Glassing the hull

I was a bit dismayed that I could only buy 8 oz ( 300 grms / sq m ) cloth as the book recommends 4oz or 6 oz , also at having to use the 205 hardener. I had absolutely no experience of this process, so one evening I mixed a small batch of resin and tried my hand at filleting, bonding and applying cloth on some scrap pieces. Although the temperature was around 12° everything worked well. The 205 hardener set reasonably clear but doe leave an amber glow so if you want a really clear coating you would have to use the 207 hardener. The pieces of wood I had glued together were really glued together !

I had planned to do the insides of the boat first ( and make my mistakes there ) but this is not really feasible. You have to do the outsides first as the bare hull and deck are not strong enough to handle the planing and sanding needed to prepare them. There are two methods, wet and dry. Wet means you apply a sealer coat of resin to the timber before glassing the cloth in place, dry means you lomit this sealer coat. Oddly, the West System printed manual recommends the wet method, while the version on the Web recommends the dry. I decided to use the dry method, as recommended in the book.

I press ganged my daughter Caroline for assistance and we did the bottom of the hull first. We were very anxious about this, as we had absolutely no experience in this area, and were concerned that we would not only make a mess of the cloth, but ruin the hull in the process. We prepared everything, resin, tools, masks, gloves etc.

We duly draped the cloth diagonally over the hull, trimmed it, made up a batch of resin and poured it on. You then play the game of chase-the-resin... it seemed to flow everywhere very quickly. However, we soon became quite efficient at spreading the resin, although one problem we had not foreseen was that eventually you get resin on everything... gloves, the squeegees, everything. Squeegees are difficult to handle when you're wearing slippery gloves ! The resin does not have much of an odour, but we used respirators as the hardener is toxic.

We did notice that being over enthusiastic with the squeegee resulted in a milky resin, and although we discarded most of it, there were some small whitish patches on the hull. This may also have been due to using the 205 hardener. Unusually for Ireland, we enjoyed a mild May weekend, the temperature reaching a dizzy 20°. After about five hours, the resin went leathery so we applied a second layer of cloth extending only to the chines and two bias cut 3" strips around 3' long to the stem and stern. The edges of the second layer caused us problems, as lengthwise strands kept pulling away from the cloth as soon as you touched it with the squeegee. This produced a rather rough edge which looks horrible, but hopefully can be sanded down later. Only later did I find a solution to this ( see below ). Later, I rolled a coat of resin on top of everything at about 1 AM then went to bed tired but happy. We had ended up a very nervous day with a very good result, the cloth tight to the hull, 99% transparent, and it darkened the pink cedar so that it is now quite a nice tan colour.

I had planned to apply another coat of resin early the next morning, but when I checked the hull around 8 AM it was covered in the 'amine blush' mentioned in the literature. So I decided to turn it over and start cleaning up the inside. Using a spokeshave, this did not take too long. The appearance is not as good as the outside of the hull, especially towards the ends where the angle makes things difficult, but it is an acceptable base for the cloth. I did notice that the blush seemed to get worse as the day wore on. The sander made light work of smoothing up the interior to a nice finish.

Several days later, I glassed the inside of the hull. This time I was alone but as I knew what to expect, it went well. I added a large reinforcing piece covering the entire cockpit area, up to where feet will be. The main area of the interior finished well, the ends are a little sloppy... but then, only I know that ! I inserted some strips across the hull at stations 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13 and 15 to help it keep its shape, hung it up from the ceiling and put the deck on the forms.

Some days later, I started sanding the hull and applied another coat of pure epoxy/hardener. The result was a fairly smooth surface, so I decided to leave it at that and wait until I varnished the hull to strive for the perfect smooth finish.

Glassing the Deck

With some trepidation I girded up the old lions for glassing the deck. Even after glassing the hull, I felt I still hadn't got the hang of this process. I started by applying strands in the corner of the little upright cockpit strips and the recess. I painted a strip of resin all around and then poked lots of strands into the angle. This went well. I then taped all around the fillet with 1" tape.

I draped the cloth diagonally on the deck, made some cuts at the cockpit to ease shaping and mixed up some resin.

Two hours later, I stood back feeling over the moon. It was perfect ! A matte finish, the weave clearly visible and the cloth tight against the deck. Well, that's another thing I've learned, how to glass ! Around five hours later the resin was hard but not yet cured so I rolled a coat of resin/hardener on. Whilst I was doing this I realised that I was getting low on roller covers so I decided to try using a brush ( I had some really cheap brushes ! ). This worked well, provided you didn't over-brush the resin.

I kept the deck on the forms in case it distorted whilst curing. I will finish off the cockpit surround now, so clothing the inside of the deck will have to wait for a while.

At this point, I have run out of resin/hardener. This is partly my fault as I wasted a lot at the beginning. So back to Waller and Wickhams !!

Lessons learnt

I think that using the heavier cloth was perhaps in my favour. I didn't have any problems making it lay flat, eliminating creases, etc. Perhaps a lighter cloth would have been more trouble.

When applying a second layer of cloth, for example the reinforcing piece in the cockpit, what I did was cut the cloth slightly oversize, then I pulled several lengthwise strands out of each edge of the cloth. This produced a sort of tasseled effect all round the cloth with strands sticking out about 1" long. This had several advantages. When applying resin at the edges of the cloth, a small amount of care can avoid pulling the lengthwise strands out and so produce a neat edge The edges of the cloth taper slightly with the tassels, so sanding a feather is easier Don't throw away the strands. I used them to create the fillet around the cockpit coaming

It is easier than you would think to lose count when pumping resin or hardener. I know !

I had several pots and squeegees and this was worth it. When the resin starts to go off, I just abandoned what I was using and started afresh. You can easily remove the semi-cured resin from the pots and squeegees.

Foam brushes are an expensive alternative to making brushes from cut-up rollers and sticks.

If you use rollers, take them off the frame before the resin cures, as it's extremely difficult afterwards. I found this out the hard way !

After each major step, I lifted the resin and hardener containers up to the light and put a mark at the current level. It's handy to know what you have used and where you are.

I should have been more attentive when applying the resin. It's really easy to smooth/remove it when it's wet, but a lot more work when it has cured.