Friday, June 24, 2011


Yay! It's all in.
I finally finished laying in ALL the core today.  I'll have to go back and look, but I think I used 16 2x4 sheets (I have 2 sheets left).  I know I'm a long way from done (at my rate it will be years), but getting the core in was a big step. The bad news is that I won't be able to do any more work on the boat for about 2 weeks because we are going to Bar Harbor for vacation. The good news is that we are bringing my 17' O'day Daysailer with brand new sails and have rented a mooring for a week at the head of Somes Sound. The Daysailer is a really fun boat that will get up on a plane with a little wind and really bomb around. I'm looking forward to it.

Anyway, I had run out of the 7.5 gallon batch of System 3 epoxy I bought last April with the starboard and stern core layups. I decided to go with Progressive Epoxy for my next order mainly because Merton's Marine is about 2.5 hours away and my truck doesn't exactly sip fuel. I don't like switching product brands mid stream, but the reviews on Progressive Epoxy are favorable, it uses the same 2:1 ratio, and the price is a bit lower than what I could get System 3 for. Add in the fuel costs to go to Merton's and I saved quite a bit (Progressive distributor is 20 minutes from my house).

I'm a bit sad to see all the core in because now that I have done the vast majority of the boat, I am getting pretty good at getting it layed in and making sure there are no voids along the sides and under the beveled edges with thickened epoxy. I'm also getting much quicker at it now that my technique is better and I am using tools better suited to the task. I found a really cool flexible plastic trowel-ly thing at Home Depot that I am really loving. It has roughly a 10 inch flexible edge and comfortable grip and on the perpendicular side it has a 5 inch edge. It works great for this and I expect it will be very good for wetting out the biaxial glass once I lay that down. For the whole port side, I used 132 ounces of mixed epoxy bringing my total to about 8.5 gallons used.  The Progressive epoxy seems good so far, much clearer than System 3 and has a good pot life (medium hardener).  One note: not bad, but different is the hardener for System 3 is more viscous than the resin.  The reverse is true for Progressive.  Once the resin and hardener are mixed however I couldn't tell any difference in viscosity from System 3 to Progressive.  I guess I can't give a solid review of the product until I report back in 5 years that everything on the port side held up, but so far so good.
My new bestest buddies.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Prep and Cleanup

Not much to report other than I finished prepping the port deck for the core. I ground and sanded everything on the inner skin and had planned to get the core cut to size, but I decided that the mess was just WAY beyond bad. Over the past few weeks I had lugged several bags of tools, 2 circular saws, the angle grinder, 6 inch sander, shop vac, and the dremel multi-max. There was also 20 sandbags, plastic sheeting, and a bunch of general crap.

Needless to say, it was out of control, so I spent about 2.5 hours cleaning up. The better part of it was spent vacuuming all the decks. It's nice to have everything in order again. I'm sure I'll just make another mess though.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Starboard Side Core - Check!

I finally finished gluing in the core on the entire starboard side.  As part of that layup I laminated 6 layers of biax cloth to a 2 foot section where the winches will be mounted.  Now I have just about 15 feet left on the port side and I can start laminating the top layers of glass on the entire aft section.  Unfortunately, we are going away this weekend and next week promises to be pretty busy, but depending on temps, I'm shooting for sometime early next week.  Of course, there are lots of details in addition to the core that have to be taken care of; like putting solid glass (with cloth) in the stanchion and chainplate areas and filling all the nooks and crannies I missed on the first pass.

Once I get that taken care of, I'll layup 2 layers of 1708 biax cloth to match what I've done on the foredeck and forward starboard side, then it it will be time to sand, grind, feather, and generally smooth everything out before I put a third and final layer of biax over the entire boat (except the cabintop which I have already done). 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chipping Away

With the high temps in the low 60's over the past few days, I couldn't allow myself to squander the good layup conditions so I have been carving out a few hours here and there to get some core layed up.  Of course even using my work estimation algorithm 3x + 2.754 where x = my estimated hours, the area around the cockpit has lots of curves, cut outs, indentations, and generally annoying things that cause my progress to go even slower.

