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Thread: Epoxy fiberglass assistant

  1. #1

    Epoxy fiberglass assistant

    A very long-time friend called me this week to come help him apply fiberglass and epoxy to a canoe he has just finished. There is a backstory. This is his second canoe. The first was built for his son and his brideís wedding gift fifteen years ago. When he applied the finish, something went wrong. It was unusable. With the wedding just a few days away, there was no time to build another canoe. He GOT THE FIBERGLASS OFF. Somehow he managed to grind-scrape-claw off the first glass job down to bare wood. The second coat was perfect. The bride and groom paddled across a lake in Maine to the brideís grandfatherís cabin with the bride wearing traditional long white dress and groom in tuxedo. It was beautiful. Everyone marveled at the canoe.

    He and I go way back. He started woodworking with me in my humble basement shop more than forty years ago. We built a lake cabin together which our families shared. His woodworking skill and output far exceed mine. He has built fine antique reproductions, like grandfather clocks, pencil post bed, butlerís tray table, many more. Those are three that I was involved in, but there are lots more. He also ran a 2:47 marathon at 41, his first. He ran 2:49 at 50. He won lots of local 10K races. And he was head of engineering at a big company.

    To say I am intimidated is an understatement. I am terrified. The problem on the first epoxy job was maintaining a wet edge on both sides of the canoe. He was not fast enough (incredible thought) to work both sides of the canoe. My job will be either port or starboard and keeping up. This event will be in 3 weeks and I am in intense training. Wish me luck.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    New Westminster BC
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    Yes fibreglassing a boat is scary. My one experience was a stitch and glue kayak from a Pygmy Boats kit. The assembly went without incident, I was between jobs and decided I wasn't going rush it. As the day to apply the fibre glass approached I was apprehensive to the point I was considering going down to a local boatyard to see if someone would be willing to help for a reasonable fee, I also considered enlisting the help of my wife. In the end I did it on my own and it turned out great, as it turned out provided you are organized it's not that hard. One thing to consider, is you can get different hardeners for most epoxy resins, if you are concerned about it setting up too fast you can get a slower setting part two hardener especially if it's going to be warm as epoxy sets up faster in warmer weather.
    PS, I could be wrong but never heard of port and starboard used for canoes. Good luck, I'm sure it will go well.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Garson View Post
    ...
    PS, I could be wrong but never heard of port and starboard used for canoes. Good luck, I'm sure it will go well.
    Yes, and fore and aft look kind of the same too. We’ll be fine. We are both engineers but take different approaches. He reads the label on the can and dives in. I buy a book or three.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    New Westminster BC
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    1,681
    Yeah, I always refer to the pointy end and the other pointy end but I'm just a retired engineer too. I usually plan out every step when I go to bed the night before and two steps in I deviate or forget a step.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    5,482
    Are you pouring, and squeegeeing, or pouring, and rolling?

    Hopefully, you've watched plenty of surfboard glassing youtube videos.

    When I had a boat repair shop, before it was destroyed by a tornado, I had an oversized air conditioner. I could cool it down to low 60's, in a hurry, for layup. That took a lot of the rush out of glass work.

  6. #6
    Haha. Not yet. We leave tomorrow. Fiberglassing party for the outside is Thursday. For the inside, the following Tuesday. I watched Trent Preszler glass a canoe on Instagram. (at preszlerwoodshop). I have packed a respirator with new, unopened organic filters and a bunch of old clothes.

  7. #7
    As long as he has a hardener with relatively long working time it shouldn't be a problem. The key is to get the resin on the hull as quickly as you can and then come back to finish it off. It will start to kick much faster in the cup than on the hull. I prefer to dump the resin and use a squeegee on the bottom of the hull (where it's relatively flat) and use a foam roller on the sides (although this can be squeegee'd too). If rolling dump the epoxy into a rolling tray as soon as you're done mixing it. Spreading it out will keep it cooler and give you more working time.

    I've never done this with a helper so I generally do half the canoe (starting in the center and working to either the bow/stern) and once it's been slopped on and wetted out (half the hull) I go back with the squeegee to remove any excess. Then I do the other half of the canoe. Never been a problem keeping up. I've also started in the center and worked towards both ends at the same time, alternating back and forth, and this has worked fine too. With two people I'd think you'd both want to start in the center and work towards opposite ends.

    Mixing takes a lot of time so mix big batches for the big parts of the canoe. If you use 8oz batches on the bottom of the hull you'll spend more time mixing batches than you will applying epoxy. Mix up a 20-30 ounce batch for starters. You can get away with a big batch like that because it will be applied so quickly to the big flat bottom. Make smaller batches as you get to the portions of the hull that take more time and require rolling.

