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Nothing is as simple as it looks. One characteristic that polyester has over epoxy is an inherent UV resistance. I remember reading in a West System booklet that unprotected clear epoxy can begin to degrade after 15 hrs of direct sunlight. That's why boat builders who want a bright (clear) finish apply multiple coats of varnish with UV inhibitors on top of the epoxy. It's why those groovy carbon fiber spars are clear coated too. Oars are typically exposed to a lot of sunlight so if epoxy was used it should have at least 3 or 4 coats of UV resistant varnish on top, and ideally it should be painted with an opaque paint. The top coats should be maintained in A1 condition and if a gouge occurs it should be allowed to dry and the repaired immediately. I have a pair of oars that I made in 1992 that show their age but are still holding up well, but I keep them out of the sun. They are made with sitka spruce looms and laminated western red cedar blades with 6 oz e-glass on either side. Then there's the matter of how carefully the project was done. Was all the old polyester removed? Was the wood dry and completely sanded before the epoxy was applied? Were all the bubbles chased out of the fiberglass? Were the oars completely encapsulated? I know a guy who used kevlar around the edges of his oars and on the stem of his canoe. If you go to a wooden boat show, check out the amazing quality of workmanship these guys exhibit. Properly applied on mahogany or okume plywood, fiberglass cloth can actually disappear with a clear finish. I've spoken about West System and they have tremendous tech support, but System Three and Mas Epoxy have their following too. Properly fabricating with these exotic materials is a true art form and if you skip steps, don't thoroughly mix the components in the required ratios or don't clean and sand between coats you can achieve some exquisitely disasterous results. On the other hand with some practice, you can make some astonishingly strong, beautiful and functional gear. Then, of course, you have vacuum bagging....
 
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