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Old 04-29-2009
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Screws into fiberglass

I have some deck hardware that uses screws not through bolts (eg, new dodger canvas hold downs). What is the best method to insert the screws into fibreglass? (Where there is balsa core, I plan to drill/ream/pot as usual with hardened epoxy.)

In solid epoxy, is the idea to drill a pilot hole the same diameter as the screw shaft, dip the threads in epoxy and gently drive the screw?

An alternative might be to drill a slightly larger hole in the solid epoxy, bed the screw in wet epoxy in the right position after lighly dusting the threads with wax, back out the screw after the epoxy sets and then install the hardware. But I have been experimenting with that in spare pieces of fibreglass, and find it fussy and difficult.
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Use thickened epoxy, not plain epoxy, a plain epoxy is awfully brittle. Drill the holes in the thickened epoxy and drive the screws in without coating them. If you coat them with epoxy, you probably won't ever be able to remove them.

BTW, the best dodger connection system is using a track and bolt rope IMHO. The studs are a PITA and don't hold the dodger in place uniformly.
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I've often thought of bedding deck hardware on the bare glass, in thickened epoxy, with no mechanical fasteners. This would require judicious use of clamps and perhaps powerful magnets, but I am reasonably confident it would work. This would create no leak worries, and only require a bit of paint around the fitting base. That is, unless you glue to the gelcoat, which would probably work just as well.

I would definitely not try this on a mooring cleat, but it could be just the ticket for little non critical deck hardware!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
BTW, the best dodger connection system is using a track and bolt rope IMHO. The studs are a PITA and don't hold the dodger in place uniformly.
That's and interesting idea, SD. Do you have a link showing an example? I couldn't find anything about this method with Google, which is unusual.
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You can see an example of this at Mobile Marine Canvas's Website

Click on this to see a photo of it...

Look particularly at the forward edge of the dodger, by the port side of the traveler... you'll clearly see the plastic track and how the leading edge of the dodger slides into it. There is a UV protection flap that extends past the bolt rope that is in the track and allows the setup to look much cleaner.

BTW, these are probably the guys I will have make the new dodger and bimini for my boat.
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Based on my experience (2 boats) if you don't use a track, when the canvas shrinks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Use thickened epoxy, not plain epoxy, a plain epoxy is awfully brittle. Drill the holes in the thickened epoxy and drive the screws in without coating them. If you coat them with epoxy, you probably won't ever be able to remove them.

BTW, the best dodger connection system is using a track and bolt rope IMHO. The studs are a PITA and don't hold the dodger in place uniformly.
the screws will pull out of the deck or break. The snaps will never line up again when you take the canvas off, anyway.

There should, depending on the design, be a way to adjust the tension from the rear. Not always.
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Old 04-29-2009
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The advantages of a track are simple. The track and boltrope leave the dodger more evenly tensioned, and also spreads the strain of the connection on the dodger across more of the deck. Finally, it helps keep water from coming back past the dodger, since the boltrope and track seal the join much more completely than using the studs.
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