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QUICK & EASY BOAT MAINTENANCE
1,001 TIME-SAVING TIPS
By SANDY LINDSEY
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2012The McGraw-Hill Companies
All rights reserved.
CARING FOR BOAT METAL
The Original Nonabrasive Stainless Steel Polish
If your stainless steel is slightly discolored, but the stains aren't so bad that they require special treatment, you can save some money on conventional nonabrasive stainless polishes by sprinkling baking soda on a sponge instead. Scrub down as you normally would, and rinse thoroughly.
Season Your Stainless to a High Shine
To give stainless steel a long-lasting high shine, rub down railings and other stainless steel with a lemon peel, and then wash as usual. The lemon oil in the peel cuts through grime that other cleaners may miss and restores luster.
If using a lemon peel is too strange for you, you can use the lemon oil that you use on your cabin furniture as an excellent substitute to clean stainless steel.
Rubbing alcohol from your boat's first-aid kit works almost as well on stainless as a lemon peel or lemon oil, and it disinfects.
There's More to Stainless Cleaning than Nevr-Dull
To remove salt buildup on stainless steel, rub on isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Use a 100 percent cotton rag.
To remove rust from stainless steel and most other deck metals, simply sprinkle a little bit of salt on the rust spot, and then squeeze a lime over the salt until it soaks the salt. Leave the mixture on for 2 or 3 hours. Then gently rub the spot with an old toothbrush or a piece of crumpled aluminum foil until the spot disappears.
Railings sticky from a child's gooey hands? Pour vinegar or straight lemon juice onto a sponge and wipe down the goop. Let the vinegar or lemon juice sit for a few minutes to cut through the residue, and then wash off with soap and water.
Drying Is Cleaning, Too
By using a chamois cloth to dry stainless and all other polished metal surfaces after you rinse the boat, you'll need to polish these surfaces only once each season.
Safe Stainless Surgery
When cutting a new section of stainless steel metal railing to size, place a dowel inside the metal tube to help it hold its shape as you saw off the appropriate section.
The Aluminum/Bronze Wool Connection
To remove oxidation from aluminum, wipe down with fine bronze wool or a clean rag dipped in mild laundry detergent such as Wisk. Rinse thoroughly afterward and protect with a fiberglass wax to retard further damage.
If you get bronze wool slivers in your fingers after cleaning the boat's metal, put white school glue over the spot, allow to dry, and then peel off. The glue should take the slivers with it.
Silver Polish and Aluminum
Silver polish makes an excellent aluminum cleaner.
Just like wood, aluminum has a grain. Look closely and you'll see it. Always rub on cleaners and waxes in that direction for better-looking results and an easier job.
Some rusty and tarnished aluminum can be cleaned by rubbing the offending spots with the shiny side of a crumpled piece of aluminum foil.
Use a bottle cork to clean particularly stubborn rust or metal discoloration spots. Dampen the flat edge of the cork first, so that it absorbs some of the metal polish, and then apply more polish and rub away. When you rub the cork over the spot, its flat surface and naturally abrasive properties do the rest, saving you lots of elbow grease.
Here's a great way to get out of some boat maintenance work: Don't attempt to shine aluminum rails or fittings when it's cooler than 50°F outside. Aluminum scratches more easily in cold temperatures.
Keep cleaners containing ammonia away from aluminum, because ammonia pits it.
Acid-based teak cleaners and brighteners destroy anodizing on aluminum. For proof, check out the feet of a sportfisherman's tuna tower, where it bolts through the teak cover boards or rubrails. To prevent a purple, black, or whitish stain that's irreversible, use plenty of freshwater when rinsing the teak and stop occasionally to rinse off the hull, transom, vinyl, and any other nonteak materials.
Aluminum Painter's Secret
Vinegar can be used to clean and acid-etch aluminum that's about to be painted.
Thrifty Is Nifty When It Comes to Brass
One of the cheapest cleaners for brass can be made at home by mixing 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Apply the powdered mixture with a clean, damp rag and watch the tarnish wipe off as the shine reappears.
