . . At this moment, I was envisioning myself seated behind a square appliance box steering my boat down the Flowage. But I found a drawing with some dimensions so I donned my tool belt, picked up my trusty Porter Cable circular saw and got ‘er going.

Since the 4×8 plywood was still down near the lake and I wasn’t about to be hefting that up Killer Hill, I made my first cuts down there. That reduced the size enough for me to wheelbarrow the remainder up the hill. With rest stops.

My trusty dusty 40-year-old sander with some super-rough sandpaper did the trick of rounding off the rough patches so the plywood wouldn’t eat the upholstery. I also bought a $16 Diablo saw blade specifically for plywood, which was well worth it. No splintering.

After three cuts, I could see something coming together.

I used scrap wood for the inner structure. I know it’s not pretty, but I really didn’t want to run to the lumber yard, plus this wood languishes and needs a purpose in life. Most of it was treated deck boards. Some was questionable, but solid.

My idea is to have a door on the front with hinges on the bottom so it swings open for access to the inside (and maybe some storage). The top will be removable. The front diagonal will hold the steering wheel. I added boards so I could screw this piece on from the inside so no screw heads would show.

Now to beautify it

First I put on its underwear.

Found low-loft batting in my stash. This will prevent the corners from wearing through the vinyl.

I want the boat’s color scheme to be green, but since vinyl doesn’t come in the color I want, I decided navy blue would be the next best thing. I also wanted some color variance in the console — hopefully I’ll be able to continue this throughout the boat’s cushions and paint, but we’ll see. True kelly green is a rare color indeed.

Several years ago, I made patio furniture covers out of some vinyl that I’d gotten who-knows-where. It’s not exactly kelly green, but it’s not lime (yecchhh), so I Frankinsteined a strip of it from the bottom of the patio cover.

And made a green stripe in the middle of the console.

Along with a white stripe. I had a roll of white in my stash.I put some iron-on batting on the back of the green, since it didn’t have a backing at all and I was afraid it would rip. Although I guess it’s spent the last four winters outside, so what me worry.

I rolled that rascal around the cabin for a while stretching and stapling . . . until I got this.

Then began my hourly trips to the hardware store. I wanted to mount the diagonal steering wheel board from the back so as not to have visible screw heads, but also not to have little leaks and therefore mold inside the vinyl. I’ve seen that already. It’s a rerun.

2-1/4″ screws were too short. 3-1/2″ were too long. Countersinking wasn’t working. Adding washers for depth didn’t cut it. So I ran to the hardware store — twice — to Goldilocks the Just Right screws for this so they didn’t pop through the top, but buried themselves cozily into the front plywood. The steering wheel will be mounted here and it has to be solid.

I am now the proud owner of every single size of deck screw known to the modern world.

On one of my HS trips, I picked up a box of these little dudes

and spent copious hours lining them up so the top of the console snaps on and off. My plan is to build a little shelf inside for storage. This will need to coordinate with the steering cables and other wiring, so I’ll do that at a later date.

Then I made cup holder holes. You can see my crop circles here because I can’t absorb the concept of flipping over a board and having the opposite side facing me. This is a flaw in my synapses, I’m sure. Having ordered two cup holders from Amazon, I drilled a hole with a spade blade and used the jigsaw to cut 3-3/4″ holes per the cup holder description on Amazon. I used an Ikea flower pot to trace the holes. I’ll cut the fabric when I clap eyes on those cup holders just to be sure they’re the right size. Good old fabric has the ability to cover so many flaws. Paint has that attribute as well.

After scrunching and pushing, I managed to get the whole helm sticking out of the trunk of my car, secured with bungee cords and delivered it to Shell Lake Marine. Tom unloaded it onto my pontoon. Of course I failed to take a picture because I suspect he’s ready to call the loony bin for me and my construction antics. I just didn’t want to prolong my stay.

think inside the window box

Guilty as charged. I have a LOT of fabric. Much of it comes in small, irregular shapes and as much as I’d love to stack it in a plethora of pristine piles of impeccable perfection, this is not an option. But, I like to look at it, so dresser drawers and barrels, baskets and grain silos are out. Well, not only do I like to look at it, plaids, polka dots, stripes, flannels, linens, corduroys and canvas. Oh my. Vinyl, brocade, tattersall, gingham, ticking, madras. Jeepers, I love textiles. But when I need THAT fabric I need it NOW.

