Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter in Buchanan

I’m pretty much ready to go back to the boat.  OK, I’m WAY past ready.  Buchanan is just a fine little town but ……… not much happens here.  I go for coffee in the afternoon, I take the garbage out on Tuesday morning and bring the cans back after Richard comes around.  Some days I walk to the other house for something that we forgot to move to the new house. 

Two weeks ago I was at NACS in Calgary for three days.  NACS stands for North American Consulting School which is an overblown name for what is really just a networking opportunity put on by some management consulting association.  Several years ago when it started, the NACS program content was pretty worthwhile, this year not so much.  At that point NACS was sponsored by CCAA (Canadian Consulting Agrologists Association) but that organization has disappeared, swallowed up into some new acronym based in eastern Canada.  Since the real reason to attend is to visit with whoever else attends, a mediocre program isn’t that big a problem --- the first time it happens.  If the program stays as average as it was this year though I don’t expect that the quality of the crowd will continue unabated.  So next year it might be a bit harder to motivate myself to pay the significant registration fee. 

Other than travelling to Calgary mostly what I’ve been doing is helping Marilyn wrap up her Ag in the Classroom project.  She still thinks that she’ll be done by Christmas so I’m counting the sleeps until we can head west again.  (the count is down to 15 today)  My Uruguayan adventure has been postponed until early January so I’ll fly from the coast whenever that actually happens. 

A couple of weeks ago now I ordered some epoxy supplies from eastern Canada.  I have difficulty believing that I can’t buy West System epoxy in Saskatchewan but I have never been able to find it anywhere this side of Kelowna.  The cans of epoxy showed up today so now I’ve got no excuse for not getting busy with the refinish on the deck box that we brought home with us.  When we bought Gray Hawk we got a pair of matching deck boxes at Costco and installed them on the aft deck.  They’re great boxes but they are starting to look pretty weathered.  We only brought one of them home with us but I’ll get it refinished and we can bring the 2nd one home next summer.  I doubt that I’ll get motivated to refinish it on the coast and it will be a lot easier to do here anyway – better tools and no weather worries if I do it indoors. 

I’m going to coat it with West System using 207 clear hardener and then apply urethane varnish while the epoxy is still green (not fully cured).  That’s what I did with the forehead trim that I refinished last spring and I think it came out well.  Epoxy doesn’t handle UV well but the urethane gives it UV protection and the epoxy coat gives the finish a much deeper  lustre than I can get unless I build a large number of coats of urethane.  The challenge on the coast is to find dry days to do the finishing because the epoxy will get an amine blush if it gets damp while it is curing.  The blush – which looks like a milky white layer just beneath the epoxy surface – usually comes out in sunlight but it takes time.  I shouldn’t have to worry about it when I do the coating in the basement.

The reason I want to put the urethane on before the epoxy cures fully is that I have been told it will chemically link to the epoxy if you do it that way.  I know that is true with successive layers of epoxy – if you apply additional coats of epoxy resin within roughly the first 24 hours the successive layers will chemically crosslink to the initial layers.  In effect you end up with a build up that is equivalent to a single layer but there are many advantages to doing the build in successive layers.  Too thick a layer of epoxy will often gas off inside the resin while it is curing, resulting in a porous layer.  Excessively thick layers are also susceptible to “going off” which is the nickname for an out of control curing reaction.  When that happens they can get hot enough to catch on fire. 

On old epoxy or when you wait too long after the cure then you get an inactive surface which needs to be roughed up so that the subsequent coat can mechanically adhere to the previous layer.  I know that is true for epoxy layers and I believe it is also true for polyurethane top coats.  I’m going to assume it is true and proceed on that assumption but that means I will have to start early in the morning with the epoxy so that I can add the polyurethane while the resin is still tacky, likely in the mid-afternoon.

(10 days later)

The polyurethane over epoxy appears to be successful.  I was pretty sure it would be because that is the way I did it on the boat last spring.  In the case of the deck boxes though I pushed the envelope by putting some of the urethane on while the epoxy was still borderline tacky.  I don’t think I’ll do that again because I got some roughness in the surface but that cleaned up with sanding so its not a huge problem.

Its been bitterly cold here the last couple of days.  We were in Saskatoon for a couple of days so Marilyn could wrap up some of her AITC stuff.  While we were there I picked up a Case garden tractor from a fool just south of the city.  I say “fool” simply because he was clearly a fool.  They had obviously moved out to “the country”, built a house that they couldn’t afford and started a shop that they couldn’t afford to finish.  Now they are trying to sell an acreage in the dead of winter with a half finished shop and a house that is too small for the neighbourhood.  Good luck with that plan. 

They did however have a Case 444 garden tractor.  Many years ago now I bought Lyle Black’s 224 Case from Norm Nickel’s Lakeside Power for $2500.  When we moved into Nipawin I sold that tractor and I believe I sold it for $1800 or possibly even more than that.  Today they trade for between $2000 and $4000 but not at this time of year.  We got a significant discount and I ground it deeper yesterday because it was just plain bloody cold out and I absolutely didn’t care whether we came home with the tractor unless it was a really good deal, which it turned out to be. 

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