Kaholee Refit | January 19, 2007

Today's project was to fiberglass the three large openings in the cockpit:  the two old cockpit locker openings (aka "death lockers" in Triton lingo), and the old icebox hatch opening in the port forward corner.

In order to securely seal these openings permanently, I needed to create flat molds against which I could lay the fiberglass from the outside.  I used some scrap 3/4" MDF to make the molds, each just larger than the opening it was to cover, and then I covered the MDF with Peel Ply release fabric.

I secured the two pieces over the cockpit locker openings from the inside, using a single pine cleat on the back side to screw the molds into some old glassed-in plywood strips that were on either side of the openings.  This pressed the mold tightly against the inside of the openings.

For the icebox hatch, I screwed a cleat to a bulkhead beneath to support one side of the mold, and used a friction-fit leg on the other side to hold the MDF mold tightly against the inside of the opening.  Because of a thick molded gutter protruding on the inside, which varied in thickness around the perimeter, there was a variable gap around the inside of the opening when viewed from top.  I'd have to fill this with thickened epoxy first to create a nice fillet in order to laminate the fiberglass.



Armed with some measurements of the simple rectangular openings, I set forth to cut the fiberglass material required.  In the icebox hatch, the depth was so great that I decided to use some balsa core material in the opening to minimize the solid fiberglass required.  I cut a piece to fit.

I cut several layers of 17 oz. biax (with mat) to fit the openings, and when the material was cut I got ready to laminate it in place.  I collected all the paraphernalia needed for the job--acetone bucket, air roller, brush, squeegee, cardboard for wetting out, etc--and got to work.  First, I applied thickened epoxy to the edges of the icebox hatch, to fill the gap and create a smooth fillet over which to laminate.  Then, I installed three layers of biax, and finished with a single layer of 10 oz. cloth, which I like to use to soak up excess resin from the lower layers for a clean finish.  I'd have to add more glass to portions of the opening later, as it was still substantially low in some areas.


I installed three layers of the biax and one of the cloth over each of the cockpit locker openings as well.  I left this material to cure overnight before continuing.  Further steps will include adding additional material on the back and undersides of these openings for extra strength, and of course grinding and fairing in with the surrounding areas.

The shop was a disaster after a couple weeks of sanding and messy work, so I cleaned up around the obstacle course of staging legs, trailer parts, and electric cords and air hoses.


Total Time on This Job Today:  4.75 hours

<Previous | Next>