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Products and solutions, 2005-06-30, 10:56 AM

Mega-yacht shrink-wrapped

A tailor-made painting booth for a 114 m long yacht may well qualify for the Guinness Book of Records. The unusual painting enclosure consisting of scaffolding and welded plastic sheeting was recently to be found in the covered Dock 5 at Blohm + Voss in Hamburg, marking the final stage of a comprehensive boat conversion.

The luxury yacht (built in 2003) capable of sailing at up to 20 knots was given among other things a new helicopter deck and four new stabilizers. The aft platform, mast module and exhaust gas system were modernized at the same time. The trades involved were supported from the outset by PeinigerRöRo. Over a period of six months, between eight and twelve scaffold erectors were on board in the initial phases and twenty thereafter. 600 metric tons of materials (Modex modular junction scaffold) were available for continual erection, modification and dismantling.

The modernization project ended with a new paint finish. For this the ship was initially fully scaffolded in the dock and then enclosed in an all-round water- and dust-tight double membrane of plastic sheeting that was shrunk-on with hot air. This way, the entire ship was practically encapsulated in sheeting. Cross bulkheads, also made of sheeting, subdivided the working areas into a total of 16 self-contained sections in which putty application was followed by painting.

As smooth as a millpond

Work was carried out under the protection of a roof. The conditions were almost like those in a clean room, because not a speck of dust or a drop of water was to be allowed near the painted surfaces. At the same time, a temperature of over 20°C had to be maintained during the putty application process. "The finished ship?s surface is as smooth as a millpond," says scaffold erection manager Ralf Leoni. "Car paintwork is rough by comparison."

The standards demanded of the scaffold erectors, who applied the shrink-wrap sheeting section by section, were understandably tough. They got down to work in completely untypical white-colored suits. The fitters, otherwise accustomed to physically grueling labor, kept with great devotion to the strict rules governing tidiness and cleanliness. "We?re used to scaffolding ships ? after all, that?s our job," Leoni stressed. "But under such conditions... - we were not allowed to throw or drop anything carelessly."

Independently of the putty application and painting work on the ship?s hull, the converted aft flap and the modernized mast structures were scaffolded and enclosed in sheeting. Even the radar dome, or "radom" for short, for the satellite-supported communication system 30 meters up the must had to be scaffolded and encapsulated in sheeting. When the finished dream ship was finally liberated of its plastic cladding, the outcome was quite something, as Leoni confirmed: "It sure was an impressive sight when the mega-yacht left the dock."

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