How to diagnose the dreaded HPF Error

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If you have a boat with air conditioner or heaters, you have likely seen the dreaded HPF error (High-Pressure Freon or High-Pressure Fault) error.  Depending on the manufacturer or your air conditioner, it may be a numeric error code, or in our case it just displays HPF.

If this is happening during a cooling cycle, it is likely because of lack of water flow.  If it is going on during a heating cycle, it is probably due to lack of air flow.   In our case, it was through a cooling cycle.

We were not getting any water discharge out of the unit on the side of the boat.  I started by checking the water filter in the water circulation line doubting it would be this simple or clogged that much.  The filter was all right so it was time to go on to more diagnosis.

My first step was to see if the motor was running.  I put my hand on the motor and turning on the unit to see if I could feel the motor kicking on.  I could not so I thought maybe the motor was shot.    I removed the hoses from the motor and disconnected where the motor connects to the control board for the air conditioner.  Ours is a Marine Airr but they are all pretty much the same components so you can likely follow these steps regardless of make.

I removed the motor from the bilge and did a bench test by just applying 110 volts directly to the motor leads.  She fired up just fine.  To see if I had some internal problems with the pump, I connected it to a bucket of water and validated that it was pumping water just fine.

While I had it out, I decided to clean the inside and outside of the motor water routes.  This was rewarding, just because it had so much gunk in it and looked so clean when I finsihed.

Since the motor was working, I thought that maybe I had a control board problem.  I used my multimeter to check voltage on the output for the pump motor.  I turned on the unit, and the leads went to 110 volts for about 1 second then I got the HPF error again.  The good news is that the circuit board was sending voltage to the motor.  The bad news is I was not sure what was causing the HPF error.

I broke down and called Dometic (The company that now owns Marine Airrr) and spoke to someone in tech support.  They told me that I could test the actual HPF switch by disconnecting it from the circuit board and essentially shorting the two leads on the board.  The jumper tells the board that the HPF switch is essentially open (not in fault mode) and I would be able to see if the pump then runs.
He went on to tell me that if it runs with the HPF Switch jumpered than the issue is with the switch itself if it still doesn't run with it jumpered then the problem is likely the actual main circuit board.  The good news is that they still sell these.  In the Southern United States, this is a company called AER out of Seabrook, TX.

I disconnected the HPF switch from the motherboard and jumpered the pins.  I turned on the unit, and the compressor ran fine with no issue.  I only ran it for a few minutes since the pump was still not connected.  The good news is that I now know what the issue is.  It is the HPF switch.  I have one on order and will need to have someone put it on for me just because the freon will have to be charged after I do this.

With the issue known, now it is just time to put it all back together.

In the video this week (Below) I also recorded a storm rolling in over the time lapse camera on deck.  I thought it was pretty cool.  I hope you enjoy it too.

If you are receiving this blog via email or on a device that won't play the embedded video, click this link to the video.  The link is  https://youtu.be/uGnHpYDJwrs






If you find this a convenient way to shop for some cool items we use please use the links below.    If you use these links, you get the same great Amazon pricing, but we get a small affiliate link credit.  Thank you.


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Gear Shifter Problems

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On DreamChaser we have had a problem where the gear shifter lever does not quite go into gear before the throttle starts to accelerate.

The way the single throttle lever works are that the motion will move the shifter lever into position (forward or reverse) and then as you pull the lever further the throttle accelerates.

Today I wanted to see how it all works.  I need to remove the shifter, clean and lubricate it (just because it is there) and I will need to find the adjustments to allow it to go into reverse.

In the video below I mounted a camera in the engine room and one on the helm to capture how the motion of the lever works.


If you are receiving this blog via email or on a device that won't play the embedded video, click this link to the video.  The link is  https://youtu.be/nIcJdsilQV8






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Easter and trip to Margaritaville

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Sunset over the Mississippi Sound - We spent the week at Margaritaville in Biloxi
It seems like an odd combination doesn't it?   Celebrate Jesus' resurrection from the dead by coloring eggs brought by a mythical rabbit.  Give gifts of candy laid in wicker baskets lined with plastic grass and have sulfur smelling gas from eating egg salad sandwiches for the next few days.
 It has to be one of the most confusing holidays ever.

