Sailors of past centuries may have quaked at tales involving perils such as navigating between Scylla and Charybdis – a female sea monster and a giant whirlpool – but Plastic Surgeon has been battling its own maritime challenge aboard a fleet of cruise liners: and coming out the winner. However, while mythology can now be viewed as exactly that, the contract has shown that whirlpools are still a force to be reckoned with.
The work has come about as a result of Plastic Surgeon’s on-going relationship with one of the world’s major holiday cruise providers and its maritime facilities management specialist, which is seeing the firm’s Finishers routinely repairing baths, basins, dressing tables and other fittings within passenger cabins.
While these tasks are carried out during short periods of access agreed between the passengers and the Purser’s staff, some of the jobs to be completed in the public area have required far longer to execute, and plenty of planning to ensure their success. Resurfacing the giant whirlpool spas located on the leisure decks stand out for their degree of difficulty.
The Managing Director of Plastic Surgeon, Rob Mouser, has been personally involved in the management of the work on the cruise ships, much of which has been carried out during voyages. He recounts: “Aside from changeover days and the occasional week in harbour for major refits of the passenger cabins and public areas, these cruise ships are at sea and full for 365 days a year; and many surfaces come in for some pretty hard use.
“The whirlpool baths up on deck are especially susceptible as any sand or other pieces of debris that people carry into the water on their bathing costumes, or flip-flops gets picked up and used like a grit-blaster to abrade the surface of the glass fibre. Then you also have to take into consideration the treatment chemicals added to the water and a fairly aggressive cleaning regime. As a result they get badly worn or discoloured, and we have had to find an effective long term remedy for recoating them.
“Unfortunately there was no off-the-shelf system for achieving this and we have therefore had to work very closely with our product manufacturer to find a solution. This has involved our R&D department testing a dozen or more formulations and evolving an effective repair strategy to enable the work to be completed in such a busy location.”
The system arrived at by Plastic Surgeon’s dedicated research and development department, after more than dozens of trial applications, is a high performance, modified coating that is applied as a three-coat treatment. This often involves stripping the surface right back to the bare glass fibre matting of the shell, before it is primed. Then a base coat and two top coats complete a high quality and resilient finish which should endure far longer than the original.
Rob Mouser concludes saying: “What we have effectively done is achieve a factory applied coating in a live situation, under quite onerous conditions. You either have to contend with adverse weather or the presence of passengers just a few metres away. This has required us to create tented structures with their own lighting and beating which not only allow our Finishers to work without the escape of any materials, but also to assist the coating to cure quickly. We are very proud to have found a technical solution to a problem that has never been resolved before.”
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