Tag Archives: fiberglass

It may not look like much right now…

but three layers of biaxial fiberglass/mat cloth, laid up with epoxy resin, is truly a thing of beauty.

bridge 003

bridge 031

Everything is level and smooth, flush and even.  Next step, one more layer of biaxial, covering the entire bridge from end to end. Yes, it might fall along the range of overkill, but once I’m done this deck should be reasonably resistant to leaks, as well as missiles and/or the zombie apocolypse. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.

As for those hole running along the sides of the bridge, I’ve cut access so I could pour in epoxy, filling the gap between the inner and outer walls of the bridge where it meets the deck — which was probably already completely sealed in previous steps, but then again, if you’re going to go with the overkill approach, you might as well go all out.  It was an interesting process involving a funnel and section of hose, but sorry, no pics. Whe I’ve saved the cutouts, which will be glassed back in place and faired out when all is done.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the boat, the new rudder bearing is securely in place. Progress moves forward.

bridge 019

bridge 025

I know I haven’t been posting much these days. I’ve been a bit busy, between hurricane damage to the house, the marina where the boat is, and the marina where I’m working. But rest assured, work aboard the boat still continues, and I still continue to write.  Something has to give, and these days it seems it’s my online time….along with my sanity. But that’s another topic.

Still itching…

I’m a bit behind schedule today, but that’s mostly because my schedule, once again, is non-stop. I’ve been going since 4:30 a.m. … okay, technically 5:00, if you want to count actually functioning as opposed to merely waiting for the caffeine to kick in. It’s another one of those days with more to do than I have day to do it in, but such is my life.

As for the primary task at hand, it involves prepping to wrap up the final fiberglass work within the salon. It’s one of those big-scary jobs, the sort that once you start, there’s no turning back. Every last detail must be in place and waiting, because as the saying goes, once it’s mixed, resin waits for no one. And laying up three successive layers of glass on a very contoured overhead surface… well… that just adds to the challenge.

Last weekend was spent very meticulously discussing, planning and diagramming every detail. Measuring distances and profiles, debating various approaches to fiberglass lay-up. Which pieces overlap where, in what order they’ll go up and how we’ll go about it. Below, the ribs, now with filets faired out and sanded.

Then crunching all those numbers and measurements into a roadmap of sizes and layup order…

Then once again verifying that every last number is absolutely correct, so I could begin cutting 20+ yards of fiberglass cloth into various boat-size pieces.

A quick note for anyone attempting an undertaking such as this. The ‘rotary’ style razor often found in the quilting section of most fabric stores, (it resembles a pizza cutter, only with an actual razor blade serving as the wheel,) cuts fiberglass with smooth precision and makes this task immeasurably faster, neater and easier than either scissors or a utility knife. Explaining precisely what I’d be using that rotary razor for when asked by the curious saleslady in the quilting section… well, that was amusing. I suppose I’m making a quilt, of sorts, actually, though I don’t think it was the type she had in mind.

Each section, once cut, I wrapped in its own piece of plastic, which will serve both as a fresh surface to wet it out, as well as a neater way of laying it out overhead. Every section I labeled to its corresponding number on our paperwork, and sequence of layup. Those numbered and pre-wrapped pieces I grouped into bags, ready and waiting for their round of layup.

Ultimately, we’ll be positioning seventy-eight pieces in total, and from the first to the last, there will be no stopping. I suppose this might be the point to say something clever about how preparation is half the job, or make some analogy to how it connects to writing or something else in life.  But right now I’m more preoccupied with double and triple checking every number, while watching the weather forecasts, which predict excessive heat, and figuring how we’ll rig an air conditioner into the cabin to keep temperatures in the cabin within optimal working range.

Decisions, decisions…

Emails and comments awaiting replies.  Things to be read, even more to be written. And 20 yards of lovely, silky(ish) fiberglass cloth to be cut into boat-sized pieces.

The above photo and the briefness of this post should make it obvious where I’ll be spending most of my day.  I shall return once this task is complete, somewhat itchier but more focused.

Looking a bit more ship-shape…

I know. Technically, she doesn’t look much different than she has for far too long,  at least from this angle.  But inside is a different story altogether as things all come together.

WE HAVE RIBS!

And here’s where the new overhead joins with the original section.

Two layers of double-width ‘ribs’ are laminated over an original rib and a new single rib to give maximum strength. The screws in the photos are temporary clamps; we’ll remove them and fill the holes with thickened epoxy, and the bolts hanging down are attached to 2×4″ ‘guides’ on the bridge to keep everything aligned as the epoxy set. Next: hardware out and layers of glass cloth go up, then it’s topsides to glass from above.

And finally, the aftermath of the weekend. This is our cockpit work area by day’s end. I usually just let everything in the Mix-n-Measure pots harden, then pop the set epoxy out, resulting in a clean, reusable container and a levitating chip brush.