But the kids enjoy the day; it allows us to tell a story about redemption and family and coming home, etc.  So what do you do after an Easter Sunday sugar rush, you go online and book a quick trip that is completely unplanned and spur of the moment.

The 'Redneck Riviera' as it is referred to, is officially the stretch of land along the Florida Panhandle and Alabama shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico.  It is surprisingly beautiful beaches, the clearest water in the US shy of KeyWest and not nearly as busy as other US tourist destinations.  Unofficially it is the larger stretch of beaches from about Gulfport Mississippi all the way down to Panama City Beach Florida.

We booked a room and left around noon on Easter Sunday to go to Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi.  One of our neighbor's kids had mentioned it to Chasity saying they had so much fun there.  It didn't sound like a child-friendly destination so we did a bit of research and that is precisely what the resort is.  It is a 23 story hotel that built on a jetty between the Golden Nugget and Harrah's Casinos on the Mississippi Sound.  One entire floor is a giant arcade, carnival games and some small activities like an elevated ropes course, a hanging chair roller coaster, and a rock climbing wall.  Sprinkle in skeeball, bowling, air hockey, indoor golf games, baseball and enough arcade games to make your mind spin; this is a kids paradise.

The 5th floor is a giant water play area with a large swimming pool and a swim-up bar.  There is also a lazy river, two large water slides, a water obstacle course and an entire toddler water play area with slides, sprayers and a soft bottom in the event they fall.

It is all Jimmy Buffet themed, which is near and dear to our live-aboard sailing lifestyle.  From island music to TV's with music videos just about everywhere, restaurants and bars, all with an island theme, this was a great close by get-away.

I had too much going on at work to be able to take time off, but with free internet and enough nooks and crannies to tuck in, I was able to work each day.
I would work from about 6 am - 3 pm or so and then join the family for evening swimming, gaming and a few off resort adventures.    My favorite place to work was out on the patio's on the 10th floor and 11th floor.  These were general access, but most people didn't know how to get to them unless they had a room on that floor and would come out of their balcony onto the large patios.  They had tables and chairs, and it was almost perfect.  I say almost because the people from floor 11 through 23 seemed to enjoy throwing food off the balconies to the seagulls.

If you have never heard the sound of one seagull turned into 40 within seconds all vying for the same french fry, it starts to look and sound like a pack of dogs circling some prey and howling at the prospect of a kill.  Add to that the constant chance of a bird shit shower; it would get frustrating.  After a few moments of this, I would typically yell upward, "Hey, there are people down here" to which the feeding frenzy would stop for a few minutes until it would resume from another balcony above.

Another day, sitting on the patio that is furthest point out over the Mississippi sound and looking toward the Barrier islands between the Gulf and the Sound, someone above me about ten floors decided to drain a cooler over the balcony.  That was frustrating.  Some people can be very inconsiderate.

That certainly didn't ruin our time.  We swam, went to the beach, played arcade games and slept very well each night.  We often would be in bed by 9:30 or 10 with the pool closing at 9 and be fast asleep to repeat is all the next day.

We took a side trip to see a guy that makes jewelry out of coins.  I have wanted a good and original nautical ring for some time, and while I have looked at hundreds of them, I didn't find something I liked.  Most were more motorcycle related with skulls on them or small engraved waves for nautical themes.
This guy was able to use a silver collector coin with a Kraken on it and shape it into a thick silver ring.    We got a cool heart one for Chasity and also a cute necklace that had an octopus on one side and an owl on the other.  I also now think I may want to try to make my own too.  That may be a cool thing to try.

I took a couple of hours one afternoon to go to a seafood and maritime museum in Biloxi.  Chasity and Deb didn't have an interest in going to that, so I took Swab, and we had a good time.
We learned about Biloxi being the seafood capital of the United States in the early 1920s and how the oyster, crab, and shrimp were fished and packaged.  It was interesting to learn about the shrimp peeling machines that were invented here that allowed for the shipping and growth of the shrimping business.

We saw the beautiful Biloxi Schooner which Deb and I had sailed on before and even walked through last year at the Wooden Boat Festival in Madisonville LA.

All in all, it was a great week.  It was a break from boat work and allowed the girls to have a great time playing in the pools and the water.  I am shocked at just how much time Chasity would spend in the water if allowed.  The water was still pretty cold, and it didn't bother her one bit.

