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Old 05-01-2007
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even more exciting...! FILLING HOLES WITH EPOXY

Gents: What's the best way to fill a 3/8" hole through the cabin with epoxy so that it's perfectly flush?

I'm clear on taping the bottom and filling it up with a syringe, but how to keep the mess contained and/or flush?

Was thinking about placing a piece of blue masking tape down, drilling through it, and then filling with epoxy. Lift tape after done, and epoxy outside of drill hole lifts off, no?

Merci.
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I just filled the holes for my handrails last week, from the deck. I taped them from the bottom and used a syringe. A few filled right away but others just kept emtying. I was thinking, oh god the cores rotted out. I am already in the midst of recoring under the mast step so i don't want to find more wet core. It turns out though that the epoxy was actually leaking out in between the inner skin and the headliner. My headliner is fiberglass and was a little loose in several spots....not anymore I just wedged a 2 by4 in between the headliner and floor to seal the hole and they all filled quickly...phew!
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You can always use a sharp wood chisel to clear off the epoxy flush with the cabintop once it has cured. You will need to gelcoat or paint the epoxy though, since it will degrade under UV if not protected.
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thanks, guys.

but how about keeping the epoxy within the circular area? Is my drill-through the tape idea a good one?
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I would cut the tape with a razor or sharp knife instead...however, the tape being down may interfere with the epoxy getting a good bond with the outer edge of the laminate...I wouldn't tape it. If the area is relatively flat, a chisel will be able to get down to the gelcoat without much problem and keep the epoxy limited to the hole.
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If you plan to redrill the hole you should be using microballons or equal it will be less brittle to work when cured. Mix to thick consistancy and you will be able to build it up above the surface. If you are not going to redrill a sharp chisle with a true edge will trim it nicely by hand or you could set a router bit flush with the base plate and trim it.
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My personal favorite material for relatively small holes, especially if they need to be redrilled, is "plumbers stick". It's an epoxy so it's as waterproof as any epoxy gets (my record on these things is 7 years so far). It's a lot easier to form since it is of a play-doh consistency, will fill the hole properly and easily and can be smoothed with a wet finger in a pinch.

For holes that will then be used for a screw, you can even avoid redrilling - simply screw the fastener in while the putty is still soft, make sure to do it in the center so it is not breaking seal integrity, then let dry.

This is also very much preferable to dealing with epoxy for small repairs, since it is pretty hard to mix such a small amount of epoxy and losing $10 worth every time is not great.
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As Shantijwk has pointed out the epoxy should definitely be thickened, but I prefer using collodial silica or a high-density filler, which will give the repair more strength than a microballoon filler will provide.

The plumber's stick is another good option, but I wouldn't use it myself, since I generally have System Three or West System epoxy on the boat. MarineTex is also another possibility.
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I have a good stash of MAS epoxy that I use for anything requiring more than a dab. But those less-than-1/2" holes just don't seem to call for that sort of big guns
And plumbers stick might work in a pinch when you really need to plug something right away Who knows - it might save a boat one day

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The plumber's stick is another good option, but I wouldn't use it myself, since I generally have System Three or West System epoxy on the boat. MarineTex is also another possibility.
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If the exterior is white, you might want to fill the hole nearly flush with epoxy, and then after it hardens finish it off with a bit or white MarineTex epoxy paste. Regular epoxy is not UV-resistant, but the filled MarineTex is. And being white, it will be closer to the white of most exterior fiberglass.

Your masking tape should work but of course you still have to trim the epoxy plug across the hole. And, you could use wax (couple of dabs of paste wax or white candle wax) instead of the blue tape as well. Just don't get it in the hole.
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