Traveler pulled through fiberglass, which epoxy to fix? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 08-07-2008
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Traveler pulled through fiberglass, which epoxy to fix?

I'm looking for an epoxy that I could sand down so my new traveler track will sit flush. I'm replacing it b/c when the bolts pulled through (no backing plates) it snapped the track.

I plan to clean up the damaged area, epoxy, sand, install new track with Al. backing plates, and bigger harware. Will any epoxy work? It doesn't necessarily need to be structural, since my backing plates will be VERY heavy duty.
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Old 08-07-2008
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I don't know how big a hole you have to fix. If I were doing it, I would use thicken flag epoxy. Flag epoxy is a little bit thicker and less runny. I would also try and dig out as much of the core around the hole as I can, to allow the epoxy to form a stronger bond. Be sure to tape the bottom of the holes when filling with epoxy.
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West epoxy with the microballoon filler is very sand-able, does end up looking a tan color.
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Old 08-07-2008
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Epoxy is a wonderful thing, but it is not a cure all. Is there any damage to the laminate? If so, how bad? If you could post a few photos, that would be helpful.

Travelers spread the load across a great deal of fasteners and so there is really not a huge amount of load on any single fastener, which is why you often see travelers installed with large fender washers rather backing plates. Another consideration is that backing plates are designed to spread loads, not substitute for weakness in the laminate.

A laminate structure that is damaged can create a weakness in a large area on the boat. If that is the case, then you must fix it. Simply filling with epoxy and installing a backing plate may not be sufficient. Again, photos would help here.

As far as epoxy goes, while all epoxies have their devoted fans, you'll get the same amount of strength from any quality epoxy. Personally, I like West System.

The strength and characteristics that make epoxy suitable for a wide range of applications does not come from the brand of the epoxy. Rather, it comes from what's used to thicken it. Epoxy by itself, while hard, is very brittle, and would be completely unacceptable for your application.

Generally, thickeners run a range from easily sanded (for fairing purposes, i.e. microballoons) to structural filler (for this sort of application, i.e. colloidal silica). I suggest filling all of the old holes with epoxy thickened to the consistency of ketchup and redrilling for new fasteners - after repairing any structural damage.

If you want to install a backing plate, go for it. It certainly won't hurt. But don't rely on it.
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Last edited by NOLAsailing; 08-07-2008 at 10:20 AM.
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Thanks for posting the photo. It pulled through the deck because it was secured with nuts but no washers. That's definitely not how it should be. The good news is that it doesn't look like you have any structural work to do.

I would overdrill the holes for the bolts and fill them with epoxy thickened with colloidal silica. Try not to fill the holes all the way. Leave a very slight depression: this will leave a little space for extra sealant at the fastener locations and it will mean you don't have to do much sanding. After redrilling for new fasteners, bed the track in a generous amount of polysulphide sealant (do not use silicone, 4200 or 5200) - I recommend 3M 101.

Again, a backing plate is OK, but large fender washers will do the job just fine and be easier to install.
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I am very particular about only using the finest and never mixing different brands...


OK, I lied.

That "EZ Thick" epoxy thickener has worked well for me .

If there is no backing plate, at least fender washers underneath.

EDIT - Jason posted while I was typing this up. "EZ Thick" is promoted as a silica alternative by the vendor and it is very much like silica, so we re suggesting pretty much the same thing.
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Old 08-07-2008
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ZZ,
Go with West and the colloidal silica and you should be fine. If you need put a bottom layer of fiberglass tape in (see below). Wet it out properly then use thickened epoxy and more fiberglass layers to build up the little bit of decking you have that might have gotten ripped up the laminate that got ripped up when you ripped out the traveler last weekend. I believe you have a mid cockpit traveler mounted on a bar in front of the tiller on your Merit. A 1/4 alum backing plate should do you as would over sized fender washers. Silica cures off white, so you might need to marine-tex the repair area if you are concerned about looks.

If you can get up under the traveller track attachment points soak out a strip of fiberglass tape (9 oz will do you) and let it cure until slightly tacky then paste it in - smooth for no voids, if it's rough under there put a peanut butter consistency of thickened epoxy spread on the tape before you paste it in. Wear gloves, epoxied fingers suck. Splooge it on good so you have no voids, after all you can't really see up there anyway. Voids mean no strength.
Once you have done that you can fill the holes with thickened epoxy from the top. If needed you can mix chopped fiberglass (razor up the left over tape) into the holes, or get finicky and rebuild the laminate with layers of tape and epoxy paste. Epoxy is strong stuff, but it's much stronger if filled with glass or filler.
Try not to let the layers cure more than a day in between, I use fast hardener so I can work it continuously layer after layer - and read the label re: washing off the blush between layers.
I think the fiberglass repair/strengthening part is more important than the backing plate - if the fiberglass part isn't strong you'll just wind up pulling that whole plate right through the seat, that would suck. Much better to have a few fender washer sized holes pop than your whole cockpit get torn up, and have a 5 pound wind whipped flail banging noggins.
Note all my epoxy work is on building my sailing dinghy, I've only done minor repairs on larger fiberglass boats.
Before you start, now is the time to consider if you want to change out your traveler and mainsheet arrangement.
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Ah, now the photo, that wasn't so bad. I stand by my post.
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Thanks for all the feed back. Great information. I may decide not to use the backing plates, depends on how much of a pain they'll be, and that's a good point about ripping a larger whole, we don't want that. I'll see what size fender washers they have at the hardware store.

I've thought about changing my set up, however, being a smaller boat, its not that hard to reach the other side, and only in heavy winds does it get hard to adjust. I think I'll change the line out to something more comfortable and make it continuous, but that's about it. Plus, this fix it turning out to be really cost effective. $60 for the track, and whatever the epoxy costs plus hardware. At least it was a cheap break.
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