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Cabbing Safety

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Deb
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« on: September 09, 2009, 09:13:44 am »

Hi Everyone,

I have some questions on cabbing safety.  I always wear goggles to protect my eyes.  I'm a photographer by trade.  So for me that's very important.  But how about wearing a mask over your face when grinding?
Someone told me that malachite is an arsenic.  Do you all where safety gear when cabbing?  Also, if any of you have an article on safety that I could use, that would be great.  I'm a newsletter editor for the local gem club and feel it is an important reminder to the newbys.

Thanks for all your continued support and help.

Deb :)
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Bluesssman
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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2009, 09:50:28 am »

Deb, I certainly can relate to your worries about your eyes being a photographer. I was a commercial photographer for over thirty years!

Yes, when I grind or cut stone I wear safety glasses. When I do the grinding I like to use lots of water and I feel with the amount of water used, I do not need to wear a mask.

Hope this helps...


Gary
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Mark
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2009, 10:00:59 am »

Deb, always wear a mask whether a material is toxic or not.  Dust and fine particles get caught in your lungs, even from safe materials.  I once read that fiberglass which is supposedly safe (of safer) is going to one day be a bigger problem than asbestos.  You never really know what you are grinding.  There is often Malachite in with Chrysocolla.  Malachite is one of the more toxic materials, not sure if its Arsenic or something else.  Grinding shells is supposed to be another bad thing to breathe in.  Many other rocks have arsenic, lead, heavy metals, and many other items and you can never be sure what you are breathing in.  I often worry also about the dust that just settles on my clothes, and my shop is in the basement.  My kids hardly ever go downstairs but i would still like to have a separate shop or an air filtering system.  Always be sure and use water when grinding to keep the dust down in addition to cooling the stone and grinder wheels or pads.  Slabbing is probably a lot safer as the oil gets most of the ground stone.  But i always wear a mask.  Forgetting it now and then is not going to kill you, at least i hope not.  I use a good quality dust mask from a hardware store.  Not the cheapest, and I think its something like a N97 or something like that.  Can someone help me out with that, I am at work with no access to my mask.  And what other stones or materials are hazardous?  I would guess that you wouldn't want to breathe in a lot of resins or plastics and the mask will not protect against those.  

Mark
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Mark
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2009, 10:12:27 am »

I forgot to mention in addition to being toxic, many materials cause allergic reactions.  I haven't had this problem yet, but it is different for each person.  I also wear surgical latex gloves when cabbing and slabbing.  My hands get really dry,especially living up north with lots of heating during the winter.  The gloves keep my hands dry and it helps to keep them from getting itchy.  Being a handholder (cabbing not affection), the gloves help me hold onto the stones as they can be slippery when polished and wet.  The gloves also keep my hands out of the oil and i get really oily when slabbing and there's oil dripping all over the inside of your saw.  I cab and slab together and i put a larger size glove over the cabbing pair, when i go over to the slab saw.  When i leave the slab saw, i take off the outer pair of oily gloves and go back to cabbing.  The gloves will slip over each other for 3 or 4 trips to the slab saw, then i throw away the slabbing pair and get a new pair.  In quantity, the gloves are relatively cheap.  Maybe i shouldn't wear any gloves and the slabbing will replace the oils removed by being wet all the time, while cabbing. 

Mark
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bobby1
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« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2009, 11:41:00 am »

