Unfortunately, Ron will only have “Seven” of them at the end of the summer and he shares his story so that we can all benefit.
Thanks to Ron Ball for sending in his experience for us to pass on to all boaters who like to work on their boats to prepare them for launch.
I thought it important to pass along the following safety concern. This happened to me.
This Spring I purchased a rotary polisher like the one pictured below to polish off the light oxidization on the hull of my boat. I attached the lined fabric compounding bonnet that came with the machine. All went well for the first hour.
Then, the bonnet caught one of the many 1/4 inch bolt ends under the toe rail that joins the top deck to the hull. The bolt end tore the bonnet. Within the same revolution or second, I’m not sure, the torn bonnet then cut the end off my left index finger. I was shocked and extremely surprised.
Once I got to the hospital, it was determined that the end of the finger could not be salvaged and the surgeon proceeded to remove the finger to the first knuckle behind the fingernail. Ouch!
There are no guards on these machines. There are several different brands on the market, they are all the same. They are all powerful. The operators left hand is usually less than an inch from the rotating head.
Was I inexperienced? I am a cabinet maker and an artistic wood turner with close to 40 years of experience. I have more than 40 power tools in my shop. I have taught all technology courses at the high school level where safety is the number one concern, for the past 30 years. Yes, I know my stuff. So you can see that when this unexpected event happened I was totally shocked.
What was learned
I talked to other boaters and car detailers about my concerns and this is what I came up with.
- Don’t be fooled by what appears to be a safe machine with that soft bonnet on it.
- Don’t use elastisized or string tied bonnets. Save these for the slow rotating and much safer radom orbit polishers.
- Use aftermarket one piece polishing heads. These are either made from foam or are a hard disk with the the polishing material bonded to it. These either screw on or are attached with a hook and loop (velcro) system. Available at auto parts stores.
- Buy a shaft extension to move the rotating head farther away from your hand.
- Fabricate a simple guard or shield and mount it between the machine body and the rotating polishing head. I made one from an eight inch disk of 1/8″ masonite and a couple of angle brackets. I shaped the disk to protect my left hand and give a clear view of where I’m working.
by Ron Ball
As you can see from Ron’s story, it can happen to the best of us. Be sure to put safety first, regardless of what you are doing, when working on your boat this Spring.
Keep all eight of your fingers!