This will be a short post. (Keep the applause down, thank you.)
The weather has made a major change here in Seattle, and summer is over. The rain has begun, the temperature has dropped, and the sense of desperation in the Duck Punt build has become tangible. Once the temperature drops below the 50s, the chance of the epoxy fully curing decreases significantly. Well, I still had a lot to do, so I put in some time in the last decent weather window I had, and started sheathing the bottom in fiberglass.
I had vacillated back and forth throughout the build, trying to decide whether I was going to sheath the bottom, or just leave it raw plywood and paint it. My reasons for leaving it raw were threefold. One being cost; I knew I would have to buy additional epoxy resin and fiberglass cloth, and I wasn't sure I would want to spend the additional money. Well, I needed to buy more epoxy to finish the build so I certainly had enough to do the bottom, and the glass cloth is not that expensive, so that was a fairly minor point. Two being weight; I really want to keep the Punt car-toppable, and adding glass and resin was going to increase the weight of the boat a fair amount. Unfortunately, by using the heavier Hydratek plywood, and generally "overbuilding" as I have gone along, the boat has turned out to be MUCH heavier than I was expecting. I don't know if it would have been car-toppable anyway, but the adding of glass and resin to the bottom was not significant enough to be a factor. And three being time; I am just damn tired of building a boat, and I want to get my ass out there and use it! (Dylan Winter built one of these in 7 days?!) I knew that sheathing the bottom was going to add a couple of weeks to the overall project, and with winter approaching I was worried that I wouldn't have time to finish before the weather prevented me from doing so. This is the disadvantage of building outside when any smart boat builder has their own shop. That being said, I am reminded of what a friend told me when I was lamenting having to build my boat outside. He said, "The vikings didn't have heated shops with lights and coffee makers, they built their boats on the beach!" So...let's get back to work! Sheathing it is!
First, I layed the cloth out and smoothed it over the bottom of the boat, taking out any wrinkles and making sure it was nice and flat and under a little tension so it wouldn't bunch up as I wet it out with the epoxy. Then I trimmed the sides a little long knowing I was going to be grinding and fairing it smooth later. I used a little blue tape to keep it from moving as I was working with it.
The first coat of epoxy wets out the glass and adheres it to the plywood. It's interesting how the glass becomes translucent when wet. The epoxy is applied with a flat plastic scraper which keeps the resin from being too thick and makes it a consistent saturation into the fiberglass cloth.
The second application of resin fills the weave of the fiberglass cloth and gives a smoother surface. The remaining applications of resin provide enough thickness so that you can sand the surface smooth without sanding into the glass fibers of the cloth. I applied two more coats of resin until the surface was built up enough for my satisfaction. Of course, what happens when you apply a liquid to a horizontal surface? It runs, and sags, and drips, and pools, and makes a general mess. That belt sander is going to get a hell of a workout! Below is the bottom with the fourth coat applied.
OK, I admit it, that post wasn't as short as I promised. I hope you are still with me! Now, I will let the bottom coat of epoxy cure for all of this week and hope that by next weekend it will be fully cured so I can flip the boat back over and tackle that sheer. I have a feeling I will be using this thing as a toboggan before I get to use it as a boat. *sigh*