I've been cabbing for many years (51) and I have found few hazards from the activity, but there are some concerns.
Definitely use eye protection when grinding cabs. Small chips do fly off the rock. Because I have to wear reading glasses for close up work, they work fine for eye protection. I use an enhanced pair so I get a better magnification. I use a 3.5  power. I found a cheap ($2) pair at a flea market. They are really large so it makes me look like a hoot owl when I have them on.
Because I do a lot of dry sanding on large surfaces I always wear a N-95 rated dust mask, but only for dry sanding.
I get the boxes of latex free exam gloves from Costco. They are cheap and effective. I only wear them when I am using the trim saw with oil as a coolant. OOPS! I also use them when I work Hematite, Malchite, Psilomaine and Silicon because they really stain your hands black, though  not for safety reasons.
These are the only safety devices and occasions that I use during cabbing. I've heard scare stories about cabbing Malachite causing poisioning from the copper compounds in the material. They are just that - scare stories. I have never known anyone or known anyone who has known anyone who has ever been poisioned by cabbing that or any other  material. If you work the material dry then it might be a problem but there are no circumstances where it would ever be worked dry.
There are also scare stories about working shells like Abalone because it is poisionous. Not true. They are noxious but not poisionous, so for that reason a N-95 mask is necessary. Grinding with water minimizes the odors.
The other health issues that I have encountered have to do with repetitive motion stresses and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If you cab exclusively by holding the cabs in your fingers and not using a dop stick you will eventually get these dibilitating injuries. Any repetitive motion where you tightly grasp small, slippery objects with your fingers will eventually cause the injuries. Ever try to grasp a small wet, slippery cab with Cerium Oxide while you are polishing it????
In my professional work life I was involved with evaluating workplaces for ergonomic problems and designing solutions to minimizing repetitive stress injuries. A common cause for these injuries was repeatedly, tightly grasping small objects in your fingertips as you worked. Early on in my lapidary activities I did just that and starting experiencing these injuries. I soon evolved into using a dopstick for my cabbing. Don't use metal or plastic dopsticks. When they are wet they become slippery and you have to grasp them really tight to hold them. Use wood ones. Also use as large a diameter and as long as practical when you cab. I modify my dopsticks so I can use a large dopstick for small cabs. I take a 3/8" dowel and whittle the end dowm about 1" from the dopping end to about 1/2 the dowel size. This way I can dop a small cab on a large stick.
I modified my cabbing setup so I can do all my cabbing sitting down. I also use an adjustable height chair and frequently readjust the height during extended cabbing sessions to reduce muscle and neck strain. I have my polishing wheel set at a height so I can stand or sit while polishing. Standing while polishing gives me the opportunity to vary my body position after sitting at my cabbing station for a long time. Stop and stretch frequently, get up and walk around frequently. I do a much better job at cabbing if I am comfortable and not exeriencing stress and strain. A happy, comfortable cabber makes the task fun and pleasurable!!!!
I'm also exposed to someone who has severely experienced these injuries so I am very sensitive and aware of the consequences. My wife was a hairdresser for 41 years. Two years ago she had to stop working and go on disability for the problems. Standing all day long, grasping combs, scissors,  hair dryers, holding her arms at shoulder height for extended periods, breathing hair spray and other chemicals etc. took its toll. Carpal Tunnel surgery on both hands, two foot surgeries, shoulder surgery (twice), epidural injections in her spine at her neck and back, permanent athsma, and still more medical procedures to go.
Use care and safety knowledge as you start your lapidary career and you can prevent these health problems.
Bob
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Mark
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« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2009, 12:48:48 pm »

I did the carpal tunnel thing on my left hand from computers and video games and got a 3 week paid vacation from work, back when work paid for things like that.  Luckily my XBox doesn't bother me or else i would need more surgery.  In my case the surgery worked well and was relatively mild, slice a tendon half way through and sew the hand back up.  Pretty much watched them do it while babbling incoherently.  They said i wouldn't shut up, don't remember that part.  I'm a very inquisitive patient.  I have a couple of milk cartons that i sit on and that's not really good for a bad back.

I know that water knocks dust down but it is still gets sprayed around into the air from my Genie.  My plumber showed me dust around my basement from my cabbing and blamed it for clogging up some gizmo on my furnace.  I cab rocks with Arsenic and other things like heavy metals and i would rather not take any chances breathing them in.  Better safe than sorry.  Think about how innoculous wood is and then think about wood working and all the dust.  Even non toxic stuff can kill you if you get too much or in the wrong way.  I wear a very comfortable mask that blocks most of the dust and costs little, but gives me piece of mind.  And with a mind like mine, you need all the pieces you can get.

Mark
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Taogem
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« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2009, 01:02:38 pm »

I have noticed following extensive frenzy cabbing that the top center of my back gets a pain or two.. I cab standing and I am sure that the little pain is due to pressing/pushing forward for so long..

If I ever move and maybe build new benches as a result.. May well set a couple of things up so can sit in a chair...