Below is a video of the trip with a few highlights.

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Results from Epoxy & Polyester testing

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Well, The results are in.

We have done several tests as most readers of this blog will now. After removing the teak from our deck, we had some core to correct.  With that completed, we also knew we didn't want to go through this challenge again.  We had to make a decision on the best solution for ensuring that the 7000 or so screws that we removed from the deck didn't become places for water to leak in again in the future.  We filled each screw holes with epoxy through a syringe, but we felt we needed something that was a little bit more assuring.

We had heard from some that said removing the teak removed a bit of the rigidity of the deck even though the teak decks were not structural.  I didn't agree that this was the case but did agree that the extra strength certainly couldn't hurt.  Combining these two scenarios (possible water intrusion and strength of repair), we strongly believed that we needed or at least wanted to put an entire layer of fiberglass over the whole deck.  It may not be required, but after doing all the work we have done and are about to do over the next few years, I want a repair that is going to outlast any of the work I do and protect all the effort we will put into refitting and refinishing below deck.

So, with the decision made to pull up the teak and add a layer of fiberglass over the entire surface, the question now became what material to use.  We are certainly not experts at this point, and while I have used epoxy resin for waterproofing wood and painting bilge surfaces, I have never attempted a project of this size with it, nor had I explored other materials such as the materials used to build the boat.

I, like many others, have just heard that epoxy was a better solution and given the work I had done in the past and the quantity of epoxy needed, this made perfect sense.  But this job would be different; I would likely be using 6-7 gallons of material, and the difference in price is substantial between the options of Epoxy, Vynelester, and Polyester.  Fiber Carbon was ruled out right away due to cost and the idiocy of doing that on our Taiwanese built ketch

Based on all of my research, both epoxy and polyester would be laid and installed in a very similar way.  The big difference is the cost.  By way of example, when you mix epoxy, you add a resin and hardener in a 2 through 5 to 1 ratio depending on the manufacturer.  We use West Epoxy Systems for many small repairs, adhesive and even a waterproofing material for paint.  When you mix the one gallon of resin and the amount of hardener required for that, the total yield is 174 ounces, and the cost is $183 for a total per ounce cost of 95 cents.

Using Polyester resin and catalyst has a different mixing ratio.   One gallon of resin and the required amount of catalyst for 1 gallon which is only about 2 ounces of MEKP with the brand us used, the yield is 130 ounces, and the cost is $30 for a total per ounce cost of 30 cents.  The rest of the materials for the job are all essentially the same price such as fiberglass mat, cleaning supplies, tools, etc.

This significant cost difference made us look at polyester resin more seriously.  Before we did that, we wanted to answer two questions.
1)  What is the better material to use for this job and why?
2)  What does the surface preparation need to be?

Mainly we were hoping to avoid grinding the entire boat surface down to bare fiberglass if we could avoid that without compromising the results and strength.

We recorded videos for all of these tests and posted them to our youtbube channel.  Links to each video are below and will open in a new window.
Epoxy application and destruction test here
Polyester application test 1 - Failed and why
Polyester application test 2 - success
Polyester destruction and the results of the total experiment

Here are the facts we learned and the decision we made based on these tests.

First, epoxy is undeniably a stronger adhesive material and easier to work with in my experience.  That said, the bond between the existing deck and the new layers of glass, while slightly better-adhered when using epoxy it was more than sufficiently held with polyester.  I didn't measure this with a device at breaking strength, but I suspect that the polyester is still 3-4 times stronger than what is required of the job (adding a few layers of fiberglass on top of the existing deck), keeping in mind, this is the material used to build the original boat.

Second, the cost for polyester is significantly better, and without the strength of polyester to be a gating factor, the cost had to be factored in.  For those reading this that don't know us, I figure it is good to clarify a belief we hold.  If polyester were not going to be a viable strength and quality to be considered, the cost difference wouldn't matter.  Frankly masking tape would have been a cheaper option yet, but that would not be a sufficient material to use, so it is not considered as an option.  :)

Lastly, we spoke to an insurance adjuster who shared that when an insurance company authorizes a repair to a boat after an accident or damage, they require that the repair is done using the same material used to manufacture the vessel.  Not polyester because it happens to be the cheaper of the methods, but rather for the consistency of hardened strength.  The insurance company is worried about possible stress lines created between existing material and repaired areas if the repair is a different hardness than the original.  So for a boat made of vinylyester resin, the repair would have to be done using the same material.  The same holds true for epoxy, carbon fiber, and polyester.  

