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Repairing Molded-in Non-skid after Re-core
I need to re-core the deck, in spots, on my 1976 Soverel. I have a large area on the port-side deck, two smaller areas on the starboard-side deck, and a very small area on the cabin top that are soft.
The non-skid areas are the molded-in type in a heavy basketweave pattern. The areas are also very close together (meaning if I cut out the top deck between the non-skid "panels" I'll still hit the non-skid when I bevel in the 1:12 joint when I re-attach the panels). The bottom line is there are only two ways to do the re-core without cutting through the non-skid.
1. Remove huge sections of the outer deck skin. Even then I think I'll hit the non-skid.
2. Do the repairs from below. I really, really don't want to work epoxy upside down and I am suspicious of the quality of the joints when done this way.
If I do the repairs from above - which I am 99% sure I will. I will either have to belt sand all the non-skid on the entire deck down and re-do it with some sort of aggregate non-skid (a lot of work and fairing), or I need to come up with a method to re-mold portions of the non-skid.
So, after probably typing too much to get to this point, here is my idea:
I clean up an area of molded-in non-skid and spray it or rub it down with some type of wax or release agent. I then pour a small patch (6"x6") of epoxy on the non-skid and lay a piece of cloth (denim?) over the epoxy. Just something to hold onto the epoxy - not fiberglass cloth as I'll be handling it later. Once the epoxy cures, I lift it up and I have a mold. Using a heavy cloth like denim or canvas should make the mold a little flexible I think.
I figure 6"x6" is big enough because the joints I'll have to repair should be about 3" wide (1/8" thick outer skin x 12 = 1.5" on each side of the cut).
I then fair the top layer of my joints with thickened epoxy and press in the mold (coated with a release agent) when the epoxy starts to set-up. If I "lock in" the mold with sections of good non-skidadjacent to my repair areas I should be able to make the transitions invisible (to everyone except me of course)
Has anyone tried this, and, if so, how did it work? Any tips? What should I make the mold out of? I have West Systems epoxy on hand. Should I use non-thickened epoxy or thicken it with something to make the mold? I'd like to have some flexibility to it, but is not mandatory I guess. If I could get this to work it would really save me A LOT of time and keep the original looks of the boat.
Thanks for reading, and hopefully someone who has been down this road can help.