Think everything imaginable has been covered for safety.. Can't think of anything to add..

One thing I do get concerned about is letting my cat out in the garage where I work. Even though I believe that plenty of water keeps down the dust for me while working, it has to settle, and become dry. That happens on the floor where my cat would be hanging out.

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bobby1
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« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2009, 01:52:34 pm »

George,
I too, get concerned about having my my favorite cat in my shop. She has already knocked a really good cab on the floor and broke it. I
if I get my hands on her I'm gonna .......naw...I wouldn't touch her. She is too precious to me.
Bob
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Bluesssman
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« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2009, 02:11:59 pm »

I was going through the same back problems and found I was enjoying cabbing much less. I fixed and old stool and now sit to cab and have found much less problems with my back. The next thing will be putting my lazyboy chair on a floor jack so I can get real comfortable when cabbing.  ;D ;D ;D


Gary
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Raqy
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« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2009, 05:16:46 pm »

In a past life I owned a salon.  Hair salon that is, and if I cab for a long time my back gets to hurting so I use a hydraulic stool.  I also use the reception desk as my work bench now.   here's a link to a stool like the one I use, only mine is black.
http://www.ekosmet.com/images/EK106.jpg

As for the lazy boy on a jack, seems difficult but why couldn't you just put a cabbing machine on a side table that has wheels and you can just move it over to where ever you are.. hmm This is something you might could invent. By the way could you make it solar powered too. :)
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Auntie Rocks
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« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2009, 09:33:49 pm »

Bob,

It is said that the best height a jeweler's bench pin ought be set is at the user's mid-sternum, sitting with feet flat on the floor; I find this to be true and do not hurt even after a few hours at the bench.

Do you have any recommendations or rules of thumb for sitting height in relation to a Genie or other arbor (feet also flat on the floor)? Relating the height of the shaft in relation to the height of, let's say, elbows?

My shoulders really hurt after a several hour-long cabbing session out in the barn (varied standing and sitting) but strangely not after my weekly club cabbing. Had the bilateral carpal tunnel surgery 14 years ago (blessed relief!) but have had thoracic outlet syndrome in both shoulders from a bad car crash 18 years ago. May also have rotator cuff tears; I'm seeing an ortho surgeon soon to figure it all out.

I guess I ought measure up the club setup, eh?

Natalie
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bobby1
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« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2009, 11:30:24 pm »

Natalie,
My chair height is 24". My bench top height is the usual 32". I have a cabber (home made) that uses 8" wheels. The center of the arbor shaft is 5" above the bench top. I have a foot rest on the bench that is 7" above the floor. I always use it because by lifting your feet so that your knees are above your hips you reduce the strain on your back. (Like your car seat is configured). My elbow is about 1" below the working height of my hands. By having your arms parallel with the floor you again reduce strain. I am 6' 2" tall. As I am cabbing I am looking down at the work at about a 45 degree angle. I don't  lean my head and shoulders forward if I can avoid it, I just tilt my head. I also sit forward as close as I can. This reduces the leaning forward and straining the muscles on your back. I'm getting older (67) so protecting what muscles, tendons and joints that I have left is very important to me. With this position I can cab most of the day without much discomfort or fatigue. I do get up and move about every hour or so to stretch the body a bit (potty breaks, dopping, trying to get a good radio station dialed in, letting the cat in/out, etc. breaks up the routine).
Bob
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Bluesssman
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« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2009, 09:28:44 am »

This is a very interesting thread. Bob, I am going to take your measurements and extrapolate them for my height and bench level. I think if we can find any way to make working easier, especially at my age, it really helps. Thanks for the data!


Gary
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« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2009, 09:39:25 am »

Personally I think cabbing is a relatively safe endeavor. Possibly with the exception of the far and hard flung pieces that occaisionally ricochette around the work room. I have a fully adjustable chair that fits my grinding bench and like Bob have a foot rest. My jewelry bench is equipped with a pretty nice bar stool. Although it is very comfortable and has a back and foot rest I am still looking for one that has arm rests and spins. ;).............Bob
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Deb
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« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2009, 10:18:34 am »

Wow!!  You guys and gals are great.  Thanks for sharing all the information.
I guess I freaked out a little bit when I was told about the arsenic thing. 
I do wear goggles all the time and have taken to wearing a face mask for my
own sanity.(I have little of that left ::) )

Thanks for all the info about height and grinding.  Since I started I've always set down to do my grinding.
My face is just above wheel level but I know what you mean about muscle soreness.  I get it right between my shoulder blades.