So I invented a Window Fabric Box. Everyone from Wal-mart to Bed and Beyond (thereโ€™s an en suite bath in between there, correct?) to Ikea have storage boxes for all the Stuff We Need. But I wanted one where the contents and I could be friends and see each other frequently.

Window in front so I can see what’s inside.

Now, don’t judge me on the colors. Waaaaay back in caveman times, I decided that my Sewing Room Theme Colors were the blue and red that came with a recycled bedspread that I’d bought at a thrift sale. It looked like this.

Yes, I made a little sewing kit from a cigar box and lined a basket. Must have been the early 80’s. 1980’s, that is.

So, when I found this electric blue corduroy that pretty much matched, I paired it up with some of the red canvas that’s been languishing and made a box.

Why is the lining separated from the exterior? Because if I want the box to be more rigid, I can insert cardboard or plastic canvas. As it is, the contents of the box makes it stand up just fine for my needs. This would work great for yarn, craft supplies or think of your sweaters nestled cozily together in neatly stacked sublimity. HA. Probably not on my watch.

So, the next box was a bit bigger and I used a really stiff navy canvas along with the ubiquitous red.

This one is 15×15″ as opposed to the above, which is 13×13. Doesn’t seem like much, but it makes quite a difference.

Quick instructions: (Because I have a bad memory.) This blog is for me, after all, and if you’re reading it, it’s probably by mistake. Like the Apocolypse has already happened and the only server left running is the one on which this useless blog is hosted.)

  1. Cut 4 exteriors and 4 linings at 16″ square. 3 are the sides and 1 is the bottom
  2. Cut 1 vinyl 16″ square
  3. Sew the 3 sides of the lining together. Likewise the 3 exteriors. This will be 2 seams from top to bottom. (Since they’re square, this only makes a difference if the fabric is directional, like corduroy or stripes.)
  4. Hem the tops of each, Best to do this while you have the machine threaded with the correct thread color. ๐Ÿ™‚ Like right after you sew the side seams. Press seams open.
  5. Wrong sides together, sew the exterior to the lining along the seams. Remember WRONG sides together. If you’re a perfectionist, make the bobbin thread match the bottom fabric and the top, the exterior. You’re stitching in the “ditch” of the former seam.
  6. Right sides together, sew the vinyl to the front of both together. This seam allowance will show. If you don’t like this, you could cover it with bias tape or go to the trouble of making a French seam. (Not for my sewing room. ๐Ÿ™‚
  7. Do the dreaded box thing. Pin the two box bottoms, lining + exterior, to the bottom of the box matching the corners. Clip the corner seams a bit to make the square bottom go around the corners. I use a walking foot when sewing vinyl and be sure the vinyl is the top fabric. NOTE: I find round containers easier to sew, but fabric typically doesn’t fold into rounds. If this is for yarn storage, though. . . )
  8. Turn right-side out and pop out the corners.
  9. Done. Again you could bias-tape the raw edges that show in the bottom of the box when it’s empty. Which it never is. Speaking of which, these are collapsible for when you don’t have so much Stuff.
Here’s the difference. Before I made the Window Boxes, the fabric on the upper shelf looked fally downy just like the stuff on the lower shelf. I’ll still need to take the boxes down and dig through them, but hopefully this will keep me from losing my mind. Whoops. Too late.

BTW. The clear vinyl came from somewhere and I’ve been looking for a use for it. (Somewhere is a euphemism for a second-hand store.) I have a bunch of it and had been thinking of making a wall-storage deal for supplies. I still have plenty left for something like that.

“still” in business

There’s always been an interesting array of taverns Up North. I suspect this might be because their scarcity requires that establishments wear several hats (would that be roofs?) from coffee shop to restaurant to conference room. Indeed, I’ve attended many a council around the tables of lounges, lodges and saloons.

So I was delighted to hear that the old Bass Lake Inn had been revamped and reopened (as in not closed down like many others) as The Still.

Big open garage door makes it nice and light inside.

Mirth Defined

I recently met a young person with the cutest lisp (I secretly wish we wouldn’t “correct” all the differences out of humans). When I asked her name, she told me it was Kathy, spelled Kassie.