Holes…

I often refer to Annabel Lee as a collection of leaks in the shape of a boat, and a boat, by definition, is a hole in the water into which you throw money. So cutting large holes into that already leaky hole might be viewed as a questionable action, but that’s what we’ve gone and done.

We now have a well-ventilated salon to match our well-ventilated engine room.

This should make passing sodas up to the bridge easier.

I have emails to return, mountains of writing ahead, and a cabin full of itchiness.  This is just the start, but as which so much else in my life at the moment, there’s no turning back now.

Right now, I’m turning in. Much to do tomorrow. Too tired to think tonight.

Update: In case you’re wondering how we’ll close this big hole, that’s why we built this…

Life in the shed continues…

It’s a reasonable expectation that if you own a boat, that’s the place you’d spend the 4th of July.  Of course it’s reasonable to imagine that the boat in question is floating tranquilly on sparkling summer waters, not high up on blocks in the far shed. But I did spend this holiday weekend aboard, with the bridge uncovered I could look out the doors and see the river, and the roof overhead provided some relief from the blistering sun so it wasn’t all bad. Still, how is it that when ever Frank and I find ourselves armed with power tools to cut and grind away old fiberglass the temperature tops 90? More accurately, it bordered 100 as we worked to remove areas of delaminated FRP from the cabin-top.

For those who have never experienced this task, fiberglass work involves wearing goggles, a dust mask and protective clothing of some sort to cover all bare skin, or else suffer the consequences as thousands of pollen-sized glass shards finding their way into every pore of exposed skin. Sweat or itch, that’s your options.  I know some hardier souls are less sensitive the fiberglass dust; I’ve seen them working oblivious to the irritating glitter, but I’ll admit it: I’m not that tough. Needless to say, our weekend would have been far more bearable had the temperature been less excessive.

So, what destruction are we up to this time? We’re onto the next phase of the leaking cabin top/bridge deck. Phase one was removing all the teak from above, revealing the fiberglass and its approximately 900 or so holes from where the teak had been fastened. For the most part, the majority of these holes had not penetrated that fiberglass to the core beneath, though a few, mostly ones changed by previous owners, had.  Unfortunately, a few is all it takes for water to find its way into the coring and that’s where the headaches begin.  That water will remain, saturating the core, and between compression and expansion from freezing over the winter it will eventually cause the fiberglass to de-laminate from the core, compromising the deck’s strength.  This process occurs silent and unseen until ultimately some small drip finds its way through the headliner and into the cabin, and at that point the damage is done. Worse yet, on so many boats by this point the wood coring, normally constructed of balsa or plywood, has begun to rot. All in all, not a pretty picture and certainly not a simple repair.

On a boat of Annabel Lee’s age, the odds are high that there is wet core to be found. It would be more surprising if all was dry. Fortunately, our little boat has a certain unusual, exceptionally rare feature.  ALL her coring, in fact all wood used in her construction, be it structural, joinery or cosmetic, is TEAK.  Aside from the engine and the concrete in the ballast, if it’s not fiberglass, it’s teak. Teak has many wonderful qualities, most important in this case being its resistance to rot.  And as we’ve cut away the delaminated fiberglass, the teak we’ve found is indeed wet, but as solid as the day the boat was built.

The photo below shows sections of glass we’d removed, exposing the core teak planks. We’d start by cutting a small square, just big enough to wedge a prybar in, then work out from there.  The dark are is wetter wood that’s freshly exposed. With the  day’s heat the surface was dry within minutes.

 

The fiberglass itself, despite being delaminate, put up one hell of a fight. Once the damp wood is all exposed and allowed to dry over the coming weeks, then we’ll begin the process of re-glassing it back together.

There’s still more to go, but this is the majority of it. Heat exhaustion was taking its toll and we quit for the weekend, with hopes that next weekend is at least a little cooler.

The Great Keel Ordeal…

The latest issue of  DIY Boat Owner is out, and page 45, 46 and 47 look awfully familiar, with stress on the ‘awful’.  Yes, that is Annabel Lee’s keel in those photos, but every time I see pictures of the repairs we’d done they still make me shudder… and itch! Recalling how we’d gone into that project with what could best be described as outright dread, I’m very pleased with the final results.  It’s satisfying as well to see the whole ordeal in print, where hopefully it will provide guidance to some other poor soul faced with the same unnerving task (not to mention it’s helping pay for some boat parts).  And reading this makes me particularly happy: “Like all issues of DIY, the Tools & Gear section is full of product reviews and the Projects section lays out several major renovations (read The Great Keel Ordeal — it’s great stuff).”

Keel1

The article itself can be found in the Summer 2010 issue of DIY Boat Owner Magazine, but more pics of the messy process from start to end can be found scattered around this blog.

Keel2  Keel3

Keel4

And looking back, it did turn out quite impressive in the end. We do nice work!