I don’t think I’ve posted in a year. It’s been an interesting ride. Most of the time was spent being a dad and working at a job I didn’t like much. At the end of January I fell victim to cost reductions at the job, and although it hurt the ego to not to be considered a vital, irreplaceable part of a company, I wasn’t particularly sad to leave. Since then I’ve been playing music while hunting for a new job. I’ve also been debating taking the leap into opening my own agency. The thought of ups and down versus a steady paycheck is daunting, but it could also be much more fulfilling.
In the meantime, the NPR Tiny Desk Concert Contest is here again. This year I entered a song I wrote during the Texas freeze of 2021. The electricity was off, and we were just sitting in silence in the living room around the fireplace, so I picked up the guitar and started noodling around, a few minutes later, this song had come into existence.
Back in college I was writing songs that like almost daily, but I hadn’t had one flow out so easily in a very long time. I realized it was probably the first time I’d sat in total silence without the constant distraction of a TV or the Internet or my phone in a very long time.
Last year I also started an incredibly silly Instagram account called @onlywonderwall. As you may have guessed from the name, I only play Wonderwall, over and over and over. I now have over 2000 followers and I’m getting social engagement of 10 percent or higher, which most corporations only dream about. Promoting my Tiny Desk entry through Instagram, I currently have engagement of 28 percent compared to the videos that the Tiny Desk blog has highlighted so far, which have engagement of somewhere between 3 and 7 percent.
Maybe this is the year I finally catch the attention of Bob Boilen, but watching all of the other great entries, it’s still hard not to feel like an imposter.
I’m releasing a new version of Just a Swinging Dinghy, you can pre-save now to stream it for free on your favorite platforms. There’s also a new recording of Snow in Spring, Texas with some beautiful harmonies coming to streaming soon.
I hope you’re all doing well, and I’ll make an effort to write more this year.
I use the term “business” very loosely because while making music has been a lifelong passion, I’ve never really made any money at it. However, I have spent many hours throughout many years working at it.
As a kid, it was a much different landscape. There was no internet. There were no free guitar tabs or piano lead sheets. There was no way to ask questions about instrument repairs or even how to change strings. You just had to figure it out or wait until a visit to the mall and remember to ask one of the guys that worked at the instrument store.
The stores were different as well. They usually sold pianos, rented band instruments, and carried lots of sheet music with guitars being just a small part of the store. In each town there was probably just one place to go, but there were also serious deals to be found at pawn shops and garage sales since nobody had a clue regarding the value of most instruments.
That’s all been replaced by online big-volume retailers, mostly focused on guitars. I don’t think the days of the small independent music shop are ever coming back. On the upside, it’s now easier than ever to get independent music in front of a listener.
Back in the late 90s getting a gig was tough, especially for an introvert. You had to create a press kit with a demo tape or CD and then go in person to the venue and pitch it, then wait for calls from the booker that never came. If you weren’t a charismatic salesman, it’s doubtful anyone even listened to your music. Now you can video a few songs with your phone, upload it to YouTube, email it to the booker, and you’re all set for next Friday night. You never even have to speak to anyone.
Writing and recording music was always much more fun than performing, though. Back around 1998 I installed a Gadgetlabs Wave8/24 digital recording card into my 400 MHz Celeron PC. It had some latency issues depending on which software it was paired with, but it ran great with CoolEdit Pro. I built a little cart to move around the tower and the rack unit with the big fat CRT balanced on top. It seemed so magically portable back then. Playing with the effects was great too with the exception that each time you added one you had to wait about 15 to 30 minutes for it to finish processing.
I believe that system was running on Windows 95, then 98, then Gadgetlabs folded, but the user community was able to cobble together drivers for XP to keep it working for a few more years. Unfortunately, it died with Windows 7.
Aside from just sloppy playing a terrible singing, all my early recordings had one serious flaw — cheap microphones. There was no quick reference back then. There was no way to compare. Money was super tight, so when it was time to buy microphones, we headed to radio shack and bought ourselves some $30 Shure co-branded Realistic mics.
They were garbage.
The $50 M-Audio pre-amps from Mars Music were also garbage.
I knew HOW to punch in and out of recordings, but I couldn’t because the background hiss was always so high that it was overwhelmingly obvious where you stopped and started different takes. The tonal response when recording drums and vocals was horrific. It also didn’t help that we played the cheapest of cheap second-hand instruments.
