I was not able to begin the re-lamination of the boat bottom before winter 2013-14 set in. It was an especially cold and long winter in Maryland and conditions were not good to start the resin work until June. However it was not until July that I had all the preliminary preparations to the bottom complete, like reinforcement for the rudder skeg, sugar scoop bottom design, extensive sanding of the hull bottom to smooth some of the rough cut places, and keel repairs. Once all that was done, it was time to enlist friends and begin the job. I am so thankful for the help of my good friends whom worked so hard with me to perform an excellent quality job.
Having done this myself now, I do not recommend others attempt to do the same. The work was extremely strenuous and demanding. The learning curve is steep and had I not had extensive experience with composites, I would not have attempted the re-lamination myself. After the resin is catalysed, one only has 10 to 15 minutes to work with it. The possibility that the resin kicks too soon, or the lamination falls on your head is too great to ignore. Then once started, you must continue until finished. This is a job best left to the professionals. So what is so hard about it? Let’s find out.
Although you see only 3 people in these photos, we were a crew of 4. The 4th person is behind the lens in the photos, but was a crucial member of the team having their own assigned tasks. Each member has certain responsibilities and must work well as a team. I was very fortunate in picking a team that worked well and very hard together. One person was responsible for proportioning and catalysing the vinyl-ester resin. He kept track of the quantity used in each step of the process and computed how much resin and catalyst to use for each size of cloth laid on the hull. I am happy to report that he never made a mistake during the process.
Each day, we started with pre-cut pieces so the size was well known in advance. Another person applied resin to the hull, then the work table. Two rolled the cloth onto the wet resin table and spread fresh resin over the cloth to saturate it. Two people rolled the wet cloth onto a pole. Two carried the gooey cloth roll to the boat. One directed the positioning of the cloth to begin application and trimmed the top edge with a razor knife as the other two rolled the cloth down the hull, spreading the cloth and removing wrinkles. The forth person then set to work with the bubble roller to remove air bubbles while another rolled fresh resin to overcoat. One person was busily cleaning while the last was double checking for resin thin areas, trimming, etc. It sounds like we had a crew of 20, but the 4 of us were really busy and worked together as a finely tuned machine. While all this is going on, the resin is dripping from the boat, making the work area very sticky and gooey. I did manage to get resin in my hair 3 times over the 12 days it took to complete the re-lamination. We did not laminate every day, as some days rain delayed our plans. Other days required a lot of sanding and there was not enough elbow grease available to do more on some days. Like I said, the job was very strenuous and difficult. The pictures do not begin to detail the difficulty encountered. In the difficult times, no hands were available for picture taking.
Two staggered layers of 1708 fibreglass cloth were applied to the entire hull in this manner. When the second layer was set but not fully cured, a thin layer of putty was applied.
The putty is a mixture of vinyl-ester resin, special treated fumed silica (Cabosil) and microspheres. The Cabosil is treated with a water repelling chemical and adds to the water barrier quality of the putty. The microspheres help to make the putty sandable and give a good bonding surface for the final barrier coat and bottom paint. Each day after applying a second layer, putty was made and applied. The exposed first layers were sanded prior to beginning the second layer the next day. This is to ensure a good bond between the layers.
When the entire boat is coated with putty, the job of lamination is complete and the fairing of the hull begins. In all, we applied 40 pieces of cloth. We used about 85 linear yards of 50″ wide 1708 cloth, 37 gallons of Derakane 8084 vinyl-ester resin, 5 pounds each of Cabosil and microspheres, and countless supplies.