    If you're really nervous about messing up his project volunteer to be the mixing guy so he can just concentrate on applying the resin while you keep him in fresh supply of resin. If I had to choose between having a helper to a apply resin or a helper to just mix resin I'd take the mixer.

    Alan

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    5,482
    Cover your shoes with blue masking tape, even old ones.

  9. #9
    Here are some pics.

    The before pic. It looks like canoe is waiting for the coroner to arrive.
    F0636808-B47E-4A5F-8AC5-1834AA0CC4F9.jpg
    A peek under the glass, mahogany with maple racing stripes.
    89EC1C0F-D68B-4473-8053-BC855546168D.jpg
    After three epoxy coats, before sanding.
    96248AD2-8D4A-49CC-BAD0-05D64E63114C.jpg
    He sanded over the weekend while JWKMH and I went to visit our daughter and granddaughter. He didn’t try to take it off the form alone. All we got done on Tuesday was to take it off the form and do some scraping on the inside. It is going to be gorgeous.
    BE798213-FB83-4CFB-AE64-AFD309FF9512.jpg
    Last edited by Thomas Wilson; 04-08-2021 at 9:54 PM.

  10. #10
    He and I built rev 0 of the house and our families shared it. The house is on maybe rev 5 now. He did all the rest. Not much of my work remains. Here is a towel cabinet from the original bathroom. It was made using a Sears radial arm saw and a jointer. That was all I had. The raised panel doors were made by turning the saw’s motor vertical so the blade was horizontal. I made an angled platform that looked like the top of a small lectern to hold the panel at an angle to the blade. I slid the panel past the blade to skim off a slim wedge. Not a recommended technique.

    The rails and stiles have a dado groove which was cut with the dado blade horizontal. The rails have a matching tenon. It is a crazy, stupid, unsafe technique but I got square shoulders on the cuts and the doors have remained incredibly flat for 40+ years.
    Attachment 455747
    Last edited by Thomas Wilson; 04-08-2021 at 10:03 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    New Westminster BC
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    Looks like a nice boat. Yes, some radial arm saw procedures are not for the faint of heart but can be done safely provided you understand what can go wrong and take appropriate precautions. The picture in post #10 isn't showing up.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Garson View Post
    Looks like a nice boat. Yes, some radial arm saw procedures are not for the faint of heart but can be done safely provided you understand what can go wrong and take appropriate precautions. The picture in post #10 isn't showing up.
    I have problems uploading photographs here. I wonder why the first four worked, then the last one in the second email did not. They were all done the same way at the same time. I will look into it. I have reported my symptoms to tech support here but they say it is not them.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
    Posts
    635
    The boat looks great. Nice job, both of you.

    Curious about the strongback with only two legs under it. Do you know, or can you find out, how thick the side rails are? It looks like a 18 foot canoe, maybe a 20, but only two legs under the strongback. The two legs there are look like triple 3/4 plywood, for 2.25" nominal, but I know single layer 3/4 ply for the sides of the strongback won't be enough. Did your friend double or triple the side rails of the strong back?

    I am asking because my shop floor isn't very flat. I was thinking four legs for a 16 foot boat, but it will be living heck to level. If I can thicken up the side rails on my strongback and only have to level two legs/ four contact points my life will be easier.

    Maple racing stripes. Gorgeous.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Winners View Post
    The boat looks great. Nice job, both of you.

    Curious about the strongback with only two legs under it. Do you know, or can you find out, how thick the side rails are? It looks like a 18 foot canoe, maybe a 20, but only two legs under the strongback. The two legs there are look like triple 3/4 plywood, for 2.25" nominal, but I know single layer 3/4 ply for the sides of the strongback won't be enough. Did your friend double or triple the side rails of the strong back?

    I am asking because my shop floor isn't very flat. I was thinking four legs for a 16 foot boat, but it will be living heck to level. If I can thicken up the side rails on my strongback and only have to level two legs/ four contact points my life will be easier.

    Maple racing stripes. Gorgeous.
    Hi Scott, It is double in the middle 4ft where the plywood is spliced. He talked about sag and how he aligned the forms. But, I looked down the top and did not see any sag.

    If you wanted to stiffen yours, it might do more good to put plywood on the bottom of the strong back making it a four-sided torsion box. In an I-beam, you get more stiffness from adding thickness to the flanges than the webbing.

  15. #15
    Here is a pic from underneath.
    C291E38A-A350-4685-89A1-668D6EAAF1F7.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images

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