Two words: metered pumps.
i have used upwards of 75 gallons of West epoxy and never had a bad batch. One squirt of this,one squirt of that,stir, done.
It is virtually idiot-proof.
Are you talking about metered pumps or mini pumps? If you want to invest several hundred dollars in a metered pump then yes, it does become virtually idiot proof, but my experience with the mini pumps (the ones that screw into the can) has been less than stellar. They often get bubbles in the tube and cause 'burps' that get you off ratio and they gum up with repeated use. I've been told by several people who do this for a living that you shouldn't trust the mini pumps; measure by volume (or weight) or invest in a metered pump.
yeah, in smaller quantities it is about 20-30% more expensive, than the other suspects but, at least in my part of Canada, there are five chandleries, two hardware stores and one aircraft supply house that stock West products. Nobody stocks Raka, Mas, System three, etc. They can get it, but it's gonna take 5 days to a week. I could deal directly with the source, but the price isn't significantly cheaper and i have to pay for shipping. meanwhile, whatever i am working on has to gather dust. If i run out of West 205 during a project, i can get more before the current coat kicks.
Once you start buying the stuff in gallon-plus quantities, the cost difference between West and most competitors virtually disappears, especially when you start adding in shipping...
West is widely available no doubt; sorry you can't source other product easily in your neck of the woods. Here in New England I can run out and buy West, Raka, Sys3, or Progressive before the current coat kicks and if I choose Raka or Progressive, I will save more than 40% buying either 1 or 5 gallon batches. I don't deal with shipping since I pick it up myself.
...and i kinda like dealing with the guys who do the R&D and have built the boats. kinda nice to know i am dealing with a company that has some skin in the game, rather than just some guy with a crappy website whose whole marketing strategy is simply being cheap.
No question, West is great stuff and they have invested a lot into R&D and marketing so it makes sense that your going to pay more and if I decide that I need to apply some of that R&D to one of my projects then I'll go with West. However, rebuilding decks and patching hulls is not rocket science and I don't need to pay more for a product because they told me to use a 12:1 bevel for a proper mechanical bond.
Is West better than Raka or Progressive? Probably, but I'd be willing to bet that even the cheapest no-name brand of marine grade epoxy is stronger than the original polyester or vinylester resins that most production boats are made of. I have demonstrable evidence that these cheaper products retain their strength for at least 8 years and chances are they will last many more than that. Like I said in my previous post; if I were building a freestanding spar or airplane wing to critical tolerances I'd go with West, but until then I'll take a chance and save a fair amount of money (by my standards at least).
Just my $0.02.