Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Utility: Fiberglassing continues.

I left off at the last post discussing "feathering" the edge of the fiberglass-covered area. This is simply sanding the edge down in order to have a smooth overlapped seam when you add the next, neighboring section of fiberglass cloth.

With 70% of the boat's bottom covered, I feathered the forward edge of the fiberglassed area. I also rounded over the sharp edge on the bow. With this done, I was ready to add the next section of fiberglass cloth: covering the forward bottom on the port side of the hull.

It went very smoothly. Again, I highly recommend Ken Hankinson's book How To Fiberglass Boats, as it (and the accompanying DVD) make the process very easy to understand. 

Working alone, it's difficult to photograph the fiberglassing process because I'm mostly preoccupied with handling the epoxy (which I don't want to get all over my camera with messy, gloved hands). However, this time I've tried to better show what some of the stages look like:

Photo from the previous post, showing the partially-feathered edge at the chine transition joint.
The same area after the new section of fiberglass cloth was added. On the left, you can see the edge of the new overlapping section. This will need to be sanded as well, to make the overlapping seam smooth.
Feathering the edge that has overlapped the bow.
Feathering the edge that has overlapped the bow.

Fiberglassed transom, after a 2nd coat of epoxy (squeegied meticulously) to fill the weave of the 6oz fiberglass cloth.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fiberglassing begins.

Finally, the time came to start fiberglassing the hull of the Utility. I'd ordered some 6oz fiberglass cloth in both 50-inch and 38-inch widths from Jamestown Distributors. After reviewing the book and DVD on How to Fiberglass Boats from Glen-L, (which I consider a must-have resource on the subject), I was ready to begin.

Edges of the hull rounded-over in preparation for fiberglassing.
The first step was to round over the edges of the hull so that the fiberglass cloth will conform fully to the edges. According to the book and DVD, fiberglass cloth cannot conform to a sharp angle. So, rounding the edges allows the fiberglass cloth to remain in contact with the wood on the edges, eliminating air pockets. Air pockets would be potential trouble spots for trapping water, resulting in rot, etc. What I quickly learned in practice is that it does not require much "rounding over" to be effective... at least not with 6oz cloth.

Since the Utility's transom is only 44 inches wide, I decided to apply the full 3 yards of 50" cloth from the transom to 70% of the hull bottom as one continuous piece. Wetting the fiberglass cloth with epoxy was actually pretty easy, by simply following what I'd learned in the Glen-L book and DVD. The only "surprise" was that it took more epoxy to do the job than I'd expected. Using the thin foam rollers made the process quite simple.

Fiberglass cloth applied to the transom.
Just as I did when encapsulating the hull, I meticulously squeegied excess epoxy off of the transom. This will mean I'll have to apply more layers of epoxy to completely cover the texture of the fiberglass cloth on the transom. However, it should also result in an attractive finish.

The "rounded-over" edges after applying more epoxy and the fiberglass cloth.

Feathering the edges

After the epoxy had fully cured, the next step was to begin feathering the edges of the fiberglass cloth. This is basically just sanding down the edge so that, when the next section of cloth is added, they will overlap on the "feathered" seam. Then, after sanding the seam once again after the second layer of cloth is applied, the seam will be flush with the rest of the surface.

Here you can see the feathered edge, where the forward edge of the fiberglass cloth has been sanded. This shows in the photo as the lighter band across the bottom of the hull.

A more detailed view of the feathered (sanded) edge at the transition joint on the chine. As you see, the edge of the fiberglass on the hull side has not been sanded yet.

The next step is to round over the sharp edge of the bow, and lightly sand the epoxy surface on the forward bottom. Then I'll be able to fiberglass those areas.