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From a Bare Hull:  The Bottom

The bottom, and in particular the keel, required some attention, attention that I had long postponed.  However, with the ultimate completion of the boat looming in the not-so-distant future, I decided to tackle the chores required to complete the bottom work and prepare the bottom for painting.

The keel, with its external ballast pig and foam-filled deadwood, required the most work.  The seams between these various components had opened up years before, and several previous attempts at repair and filling were failing.  To begin, I ground away any loose material, old paint, and other foreign substances with 40 grit discs, working my way around the entire keel, including the bottom area normally invisible to bystanders.  I ground the entire ballast pig to expose fresh, clean, unutilized material so that any epoxy used would bond as well as possible.

Next, I mixed a batch of epoxy filler and troweled it onto the seams between the ballast and the hull, and between the deadwood and main hull molding.  My goal in this step was to provide a decent base for a future application of fiberglass reinforcement, and to smooth out some abrupt transitions to allow the glass to lay down more effectively.  I left the epoxy to cure overnight, and then sanded it smooth the next morning.

The next step was to install some fiberglass over these joints, to seal them and reinforce the area; in particular, the keel deadwood was thin and weak, and required additional material.  I applied three layers of material to all areas:  4" and 6" biaxial tape, followed by a layer of 10 oz. fiberglass tape in an 8" width, which helped smooth out the previous layers and worked to absorb some excess resin for a smoother overall surface. 

The next day, I sanded the new tabbing, and then prepared to apply some large pieces of fiberglass to the bottom portion of the keel deadwood, aft of the ballast, that would wrap  directly beneath the keel and around to the other side, repairing some damage in the area and significantly reinforcing the whole thing.  I made a plastic pattern of the area with some scrap plastic sheeting, then transferred the shape to some 15 ox. biaxial fabric and cut it out.  Then, I cut another piece, this time 3" larger in all dimensions so that it would overlap the first piece.

With the area cleaned and prepared, and a few reference marks made on the surface, I wet out with epoxy resin the first (smaller) piece of glass on some cardboard.  Then, bringing the cardboard over to the boat, I picked up one side and pressed it onto the keel, sticking it with my hands (glove-covered).  Moving around to the other side of the boat, I repeated the process with the other half of the fabric.  Once it was stuck on both sides, I continued by smoothing it out and rolling it into place with an air roller, ensuring that I removed all air pockets and ridges.  In particular, I paid attention to the bottom of the keel, where the fabric wrapped beneath the keel.

Once the first piece was rolled out, I repeated the process with the second, larger piece, The whole job was surprisingly easy, despite the large and inconvenient sizes of the sheets of fiberglass.  I used about 72 oz. of mixed resin for the job.

When the fiberglass was cured, I cleaned and sanded it to remove rough edges, and then began the first application of final fairing filler to the keel areas, applying the thickened epoxy filler to all areas where I had installed fiberglass to provide a smooth and fair transition between the glass and the remaining keel and hull, and also to begin to fill any rough weave of the biaxial cloth.  I continued this process through three rounds of fairing, each time filling only the low spots and working to achieve a relatively fair and smooth surface.

Round 1 Fill Application


Round 1 Sanding

Round 2 Fill Application

Final Fill Application

Final Sanding

Several weeks later, after test-launching the boat to determine the waterline, I had the boat reblocked so as to expose the two areas that had been inaccessible beneath the blocking earlier.  Both areas required minor filling and fairing, after removing some old polyester fairing material that had been applied some time in the distant past.

With that complete, I applied a layer of fiberglass over each area to encapsulate the repairs and clean things up.  When the glass cured, I applied fairing compound, which I sanded smooth the next day.


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