July 13-14 Wed Thurs
We left off in #5 with the kitchen in primer, ready to be painted, I hope, because that’s where I’m taking up the tale. (Number 6 was the Tile Teaser) We were a day out of synch with our schedule, but the electrician had also delayed a day, which bought us exactly the time we needed, but no more.
I picked up the spray machine around 9:30, Wednesday morning. At first the guy was going to give me the big honker,but when he found I didn’t have a truck, he switched me to the friendly li’l goes-anywhere model. As a man, I was disappointed; as a guy getting a job done, I was uneasy; as a guy who’s thrown his back out a few times, I was relieved. Who knew it would be so complicated?
So, I’d made it as plain as I could, over a period of weeks, that I had never used an airless sprayer for painting, before. The guy offers no advice, so I assume he had no idea how to operate it. Pretty sad. Right at the end of the hand off, as I’m going out the door, he says something like, “wear protective gear,” and I said I’d be wearing goggles and a high quality filter mask. He said, “clothing too, if you shoot yourself it will penetrate your skin and poison you.” I thought, “ thanks for the tip, brother, “ and kept on going, but a little more thoughtfully.
I get the rig home and I’m trying to figure it out. There is a long hose. Clearly where the paint comes out when you want to paint something. There is a thicker, shortish hose angled downwards with a wire filter on the end. That goes in the paint can. Then there was a hose that the guy said to put in a bucket of water. I didn’t have a bucket of water, so I put it in my 5-gallon, metal, all-purrpose scum bucket which did not hold water due to a small hole.
The nozzle is already in place, so I set up the paint with the sucking end in the can, get my shelves all set up in the spray booth, set the sprayer to prime and turn it on. It chugs right along, compressing air to fill some sort of holding tank, I presume, then, it stops. The holding tank is full and the primer hose is pumping out paint into the scum bucket, where it rises high enough to start leaking out the hole. I figure the pump is primed, turn the machine off and switch from prime to spray. There is a loud ke-thump as the primer hose whips against the side of the bucket then through the air, spewing a fat trail of Arizona Desert (light tan) paint across the patio and up the side of the spray booth. I am surprised and grateful it didn’t hit me square in the face as I had forgotten to put on my filtered mask and goggles.
I put on my mask and goggles and try the painter. It squirts a little bit and stops. I fiddle with the frickin’ sprayer for 45 minutes, trying all sorts of things and, in the process, firing the primer hose paint cannon one more time. That time it splattered across the garage ten feet away. I was, again, grateful to not be tasting paint or desperately cleaning it out of my eyes. I finally broke down and called the store, getting exactly what I had expected, two sales people that knew squat about sprayers. One had the sense to give me the number of the spray center in Concord or somewhere. I call that number and actually got an enthusiastic technician who ran me through the ins and outs of the unit. Of course, he didn’t know about the mechanical flaw that kept me struggling with the sprayer off and on for the 2.5 days I had it. Sometimes it went like a bird, other times I was seriously ready to whip the spray head on the ground as hard as I could.
Ultimately, that day, I got a great coat of paint on everything, inside and out, with a minimum of runs. There were some runs, maybe 15, but for the 100 or so surfaces I was painting I was pretty happy. Besides, this was the first coat and we would clean up the runs, sand and re-coat the next day.
Of course, there were a few glitches, like when the whole row of 15 freshly-painted pieces fell down like dominos when the wind blew the side of the spray booth in. I had the doors all sprayed and was starting on the shelves, everything was going great. Then, a puff of wind and the first door, next to the tarp, fell. I watched incredulously as the minor nightmare went down. A pungent stream of invective filled the booth, and I was glad Alexandra wasn’t around as the air went blue around me. I did my best to pick up my little wooden children without smearing the paint any more, but finger prints were inevitable. One door had a pretty good gouge, the rest were surprisingly unmarked. After I got them all back into place and had tightened up the tarps to MilSpec, I continued on my way.