I had hoped to run a mobile recording studio, but I knew the equipment I was using wasn’t up to standard, and working as a journalist, I couldn’t afford to bring it up to standard. Eventually all of it fell away to other hobbies like photography and sailing.
That was an extremely long lead-up to announce that after all these years, I built another studio — this time with an incredible Antelope Audio Orion Studio Synergy Core 12-track system and some much higher quality microphones. I also acoustically treated the room to stop flutter and reverb issues.
Growing up during a time when the labels controlled music distribution, I was also under the false impression that you needed some sort of deal or approval to get your music onto streaming services like Spotify. Turns out, you don’t. Basically anyone can distribute anything through companies like Amuse.io or Distrokid, no matter how bad it is.
Therefore I’m proud to announce I have several terrible tracks now available on all streaming platforms, so if you would follow me as an artist on your favorite platform, I’d be forever grateful.
I also released a few tracks that I recorded at Majik Studios back in 2006. My Acadia Bar open mic friends played on these songs with me. I couldn’t actually afford to ever finish these recordings. It was basically just one day in the studio, so only “She’s Infectious” got a lead guitar part and a few harmonies. However, they aren’t terrible, so I figured I’d put them out there for the sake of nostalgia. https://share.amuse.io/track/fred-facker-acadia-nights
Had I been smarter I would have released “She’s Infectious” right at the beginning of the Covid outbreak, but I had kind of forgotten the song even existed. I also considered releasing a few of the late 90s/early 00s home recordings, but I just don’t rate them as good enough to ever see the light of day.
After all these years I’m finally registered with ASCAP, I have songs available to anyone who wants to listen, and I have plenty left to record. I also hope that as Finn gets older he’ll continue to show interest in music and want to record with me.
It was challenging. It was rewarding. It was heartbreaking.
During the month of March I tackled what I consider to be the pinnacle of a car restoration — the paint.
When this project began in August of 2017, the 1967 Mercury Cougar arrived wearing dull white paint. I actually wasn’t sure if it was primer or a topcoat. There was overspray on most of the trim, rust was bubbling up on the doors and quarters, and the body panels looked as if someone had played bumper cars in a parking lot full of shopping carts.
Almost four years later, I finally finished the mechanical and interior refurbishment, and I was ready to tackle the paint and body. Here’s the most important things I learned during the process.
Number One: Don’t buy your paint online
I had a white Mustang in high school, and I know white is a popular color for Cougars, but I just wasn’t feeling it. To be honest, if I was building the perfect Cougar it would be Hunter Green with a Saddle Leather interior. However, I ended up with a white Cougar with red interior that originally was Onyx black. I decided to take it back to black, but with a metallic paint. Like many others, I’ve gotten in the bad habit of just ordering things online instead of getting out to a store to see what I’m buying. I ordered all my paint from Eastwood.com. I lucked out with their Epoxy Primer. It sprays really well. The 2k High Build — not so much, but if you dilute it enough it’s ok. The real problem was the Midnight Metallic Black.
The Eastwood base colors mix 4:1, so while it’s $185 per gallon, you’re actually only getting 5 quarts. By comparison the PPG Shopline paint mixes 1:1 at $205 per gallon, so you’re getting 8 quarts. Even with slow reducer I suffered solvent popping in the Midnight Metallic Black, which left dotted lines on the roof and trunk lid of the car. I also screwed up and accidentally drug my air hose along the edge of the roofline. There was nothing to do except sand it all down and start over. I needed more paint. Unfortunately, Eastwood had a big message on their site saying they were out of stock until May. I took a trip to my local Tasco where I should have gone in the first place. They gave me a handful of color chips to pick out exactly what kind of metallic black I wanted and then mixed me up two gallons. Their low-end Shopline paint sprayed better than the Eastwood, and by choosing Ford Tuxedo Black, future color match is easy. I can get touch up paint at any auto parts store.
Number Two: You need good lighting in your work area
I have fluorescent shop lights hanging in half my garage, but the other side is really dark. There is a noticeable difference in the paint work done on the bright side of the garage versus the dark side of the garage. Good light helps you see the wet edge, the extent of coverage, whether or not you’re running the paint, and if you have solvent popping or other issues happening. If I was going to paint more cars in my garage I’d add lighting to the other side of the ceiling or at least set up some shop lights on that side.
