Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Closing the Joint

Began the joining of the hull to deck yesterday. This was after the cockpit coaming was faired, sanded and glassed (looking back on that, a laminated glass or carbon rim may have been easier and quicker).

coaming and epoxied holes for deck lines.
The joint was sanded to a slight bevel toward the interior for a tight joint. The fit was good and very little prodding was necessary to make the halves flush. Strapping tape holds the halves in check for glassing the interior joint with 1" glass tape and then 2" over  tape.  A run of plastic tape along the seam keeps the epoxy from oozing out.

taped & tight.

I strapped the boat on edge to lay in the tape. A small cup and brush glued on the ends of sticks aided in spreading and brushing the epoxy. It went well, but I may try wetting the tape prior to rolling it out on the opposite side. A pointed stick also aided in positioning the tape on the joint. Another helpful technique was to use tape only half the length of the boat which kept control of the rolls.


spooled tape rolls cut to 1/2 boat length.

illumination needed for far dark reaches.
One side down!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Essential Tips

It has taken practically an entire boat, but I finally have gained some competence in working fiberglass cloth and epoxy. All of my observations are readily available in other blogs and largely in the Gougeon Brothers' book "On Boat Construction", but I'll list a few tips that have made huge differences for me:
  1. Make certain the surface to be glassed is completely clean of dust and debris. Whatever you leave behind will be there entombed forever on your hard won boat.
  2. Take especial care to keep the fiberglass cloth clean. Given the coarse weave of 6 oz. cloth, it readily picks up all sorts of trash in the shop if set on the wrong surface or left out too long to collect whatever is floating in the air. Be sure to keep glass in a plastic bag to safe guard it from dust & trash. I've also read to wear nitrile gloves in handling the glass as oil from your paws can contaminate the weave. Personally I have not been so conscientious and haven't noticed any imperfections as a result.
  3. I do wear the blue nitrile gloves in handling the epoxy. Its nasty stuff to have to remove with thinner or acetone. I'd recommend wearing a size smaller then normal. With a tight fit you hardly realize you have them on and you can work unconscious of the fact they are on.
  4. There is a huge difference in the setting time of epoxy based on the temperature.  Raka epoxy will set almost 4 times faster at 85 degrees F vs 65-70 degrees. I'd recommend starting your job with smaller batches of epoxy until you have a good feel of how much you can work before it thickens & sets. Epoxy is "liquid gold" and waste here can be costly. Other than time, it is the single largest material cost to your build.
  5. Keep a small amount of acetone and clean cotton rags available to clean your chip brush, vinyl scraper, and the inevitable drip or spill of epoxy.
  6. Keep your eye out for large cardboard boxes. While hardened epoxy can be chipped off the garage floor, why mess with doing so? Cardboard placed on the floor is more durable and cheaper, if found, than heavy craft paper. On side can be used up, flipped for the second half of the project, and tossed when done.
  7. Biased cut glass cloth is a heck of a lot easier to mould around compound curves than square cut. This is never more evident than when trimming out the cockpit coaming.
  8. This is a big one. Aside from large areas to be glassed, wet out strips of glass on waxed paper over a flat nearby surface. This will eliminate much of those pesky "hairs" that inevitably find their way into the work. Placing the cloth dry on the boat and working epoxy into the weave with a chip brush can make a horrible sanding job later (guess how I know).
  9. Keep any successive epoxy fill coats close enough so sanding isn't necessary. Read the manufacturer's literature. All brands are not the same.
  10. At 10, it becomes too long a list. Suffice it to say as a newcomer, the process seemed overwhelming. Taking it slow and attending to your work will make all the anxiety fade away. My biggest fear in the build was forming this wonderful strip vessel and then botching it with a rotten glass job. Save for some shadows from using epoxy to fill nail holes, the process moved along just fine. Be patient, work with deliberation, and your boat will be beautiful. I sound like a pro now (far from it).

Now we're ready to glue the halves.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This and That

Production has slowed of late. Life has its distractions, but some details are taking shape. One item here is actually new seat backs for our 2 SOF kayaks. This can be considered a prelim to this build's back rest. A couple previous solutions didn't deliver comfort, so we've cedar stripped a couple backs, glassed both sides and laminated 1" Minicell foam on the seat side. Slotted holes are on either end and fiberglass loops are on the back for boat installation. Varnishing still remains to be done, but you can get the gist here.

Both back rests. One still on jig.

The jig was traced from the rear of each cockpit with a 1" offset. The rest of the construction was just like those forms defining the hull.
Minicell back. Indents of clamps will disappear.

The loops will help hold the brace up and be adjustable to comfort.

Rear strap loops made from fiberglass laminates.

The cockpit rim was cut down to size and eight 1/16" strips were laminated for an edge to attach spray skirt. This required a few clamps. Once dry, filing, belt and hand sanding allowed for the proper shape. Glassing still remains to be done for durability.

I added wooden stops to the underside of the hatches to prevent the "dogs" from spinning underneath. This arrangement is quite satisfactory and doesn't clutter the storage area with shock cords. If anything, the on deck wing nuts could be reduced in size, but they are handy as is.  

After quadruple checking of measurements, holes were made for the foot pegs.

Finally, I've ordered some 3/16" soft double braid line to try as deck lines. Should that fail, Latigo leather straps should fit the same holes to be drilled.

No, that isn't all. Took a windy journey in my son's kayak last week. Short clip here:

Minicell foam may be too thick. We'll see. Contact cement grabs quickly, so be precise.