Oh joy I am back on the fibreglass!
A mixed blessing fibreglass is. The unarguable protection it provides makes it a necessity, but dealing with it is not fun. The cloth is so slippery it slides out your hand like a wet fish, yet it jags on anything and distorts the weave requiring a stroking session to realign. Applying such large areas of it makes you stir crazy mixing the epoxy, and your wrist gets hammered squeegeeing it. That is all before we consider the health benefits!
My process is to mark out as much as I can handle by myself, which is about two to three meters of 1500mm wide cloth, drape it on the boat and position it, then mark out the area to be covered. I have two objectives in mind, making best use of the cloth and keeping straight-ish edges.
If I had a few more people who could keep my odd and un-planned hours, I would attempt the entire side at once. But by myself, I am leaving gaps between the cloth panels and filling with epoxy mixed with light weight filler.
With the cloth off the boat and the area marked out, I then roll on a coat of epoxy to fill the area, then approach it gingerly with the cloth and drape carefully to my marks, paying attention to straight edges. Then it is into the squegeeing in more epoxy, pushing the cloth into the epoxy against the hull.
It takes two to six mixes of epoxy to fill the cloth sections and any extra goes towards rolling on the adjacent cured area, filling the weave.
The result is a lean fit with no lifting of the cloth, but the weave will need more epoxy, and this can be achieved whilst it is still tacky, (but not too green), or later after a light sand.
Sanding fibreglass is my big hatred. I desperately dislike the glass fibres that it produces. To combat these nasty, itchy, glassy, sticky-inny shards, I invested in a decent sander that works well with my extractor, and I upgraded the extractor with a Dust Deputy thingo to improve the suck.
The Dust Deputy adds a cyclonic action to any extractor, or regular vacuum cleaner, much like Dyson has built into their celebrated vacuum cleaners. With my Festool extracter, I have done away with the bag, and just let the Deputy’s bin fill up. With the small amount of sanding I have done since installing the Deputy, I have filled the tub twice, indicating it is catching more than the bag did!
Kate gave me a Festool extractor four years ago, and it was the best thing she could have purchased me. Minimising dust is so critical with these modern materials, I don’t want anything to get in the way of enjoying this boat.
The Festool Rotex sander I purchased is amazing, it has two settings, a random orbit and a direct drive. So with the same 120 grit paper, I can remove material very quickly with the direct drive, and finish off with the random orbital setting. All with the twist of a setting on the head. To add to this, they are very quiet, almost not needing hearing protection.
I chose the small Rotex (90mm) because I wanted it for detail sanding, but now I really want the big 125mm unit. Now I want both. But at $900 each this will not happen soon.
Off to the glass fibre work I go, I’m itching just thinking about it!