Coke and Vinegar.
It probably doesn’t mention this in 101 things a boy should know, but I’ve been aware of the magical, mechanical thread relieving properties of a liberal mixture of the above for some time. Back in the days of cycling the city messengers would free bottom brackets and other rusty stuff from hard working bicycles by upending the offending part into a solution of coca cola and vinegar for a couple of weeks before attempting to loosen it. It always worked a treat.
Our problem at hand was Wendy’s portholes, we’d taken them off the boat ages ago and always intended to do them up, But for months they festered in a cupboard instead. They were caked in years of accumulated shit, Layers of paint and thick recalcitrant mastic sealant that had laughed at scraper and nitromors coated each porthole, and the 1/2 inch thick glass was cruelly broken in all but two, these portholes looked like junk. It was decided that the application of a principle last used to free a bicycle stem should be employed.
Imagine B’s mirth when, as she paid for a dozen bottles of cheap coke and god knows how many of best brown vinegar the nice Chinese lady at the checkout looked up, smiled and said ‘you have big chip sup tonight yes?’ I should coco, that’s probably enough vinegar to bring about the final extinction of cod.
We got the stuff home. In the best bad science tradition we took the biggest bucket we could find into which those skanky horrible portholes would just about fit, and emptied the contents of all the bottles into it. In went the holes and once fully immersed we left the resulting brew in the shed. Where it stank, and occasionally bubbled ominously, for two months. We didn’t really mean to leave them so long, but we were busy bees. First the metal went green, then began shading into a vivid pink, and we began to get worried so we took some out and walloped at the retaining o-rings. Nothing happened at all. We almost gave up hope for them, and began to look at e-bay, and eye the upcoming boat jumbles eagerly for possible replacements.
Six weeks in though, an exploratory poke at our porthole soup brought the revelation that regardless, the mixture was actually stripping the paint and that the mastic appeared to be blistering. Good grief, people actually drink this stuff. So anyway I stirred in some nitromors (for good measure) to hurry things along a bit, then waited, until today.
Today (ok, I started last night) I finally got the chance to have an all or nothing go at getting them out and making some headway. Hurrah for a clump, chisel, vice and specially made tool, not to mention penetrating lube, and one by one each port wound undone and I smashed away that nasty broken glass. Took a bit of effort but they all did it eventually.
I found myself so inspired by the result that I dug out a soft wire cup/electric drill combo and gave it a razz on the components of what suddenly looked like salvageable portholes. Cor, and yo-ho, seems I struck gold alright, After a a couple of hours Wendy Ann’s original ports now look properly the part, all golden warm and shiny. This joy is something that my hurriedly captured ‘I’m so excited I can’t wait’ photograph entirely fails to convey, but hey- it was dark by the time I was done. The other picture is by way of a before to this after, and is taken by B's dad of the portholes in situ before any work began.
So check it out, Wendy’s windows are back in effect, I just need to template them for new glass and replace the knackered seals and cor blimey guvnor that’s no mistake. What a relief.