When I tore up the mess aft of the cockpit, it appeared that the old recore job had replaced the top skin, the core (with plywood), and at least part of the bottom skin.  Unfortunately, the bottom skin was not very sturdy and appeared to be some sort of matte that was very porous and not particularly strong.  There was also an old deck blower vent from when the boat had an atomic 4 that I didn't want anymore, so I decided it would make sense to reinforce it with a layer of 1708 cloth prior to installing the core.

I left the section directly aft of the locker opening to give a little rigidity to the structure while I was laying up the core.  Otherwise I ran the risk of the entire deck sagging under the weight of the sandbags while laying it up.  I could have reinforced from the underside, but thought that this would suffice (it did). 

After I cut out the cloth, I did the same with the balsa core then taped up all the deck holes from the underside and mixed up a 24 oz batch (16 resin, 8 hardener).  I wet out the deck then the cloth and layed it in.  When I was satisfied that it was fully saturated, I wet out the underside of the balsa and then added Aerosil to the remaining epoxy in the pot and thickened it up to spread.  I layed the balsa in, seated it and then mixed up a 20 oz batch and added Aerosil to make a peanut butter mix that I used to fill the gaps under the existing deck flange and around the balsa.  Finally I covered it all with plastic, followed by sandbags and let it kick.

The next day I went back and cut and ground out the area aft of the locker opening and repeated the same procedure as above.  While prepping this section I pulled the backstay chainplate and made sure that there were no issues with the area where it attaches to the stern.  It appears that the chainplate isn't original because it seems to be a different type of metal and not as thick as the shroud chainplates.  It doesn't look like stainless steel, nor bronze.  I don't know my metals very well, but it almost appears to be galvanized.  In any event, it looks to be in good shape, but I think I will be replacing it to be on the safe side.

Yesterday I only had about an hour (my son set his watch to keep me honest), so I set to work on the starboard side along the cockpit to see how much I could get done.  I ate up a good 30 minutes prepping the area with the grinder and sander to ensure a good smooth mechanical bond to the bottom skin (this area still had the original skin intact). 

Because the winches will be located in this area, I decided to do a solid glass layup on part of it to accommodate the large loads it will be subjected to.  Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure exactly where (or how) I will be mounting the winches - the old winch bases were rotting and I am considering using bronze pedestal bases like these.  So I cut out 6 layers about 2 feet long and cut them to the shape of the area in question.  Next I cut out balsa to fill in the remaining area forward of that.  I laid everything in place to see how it fit and at that point my son popped his head up from the ladder and told me my time was up.  The next few days are going to be busy, but I hope to get this section laid up before the weekend (no work this weekend, going to NY). 

I'm reaching the point where I can break the core job up into smaller manageable pieces that I don't have to spend as much time on.  It also works out fairly nicely because I am doing this after work when the temperature is on the downslope so I don't have to worry about the epoxy outgassing.  Ultimately it may take longer, but given how busy my life is right now, it's tough to block off full days.  With that said, I think if I were able to get one full day in, I could probably get the rest of the core in. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The SOS Fund

Have you ever seen those ads on TV that show little kids with big eyes living in squalor and only eating once a week?  They make me sad every time they're on, but then I think to myself... 'do you know what's even sadder than really poor little kids with big eyes?'  Me and my boat Magic are much sadder, that's what.  So I am thinking about starting up a non-profit called Save Our Sailor (SOS).

The organization would be structured like this:  I am the CEO and all donations go to me to fund materials and equipment needed to restore magic to her former glory.  I know it's a long shot, but I'd love to get her back in the water by 2012 for her 50th birthday.  But wait, there's more... If you donate a whole bunch of money to the SOS Fund, the CEO (me) will take you out for a sail when she is back in the water.  I'll bet the organizations that help poor kids don't promise you that.

