Pros and Cons of Building, Repairing and Maintaining Fibreglass Boats
Building boats is fun if you use the right material and tools. The material you use to build boats must be durable, light and flexible, which is one of the major reasons for popularity of fibreglass and aluminium.
Though there is a great demand for aluminium boats today, especially among fishermen, fibreglass is not far behind. More number of people around the world purchases their own personal boats to enjoy rowing and fishing whenever they want to and there is great demand for boats made of both metal and fibreglass.
Boats made of fibreglass and aluminium is available ready in shops. However, there is no match for the thrill and experience of building your own boat. If you are planning on building a fibreglass boat, it is highly recommended to gain enough knowledge on pros and cons of this material.
There are many advantages of using fibreglass for boat building –
- Low maintenance – Fiberglass boats require very low maintenance and as compared to a wooden boat, you do not have to constantly keep checking for rot.
- Sturdier than metal – Fibreglass is also sturdier than aluminium metal boats that are prone to dents which may destabilize the boat by creating an imbalance in the center of buoyancy.
- Easy to make the hull – It is easy to construct the hull of a fibreglass boat as it is just a continuous, single piece and requires no assembly.
- No shrinkage of planks – As fibreglass is a plastic material, it is highly resistant to moisture and therefore there will be no shrinkage of planks.
- No corrosion or electrolysis in water- Fiberglass is an inert material and is therefore not prone to corrosion or electrolysis in water as in aluminium boats.
- Simpler to construct the boat – Fiberglass boats as compared to wooden or even aluminium boats are easier to construct. It takes only a quarter of the time to construct a fibreglass boat as you require no particular skill. All you must know is how to make a mold and get a basic training on boat building.
All these advantages apart, there are many disadvantages in choosing fibreglass to build your boat.
- You cannot use any fibreglass variety available in the market. It is necessary to import a particular type of fibreglass suited to make boats whenever you want to.
- Once you decide upon and fix the molds and design, it is not possible to make changes. So, it is very essential to pre-determine the type and style of boat you want before cutting the fibreglass.
- If you take your boat anywhere near factory dumps, you may expose fibreglass boat to damage from chemicals and suffer huge investment loss.
Of course, the advantages of owning a fibreglass boat far outweigh the disadvantages. Fiberglass is a material that is easy to repair and maintain in the long run as compared to metal and wood. Even after repair, the material will be as good as new due to the unique nature of the polyester resin. With great confidence, it is possible to make both structural as well as superficial repairs in a fibreglass boat.
If you have decided on building a fibreglass boat, here are a few essential repair tips –
Before starting the repair work, be sure to remove any loose material from the area. Sand the gel coat and smooth edges. Dry fit your repair cloth after cutting it to size. If you opt for first layer applications that are heavy duty, then it is recommended to choose woven roving. If on the other hand, you choose first layer lighter applications, then you can use the chopped strand mat.
Fibreglass resin is a polyester compound that hardens with the help of a catalyst. It is recommended to catalyze only the exact required amount of resin as the speed of the chemical reaction depends on ambient air and material temperature. After wetting the area to be repaired with the catalyzed resin, it is time to apply the first cloth layer.
After applying the required number of cloth layers smoothen the final layer. You can add wax to the resin used in the final layer as it helps isolate resin from atmospheric oxygen and allows for complete hardening of the surface. After you complete the repair process, sand the surface and apply a gel coat to make your boat absolutely original and new.
Fiberglass boats are best for easy maintenance and repairs. Choose the material you want for building your boat after careful consideration depending on your specific requirements.
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