Thanks again,

Deb  ;D
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« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2009, 11:28:17 pm »

Dry grinding of certain materials (most actually) can be dangerous. Wet grinding (with sufficient water) reduces the risk substantially. I use dual spritzers on my Genie. I glued the original two together and attached them with a small plastic "Y" splitting the air supply between them. I then purchased a dual spritzer from Diamond Pacific (it's standard on the Titan) and use it on the other side. So all of my wheels get twice as much water as a normal Genie.

Malachite, some poorly formed pietersite, and TIffany stone (bertrandite) are some of the more toxic materials that you may come across. Any copper containing mineral has a degree of toxicity due to the copper.  Pietersite is a form of fibrous tiger eye which comes from silaceious asbestos. I have some pieces that still have non-silicified fibers of asbestos on the exterior. I would only work it very wet or not at all. Bertrandite contains beryllium, that's why it is mined. Beryllium is very toxic and it's oxides can be dangerous as a fine dust ... again work it very wet.

There are a few materials out there that contain mercury. This can also be quite toxic if suspended in air. Cinnebar, and a slab often called "myrickite" - basically a slab with small amounts of cinnebar included in the mineralization.  Again keep them quite wet when working.

There is also a variety of pyrite that is called arsenopyrite and this does contain arsenic, but it is rarely cut unless it is part of a mixed sulfide mineral. I believe but cannot verify that the original material called apache gold MAY have contained traces of this material.

I don't dry sand any materials (I know some that do), but that's the majority of my precautions, I use plenty of water and very occasionally gloves (those are to avoid staining my hands in a very few cases, not to protect myself from chemicals.) I wear plastic glasses when grinding to protect my eyes at all times.

If yo feel more comfortable wearing a mask, then wear it. The more comfortable you are the more relaxed you'll work and the better you will feel.
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Mark
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« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2009, 04:46:29 am »

I love to cab Myrickite (though it is pretty rare) and am aware of the Arsenic in it and Cinnabar.  Several other materials have asbestos, whether its the really bad kind that gets stuck in your lungs or the kind that slips through and out again, I don't know.  I also cab and slab quite a bit of Tiffany Stone with its toxic Beryllium.  Arsenopyrite is a really cool mineral specimen but it is usually pretty brittle and is probably not likely to be slabbed or cabbed.  My worst fear is for my kids, luckily our basement is more like a cave and they hardly ever go down there.  A 150 year old stacked stone foundation really makes it feel like a cave.  Maybe i can slab some of my foundation stone, who knows what that stuff is since it has been whitewashed.  I make sure that my water is always spraying on what i am grinding and the wheel and like Ron, I use both spritzers together to get more water and less dust.  Call me paranoid, but remember, just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean they are not really out to get you!!!!

Mark
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« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2009, 10:55:19 am »

  .....seems like things cut easier with more water....and i'm a bit paranoid too =)  i work outside and don't where a mask, but spritz with my left hand in addition to the gravity drip on my flat lap.
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« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2009, 10:55:35 am »

Jon you lucky dog, but what are you going to do when you someday buy a big ole slab saw, drag it up to the roof everyday?

