Fiberglass rehab

On Saturday I went over to the marina to help my new friend Phil work on his boat.  He’s making slow and steady progress.  I got there at 10 and we worked until 1 when we stopped for lunch.  By the time we were done a cold front was coming through so we packed it in.

He’s at the stage where he has sanded all the paint off, and then ground out all the bad spots in the fiberglass.  If you don’t keep the bottom paint in good condition, water will work it’s way into the fiberglass and cause it to swell up, weakening the strength of the hull.  Once you get down to good fiberglass, you need to put new stuff in there and then grind and sand it smooth.  All we were doing was filling in the holes and then leaving them to dry.

fiberglass repairs - holes filled in

fiberglass repairs - holes filled in

Note that the bigger holes are numbered.  All the little spots are holes that were ground out with just a grinding bit on a drill.  The larger circles were ground out with an angle-grinder (not angel grinder Charlotte!).  The technique is to mix two different goopy liquids that start reacting with each other.  Then you paint the mixture into the hole.  Then you put a small piece of either mat or weave cloth.  Next you paint more goop on top of the cloth until it’s transparent.  Then stick another piece of cloth in there and repeat until the hole is filled in.

Before this step, each large hole had been numbered.  The holes were traced onto tracing paper, and then patches were cut to fit.  The two types of cloth are alternated and each successive patch is about a quarter inch larger than the previous one.  The patches are placed in separate baggies until ready for that particular hole.

pre-cut fiberglass cloth

pre-cut fiberglass cloth

Here is hole number 55.

close up

close up

The darker circle in the middle is the last piece of cloth put in.  The goop is transparent at this point.  One issue we had was that the goop seemed to ooze down with gravity, leaving the top of the cloth dryer than the bottom.  Don’t know if this is a problem or not.

action shot - wiping off excess

action shot - wiping off excess

After applying the fiberglass, gravity pulling on the goop made it run down the keel.  Phil said that cleaning it off with thinner while it was wet (easy) meant he didn’t have to sand it off once it was dry (hard).

I got home just as the rain started.  Looking across the bay I saw some people sailing a boat, and a little later I even saw a windsurfer.  They definitely got drenched, but it sure looked like fun.

sailing in a storm - Boca Ciega Bay

sailing in a storm - Boca Ciega Bay

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