Number Three: Sanding is tedious and messier than spraying
Sanding cars is incredibly tedious and messy. I was expecting the spray mess, but being covered in enough poly primer powder that I looked like a ghost was a new experience. The powder gets into the air and settles on everything. It got tracked all over the house. Having a clean area is really important for a good paint job, and it took days of cleaning and washing out the garage to remove enough dust to spray again. Also, use blocks to sand, not your fingers. If you sand without a block you’ll end up with a sad, wavy finish. 2k is the only layer that will hide a few of the issues you don’t spend time sanding before you apply it. Every other layer is going to show everything, so spend the time sanding. But yes, it is really tedious.
Number Four: Carefully read your paint data sheets
Yes, the data sheets show mix ratios, but many of them also specify gun pressure and tip sizes. More importantly, it lets you know how soon you can spray your next layer. For instance, the epoxy primer I used took three days to cure enough for sanding. Three days is a long time to wait for the next coat when you’re trying to fit a paint job into vacation time. However, you could overcoat the epoxy primer with 2k primer after 30 minutes, but if you waited more than six hours, you were stuck waiting the full three days. Once the 2k was on the epoxy, you could sand it within an hour. The clear coat also has to go onto the base coat within a certain number of hours or you have to scuff and spray another layer of base before you can clear. Each paint is slightly different, so always ask for the data sheet when you’re buying the paint.
Number Five: The cut and polish process is a completely different skill set
I was aware that I knew nothing about painting cars, so I invested in a weekend seminar to learn the basics long before I bought any equipment. We spent lots of time spraying, but the cut and polish process was just a PowerPoint slide with a quick demonstration. I was woefully unprepared to polish paint, and the Meguiars paste and $29 buffer from O’Reilly’s weren’t helping the situation. My first attempt wet sanding left too much orange peel. (By the way, did I mention sanding it incredibly tedious?) My second attempt was better, but after the cutting compound, you could still see swirl marks in the paint. My third attempt finally ruined the paint on the hood. After many, many hours I finally have a handle on wet sanding. A friend from the Cougar Club loaned me a professional polisher, and I bought some quality cutting compound and polish. The results are better, but if I could do it all again, I would have spent a long time practicing these processes on a car with bad paint, not the car I spent four weeks painting. Yes, when I mentioned heartbreak in the introduction, this is what I was talking about. There are definitely sections of the car I will have to paint again due to my own incompetence when trying to polish it. The wet sanding, cut and polish is not quick. It’s another job in itself, and it will make or break a paint job.
I know, there are no mind-blowing epiphanies here, but if anyone out there is debating whether or not to paint their car, I hope this helps.
The Farmer’s Almanac predicted the last Houston freeze of 2021 to be February 17. What it didn’t predict was that the freeze would begin the evening of February 14 and stick around until February 19.
We knew the freeze was coming well in advance, and Mary spent quite a few hours relocating plants into the house and covering those she couldn’t move. Thankfully plants were the only casualties at our house.
The amount of snow that arrived for President’s Day was surprising and kind of fun. I was the only optimist on my block who thought we might still have trash pick-up. I cleared the sidewalk and built a snowman. I’ve lived in Houston since 1995, and while I’ve seen it snow here maybe a dozen times, I’d never seen it snow like this. We bundled Finn up and let him experience it.
Our neighborhood continued to have power and water overnight Monday, but we filled several containers with drinking water and filled the bathtub for toilet flushing just in case.
Tuesday the power was gone. We have a gas fireplace, so we moved everything into the living room and set up a safe baby area to catch the heat yet keep Finn out of the fire. We also repurposed an old photography backdrop to shut off the rest of the house from the living room to trap more heat.
Tuesday night it was still 65 in the house when we went to bed, but it was 55 by morning. Mary slept in the baby pen with Finn to share body warmth, but 8-month-olds aren’t really appreciative of life-threatening situations, and he spent most of the night climbing on her.
Wednesday we had Finn in several layers of clothes, which he did not like at all, and he was very tired of being in the pen. We took turns sitting with him wrapped in a sleeping bag, but that became a struggle. Cellular phone service went bad. With T-Mobile I could get texts and phone calls, but photos wouldn’t download and using Facebook or surfing the internet was our of the question.