While this last bit of information was not a fact in the specific tests we performed, it was an interesting data point that helped in our decision-making process.

The second part of our test related to surface preparation was also a fascinating outcome.  Almost everyone said to grind the material all the way down to fiberglass for the new glass to be laid down.   After removing the teak and screws, I still had some old resin-based adhesive material on top of a fairing coat or gel coat and then fiberglass below that.  In each test, I prepared the surface two ways; one was down to bare glass the other was just smoothing the surface of the existing material with a 36 grit sanding disk.

With the epoxy test, when I removed the new layer, the existing glass lifted up and separated in the area where it was ground down to the bare glass, in the other area ts separated but was blended, in some cases the epoxy adhesive layer separated, other areas it was the existing glass.  What this told me was that either surface preparation would be strong enough, which was great news because the effort to grind to bare glass was significantly larger.

With polyester, the bond to the existing layers was not quite as strong as the epoxy but also separated in the same way, again demonstrating that the surface prep did not require the entire deck to be ground all the way down to glass.

I am hopeful that this information is helpful to others.  When I was doing research online for this job ahead of me, I found that there were so many differing opinions and all of those sharing the opinion seemed to be able to back up the recommendation with success stories.  The problem for me was that everywhere I opened up a dialogue on a boaters forum to ask this question, the conversations quickly disintegrated into an argument over which way was right or wrong and putting down the others opinions.  The entire experience left me very frustrated and lacked the actual information I needed to make my decision.

That is when I decided we needed to do our test, and come to our conclusions on this matter.  It was important, and I needed to know the pros and cons of each option without an agenda of trying to prove the method I used or sold to others was justified in a public forum.   I don't have a business to run or need to justify the ways of my shop; I am doing this just for me and for our boat repair.  And to add an exclamation point to this, I hope never to do this kind of a job again.  I am doing this for the strength of our blue water home and want that repair to outlast me and the boat

If you think this information may help others or they may find it useful, you are welcome to share it in its entirety in any public or private forum with proper credit.  I would also be willing to answer questions other may have in the way any of the tests were performed.

If you are receiving this blog via email or on a device that won't play the embedded video, click this link to the video.  The link is  https://youtu.be/MvVdETJCeY






The supplies we use for this job are listed below if you find this a convenient way to shop for them.    If you use these links, you get the same great Amazon pricing, but we get a small affiliate link credit.  Thank you.


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How to make a vacuum bagging system for deck core repair

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I was hoping this week to be able to complete the destructive test on the Polyester Resin sample deck, but the weather was a little chilly, so I had to wait for the temperature to rise again to mix up the resin and catalyst.  I also ordered some micro balloons for making a fairing compound to test that as well on the same test piece.

This week I decided to go ahead and do the other repair on the deck where we had dried out the core.  We thought we would need to replace it, but we didn't.  We removed it and allowed it to dry, then rebounded it to the lower fiberglass skin.   Initially, we were waiting to finish our epoxy vs. polyester testing to determine how we would build up the deck over the core and someone had asked us why not use the piece we cut out.  I wasn't sure about this and also saw that a respected boat repair/restore company also does it the same way, so I figured I would give it a try.


The supplies we use for this job are listed below if you find this a convenient way to shop for them.    If you use these links, you get the same great Amazon pricing, but we get a small affiliate link credit.  Thank you.

I saw a post suggesting I vacuum bag the section to apply even pressure while it cures and I wasn't sure how something like that would work.  I had visions of a giant bag over the entire boat for some reason.  I started to look at some videos where people were doing this type of process to mold car and motorcycle parts on a table top, and it dawned on me that this may not be too hard.

I did a small test to see how this would work and if I would be happy with the result, I was so I dove into the job. Here are the processes and the materials used.  It was easy to do.  The materials are all very inexpensive, and in many cases, you may even have them laying around.  If you don't at the bottom of the page, I have links to the supplies we used.  You will notice they are all very inexpensive.

When the initial work was underway for this repair, I had painted a thin layer of epoxy over all the core wood to keep it from getting wet.  I didn't fair the surface along the different boards smooth, so before I was able to put the old deck pieces back down, I needed to ensure it was relatively flat.