For a quick brass cleanup, slice a lemon in half, dip the cut end in salt, and rub it on all the brass fittings and gear on your boat, working in small sections. Wash with warm, soapy water afterward, and buff dry with a clean rag.
For tough surface discoloration, cut a lemon in half, dust the cut end with baking soda, and rub on small sections at a time; the baking soda adds the necessary mild abrasive to scrub your brass back to life.
Baking Soda Rx
To tell if the baking soda that's made countless voyages with you is still good, put ¼ teaspoon of it in 1 tablespoon vinegar. If it fizzes, it's still fresh.
Simple Brass Protectant
To keep all brass surfaces and hardware looking their best, apply a protective coating of a polymer polish. Cabin brass should be protected with lemon oil.
Restoring Lacquered Brass
To remove chipping lacquer from coated brass, remove the brass fitting and soak it in a mixture of 1 cup baking soda and 1 gallon boiling water. Afterward, you can either relacquer the object or clean and polish it as you would uncoated brass.
Rust Be Gone
A gentle method of removing rust from deck metal is to get out your baking soda paste (1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 teaspoon water) and wipe down deck metal with a clean, damp cloth. Scrub the mixture gently with a small piece of aluminum foil. Buff with a dry paper towel.
To remove tough rust from boat metal, tools left on board, or the bumper of your tow vehicle, dip bronze or stainless steel wool in mineral spirits and rub off the rust. For the highest luster, wipe down afterward with a wadded ball of aluminum foil, shiny side out.
Quick Chrome Cleanups
To clean small polished surfaces such as on instrument gauges or electronics, wet a soft cloth with rubbing alcohol or window cleaner and wipe gently.
For chrome that is tarnished, rub on whitening toothpaste. And while you've got your mother-in-law's toothbrush out ... whitening toothpaste also works wonders on scratches on Plexiglas windscreens.
You can clean the chrome bumper on your tow vehicle by sprinkling baking soda onto a moist sponge and rubbing it onto the bumper. Let sit for 5 minutes, and then hose off. Applying the baking soda with a moist, synthetic scouring pad works well for difficult spots. Buff dry with a soft rag.
Keep Your Gilt Glittering
To make gilt fittings and fixtures gleam, wipe down with a rag lightly dipped in turpentine.
Gold detailing on boats, which is becoming popular of late, can be cleaned with a mixture of 1 teaspoon cigarette ash (yes, cigarette ash!) or baking soda in just enough water to make it into a paste. Rub on the paste with a clean, soft cloth, rinse with cool water, and then buff it dry with a chamois.
A Pickle a Day ...
Sweet pickle juice cleans just about everything copper, from dirty ends on electrical wires to galley cooking pans.
Preserve That Pewter
To restore those tarnished old nautical treasures made of pewter, rub down with the outer leaves of a head of cabbage (we're not making this one up!). Buff to a shine with a clean, soft cloth.
To make a canister of powdered metal cleaner last twice as long, tape off half of the shaker holes. This also helps you apply the powdered cleanser only to the areas you wish to scrub.
Let Your Socks Do the Waxing
An easy way to polish tubular railings is to put an old sock over your hand, apply a polymer polish, and get busy. By curving your hand around the railing, you'll be able to cover more area, more completely, in less time.
Stuck Screw Solutions
Cola and other carbonated sodas poured on a rusted screw or bolt help loosen it.
When a stubborn screw refuses to come out, tighten it a tiny bit first to break its hold on the material it's screwed into. If it wasn't screwed in as far as it could go, it should be much easier to remove now.
Prevent Corrosion: The Unwanted Passenger
To keep spare nails, screws, and other small parts from rusting, use an empty face- or hand-cream jar. Not only does it keep the spare parts organized, but the greasy residue in the jar helps prevent rust.
