Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fiberglassing Begins

After many weeks of waiting, I am finally in fiberglassing mode. For the next week or two, I will be applying fiberglass to the hull bottom.

The process of glassing is multi step (at least the way that I am doing it). I am using what is called the "dry" method for fiberglass cloth application. What this means in a nutshell is that the glass is laid in position before the resin is applied. This is a bit of a misnomer, which I'll explain in a minute.

The advantage of using the dry method is that I can lay out the cloth, trim to shape (rough trim), and not have to deal with the cloth sticking to the wet resin while I try to position it. If there were other's available to help, I could have used the wet method, which basically means that the resin is applied first and then the cloth is laid into the still wet resin.

The dry method that I am using actually has a seal coat of epoxy resin applied first and allowed to cure for long enough to sand (if needed) but not to the point of fully curing. The reason for the seal coat is so that the fiberglass cloth won't be resin starved later if the underlying wood soaks up too much resin. By sealing it first, any "dry" spots can be corrected in the seal coat before it cures.

In order to insure the best bond between the wood and the fiberglass cloth, I am applying the layers within 16 -24 hours of the previous layer. This allows the layers to form a chemical rather than a mechanical bond.

After the resin is added to the cloth, I wait for an hour or two (depending on the cure rate) and then trim the excess fiberglass cloth with a straight razor blade. By waiting for awhile, I can avoid trying to deal with the cloth wanting to move as I cut it.

So to better illustrate the process, here are some photographs. The first two show the seal coat of epoxy resin. I am overlapping seams by 4 inches for additional strength in these areas.

After the resin has cured, but still within the 16 hour window mentioned earlier, I will smooth sand the resin. This is a light sanding mainly to knock off any bits of resin sticking up or any roughness. Then the glass is laid into position and taped so that it stays there. I try to smooth out the cloth as best I can.

Notice how the cloth overlaps the seams. All of the seams have been rounded over, which allows the cloth to lay down smoothly and conform to the hull. The overlap adds additional protection to the seam areas.

Now the fun begins. I am using System Three Silver Tip resin which is a great product. It is mixed up in sufficient quantity to wet out the cloth. The goal here is to wet it out, but not to over saturate it. Like paint, resin will run if it is applied too heavily. I am using thin foam rollers to smooth out the cloth after the initial resin is applied.

I use a squeegee to spread the resin out after pouring a quantity of it onto the cloth. Not too much at a time as it will get out of hand very quickly. Once I have it fairly well wetted out, I go back over it with the foam roller to try and even out the resin layer. The trick to making fiberglassing work is to apply several thin layers , allowing for some cure time between layers. This way the thickness doesn't grow too fast and cause runs.

The previous pictures of the port forward bottom skin, are actually the second area I glassed. The first area was the transom. I wanted to do this first for two reasons. First, I wanted some protection over the stain I had applied last week. Secondly, I wanted the bottom cloth to overlap the transom cloth on the bottom and sides of the hull.

Because the transom is being displayed with a stained finish, rather than being painted, I had to take extra precautions to insure that it still showed through nicely after glassing. The process is the same, seal coat, add cloth, wet out, and then subsequent wet out coats to fill in the weave. Between each layer, I am sanding the resin to insure it will be smooth when I am finished.

First the seal coat was applied. I made sure to tip the resin with a foam brush after rolling it on to minimize bubbles. The next morning, the entire surface was sanded with 100 grit paper and cleaned up. While sanding this initial coat, I had to take care not to sand through the resin and remove any of the stain.

Next the fiberglass cloth is taped in position. This is a lighter weight cloth than I am using elsewhere on the hull, so that it is clearer when coated with resin.

The cloth is wetted out with the epoxy resin. Since this is a vertical surface, I only used the thin foam roller to apply the resin. It was critical, for appearances sake, that I get the cloth to lay down nicely in all areas, including the transom cutout.

After a few hours, I trimmed the excess cloth off with a straight razor blade. The next morning, I lightly sanded the resin again, smoothing out the surface. With this sanding, I tried to avoid sanding down to the cloth layer.

Then another coat of epoxy is applied using the roller. Again, I tipped the resin with a foam brush. This layer is still insufficient to completely fill in the weave of the cloth, so I will be adding another layer tomorrow morning.

At a future date, the final layer of resin will be smooth sanded again and several layers of varnish will be applied as the final finish.

So that's the extent of the work so far. As mentioned earlier, I will be applying fiberglass for the next week or two, one section at a time.

One final note, however. As many readers are no doubt aware, I visited the  PlyWooden Boat Festival last year in Port Aransas, Texas last year. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and was planning on attending again this year. Alas, with the expense of the resin and fiberglass cloth as well as some family medical expenses, it did not happen. The show is this weekend and I was not able to attend.

I hope that the show is as successful or more than last year's event and I look forward to hearing about it soon. Boat shows like these, showcasing wooden boat building, are a great way to promote the hobby of wooden boats and I want to continue to do this. I am going to try very hard to make next years event. I hope that all of you who did attend, enjoyed the event.

Take care everyone.

Click Here To Comment:

  1. Congratulations on reaching the fiberglass stage! And as always, nice work. The transom looks great!

    1. Thanks Mike,

      It does feel good to get to this stage. The flip is getting closer!


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