Mary transferred some of the refrigerator and freezer food to ice chests filled with snow, and we started cooking other things. Have you ever grilled croissants? I think if we’d had a pizza stone to keep the bottoms from turning black, they would have been perfect.
My parents in Montgomery had gotten power back earlier in the day, and it stayed on, so around 5 p.m. with the temp in our house possibly dropping into the 40s overnight, we decided to drain the pipes and risk the roads to get to their house.
Previous apocalyptical survival scenarios were much easier when there wasn’t an infant involved. Mary and I could have sat in sleeping bags reading books by candlelight for several more days, but babies have no chill.
Thankfully we made it to Montgomery where the power stayed on, and we finally got Finn to eat and sleep.
The power was back on at our house Thursday, so we began cleaning, but we were still under a water conversation order and boil notice due to all the water line breaks throughout the area.
I was very glad to finally see this guy melting away.
Mary’s five-year-old pepper plants that were taller than she is all perished along with an eggplant. Our orange trees may or may not make it.
Replacing plants is easy compared to the struggles of so many in Houston trying to do major plumbing and drywall repair right now, not to mention the fact that many people lost their lives.
Despite knowing the cold was coming, the self-regulated Texas power providers had no incentive to spend the money to winterize systems. We have the 737 Max of power in Texas, and the plane has finally crashed into the mountain.
As we sat in silence Tuesday, I pulled out the guitar and wrote this song in hopes of alleviating some of the anxiety in the house and making things feel a little warmer.
There’s one detail of the 1967 Cougar that always bothered me — the way the exhaust sits under the rear valance.
Originally, I believe the Cougar had turn-down exhaust tips that were somewhat hidden, but through the years almost everyone has run the exhaust under the valance, both to keep fumes out of the car and to give it more of a muscle car style.
However, in 1968, the XR7-G package boasted exhaust cut-outs with chrome trim rings, which to me, makes the back end of the car look much classier. Since I was undertaking body work to prep my car for paint, I decided to retrofit the XR7-G trim rings and exhaust tips onto my 1967 standard.
I ordered the trim from West Coast Classic Cougar. While it seems like a high quality reproduction part, all repro parts have their quirks. The odd thing I found about these trim rings is that one mounting peg is a different size. With pegs facing up, the right peg is a size smaller than the center and left pegs. This really doesn’t matter except that the spring nuts supplied with the rings are all the same size. They fit tightly on the center and left pegs, but fall right off the right peg. You will have to source a smaller size spring nut to mount them.
One good part about these trim rings is that they are symmetrical, so you can easily flip them over to trace the pattern onto your valance.
Step one was to remove the rear bumper guards and brackets. Not all Cougars had the bumper guard option, but if yours had them, and you are removing them, don’t throw them away. Each bumper guard has a core value of $50 and the brackets trade for about $100 a pair.
I got varying measurements from XR7-G owners as to how far apart the cut-outs should be spaced. I found my exhaust pipes lined up right under the top mounting holes for the bumper guards, so I used those to mark the centerline for my cutouts. I’m not trying to pass off my car as an XR7-G, so I would much rather have good exhaust alignment than perfect factory specifications. If you’re measuring from the bottom edge of the valance, on mine the outside edge cuts were exactly 8″ off the end-curves of the valance.
I could have probably cut the entire shape out with a dremel, but on the Classic Cougar Community forum, a member suggested using aviation tin snips to quickly do the bulk of the cutting and then just clean up the edges with a dremel. I decided to give that a shot — plus it gave me an excuse to buy some nice tin snips.
The only downside to the tin snips was the bend it puts in the lower portion of the valance, but it was easily tapped straight with a hammer and a dolly. I finished cutting and cleaned the edges up with a dremel.
Drilling the mounting holes precisely enough to get the bottom edges to line up perfectly straight was the trickiest part. Using good metal bits and stepping up the hole sizes made it much easier. In the end, I had to oversize a few holes to give the trim some adjustability.
My exhaust hangers were adjusted all the way down to get the pipes under my rear valance, so it was easy enough to raise them up to move the exhaust tips into the new cut-outs. However, it wouldn’t be a DIY project without an unexpected challenge. I didn’t notice that the backside of one hanger bolt had two nuts on it, and I twisted off the head trying to tighten it back up.
Thankfully I had a replacement nut and bolt rolling around in my toolbox, so it only caused a short delay.
