Sunday, October 30, 2011

Icing the cake

It's not that the Ohio weather was any great shakes when I departed for southern climes on a business trip early last week, but the weather that I returned to is worse yet. Not worse in the sense that inconvenient forms or precipitation are covering the roads and making things slippery, but that isn't for want of sufficiently low temperatures. Let's see.... a quick glance at the internet thermometer shows 28F on the other side of the walls. Brrr!

Having suffered the indignities inherent in modern air travel (up to and including a seat-kicker behind me and a top-of-lung non-stop screaming diaper-filler right next to her, both accompanied by the type of negligent parent that ensures no improvement in their behavior in the foreseeable future) and the inconveniences of hotel living for nearly a week, I needed a couple of days to recuperate and regain momentum on the sundry initiatives that laid fallow in my absence. It could have been worse, I suppose. As I was sitting at the gate in Atlanta waiting for my flight to depart (three hours!!), a pilot walked by who was seemingly engaged in some form of remote-parenting, more than likely of a teenager. What caught my attention was that he had a cell phone up to his ear and he was yelling, "Look at me! LOOK AT ME!!" into it. I was not alone in breathing a sigh of relief when he continued on past our gate; none of us were thrilled with the idea of our lives being in the hands of a pissed-off pilot that doesn't know that he can't be seen through a cell phone.

Having rested, recuperated, and re-engaged in routine requirements/recreations, I resolutely returned to the regrettably repetitive work of filling the gaps in the canopy fiberglass. This requires the mixing of a filler called "micro balloons" into a cup of epoxy.
Glass and quartz bubbles also called micro balloons used to add to mixed epoxy and hardener. Totally non-structural and very light, with a texture and color approaching talcum powder they are used to thicken epoxy.
The 'talcum powder' comparison is spot-on. The powder is so fine that it behaves almost like a liquid when you're stirring it, with one critical difference being that it also likes to blow out of the cup as a fine dust. Considering that this dust is comprised of such lung-unfriendly materials as glass and quartz, you can imagine the pains I went to in order to avoid inhaling it.

When thickened enough to resist against the unwavering pull of gravity, the mix takes on the consistency of cake icing.

Unfortunately, I am not very good at all at icing a cake. I ended up just smearing on as much as I thought it would take to level out the transitions from one area of fiberglass to another. Sanding will have to smooth it all out.

The stuff is reportedly very easy to sand, but I suspect that it is going to generate copious amounts of the very unpleasant dust that was floating around as I was mixing the batch. So there's something to look forward to!

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