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  #1  
Old 09-24-2012
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How to get started with fiberglass...

I'll admit it. I own a fiberglass boat and know diddly squat about fiberglass repair. Granted, I knew little about wood when I bought my wooden boat, but fiberglass deteriorates more slowly so I feel I've got time on my side.

The time has come to do some projects that involve epoxying wood to the hull, epoxying the wood itself to turn it into a fiberglass panel etc. I need some help getting started. I own Don Casey's book on fiberglass repair but embarrassingly for me, it has more assumed knowledge than I currently have.

Which "system" should I use? What about the pros/cons of epoxy vs polyester?

What I HAVE done is I have made a wooden boat that was a variation on "stitch and glue" and it involved laying fiberglass tape along the joints, mixing 2 part West System epoxy and wetting the tape. Didn't seem to hard....

Is there a good website, series of videos, or book that I should get that covers the basic basics of working with fiberglass?

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  #2  
Old 09-24-2012
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Re: How to get started with fiberglass...

Epoxy works great with fiberglass also.
Pros:
Easier to work with
Good bonding to polyester

Cons:
Price

Source for information - try this site WEST SYSTEM | Use Guides

Scroll down to this "002-550 Fiberglass Boat Repair & Maintenance"
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Old 09-24-2012
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Re: How to get started with fiberglass...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post
I'll admit it. I own a fiberglass boat and know diddly squat about fiberglass repair. Granted, I knew little about wood when I bought my wooden boat, but fiberglass deteriorates more slowly so I feel I've got time on my side.

The time has come to do some projects that involve epoxying wood to the hull, epoxying the wood itself to turn it into a fiberglass panel etc. I need some help getting started. I own Don Casey's book on fiberglass repair but embarrassingly for me, it has more assumed knowledge than I currently have.

Which "system" should I use? What about the pros/cons of epoxy vs polyester?

What I HAVE done is I have made a wooden boat that was a variation on "stitch and glue" and it involved laying fiberglass tape along the joints, mixing 2 part West System epoxy and wetting the tape. Didn't seem to hard....

Is there a good website, series of videos, or book that I should get that covers the basic basics of working with fiberglass?

MedSailor
Quick rule of thumb - if you are making a standalone part like a cockpit seat hatch, hatch garage etc. polyester is fine but epoxy is better - stronger and more waterproof. If you are bonding to a previously cured surface, ONLY use epoxy.

For most glass jobs on an existing boat, the higher cost of epoxy is not really much of a factor because you don't use that much resin usually. Polyester resin is not exactly free so you're only talking about the DIFFERENCE in price and epoxy is incomparably better.

There are lots of suppliers of epoxy other than West and they're almost all a lot cheaper. I get mine for $100 for a 5 litre kit of 4 to 1 mix (4 litres resin, 1 litre hardener). Around here West is twice that or more and it's no better.
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Old 01-11-2013
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Re: How to get started with fiberglass...

Does anyone have a link to a crash course or video of a boat fiberglass how to?

I'm just trying to reinforce my cockpit locker hatches. The hinges were a bit loose and have started to wear away/crack the fiberglass underneath the gelcoat. Just trying to get an idea of what is involved in the process, ie just sand and add epoxy and cloth, sand again for finish ? Ive fixed a few surfboards before but never worked with boat fiberglass.

R,
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Old 01-11-2013
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Re: How to get started with fiberglass...

We did a whole lot of fiberglass work rehabbing our beachcat using the West system:

Beach Cats in Rehab!

It was way easier than I thought it would be - and it's held up very well. Don't be afraid of it.
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Re: How to get started with fiberglass...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BGS View Post
Does anyone have a link to a crash course or video of a boat fiberglass how to?

I'm just trying to reinforce my cockpit locker hatches. The hinges were a bit loose and have started to wear away/crack the fiberglass underneath the gelcoat. Just trying to get an idea of what is involved in the process, ie just sand and add epoxy and cloth, sand again for finish ? Ive fixed a few surfboards before but never worked with boat fiberglass.

R,
Videos here WEST SYSTEM | Project Videos , How to Use Epoxy
Documentation WEST SYSTEM | Use Guides
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Old 01-11-2013
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Re: How to get started with fiberglass...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SloopJonB View Post
I get mine for $100 for a 5 litre kit of 4 to 1 mix (4 litres resin, 1 litre hardener). Around here West is twice that or more and it's no better.
Which brand is that? I'd like a cheaper alternative to West System myself.
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Old 01-11-2013
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Re: How to get started with fiberglass...

