Monday, January 12, 2015

Practice Makes...Well Practice.

Weather, weather, on a boat is ALWAYS about the weather.  It doesn't matter if you have been sitting at a dock for a month with no immediate intention of leaving, your life still seems to be dictated by the weather.  In my case, there are two projects that need to be done before I leave the dock and they both depend on the weather.  I need a stretch of warm, dry days in order to pull the salon windows, clean up the mess created by the sealant that was originally used and failed, and rebed them in a different sealant.  I also need a stretch of warmer days to allow for proper curing of epoxy fiberglass (and not being rained on while laying it up would help).  So, in line with my usual luck, the weather the past week or so has been cold, rainy, or both.

Given my frustration with my lack of progress the past week, today I figured out something I could do.  Even though it has been rainy all day, I decided I should practice the basic method I intend to use for the fiberglass repair.  In the anchor locker there is a fiberglass tray that is not in the best shape  and had a hole in it, so I decided I would practice by repairing this hole.  I went out in the rain and unbolted the tray and brought it back to the cockpit so I could attempt the repair.

The process I intend to use on the anchor locker repair is to attempt to build a mold around the damaged area (the missing piece) and then start with the gel coat and complete the layup as you would do in a molded part.  This basic process is outlined in this video:

Since the goal of this repair is to practice what I will need to do for the anchor locker, I'm using biaxial cloth and epoxy even though it is overkill for this mostly cosmetic part. I started by grinding down the glass on the back side to create the taper for the repair.

You might be able to tell that this hole is along a curve.  Of course, the video doesn't provide any good hints for creating a mold around a curve and I have been wrestling with that part of this process in my mind for a little while.  Since I'm not really worried if this comes out that great, I figured I would try just taping some poly plastic to the back to seal and hopefully follow the contour.  It isn't the greatest mold, but hopefully it will work.  I then mixed up some gel coat and applied a thick layer to the plastic backing the hole.

While the gel coat was setting up, I cut the fiberglass to use for the patch.  I went with three layers of the biaxial cloth.  The layer closest to the gel coat was a special cloth that also has a chopped strand mat on one side to help avoid fabric print through.  Once the gel coat started setting up, I mixed up the epoxy, applied a thin coat to the repair area, placed the fiberglass cloth over the repair area and wetted it with a disposable chip brush.  I then applied the next patch and again wetted it with a little resin on the chip brush.  Repeated one more time with the final patch and the fiberglassing was complete.

The look of the biaxial cloth is different than the finish on this part, but it should match the other repair area well.  I will still need to put some gel coat over the top of this after everything cures and I clean and scuff it up a bit, but I think the glassing itself went well.  I did notice that the curing of the gel coat seemed to cause the plastic backing to wrinkle, so I will definitely need to find a better option for creating a conforming mold when I do this repair on the compound curves of the anchor locker.  Guess I will find out how well it all turned out tomorrow, after I let it cure overnight.


  1. You got it...practice makes practice! But that's really the best way to get a feel for what goes on in the curing process.

    1. Yep, the best way to learn is to do. I was surprised that the thick fabric I was using could form around the corner pretty easily. Still trying to come up with a better option for creating the outside form for the broken/missing section though.