Thursday, September 30, 2010
So last week I covered the decks, cockpit and cabin top with glass, fully encapsulating the boat. This week I was able to fill the weave of the glass. I used 2 thin layers of epoxy slightly thickened with micro-balloons. Of course this meant bleaching, scrubbing, and sanding between layers, and after the second layer was cured. After a couple days of work, I'm happy to say the weave is filled and things are feeling pretty smooth. Next i will fill the weave on the hulls shear panel section. Once everthing is filled and smooth, I will check for problem areas and tackle some little fairing projects. I have to go work for a few days but will hopefully be able to work on the boat a bit next week. I don't really enjoy the whole sanding for hours and hours thing so it is important that I keep the momentum going and get through it! Still having fun though!!
Saturday, September 25, 2010
The one bad thing about West System epoxy is that it sure seems to blush. For some reason during the curing process, a wax like substance forms on the surface of the epoxy. To ensure proper bonding of the next layer of epoxy, this waxiness has to be removed. I've found the best thing is using bleach water and a scrub brush. Then I lightly wet sand with 80 grit and wipe with a rag. This seems to get most of the yellowish-orange "blush" off. This morning, I was able to bathe the whole boat this way in order to get ready to "fill the weave" of the fiberglass cloth. After the wet out cloth cures, it is a long way from being smooth. It currently still has the texture of cloth. I will use epoxy slightly thickened with glass microballoons (to make it a bit more sandable) to fill the woven texture of the cloth and to build up a sandable surface that I will be able to make smooth.
Because the cloth I used was only 38" wide, I ended up having 2"overlap lines where the sheets of cloth would meet. I used the blet sander to grind these down so they will be easier to blend when I begin filling the weave and the final outside fairing.
Well, most of the outside structure is complete and prefaired so it's time to start covering things with fiberglass cloth. Adding cloth adds some stiffness to the plywood, but mainly its to provide a moister barrier and also more resistance to impact and abbrasion. I started with the transom, then the decks and the cabin top. I used 6 ounce e glass cloth for this. I had the whole day off and was able to get the whole boat covered. Wetting out all that cloth took a lot of epoxy. I think I still have enough left to finish the outside of the boat though. I just bought sails for my racing boat and don't want to have to tell my wife I need to spend another $500 on epoxy!
So now my boat is waterproof! I could plunk it in the harbor right now and go float around with no ill effects to any of the wood. Sweet! It's officially a boat!
On my San Juan 24, the cockpit isn't very wide. The boat can heel way over and I just stand on the opposite cockpit moldings and can drive comfortably. This boat has way more room in the cockpit. It's so wide, my feet can't touch the other side when I'm in my estimated driving position. So I figured (actually Erik pointed it out to me...but I'm sure I'd of eventually noticed) I had better add a foot brace thing. It's made of 1/4 inch ply and epoxy and runs down the center of the cockpit. It turned out nice and straight and should be plenty strong to take all sorts of abuse that I'm sure it will see. It also further stiffens the cockpit floor..which may now actually be bullet proof!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Once I had all the seams taped with fiberglass it was time to "pre-fair" This involves first grinding the sharp edges of the glass tape. There is still a difference in height between the glass tape and the wood surface. If I just went over everything with the final layer of glass, there would be a bump where the tape runs underneath. This would then need to be faired. Instead, I'm fairing all the tape and most any bumps or misallignments now so that all the major bumps are gone and things are fairly smooth and even before the final layer of glass. This will mean the majority of the fairing compound and build ups will be below the final layer of glass which should make it more durable and decrease the chance of chipping later. So now I'm just spending time spreading a light weight fairing mixture along all the tape seams and any other imperfection areas and sanding the whole surface smooth in preparation for the final glass cloth layer.
I'm now devoting all my build time to getting as much done on the outside of the boat before the weather turns cold and the epoxy and fairing compound start taking days to fully cure. Once the weather turns cold, I'll work on the inside of the boat where I can easily keep it heated.
I continue to make progress with an hour or two here and there. I'm having a blast working on this project...just wish I had more time to devote to it!! But it will get done someday!!
In the cockpit, I once again made a fillet of real lightweight filler to make a nice radius, and then taped over it. I also put in a lot of work to get the transition between the cockpit sides to the deck nice and fair and rounded. After taping it though, if I sight down it, I see a bit of wavering that I will have to fair out before the final glass covering.
I had almost forgotten how dusty and itchy grinding fiberglass could be. When it came time to tape the seams of the transom, I had to grind the existing glass on the bottom of the boat so that I could wrap the tape around. After starting in just a shirt, shorts, and a mask, I quickly remembered why I had the tyvek suit for these occasions! In a cloud of dust, I soon had the glass ground away and was able to nicely wrap the tape around