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Originally Posted by MarkSF View Post
Which brand is that? I'd like a cheaper alternative to West System myself.
It's no-name bulk resin I get from a local fiberglass materials shop (Ultra Lux Plastics). George buys it by the drum and repackages it in 4 liter cans.

Faster can vouch for their stuff as he used it, on my recommendation, when he rebuilt the keel grid in his boat, as detailed on this forum.

I have used other bulk or industrial no-name epoxy as well with similar good results. You simply have to hunt around your area for the people who sell it. Avoid "marine" outlets if at all possible. Outfits who make stone counter tops use a lot of it for one. I found a supplier on Craigslist once. Boatyard advice put me on to Ultra Lux.

I did a lot of experimenting with resins and additives over the years and never had a failure so I recommend you simply start getting sticky - you pretty well can't lose unless you do something really dumb like glassing over paint.

As for brand name stuff, I like System Three better than West. It cures to a slightly less hard finish - slightly "nylon" like. I've heard good things about MAS as well but have never used it. Apparently it doesn't blush which makes laminating & recoating simpler.

In my experience there is no difference in "quality" between all the different ones I've used, only differing properties - mix ratio, cure time, hardness of the cured resin, viscosity (for laminating glass fabric), temperature range and/or wetness it will cure in and so forth. I've been told by people in the business that there are few actual refiners of the base resins. All the different vendors purchase their base stock from these few refiners and simply add their proprietary additive packs to tailor the base stock for various specialized purpose like cold weather cure etc.

If you plan on using a fair bit of it, it is well worth hunting for a cheap bulk supplier - I pay 1/2 or less of what West would cost here, although some members have advised that West seems particularly expensive here. Another factor to consider is additives - Cab-o-Sil, talc, balloons etc. The same suppliers usually have them in bigger quantities and much cheaper as well.

Some price examples - I pay $100 net for a 5 liter kit of 4-1 epoxy. Locally West runs about $150 for a 4 liter can of resin and $35-$50 for the hardener, depending which speed, plus 12% tax. I bought a cement sack of talc for $25 vs. those quart? cardboard cans of West product that run $10-$20 depending on the product.
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Old 01-11-2013
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Re: How to get started with fiberglass...

Can vouch for the resin from Ultra Lux here in Richmond BC... actually, it's up to $116 for the 1.25 gal kit.. but still.... However as SJB indicates it's strictly 'no name'... Sharpie marked containers 'resin A/resin B' but it works great and cures in a couple of days at temps down to a reasonable 'working with no jacket' scenario.

Regardless of what you use, it's an amazing 'tool'.... really when you think about it, you can take flat cloth material of various types, a couple of cans of liquid, and create just about any 3D shape with incredible strength.. Layup methods, casting, molding, all it takes is some imagination and, at first, a bit of 'derring do'... I much prefer epoxy for the reduced fumes.. that and the improved bonds make it a no-brainer.

However I've been told by more than one boat repair professional that Vinylester resin works well for after-the-fact repairs (of the sort we did) too... but I'd still rather work with epoxy despite the fact that the lower viscosity of poly/vinylester makes wet-out a bit easier.
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Old 01-11-2013
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Re: How to get started with fiberglass...

See, here's the thing-. Your noname resin kit is $116. A gallon of West epoxy and thenecessary hardeners will run you $125- $140. Less than 10 percent. Yet, can you get advice from the cheap guys, have they built boats, do they have a qc dept. To ensure consistency. One or two bad or mismixed batches quickly eats up the difference in cost.

I know West works, for what I need. I have tried other stuff, and I always come back. I've got gallons of epoxy under my belt now, and I don't even bother using any thing else. Life is too short and my time to valuable to try to save $10-20 by being somebody's. R and d department.
I especially wouldn't recommend the no support bargain epoxies to a beginner. It is a quick way to turn someone off of boatwork and boat projects.

I don't work for West... But West works for me, and I wanted to clear up the "much more expensive" myth. If you think a 10-15 percent difference is much more, I hate to see how you tip.
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Last edited by bljones; 01-11-2013 at 11:58 PM.
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