Late to Supper

Given the severity of the last several winters, I had never imagined that it would be possible to do fiberglass work in January under no other shelter than a plastic canopy.  I had resigned myself to the idea of waiting until late March to glass the new coamings onto Ganymede, then having to rush through the fairing and painting and possibly having to apply the final coat of paint after moving out to the mooring.  I may still have to, but it’s less likely now that I took advantage of a couple of truly mild days to get the new coamings installed.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before I could install the new coamings I had to pay the dues of every glass job: trimming the edges and grinding them smooth.  I discovered, some time ago, that a metal-cutting wheel in a grinder cuts fiberglass excellently.  More dust than a saber saw, but lots quicker.  I still used a saber saw to cut out the hole for the compass, which had to be done before installation , since there’s no clearance for the saw afterward.  The last step was to clamp each half to a straightedge to ensure it would stay flat, then glass over the inside edge of the coamings with a couple layers of 1708 fiberglass cloth.  This gave it a nice, rounded, bullnose edge.

Having seen the forecast, I front-burnered this project, and on a day when it was almost 50 degrees, took the new coamings to Ganymede, ground a little for fit, and fiberglassed them firmly underneath.  While I was out there (you gotta make hay while the sun shines!) I glassed some foam strips on the sole under the coamings to serve as fiddles for the storage area underneath.  It was extremely awkward, trying to glass in a tiny space where nothing could be set down that was not underfoot, and every turn endangered a pot of resin or an area of wet glass.  But awkward is the story of my life, and though it took all day, I had the satisfaction of finishing up while it was still warm enough for my resin to cure.

A few days later I returned and glassed the top and sides, on a day that while gently raining was at least sufficiently warm.  A couple of minor details remain, then I can begin, whenever the weather allows, to fair and sand and fair again, racing the inexorable clock to springtime.

As far as the dinghy goes, after getting the new transom on I started working on the new sheer.  My original plan to have a ‘thwartships crosspiece every foot or so for a plywood flange to sit on turned out poorly: the ¼” doorskin I had was too bendy and needed more support.  In fact, it needed to be supported for it’s entire length.  After only a little thought I fetched a couple of sheets of OSB, traced the sheer I wanted on them with a batten, and cut the sheer out with a saber saw.  I made one for each side, screwed them in place, and hot-glued the doorskin to the upper edge, with some braces underneath to ensure it didn’t sag off.  Now I had a perfectly fair flange sticking out sideways from under the snaggly sawed-off sheer of the dinghy.

Next step was to glass it all around with one layer of 1708, making sure that the glass didn’t bulge out anywhere where it spanned the air gap between sheer and flange.  Since I was glassing to wood, and wanted the strongest possible bond, I used epoxy.  Though the West System pumps that meter out resin and hardener in correct ratios are handy, they’re only convenient for small amounts.  I’ll have to secure a postal scale and weigh my materials for any future jobs that size—it’s far quicker and easier.

Since I’m doing this mostly in a two-hour span I have several evenings a week, it only happens a little at a time, and usually the end is a little rushed feeling, and supper is late.  Supper was late that day, since once begun, I had to finish, and it would have wasted a lot of time later do rush this step and then have to fix it.  Happily, it came out well, and the next day I could sand it and apply a coat of primer—Duratek, to be precise: a special primer used commonly in mold-making to provide a strong tie-coat between the old fiberglass of the dinghy and the fairing putty I’ll be piling on next.  It’ll also help the putty stick well to the plywood of the transom and the epoxy, neither of which is fond of putty by itself.

With all that behind me, the next step can begin—but for that you’ll have to wait till the next post.

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