To prevent corrosion on infrequently used tools you carry on board for emergencies, coat them with a thin layer of oil and wrap them in plastic wrap. Placing carpenter's chalk in a toolbox helps absorb moisture and also prevents corrosion.
Another effective anticorrosion technique for tools is to store them in a wooden box with camphor and sawdust.
All new boat tools should be protected with the following antirust, anticorrosion coating: ¼ cup lanolin and ¼ cup petroleum jelly. Heat until melted, and stir until blended. While the mixture is still warm (you can reheat it in a microwave for no more than 5 seconds, as needed), paint it on your tools with a cheap paintbrush. Allow to dry.
Quickie Corrosion Cleanup
For a quick cleanup of corroded tools and those with surface rust, lightly dip bronze wool in kerosene and use some elbow grease to rub the offending areas. Then use a balled-up piece of aluminum foil to rub hard. Wipe off the residue with a paper towel, and apply a fine coating of olive oil. NOTE: Do not work with kerosene near an open flame.
FIBERGLASS CLEANING AND REPAIR, AND GENERAL DECK MAINTENANCE
Pros' Secrets for Showroom Shine Fiberglass
For a quick and gentle gelcoat cleaner that leaves behind a nice shine, mix 1 tablespoon ammonia and 1 cup 70 percent isopropyl alcohol in 1 pint of water. Wash down the boat as usual.
To get a truly glistening showroom shine out of your gelcoat, use grandmother's handy remedy of 2 tablespoons cornstarch, ½ cup household ammonia, and ½ cup white vinegar, stirred until dissolved in 1 gallon warm water.
Homemade All-Purpose Boat Cleaners
Pouring ½ cup baking soda, ½ cup white vinegar, and 1 cup ammonia mixed in 1 gallon warm water into a spray bottle creates a handy all-purpose boat cleaner that not only works on fiberglass deck and hull stains but is great for general head cleaning and cabin use.
For a more gentle all-purpose deck and cabin cleaner, mix 1 quart warm water, 1 teaspoon liquid soap, 1 teaspoon borax, and 1 teaspoon vinegar. Store in a spray bottle. It works on fiberglass, metal, the head, cabin walls, floors, countertops, and more.
Leave the Household Cleaners at Home
Household detergents, such as liquid kitchen and laundry soap, should never be used to wash a boat because they have a high pH to cut through stubborn grease. If not washed off thoroughly, this pH can permanently etch your boat's gelcoat.
Rain, Rain, Go Away
Cut through saltwater stains and acid rain buildup on a fiberglass deck with 3 tablespoons ammonia in ¾ cup water.
Sticking with Cleaning
Is the fiberglass area around your helm sticky to the touch? Clean it with a mixture of talcum powder and just enough water to make it into a paste. Rub on with a clean cloth or paper towel, allow to sit for several minutes, and rub off.
Your Deck Deserves a Cool Soda
Rust stains that haven't penetrated the gelcoat of your fiberglass can often be scrubbed away with a mixture of cola and enough salt to make it gently abrasive. Rinse thoroughly. Cola and salt are the enemy of rust discoloration.
Warning: Water Can Be Bad for Your Boat
Want to get rid of hard water deposits on your hull and deck? Wipe it down with full-strength white vinegar, and then clean as usual. Vinegar helps dissolve the hard water spots and make them easier to remove.
Beware of acid rain. Its harmful effects can be activated by dew or fog, as well as rain. If your boat is stored uncovered, rinse and dry it regularly, even between washings, to prevent acid rain damage, which occurs when the clean water in the acid rain evaporates and the remaining acidic water eats into the fiberglass or painted surface. The process escalates when the sun heats the droplets and the fiberglass or paint.
Get Rid of Nature's Stains
Bird droppings on deck can be removed by covering them with a rag dipped in cooking oil. Allow to sit until the hardened droppings loosen.
Parking your boat under a tree means you're bound to get some sap drippings on it, but sometimes you don't have a choice. To remove the sap, use the tar remover sold in auto parts stores.