The old rusty exhaust tips already look better poking through the new cut-outs. It will look really great when I have the larger, shinier XR7-G tips welded onto the system.
Once I had proof of concept and good measurements, I ran through the entire process again on the reproduction rear valance that I’m prepping to install before I paint the car.
I think I may toss the flat nuts and use speed nuts to install the trim rings, so that they are easier to unscrew if I want to repeatedly install and remove them while I continue doing body work and changing things on the car.
So now that I have the XR7-G exhaust trim, the real question is whether or not I should add the XR7-G hood scoop!
I only had an 18-hour window to apply clear coat after the last coat of color to ensure adhesion. However, I needed to wait a minimum of 24 hours after spraying clear before I could start the cut and polish process.
The clear coat brought out the color of the black cherry paint, but it had noticeable texture. I also had two runs on the air cleaner lid, which were easy to see, but very hard to photograph.
While I had plenty of lower grit sandpaper for paint prep, I hadn’t thought about the grits required for the polishing process. I made a run to my local True Value, but the finest grit they carried was 320. Thankfully O’Reilly’s had a full section of polishing supplies, so I purchased 1000, 2000, 3000, and some polishing compound.
Because I needed to remove the two runs in the clear, I started the process with 600 grit dry sanding. Once I got a cross hatch pattern across the entire surface, I rinsed the lid and sanded with 600 grit wet. I did another rinse, then sanded 1000 grit wet. Then I went to 2000 grit wet. Then I used my random orbital sander for 3000 grit wet. Then I finished the lid with a buffer and polishing compound.
The difference in depth, shine and texture was amazing. I still had some unwanted texture in the grooves, so I actually repeated the entire 600 wet through buffing again. The lid looked fantastic.
I was actually using the air cleaner before this project started, so I was anxious to get it back on the car. I tackled the bottom of the assembly next. I decided to forego the 600 dry sanding portion and just start with the 600 wet. By the time I finished, I could barely move my arms. I don’t think I’ve done this much intense sanding and polishing in my entire life.
I got the air cleaner back on the car, and I decided to tackle the valve covers and oil pan later.
The biggest lesson learned is that preparation is everything. My paint is smooth, but if you look down into it, you can see that the surface of the metal is not. There was quite a bit of pitting in these old rusted parts, and I should have done more sanding before the primer and more coats of primer to smooth it all out before the color coat.
Here’s a side-by-side example of the difference the cut and polish makes.
I do have confidence that I can tackle painting the entire car with the turbine sprayer and get an acceptable result. However, unless I fix some of the underlying alignment and body issues first, it’s just putting lipstick on a pig.
I spent an entire morning sanding down the color coat I had applied the day before to remove all of the cardboard and plastic that had stuck to the paint when I flipped various pieces before they had cured. I had previously sanded it all with 400 grit, but this time I wet sanded with 600 grit to get a better finish.
I dug out some wire hangers and worked out a new tactic for the my second attempt at color.
I mixed, re-mixed, and then mixed the color again hoping it would be more red this time around. It looked the same as it had before.
Once I had two nice coats of color back onto the parts, I let them cure for an hour, and I prepped for clear coat.
The Eastwood Clear mixes 2:1, so it’s a bit thicker than the color and base coats that mix 4:1. In the future I think I would add reducer when using it with the turbine sprayer.
The Eastwood instructions only call for two coats of clear, but the Kindig It Paint with the Pros instructions call for five coats of clear. It was going on really thick and really clouding up the air in the garage, so I quit at three coats. There really had been virtually no overspray with the base and color coats, but even using the low VOC activator in the clear coat, it was creating serious fumes. People walking their dogs along the street were coughing as they passed the house.
The first coat went on really well and made the color shine, but the second and third coats went on cloudy and had me worried. Thankfully, they dried clear.
I gave all of the parts plenty of time to cure before touching or moving them this time. I’m proud to say that after having to prime twice and shoot color twice, I got the clear right the first time.
I would have liked less texture in the final project. I think reducer would have helped. As I analyzed the parts in the light, I thought, it’s not TERRIBLE, but I wouldn’t have paid for this job. However, it can only get better after the cut and polish.
Before jumping to the color base coat, I decided I need to spend more time working with the gun and attempt the primer again. I diluted it 3:1 instead of 4:1 and made sure I had the paint feed all the way open. I got slightly better coverage, but unfortunately there was still too much texture to the spray.