The spraying actually went pretty well. Piece-of-shit sprayer had the one idiosyncrasy that I did not figure out until the very end. When I switched the pointer from prime to spray, it felt like it was in the engaged notch and it pointed at the little marker line for spray, but it wasn’t quite there so wouldn’t spray properly. Sometimes I got it right immediately I started up, sometimes I got it wrong and spent 25 minutes testing, cleaning the nozzle (which was good, anyway), re-priming etc. until I accidentally got it in to the proper spray position. At that point, I’d paint everything without stopping in order to take advantage of the well-running machine.
When doing the cabinets in the kitchen (Alexandra had done a superlative job of masking, I could spray at will and hit nothing but target), I elected against doing the panel over the sink as I planned to replace it before the electrical guys put in the sink lights. It would have taken no extra effort to spray it and I skipped it, and have regretted it ever since as we’ve decided to keep it in place, so now have to hand paint it. Annoying.
We sprayed the insides of the cabinets—everything we could. The patches disappeared under the paint almost universally, so that was good. The finish looked good the first day, though a second coat was obviously in order.
The second day was the worst. We started the day by sanding everything with 220 grit and that was a hell of a lot of work. Took all morning. Fast pass with the finishing sander, edges by hand and on to the next piece. Sanding blocks. Manual labor. Finally, everything was ready for the finishing coat and the god damn sprayer chose to be recalcitrant.
I was putting on the final coat late Thursday afternoon when tragedy struck, again. Alexandra was off getting more paint, then to pick up John. I kept switching the machine from prime to spray and getting a few seconds of paint. I had cleaned the nozzle ever so carefully. Dismantled it, washed it, cleaned the hole with an upholstery staple—the kind that have the chisel pint and are incredibly sharp. Long story short, I ruined several cabinet surfaces and all doors, shelves and drawers. Plus the frickin’ primer hose went off twice, this time whipping a great splat of paint all over the garage and another on the patio. My luck, there, was holding out—I was still unscathed.
So, at 6 p.m., when I should have been gloating over a yard full of smooth-finished cabinetry prior to joining my family for the event repast, I was ‘twixt heartbreak and rage at the crappy sprayer for the last round of surfaces –all cabinet fronts and drawers, as well as some shelves and a couple of cabinet surfaces inside, came out orange peel as it is called in the trade, where the paint doesn’t get smooth but is rough and porous. I went in to dinner pretty sure things had gone wrong, but hoping fatigue was just affecting my perception.
After dinner, I came out and doggedly went back to work. I told Alexandra what was going on and she could only nod in sympathy and take care of getting the kiddies to bed. It was high summer, so at least I had good light to work with. I rapidly sanded the bad surfaces –that took maybe 45 minutes. Then, I fired up the painter hoping against hope it would cooperate. Thank goodness it started putting out a good spray pattern.
It was at this point I think I figured out it was the damn prime/spray switch and thought about returning the piece of crap to Kelly Moore by tying the spray hose around the bumper of our cheapest car and dragging it back. It was only a few blocks. Anyway, the thing ran like a charm, I got a final beautiful coat of paint on all the surfaces that were bad, including those in the kitchen and shut down about 9 pm. Another 12-hour day, but we had made a giant bound forward in the kitchen mission. With the painting, we had actually begun the reconstruction. We were on the road home.
The next day was Friday. The counter guy was coming, the electricians were coming and the painting was done. Finally, someone besides Alexandra and I would put in some work. Those jobs went so smoothly, the next installment will cover that stuff and then Installation Saturday, wherein I install a perfectly plumbed 2-basin sink on the first try followed by surgery on the new cooktop while it was balanced on edge resting on my chest as I lay on my back on the floor. That was a unique and triumphant moment in my life and the boy shared it by both instigating it and helping rectify it.
Kicker: Although I had called Thursday evening and been told I was going to be billed for 3 days if I didn’t bring the painter back Thursday night, they indeed only billed me for 2 days, a $65 savings. Certainly that was karma coming back at me for the crappy piece of equipment and total lack of instruction, to say nothing of the primer hose explosions.