Friday, June 22, 2018

First coat of spar varnish...

First coat of spar varnish!  The last two days I've been racing to finish putting the cedar “skin” on our grill cabinet (one step at right), and last night I did the last bit.  My brother Scott helped me lift the three sections onto saw horses in my paint tent late in the afternoon – and then I was ready to start the painting operation.

The spray I bought for this sort of work is a Graco HVLP 9.5, pictured at left.  The “HVLP” stands for “High Volume, Low Pressure” – a technology that uses a large volume of air at low pressure to distribute the paint.  This particular kind of rig was recommended to me by a professional painter for cabinet work, and after using it for the first time today I can tell you that I got very good advice.  It is very easy to control the paint with this unit, particularly compared with the conventional high pressure spray rigs I've used in the past, or with the more modern airless painters.  Highly recommended!

Since I'd never used one of these before, there was a definite learning curve.  The spray gun has more adjustments on it than you might think, and I had to fiddle a bit to get the thick spar varnish to work right.  I thought there was a good chance I'd have to thin the varnish down to make it sprayable, but it worked fine right out of the can once I got the gun tweaked right.  This particular model of sprayer has a gun that works in any position, even upside down.  That made spraying the inside and the bottom quite straightforward – I'm so glad I didn't have to brush all this!  It took me about two hours, including the initial learning curve, to spray the first coat on all three sections.  I did the outsides and the insides all in a single go; there will be just four small spots on the bottom of each section that are left unpainted; I'll touch those up with a brush.  The photo at right shows one cedar side after the first coat – I'm quite pleased with how that came out.

One thing I'm not so happy about: my beard and mustache were painted quite nicely!  I had to shower after I'd finished to get all that out.  Fortunately the varnish doesn't stick too well to hair, and some vigorous scrubbing of my face got rid of most of it.  I'll be wearing a face shield next time.  :)

Day 3...

Day 3...  We drove out of Nebraska, across Iowa, and halfway across Illinois today.  We stayed last night at the Westview bed & breakfast, just outside of Lincoln.  It was a delightful place to say – beautiful grounds, a grand view to the west, and a most pleasant room (at right) with a full kitchen.

We told Angela, our hostess, that we'd be leaving early in the morning – and she insisted on making us a (delicious!) breakfast and bringing it to our room at 6 am.  Wow!  That's a photo of her concoction at left.  I've no idea what you'd call this thing, but it was really yummy.  A nice way to start off the morning, and as things turned out, this was the only time on the entire trip when we got our breakfast part of the bed & breakfasts we stayed at.

Angela found out we had a Tesla, and she asked us to take her picture with it so she could tease her boyfriend about seeing a Tesla before he could.   That was fun.  :) 

We passed miles and miles of beautiful farms on today's drive – gave us a real appreciation of the stunning productivity of America's farmlands.  In Iowa we saw lots of terraced farms.  I don't remember this from the trips across Iowa I made in the '60s and '70s, but that could just be my memory.  In addition to the terracing, we noted an interesting technique for preserving soil – wherever there was a place in a field where water ran off, permanent grasses were planted instead of a crop.  These hold the soil in place and slow the runoff down enough that it will drop any entrained soil.  Combined with the terracing (which reduces runoff in the first place) this appears to be a very effective way to keep soil from running into the rivers.

Iowa had particularly beautiful rest areas on the Interstate, nicely landscaped, well-tended, with interesting displays and art.  Much of the latter was related to soil conservation – apparently a very big topic in Iowa.  At one of these rest stops, as I climbed back into our car, I noticed an (expensive-looking) cell phone lying on the pavement.  After some messing about (the phone was completely unlocked), Debbie (who knows more about Android phones than I do) managed to call the boyfriend of the phone owner.  Turns out he was in the car with the young woman who owned the phone, and they were just a few miles away!  We waited a few minutes for them to return, and then gave the phone back to the very grateful young lady.  We were cell phone heroes!