Ready for 'glass

The deck is ready to receive a ‘glass topping. I had actually hoped to get that done this weekend, but as usual fell a little short of my goals. So it goes.

I started out on Saturday with some thickened epoxy to fill in the remaining low spots – the top of the solid pads (except the mast partners), the handrail holes, and a few places around the edge of the core and between sheets. Most of this had been done, but epoxy shrinks a little as it cures, and gravity makes it shift a bit before it kicks, etc. So this was a final go ‘round to level things up.

At the partners I put two more layers of the 1708 biax since I didn’t want to use any filler there, and will actually be adding a few more layers on top of the new skin to spread the load around – don’t want to take any chances with having the partners be a weak link. As it is they’re now as strong as they were originally, when I’m done they’ll be a little stronger, but no heavier, which is perfect. Not sure yet what kind of collar I’ll be putting in place – probably a stainless ring, through-bolted, but we’ll see.

I then put several tubs of unthickened epoxy over the whole balsa surface to let it sink in and fill in the remaining cracks. This will firm things up before the top skin goes on, and also serve to slow down water migration through the core should it get in. It won’t, of course, since I won’t let it, but no harm in a little belt and suspenders action, right?

The next morning I washed off the amine blush (although I couldn’t actually see any, and this epoxy claims it doesn’t blush when you use the slow hardener) and did a bunch of sanding to get things nice and level, and even with the surrounding ‘glass. This was the most extensive use yet of the Bosch 1250 DEVS sander I bought for this project – and I have to say I’m impressed. It’s a combination random orbital and gear-driven eccentric rotary, and on rotary with a 40 grit disc it’s every bit as good as the Makita 7” sander/polisher – and has dust collection. I bought this one as the poor man’s version of the Fesstool 150, and am so far not disappointed. Great!

Here’s the mast partners and forward part of the cabin top sanded and with the block removed from the partners (I’ll wrap glass down into the hole with the top layer of cloth).

And the usual overview of the cabin top from the front:

A couple more:

I had originally thought I’d use the cabin top as my cutting board for the ‘glass cloth, since I couldn’t think of a better large area to cut on – my workbench is pretty narrow, so other than the table saw I couldn’t think of a good place – then I remembered the dining room table! So I prepared a pattern to cut with:

And will use it to cut the cloth. The pattern is still sitting on the boat this morning, and I still have a couple of questions about how to cut the cloth. I will be laying 2 layers of 1708 biax fabric, which will give me a skin of about 1/8”, which I’m told is more than adequate. What I wonder is a) how best to lay it out, and b) how to deal with the joining of the edges? The way I’ve made the pattern it will lay out with a single piece going transversely across the boat in the front, across the partners, and a single piece cut in half running back from there to the back of the cabin top, split by the saloon hatch and companionway hatch. The small piece in between the companionway and the saloon hatch will be a fourth piece. But how to have the pieces join? With thinner cloth I would overlay the next piece and stagger the joints and never know where the joints were. But with the 1708 being so thick, overlaid joints will be quite obvious – they’ll be 50% thicker than the rest of the deck! I’m currently thinking that I’ll stagger the joints and have them butt – and cover all of the joints except the one aft of the saloon hatch with the third layer of cloth that I’m putting around the partners. That way there will be no place that doesn’t have two continuous layers of cloth except for that small piece aft of the hatch. Sound reasonable? Hope so.

After making the pattern I had some paper strips that I covered the side of the cabin with, to simulate filling in the window holes, and then made up four cut outs the right size and shape to simulate the Spartan Marine standard portholes – the style that Cape Dory uses. These are made in Pennsylvania and finished in Maine – and it would be nice to support local (or relatively local, anyway).

From the front they don’t look so bad.

From the back, though, I think they’re just too small. Of course it doesn’t help that I didn’t get them lined up straight, but even done perfectly I think the boat needs larger saloon windows. So I may try to come up with a design I like that will compliment the four forward Spartans and then make them myself, as deadlights. Or try out a friend’s new foundry and have them done in bronze…