Fiberglass Boat Repair – How to Fix Your Sailboat

Not understanding fiberglass boat repair makes people unsure about taking up the work themselves. That and the fact that it has a very important job to do. What with keeping the fidelity of the hull and stopping water coming in, and all that! In order to shed some light on this murky aspect of sailboat maintenance, this article will hopefully provide some insight.

The majority of modern hulls these days are made from glass reinforced plastic – it’s an alias for our chosen topic. Which hi lights another problem – confusion. If everyone is calling something by different names, then confusion sets in. The reason several names are in circulation is due to process by which this resin – there you see, another alias! is made.

In order to reach the finished product, there must be a chemical reaction between two separate compounds. Before getting to that, lets take a step back. Ask the question – what is fiberglasss anyway? Once you get that bit the rest is a snap! So let’s see, fiber and glass. By splitting the word up you have a good idea of what it is. Simply fibers of glass, it is used to reinforce polymers.

Polymers? Help! what are they? Well it’s a type of plastic that has opposing but complimentary characteristics for bonding with fibers. The plastic offers compound strength, whilst fibers give tensile strength. So one is good at being compounded and the other acts like a kind of glue. The finished product’s technical name is glass reinforced plastic (GRP).

The shiny outer surface on your hull, is gelcoat. This is in fact the first coating to be applied to the mould when a boat is built. This layer is between half a centimeter to one centimeter thick. It is also the product of two materials. The first is a resin – being a type of plastic, and the second is a another plastic or polymer. The two together are cross linked, meaning they alter chemically forming the outer surface of your boat. They are applied to the mold as a spray. The layers are built up over time. Just like the laminates – layers of GRP. The finished product is the hull.

Practical Application Of Knowledge

Hull and deck repair. Both important. Must stop water getting in to either of them. Let’s discuss hulls first: Study the damaged area. Is it the gelcoat that is chipped? or is the GRP exposed? May be there is a hole through the hull. Repairing the gelcoat is straight forward. The replacement coat can be found in liquid form which you paint on. Make sure the coats are fully cured and colored to match your hull. Read the instructions on the tin for curing times.

If the GRP is exposed then you must mix up some fibers with the polymer catalyst to produce a resin – paste it in to the damaged area, up to the level of the gelcoat. Wait for it to cure before applying the gelcoat. The glass comes in two forms, either as strands or chopped strand mat. Depending on the area damaged you may wish to use the mat variety. Simply place layers over the damaged area and gradually fill out.

If you have a hole, you will need to identify the area in the boat to work from. Because the hull is curved, repair of holes are easiest from inside. To perform the same level of repair from the outside would involve more work. By layering up the hole from the inside with your mats of glass, you will be able to fix the problem. as the laminate dries you can mold it, to the curves of the hull. Make sure that you have studied the area concerned prior to fixing. Once the hull is ruptured to any degree, osmosis begins. One in four boats suffers from osmosis.

Deck repair is similar to hull repair. You need to replace crazed glass, perhaps were the anchor has been dropped. Voids may appear around tight corners in the cockpit. Literally because the glass has not got great flow characteristics. Hence voids in the finished product. Blame your manufacturer! Oh! and it’s to do with humidity too! Of course deck repair is as essential as hull, if water gets in to the core then you’ve got real problems!

Article Source:

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