Frustrated, I turned to the internet. After watching a half-dozen videos, it became apparent that to get good results with the turbine sprayer, you HAVE to use the pressure cup. I was using a PPS 2.0 disposable cup liner system. There is actually a 3M PPS pressure cup that uses the disposable liners, but I only had the gravity feed cup. I decided to use the stainless pressure cup that came with the gun for the color round. It made a HUGE difference.
I mixed up the Bonneville Black Cherry. I was really excited about this color, and I have debated whether or not I should paint the entire car with it.
The paint looked very black, but as I stirred, the metallic red began to appear. However, as I sprayed it on, it looked black with a hint of plum. I did some parts with what I would deem a regular coating and some I went heavier to see if it would affect the color at all. However, as it dried it seemed to become more of a bronze champagne? I’m not sure how to describe it. The photos below required the camera exposure to be pumped up to see the color because without direct sunlight, it looks more or less black.
I learned some important lessons this round beyond just the fact that I have to use the pressure cups.
Lesson 1: Laying the paint on thicker did not improve the color, it just caused solvent popping.
Lesson 2: I’ve got to stop painting on a table. The first round of paint keeps drying on the plastic sheet, then it cracks off and blows dust up onto the things I’m painting.
Lesson 3: If I have to flip something I’m painting, give it extra EXTRA time to cure before flipping or it just screws up the paint I’ve already sprayed.
Lesson 4: Don’t remove the coveralls until after you clean the gun or you will probably splash thinned paint droplets all over your clothes.
The valve covers, which were stacked higher than everything else and don’t require flipping were the only pieces that came out “good.” There’s one very small run on one of them, but I can’t decide if it’s worth fixing or not. The oil pan was great until I went over it with a SUPER thick experimental coat to see if I could get more of the red color to come out. The red did show while I was spraying it. It then dried the same color as everything else but with lots of bubbles from solvent popping. I think I’ll re-sand and re-spray it. The air cleaner lid and base both fell victim to having cardboard stick to the bottom side while I painted the top. The snorkel was sitting right on the plastic, and it has plastic coating the entire bottom side now.
I will definitely find a way to hang my parts to do another color coat before I move on to clear coat.
One thing I have decided, I do not want my entire car painted Bonneville Black Cherry. I will not order the paint for my car online. I need to find a local shop where I can lay my eyes on the real colors before I commit to spraying the car with it.
In September 2019, back when the world was normal, and we jumped on airplanes to breath up each other’s exhales without thinking twice, Mary and I made a trip to Salt Lake City.
During that trip Bryce Green and Freddy Carlson taught us how to paint.
When you have pro equipment being set up for you in a climate controlled spray booth with two of the best painters in the world coaching you, it’s hard NOT to paint well. Recreating that magic in my garage has proven to be more of a challenge. I didn’t really have the space or want the noise of an 80 gallon compressor. Additionally, I was going to have to install multiple moisture traps along the walls. I decided to take a chance on an Apollo 5-stage turbine sprayer.
Allegedly it delivers a continuous 9.5 psi of dry air, and it has a nice HVLP gravity fed gun similar to the SATA guns we used during our class. It’s fairly quiet, and I can spray anywhere there’s a wall plug. I’m hoping we can spray varnish and maybe even gel coat on the sailboat as well.
When we learned the Kindig It paint method, it started with bare metal, then epoxy primer, then filler, then polyester primer, then 2k urethane primer, then sealer, then basecoat, and finally clearcoat.
First off, I’m on a budget. Second, I don’t really have the time or energy to take the Cougar all the way down to bare metal. For my test run, I decided to see what would happen if I sanded the parts, used a little rust encapsulator where necessary, then jumped straight to a 2k primer.
By the way, I never thought I’d have a favorite sandpaper, but I ordered several rolls of Indasa paper from Big Kid Blocks, and I have to say, I love Indasa sandpaper. It is so much better than whatever I usually grab at the hardware store. I also highly recommend their Show Gun cleaner and AngelWax products.
All of the engine parts for this test were giveaways from various members of the Southeast Texas Cats Mercury Cougar Club. The valve covers were from a 68 Cougar. The oil pan was from a 65 Mustang. All of the pieces had different color paint and varying amounts of rust. I cleaned them with a wire wheel, but the gold paint on the oil pan was especially stubborn. I gave it all a spray with rust encapsulator, then sanded with 220.
