Fiberglass Lay-up Test - Failed attempt 1

Rejuvenated, Invigorated & Motivated

We are starting to feel rejuvenated after the holidays. We have a new vigor and want to start getting back to our projects.  The last two weeks have seen torrential downpours here in Southern Louisiana, and frankly, I am tired up emptying “drip pans.”   

Even when you have a boat with a nickname of "Leaky Teaky, you start to fool yourself that you have them all identified.  You know where most all the leaks are, even if you haven't fixed them yet. Nope, she threw is a few more.  Because of this, we are ready to stop the flow of water into the boat with the shifting winds of a new storm front.  

Sun Awning to extend working time

We had someone come out and give us a quote on a new sun awning.  Despite the last year of me stating I was going to make my own, I haven’t done it yet, and Deb is ready for some shade and some rain leak relief.  I will do a future blog post on the details to the awning that we are designing and building.   I am euphoric with the semi-rigid design that is portable enough to come down in about 10 minutes in the event we have a quick squall come up on us.  But it will be large enough with the right connection points for side curtains that we can work with a covered deck.  To say I am looking forward to it would be an understatement.

So as we keep this motivation up, part of that is to finish ripping up the teak decks and removing/patching the thousands of screw holes we will expose on the starboard side of the deck.  

Once the teak is up, screw holes patched and surface sanded smooth, then it is time to put a few layers of glass down on the deck.  We didn’t want our first significant testing of our fiberglass skills to be on a surface that we will want to look good and not be noticeably sloppy.  My other fiberglass jobs in the past have been covering a small shelf in the engine room or a bulkhead locker where it didn’t have to be finish grade and quality, but the deck, that is where we will walk, sit, lay, and everyone will see it.

Practice Makes Perfect

In addition to the teak deck surface itself, we are starting to plan to build replacement deck storage boxes. The boat originally had two but one was already rotted and one.  We will use the old one as a rough template for making the new mirror image matching deck boxes.  They will be sufficient to store the sun awning, life jackets, bean bag chair, propane and scuba tanks, and room for other things we will want to store there.  Because of how much teak we are taking off the boat, we want to be sure DreamChaser doesn’t lose that classic look that made us fall in love with this vessel.  We are going to line the deck boxes in teak trim as an offset to the gloss white finish of the deck boxes to keep that look.

This week I did some testing by using the old teak that was pulled off the deck and sanded it smooth to see if it can be the trim around the deck boxes.  I wanted to my theory further of how I would assemble these boxes.  I was leaning toward 1/4” plywood layered in fiberglass on both the inside and outside.  This construction approach will give it a very robust and rigid frame and ability for it to be a chair or bench.  I also wanted to think about this teak trim and how best to protect all of this in a waterproof way.  

So this week I put a few pieces of scrap teak together with some fiberglass cross-strand mat, as well as created a four-layer sheet of glass that I was going to test out and potentially use for backing plates on the sanctions when they go back on the boat.  

I thought I was so smart when I was at the dollar store and saw cookie sheets for $1.  I picked up a few thinking it would be the perfect shape to make my lay-up in and then pop it out and cut it to the size I needed on the bandsaw.  I had read online that to keep the fiberglass/epoxy resin from sticking to things you don’t want them to adhere to, that I should use vaseline, shipping tape or Pam cooking spray.  I used our cooking spray because I had some handy and in the end, it just did NOT work.  The fiberglass stuck to this so hard; I ended up having to bend the pan into a crumpled mess to get the glass block out of it.

See the Video Fail for this week

The video shows how we prepared for this and the outcome.  In short, it didn’t work the way I planned, but like Thomas Edison said when working on his light bulb invention and failing, someone asked him if he failed and he said, No, I just found another way not to make a lightbulb.  To there you go, I found a way NOT to create a fiberglass block that can be cut and drilled as backing plates.

I hope you found the blog post and or the video helpful in what "NOT" to do.  I will certainly be doing this again because I still need to get this right before I start putting 30-foot x 10-foot sheets of cross-strand mat down on the boat.  

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