I spent today working on my canoe (not to be confused with the three I bought for the Pathfinders last month – this is the one I built in 1998).
Over the past 14 years, it had developed a few splits in its fiberglass sheathing. I had to cut away the loose fiberglass and then sand it down. I also mixed up some sawdust and epoxy to fill some of the cracks in the wood, and then sanded that down again. Then I washed it down and let it dry. And that brings us to today.
I bought 5 yards of fiberglass over the Internet a few years back. In typical J Omega T fashion, that’s how long it takes me to get around to a major project. I dug it up and draped it over the canoe. Turns out they shipped me six yards, so I had to cut one yard off. I’m OK with that, as I can certainly use the extra on the club’s canoes later.
With the glass covering the boat from stem to stern, I started wetting it out with epoxy and a plastic squeegee. I had to use a paint brush on the more vertical sections.
I mixed little batches of epoxy at a time and then spread it on. I’m using West System epoxy, which is really some great stuff – even for woodworking in general. Epoxy is a two-part liquid, a resin, and a hardener. Each component will remain liquid until they are mixed – then slowly (or not) it turns into a solid. West System comes with measuring pumps. One squirt of resin and one squirt of hardener, and I get the perfect 5:1 ratio that I need. Then off to the boat to apply it over the glass.
The first coat took a couple of hours to apply with no breaks in the action. Once you start, you have to finish, or suffer disaster. The first coat is most difficult because that’s the one that glues the fiberglass down. I did get a few bubbles in the cloth, and I’m not sure how I’m going to fix that. They say you can inject epoxy into the bubble with a syringe, but I’m given to understand that syringes are not easy to come by in these days of hep-C outbreaks, etc.
But with the first coat on, we went to lunch. When we came back I applied the second coat which went much more quickly. I waited an hour and then applied the third and final coat. I also re-glued a couple of failed scarf joints on the gunwales while I was at it. Hopefully, they will hold a little better this time around.
The epoxy will take a full day to cure (actually, it will continue to cure for about a month, but it will cure enough to work with again after one day). Then I will sand it down with some 80-grit paper. This will make it look horrible, but once it’s varnished, it will regain its glory again. With any luck, I will finish this in time to get it back in the water again before it freezes.
Oh – one more thing. All of these except the last shot were taken by Beth. Let’s give credit where credit is due!