A grinder was used with a 36 grit wheel to ensure adjacent boards were at the same height.   I used my crafty dust collector made from a large picnic crawfish tray which you will see later became an integral part of the vacuum bag system as well.

Once all the sawdust was cleaned up with the vacuum, it was time to prep the surfaces for the epoxy. I used a very liberal dose of acetone and a rag to wipe the boards from the core to remove any oil from touching the surface.  The back sides of the top layer of the old deck that would be adhered back down were also wiped very well with acetone.

With the surface prepared, I was ready to get all the supplied close at hand.  I got out my "Epoxy Bin" which is just a large plastic tub I keep all this stuff in so that if it leaks, it doesn't get everywhere.  I am glad I do as I had my first can of hardener leak a couple of years ago and the bottom of the bin is still sticky from it.

I mixed up my epoxy according to the instructions.  I like to use West Epoxy for these types or repairs.  It is a bit pricey but reliable and easy to use.  The pump handles they sell to dose the hardener and resin make it very convenient automatically.  I mixed up a fairly small batch because I had the 206 slow hardeners (not the 209 extra slow) which meant I only had about 25 minutes of working time.

After mixing some up, I painted the entire surface of the core boards with a mixture of the solution to create the initial coat so that if any of the liquid were going to soak into the wood, it would do so from that layer, not my thickened epoxy adhesive layer.

After that, it was time to thicken the solution with the adhesion thickener material.  I used the one designed for thickening as an adhesive.  It was as light as air and appeared to be much like micro balloons but had a different name.  Once thickened, it is spread with the West scraper which has small notches (like a trowel for tiles).
The notches govern how much adhesive you put down on the surface, and the spaces created by the grooves allow the material to smush (Yep, that is a word today) and fill all the gaps.

The material is spread on both the core and the bottom side of the fiberglass panel going in on the top.  Once both are covered, it is just a matter of laying the pieces in place leaving a small gap all the way around.  The gap was initially created by the blade when cutting these out, so the gap was about 1/8th of an inch wide.

Once all pieces were put in, it was time to make the vacuum bag.    Making it was surprisingly simple by taking plastic painters drop cloth (it must be plastic).  The one I had was about .07 mil's thick.
I just cut it larger than the area I had patched and taped it to the deck with blue painters tape.  I was going to use something stronger like duct or gorilla tape, but when I did my initial test, I found that the painter's tape worked just fine.  Using this tape certainly allowed for easier cleanup when done.

I used that guard that I had made for collecting dust so that the plastic bag would not get sucked into the end of the vacuum hose stopping any of the pressure from building across the entire surface.  By diffusing it with this pan, it allowed the vacuum to create all the suction across the entire bagged area.

This process worked so well in fact that epoxy ended up coming up through the screw holes in the upper skin.  A great sign meaning that the vacuum bag put enough pressure on the entire surface was to see the ooze of material from between the two layers up into those voids.  I will need to grind / sand along the joint and add a 2-inch wide row of a cross-strand mat.
I will then sand that.  Typically, one would fair it at that point, but since I am going to be putting two more layers of glass over the entire deck, I am not going to bother fairing at this point and will save that for later when I will do it for the whole deck at once.
Notice the epoxy coming up into the joint and also the screw holes in top center and center left

The video this week also shows all the stepsl, and I will be doing this again.  This was a great solution and frankly, would allow a repair like this to be completed in a single day.

Feel free to share this post on your favorite boating, fixing or DIY forum. I hope it is helpful.

If you are receiving this blog via email or on a device that won't play the embedded video, click this link to the video.  The link is  https://youtu.be/AIUq3R-YsQA






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Polyester Testing - 3rd time is a charm !!!

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If you are an avid reader of this site, you likely know we are removing our teak deck and going back down with a nonskid Fiberglass deck.  The big question has become what material to use, Epoxy or Polyester resin.  We have been doing tests on the removed parts of the deck to validate strength, ease of application, and cost.  Our epoxy test (see post here) yielded results different than what we expected, and the first polyester resin test failed, and I had a strong suspicion it was something I was doing wrong.


Fiberglass shouldn't peel up like this (2nd test not working so well)
Too many others have success, so I had to figure out what I was doing wrong.