Mark
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« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2009, 12:42:07 pm »

Hi Everyone. I am a little concerned about cabbing certain material too. I get as much water on the wheels as possible. I always have some type of mask on. There is still is alot of fine mist that comes off the wheels. That mist can carry stuff into your lungs. Maybe I am a bit paranoid, but I rather be safe than sorry. I use the paper/filter type mask that you get at Home Depot,(very inexpensive). I also have a cartridge filter type. I also use them around the slab saw, because of the mist that it can make. I have my 10" slab saw on a cart that has wheels.  I can wheel it outside the garage. I live in Tucson, so I can do this most of the time. If I am slabbing inside the garage I use a mask. I used to know some the old timers in Vermont. They worked in the marble and granite industry. They hardly used mask back then. They cut the huge slabs in the open warehouses. Alot of them had breathing problems when they got older. Rock mist/dust that is dry or wet is not a good thing.  Just take some simple steps to protect yourself. Eric.
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Mark
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« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2009, 07:49:36 pm »

Eric I agree with you, better safe than sorry.  Rock dust even from non toxic rocks can build up in your lungs and be a big health issue.  It all depends where you work (in or outside), lack or abundance of ventilation, dry versus wet work, how much the water knocks down the dust that then dries out in your work area, etc.  We have enough problems with bad air and I come from a really clean an mostly pristine area, but i don't need to add to the athmospheric contaminants I breath in every day.

Mark
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« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2009, 07:55:41 pm »

  ....ouch....and sometimes i smoke cigarettes while cabbing...i have issues  O0
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« Reply #22 on: September 15, 2009, 03:19:10 am »

Jon, those poor cabs.  Think about the second hand smoke.  They put up with being dynamited out of the ground, broken into chunks, sawn into pieces, drowned in oil, and then second hand smoke.  Poor little guys.  Ha, ha.   :'(

Mark
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woodyrock
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« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2010, 01:16:13 am »

A word about dust masks..I am assuming that everybody is referring to those wee white paper filter masks?  I you are using these you will fooling yourself into thinking you are protecting your lungs. A proper dust mask is a nice black rubber, or silicon thing with screw on filters, or it is fed   compressed air from a compressor made to supply breathing air. Masks come in sizes like shoes, and must be fit, AND tested for fit plus you can not have facial hair, or the mask will not seal. A full face mask will seal if you wear a moustache, but no other facial hair, and you must be clean shaven the day you use the mask.

Then, to really throw a wrench in things, asbestoses is caused not by asbestos only, but any material that has small fibres......like silk, or fibre glass etc, etc.

Woody
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bobby1
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« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2010, 09:14:05 am »

I use the N95 rated masks when I'm sanding dry but otherwise I don't wear a mask for cabbing. I do have a "flow through" water system that keeps enough water on the wheel to not have much (if any) mist. On my grinding wheel I have a small flap that rides on the wheel and it helps distribute the water across the wheel. I hardly get any water on me as I'm grinding. I have been doing lapidary on all kinds of material (Myrikite, Malachite, Pietersite, whatever) for 51 years with no compromise to my breathing or lungs. I quit smoking 35 years ago (never a heavy smoker). I did a stint in the Navy on a WWII diesel submarine where there was a constant smell and mist of diesel in the air. The rest of the Navy could always detect a submariner by the smell of diesel on their uniform. I was proud of that! The nuclear sub that I spent most of my Navy years on didn't have any diesel smell, though. Our air was exceptionally clean and pure because of the filtering and treatment that we had. It was also artificially generated (the oxygen part). After we started on patrol no one ever had a cold or other virus because the air was sent through a burner to remove carbon monoxide and the heat killed all the bad guys. What fun!
In the 1800's and early 1900's in Germany where they did a lot of lapidary work on very large (14 feet in diameter) sandstone grinding wheels nearly all of the workers suffered from and possibly died from silicosis from the quartz in the sandstone wheels and in the rocks they were grinding on. They had to lie on their stomachs with their faces over the piece that they were working on to do the grinding. I'm not sure if there was water flowing on the wheels or not. We've got it easy as we sit comfortably at our lapidary machines!
Bob
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woodyrock
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« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2010, 12:31:08 am »

Diesel boats forever!  I was a combat swimmer/photographer in the Navy and did several missions via diesel boat. Smell one once, never forget that smell. BTW, nuc boats do not smell that much better.  Bobby forgot the tobacco odor. After the Navy, and bumming around a while, I went to work in Nuclear Engineering, and retired from the Navy yard in Bremerton.  Until the Navy prohibited smoking on board, the boats would come into the yard for overhaul with yelow brown interiors. One squirt of 409, and the condensed nicitine on the bulkheads would run down the side in riverlets to show the white paint undeneath.
Woody
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