Doesn't it break your heart?
While you contemplate this worthy cause, I'll be working late into the night trying to get Magic seaworthy for next year.  Over the weekend I managed to get the rest of the bevels ground out along the port side decks and the areas around and aft of the cockpit (with the exception of one small area).  I won't miss doing this as it could potentially be one of the most terrible jobs out there.  Fortunately, it has been only in the 50's this weekend so wearing the full safety garb wasn't too traumatic.  I tried out a new tip that I found on a Bertram 31 restoration site a few days back.  Before you set to grinding or when your going to be exposed to airborne fiberglass particles that make you itchy for days, coat all your exposed skin with talcum powder (my hands and wrists are the only thing exposed).  The idea is that the talc clogs up your pores before the fiberglass particles do.  It seemed to work reasonably well, too bad I didn't learn it earlier in this job.

Old recore job with way too small a bevel

Bevel-ly goodness.
I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I encountered an old recore job that didn't hold up in the long run.  Not only were the fittings improperly overdrilled and bedded in this area, but the bevel to tie the newly cored area to the old sections was not big enough.  The picture above left shows the exposed old bevel that is only about a 1/2 inch.  Even if the skin was only 1/8 inch thick, a 4:1 bevel just isn't enough.  There were a bunch of spots along the bevel line where it was cracked and visible through the paint.  The new bevels I am putting in are at least 1-1/2 inches and 2 if there is room.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Puzzle Time

I cut out most of the remaining deck areas alongside and aft of the cockpit.  Found the same soggy plywood mess as on the port side.  Even the pattern was the same.  I don't quite understand why the plywood was cutout in a jigsaw like pattern, but I'm sure there was a reason.

Puzzle anyone?
It was clear that the top skin wasn't as thick here and I am wondering about the bottom skin as well.  When pulling up the plywood, I pulled out several sections of the bottom skin (small silver dollar sized holes) and it appears that the bottom skin in this area is only 1 layer of matte.   A note on the matte; I'm not sure what the previous owner's layup schedule was, but it really seemed brittle, the matte was tearing quite a bit.  I'm glad I went with 1708, it seems much tougher.  I ended up leaving the section right in the middle because I don't want the aft deck to depress due to the lack of supporting structure.  I'll get the core in place in the adjacent areas before I tackle that small section. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Someone's Already Been Here

I had a few hours tonight and decided that instead of grinding bevels in the remaining side deck in preparation for the new core, I would get started cutting out the decks adjacent and aft of the cockpit.  My reasoning is that I just don't think I have it in me to do more than one full shed vacuum before I finish the core job.  So I am going to cut out all the remaining deck area at once and just have one big marathon bevel grinding session and accompanying cleanup.  Then I'll cut and install the rest of the core.

So I broke out the skill saw and vibrating cutter and got started. It's a little tight in the areas adjacent and aft of the cockpit so it was fairly slow going.  The bright side was that having the cockpit to work from and stand up in was much easier than crawling around the foredeck.  I cut out a little less than half the remaining deck before light started to get scarce and pulled up the top skin only to find... plywood.  It dawned on me that the previous owner had told me that he had re-cored some of the aft deck, but I didn't realize the extent that was done.  I haven't gotten to the starboard side yet, but the port side ran all the way aft from the winch pad location.

Mmmmm, old smelly plywood.

Halfway there!

Unfortunately, all of the plywood core was soaking wet and poorly adhered to both the top and bottom skins.  In other words; junk.  It looked like the previous owner had not taken too much care to over-drill deck hardware holes in the stern rail, winch pad and a number of other items.  The result was not good.  Oddly enough, the plywood didn't hold up as well as most of the balsa that was at least 25 years older.

Next up... the starboard side where I expect much the same.  Then onto the dreaded bevel hell.