After our first polyester resin test had failed, I attempted to do the test again within a few days.  I jumped to a snap decision that my issue had been that I didn't have the correct amount of catalyst in the resin and it was due to my use of an insulin syringe without the needle to measure and dispense the catalyst.
Cleaning the old test material off with acetone

So I re-did my test.   I started by removing the old material which was not dry nor hard.  I was able to just lift it right up off of the surface.  Before I could re-test this whole mess, I had to clean and prep the surface again.  I used Acetone in liberal doses and several old rags to wipe the entire surface down.  It took quite a while, but I was able to get the test surface back to its pretest state.

I mixed up my resin and catalyst again according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Test 2 was 2 layer of 26 ounce roving, prepared properly with fin roller
The temperature was about 72 degrees Fahrenheit, so I added a bit more catalyst than the instructions called for and decided to do two thick layers at one time to allow the thicker build ups to generate a little more heat and help the curing process.
Once thoroughly mixed, I applied a coat to the surface, then added my roving and saturated it with a brush and the fin roller process.  I allowed this to dry for about 24 hours, and it felt a little drier than my previous test, but it was still a bit tacky.  I decided to give it another full day or so, and after a full 48 hours, I checked on it again, and I was still able to just roll the material right up from the surface.

Test 2 was a failure!

I contacted the manufacturer, and they suggested that at 72 degrees, it may be too cold for the length of the full cure if the temperature is dropping down later in the day.  I put the whole test on hold and decided to come back and try it again when the weather was warmer.

Fast forward a few weeks, it was warmer, we were expecting a couple of days in the mid-80's.

I mixed up a small batch and let it catalyze on a piece of wood, and it did, it hardened.  It was going to be my window of time.

In the interest of time, or maybe just frustration at the thought of cleaning that damned old test surface again, I cut a new piece of test material from the removed portion of the boat deck.  Just like in previous tests, I ground part of the deck down relatively smooth but still left some of the fairing compound, gel coat and various other materials that added over the last 40 years between the original surface and the teak boards.

In another spot, I ground all the way down to bare fiberglass.  There are two primary things I am testing in addition to the gained experience of how to do this work before attempting it on the boat.
1)  I want to understand if Polyester or Epoxy will be the material I will use (I am basing it on cost, ease of application and strength of adherence to the existing material)
2)  I also want to understand the extent of my preparation work.  Mainly do I need to grind everything down to bare fiberglass or not.  My epoxy test yielded interesting results demonstrating that the overall strength was better on the existing material rather than the bare fiberglass.

After cleaning all surfaces of the new deck section with acetone, it was time to get ready for my work.  I always lay out the material I need close to my job.
In this case, seven mil Nitrile gloves, mixing cup, mixing stick, resin catalyst (MEKP - Methyl Ethyl Ketone Peroxide), some towels and the syringe I am still using to measure my catalyst.    I poured out 6 ounces of resin and added just under four ccs of hardner.   (There are 29.57 CC's in an ounce, so 3.6 CC's of hardener is 2%).

Like before the surface of was covered with a light coat of the catalyzed resin and then it was time to add the first layer of fiberglass.  With the temperature where it needed to be,
I was feeling good about this test and wanted to mirror the way I would apply it to the boat deck.
I am planning on doing one layer of cross-strand mat, followed by a layer of 26 ounce woven roving and then a final layer of cross-strand mat.  This method will provide a smoother surface on top to apply fairing.

I placed the glass mat to the surface and gently pressed it against the wet surface from the layer of resin just applied.
I dabbed more resin on top of it and used the fin roller with slow strokes from the center toward the outer edges to remove any air bubbles and completely saturate the mat.

I repeated this process carefully with the roving and the top layer of mat.  This time, rather than storing the table with my test in the storage locker (metal building with no light and a bit cooler) I left it out in the sun for a couple of hours.  Within just 3 hours it was already good and hard and dry this time as well.   This test is feeling much better.

My next step will be to add a layer of catalyzed resin with wax in it; this allows the material to harden up and make it possible to sand it.
Test material sitting in the sun at my storage unit complete with note
that says "Please don't touch, test in progress"

If I were to attempt to sand the "layup resin" which does not have wax, it would gum up the sandpaper in seconds.  I will then try to add a thin fairing layer to test out how best to apply it.

