2023.02.11 - Stem & Keel Reinforcement Part I

The forecast for today was the one I've been waiting for. Not too warm in the morning but rising to around 10 Celsius by late afternoon. Just right for working with epoxy. Cool enough in the morning to allow an extended pot life and warmer in the afternoon to accelerate the curing processes. 

The task today was the first part of the stem and keel reinforcement being the glass and epoxy sheathing of the stem and forefoot.

I used a fairly heavy weight glass cloth for this as it is stronger and holds more epoxy. You can see the long strip already cut. I offered it up to the hull to ensure that it covered the area required.

The next step was to scrape away the old epoxy that formed the bedding under the old bobstay fitting, and to sand the hull where the glass strip will be placed.

Some of the paint had to be removed until I reached the two-part epoxy paint with which she was painted when I bought her.

Once the sanding had been completed I used an epoxy solvent to wipe of the dust and to provide a grease free surface.

The excess solvent you can see here was wiped off with a cloth and the hull warmed with a hot air gun to dry off the solvent.

No pictures for the next part as it was all epoxy work and I didn't want any to get on the camera. But this is the result. Firstly, neat epoxy was brushed onto the sanded area. The glass matt was laid in place and rolled flat with an epoxy roller. Then more next epoxy was liberally brushed onto the glass mat so that the fibreglass was completely encased in the epoxy. Then peel ply was cut to length, laid onto the epoxy and more neat epoxy brushed onto the ply.

More peel ply was laid in place to ensure that as much of the epoxy was covered.

The peel ply also helps to avoid sags and drips in the final result since these form on the surface of the ply and are removed when the ply is peeled off the epoxy. 

The parts of the hull where epoxy dripped during the process were wiped with a cloth soaked in solvent.

Finally more peel ply was added to the epoxy where required to ensure good coverage.

This has the effect of making a pretty good edge on the epoxy.

Some areas of the peel ply had air bubbles that refused to go away as can be seen in this photo but the should not affect the final finish. If there are still air bubbles under the fibreglass when the peel ply has been removed, then I'll drill a small hole into each bubble and flood the cavity with penetrating epoxy.

So, a pretty good start to the task. Next up in the removal of the peel ply, the sanding of any areas that the ply missed, the filling of any air bubbles and the start of the keel band.

Time for a cup of tea.