I emptied all 22 ounces of 2k primer onto the parts. At times I felt like I had the gun spraying well, but at times it felt like I was barely getting any paint out at all. I was using a 1.5mm nozzle, but I think I probably needed a 1.8mm. (Unfortunately, I haven’t purchased a 1.8mm.) I kept turning the air pressure up, but in fact, I probably needed to turn it down to increase paint flow.
When the primer dried, it had a very rough texture. It smoothed out easily with 400 grit, but sanding won’t be an option when I get to the color coat.
I finished sanding, wiped it down with paint prep, then re-assessed. The coverage had become a little thin in some places, and there were a few spots showing bare metal.
I decided that instead of moving on to the base coat, it would be better to troubleshoot my issues and try another coat of primer. I’m going to spend more time adjusting the gun and increase the amount of reducer for better flow. Hopefully I’ll have time for attempt number two before the weekend is over.
Friday evening our outlook for race 5 was still dependent on whether or not I could repair the cabin top winch that raises and lowers the centerboard.
Once I got the winch open, the mechanism turned out to be incredibly simple. There is a gear on the drum, a gear on the winch handle, and one pawl that is supposed to release whenever you turn the handle. I will have to completely remove the cable and lift out the entire drum assembly to identify why the pawl is staying locked, but I found a way to pull it clear with my finger. Using the finger method we could raise and lower the centerboard with no issues, so we were a go for Saturday morning.
The lack of wind that had plagued us the entire series was not an issue Saturday. In fact, it was the most intense conditions we had ever experienced in the Kadey Krogen — an all new test.
The first thing I learned was that 30 knot winds put Mary into a complete freeze-up panic. I know she was struggling hard with being out in those conditions, so when she asked that we only fly the reefed main and the staysail, I complied. The rest of the crew did not seem as worried, but I did notice they all put on life jackets for the ride.
We had a beam reach for the first leg with apparent wind frequently gusting to 35 knots, and we were consistently making 6.5 – 7 knots on our way to the first mark. I attempted to take some pictures and video, but Mary promptly took my phone away and told me to focus on steering. However, she did take this one video clip before zipping my phone into her pocket for the duration of the race.
The second leg, we were dead down. The main was blocking all of the wind to the staysail, but we were pushing ahead at 5.5 knots and steadily running down the one or two boats that started ahead of us. The better strategy would have been to roll out the genoa and drop the staysail and main, but with the extreme conditions we decided it was better not to change sails. We did try to push the staysail across for wing-on-wing, but with the single-line system we have on that sail, we couldn’t get it to stay.
By the time we had reached the second mark, we had seen some torn sails on other boats along the course. We made the second turn and that’s where our competitive edge ended. The wind had dropped to the 15-20 knot range, and we really didn’t have enough sail out. We also realized the line brake that held the outhaul was slipping, but the outhaul and the mainsheet share a winch. There was no good way to get the outhaul tight and then off the winch to a cleat. We also had no winch at all for the staysail line, which was taking serious muscle to sheet in. We had lack of sail, poor trim, and I was having to pinch to make any forward progress on the course. We were lucky to get 3.5 knots boat speed even with all of the wind. Then the real kicker was that we learned the boat cannot tack with only the main and staysail, so each time across the bay, we had to do a slow loopy jibe. It was terrible.
After crossing the bay four times we were the last boat still on the course. I REALLY wanted to finish, but Mary had been sitting in tense fear for more than four hours and kept suggesting we start rolling in the sails, so I finally turned on the motor.
While our sailing performance in this series was absolutely dismal, we did learn some important things about the boat. I think for safety we’re going to switch the mainsheet system because having the controls on the cabin top puts the user in a prime location to get hit by the sheet and traveler as it swings across. That would also fix the outhaul winch situation.
I was impressed with the way the Krogen handled the 30 knot winds. One of the boats had their traveler ripped off. The Krogen wasn’t phased at all. However, it is a real conundrum that Mary only likes sailing in less than 15 knots of wind, and the Krogen really only sails in more than 15 knots of wind.
I wish we had sailed better, but getting off the dock four out of five weekends in January was a big accomplishment. I can cross the first thing off my list of goals for 2021.