Then I will break the whole darn thing, remember this is a destructive test to determine which is a better and stronger bond to the existing surface.  The only way to determine that is going to be to separate it from the surface.

Next week, we will be destructive :)

If you are receiving this blog via email or on a device that won't play the embedded video, click this link to the video.  The link is  https://youtu.be/poiiKJuQetg







The supplies we use for this job are listed below if you find this a convenient way to shop for them.    If you use these links, you get the same great Amazon pricing, but we get a small affiliate link credit.  Thank you.


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Polyester Resin - Follow up to the Epoxy Strength Test

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Last week I performed a mechanical bond stress test on an epoxy joint. (See that post here) The personal goal and reason I ran these tests are to determine if I must grind the entire surface of my boat deck down to raw fiberglass.  A quick recap may be in order.  We removed the teak decks (7000 or so screws, teak boards, the dense uneven bond of resin based product and seam caulk.) and repaired several places that had core rot.  The rotted spots between the fiberglass now have hardwood mahogany rather than fiberglass to match the construction of the original work done by the Ta-Shing shipyard in Taiwan.

While I am confident in my repair and filling of all of the screw holes with a syringe, I want to be sure that after doing all of this work, I don't have a water intrusion problem to the core again.  That coupled with the added benefit of applying some additional strength to compensate for the removal of teak boards is why we will put a couple of layers of fiberglass down on the whole deck.  Almost all of the feedback I have received indicates that the removal of teak will NOT reduce any strength in the boat, but I still think the additional layers certainly won't hurt.  If I was building a light weight racing boat, I might be worried about weight, but in the end, suspect that adding a couple of hundred pounds on a 58,000-pound boat just doesn't matter.

The test last week showed impressive results, but now I want to see if I can do this same thing with Polyester resin which is about 35% of the cost of the epoxy resin.

This weeks test is to simulate the adding of 2 layers of woven roving on top of my existing deck with two different types of surface preparation.    I used a section of the deck that I had cut out and removed when doing repairs (I knew they would come in handy for something).
The first part was ground all the way down to raw fiberglass, and the other section, much like in the last epoxy test was just sanded somewhat smooth with 36 grit but left some of the old gel coat and fairing material on the surface.

I picked up resin and catalyst from Ace Hardware because of it being fast and easy.  After doing some research saw that the brand they carry is by American Plastics Incorporated who makes resin for many different companies and private labels it.

After cutting my woven roving pieces to fit my test section, I mixed up the solution of resin and catalyst.  The manufacturer recommends a 1% catalyst mix so for 16oz of resin; I needed four ccs of the catalyst.  I am using MEKP catalyst for this test and mixed it for just over 1 minute.


The supplies we use for this job are listed below if you find this a convenient way to shop for them.    If you use these links, you get the same great Amazon pricing, but we get a small affiliate link credit.  Thank you.


After applying a thin coat of the resin mix to the surface, I pressed the first layer of woven roving down against the tacky surface.  I then poured a bit of the catalyzed resin onto the mat and used a 3" chip brush to dab it down into the mat until it was translucent.  It is at this moment in time I realize that I forgot my fin roller at the boat so used a small piece of PVC pipe to roll any air out from under it.  The pipe was not optimal, but I think that since it is just to check the bond, it is good enough for my test.

I then added another layer of mat and repeated this process to the still wet surface below.  I then added two layers of cross-strand mat as well.

I let this all sit and checked back on it about 26-28 hours later, and it was still wet.  I attributed this to the fact that the weather cooled off and it dipped from the mid-70s when I first did this to mid 50's overnight and into the second day.

Not having experience with this, I left it alone and let it sit another day.  When I returned now a full 50 hours later, it was still not hardened at all.  I was able to put on rubber gloves and just lift the mat off the surface by hand and fold it all up and throw it in a trash bag like a wet towel.

Based on the results, something went terribly wrong.  It may have been temperature or the amount of catalyst.  I had a hard time measuring the catalyst when I performed this test and opted to use a syringe that was designed for insulin since it had the CC measurements on the side of it.  I removed the needle and just used the plastic syringe.  Maybe that was the problem.


Either way, the test needs to be performed again.  This particular one was a fail.  I am reaching out to the manufacturer as well to see if I possibly did something wrong.

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