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.

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