Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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What ever happened to USyacht?
To answer your questions:
What do you mean chopped glass?
What we usually call ''fiberglass'' is actually one of many different materials. Normal fiber glass consists of polyester resin reinforced with fiberglass fibers. These fibers can be be in fabric form such as the normal cloths that you would see for amatuer glass work, special types of cloth in which the fibers are carefully oriented (bi or tri-axial cloth) or coursely woven (such as roving) or in a kind of felt, called mat.
Then there are Tows, which are simply fiber oriented in one direction. Each of these have advantages for certain applications.
In a general sense these fabrics are cut to shape, and wet out with resin, and hand laid in a mold in manner that forces out air and surplus resin. In better boats the direction of the fabric is carefully oriented to improve strength and flexure quality.
Chopped glass is what it sounds like. Tows of fiber are fed through a chopper gun where the fibers are cut into short lengths and sprayed out a nozzle with catalyzed resin. It is the cheapest way to lay up a boat.
Done right, it is not too bad. But chopped glass is very dependent on the operator to get a proper fiber orientation and the correct resin to fiber ratio. Often choped glass boats also use a lot of accelerator. Done improperly you can end up with a boat with inadequate resin or cloth or poor fiber orientation. In the 1970''s I had a job commissioning trailerable sailboats. We had a brand new boat that someone stepped through the bottom of. When we looked at the boat, there was a layer of gelcoat on the outside and a skim of resin on the inside and dry glass in between. That is a worst case.
Even in the best case the short fiber length that is typical of chopped glass means that the final product is more prone to fatigue and fail over time. Beyond that choped glass requires a slightly more resin rich laminate than other forms of fiberglass further reducing its strength over time.
Is it really that bad of a boat?
These are not great boats. If the boat has been surveyed and corrections made to any deficiencies noted, it is probably fine for coastal messing about. These are not my idea of an offshore boat by any stretch of the imagination. They have acquired a bad reputation that probably exceeds the real quality of the boat, but after sailing on them and repairing them, their reputation does not exceed them by much.
Boy I guess they must have seen me coming?
Probably not. There is a cover for every pot and this may actually be an OK boat in the short haul. You have already bought the old girl. You might as well try to enjoy her. Just don''t put too much money into fixing her up.