The Immaculate Deck
Black streaks on a fiberglass deck can be removed by rubbing with baking soda paste.
Shoe scuff marks from guests who don't own boat shoes can be easily removed from a fiberglass deck by rubbing with a pencil eraser or fine, dry bronze wool.
Lemon extract also removes some black scuff marks on a fiberglass deck or hull, as well as some marks on vinyl.
If a careless crew member dropped a cigarette on deck, you can avoid a nasty brown stain by using an oxalic acid—or hydrochloric acid—based cleaner (rust stain remover for fiberglass). If the cigarette left a burn mark, sand down any raised edges around the burned area with 320-grit sandpaper and slowly fill in the burn indentation. Paint over any surrounding sanded area with color-matched gelcoat.
Remove gum from a fiberglass or teak deck or metal railings by placing an ice cube directly on the sticky gum and letting it sit for a few minutes. This makes the gum cold and hard, so it should pop cleanly off the surface, without the need for harsh chemicals. This also works on cabin carpets.
Avoid Cleaning by Keeping It Clean
Want absolutely perfect-looking fiberglass when you're done cleaning? Squeegee your hull and deck area dry.
Carry a Welcome Aboard doormat aboard and put it out every time you dock. Use a gunwale cover when allowing guests to board from the dock. Dirt that isn't brought onto the boat doesn't have to be cleaned off.
Getting Your Money's Worth
When your pump bottles of liquid boat cleaner, engine cleaner, or other liquids get so low that there isn't enough resulting suction for the pump to work, toss some marbles or small, clean stones into the bottle until they raise the liquid level sufficiently to cover the bottom of the intake tube.
You're Only as Good as Your Sponges
A sponge performs best if you dip only one-quarter of it into the cleaner—and we're talking wide side down here. The other three-quarters provides the necessary handhold and additional absorption needed to prevent drips.
Never bleach your sponges, or they'll disintegrate sooner. Flushing them thoroughly with water immediately after cleaning should be sufficient for non- food-service sponges.
The Practical Mopper
Put bicycle hand grips on the back half and midway down the handle of your boat- wash mop or long-handled brush to make it easier to hold and more controllable. The rubber surface also helps hold the mop upright when leaned against a fiberglass cabin or hull. A couple of small nails will hold the handles in place if the fit between the grip and the wooden pole isn't tight enough.
Never wring out your deck mop with your hands. It may have picked up a small sharp object and you might cut your hand. Use a mop wringer or your shoe. But remember, hosing is easier and usually more effective than mopping.
Starting Out Clean
Clean your hands before—not after—cleaning the boat. Rub liquid soap into your hands before washing down your boat and don't rinse it off just yet; the liquid soap protects your hands from dirt and, temporarily, from the drying effects of most cleaning chemicals, and after you're done and rinse off the liquid soap you'll have hands that you can take to a fine restaurant immediately afterward.
Cleaning with hard water is like cleaning with a perpetually dirty rag. Add a water softener such as Calgon to your boat wash bucket before beginning cleaning.
The 5-Cent Polish Test
Want to know if it is time to apply a new coat of polish to the boat? Hose down your boat. If the resulting water spots are bigger than a nickel, it's time to apply a fresh coating of a polymer polish.
Clues about Caulk
For professional-looking beads of silicone or other sealants, push—don't pull—the sealant cartridge. Mask both sides of the bead first, and finish the job by smoothing the goop with a wet finger. Misting the goop with water causes it to skin over, allowing you to use the boat sooner.
The can-opener blade of a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman multitool is the world's best caulk-removing tool. Simply run the can opener along both sides of the bead while applying steady pressure. The dry caulk should come out clean and in long strips.
Don't give in to the temptation to use a cheap off-brand caulk on your boat, especially in the head area. Inexpensive caulk can turn black in less than two years, and no amount of scrubbing undoes the discoloration.
Excerpted from QUICK & EASY BOAT MAINTENANCE by SANDY LINDSEY. Copyright © 2012 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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