HOW TO BEGIN A FIBERGLASS REPAIR

STEP1: EVALUATION

  • ALL FIBERGLASS REPAIRS CONSIST OF REMOVAL OF DAMAGED MATERIAL FROM AFFECTED AREA too:
  • Determine type of fiberglass used in original lamination
  • Determine fiberglass thickness as well as core thickness
  • Choose which type of cloth, core material is best suited for the repair.
  • fiberglass cloth types and there purpose
  • Fine mesh cloth
  • This type cloth is not used in any production laminations
  • Mat
  • Used in surface layups as well as between layups of other cloth products
  • Woven Roven
  • Woven Roven is used in large surface area layups where contours are relatively flat. They are used in buildup layers to achieve desired thickness in fewer layers. Avoid using in areas that have small radius bends to reduce air pockets and insure a good lamination free of voids.
  • Bi Axial cloth
  • This type cloth is a lighter product similar to woven roven in properties and use but far better for use in smaller radius bends than woven roven. It produces very strong laminations with fewer voids. It is recommended that mat be used between layers and each layer be rotated 45 degrees for additional strength in the overall layup.
  • Tri Axial cloth
  • Tri axial cloth is the strongest of tradional cloths used in production with standard resins. Mat cloth should also be used between layers. Bias layers at between 30 and 45 degrees respectively to produce the strongest yet most resilant layup.
  • Exotics
  • Kevlar and carbon fibre cloth will produce both the strongest and lightest lamination in todays industry. There use is becoming far more common but requires much more complex processes than hand layup laminations. Use of vacuum bagging and epoxy based resins is required.

Once you have determined the basis for the repair, preperation can begin.Grind the area of the repair approximately 12 inches wide for every inch of fiberglass thickness. Thickness is in regards to the actual fiberglass thickness not including the core. A 1/2 inch thick hull with a crack will have to be ground/sanded 6 inches on either side to a taper of 0. this will insure the repair is structurally equal to the original lamination. 

STEP2 : PLANNING

   THERE ARE MANY CHOICES WHEN SELECTING THE TYPE OF MATERIALS USED IN A FIBERGLASS REPAIR. CHOOSING THE RIGHT MATERIAL IS UP TO YOU. USING A BETTER QUALITY PRODUCT ONLY PROVIDES A STRONGER AND LONGER LASTING REPAIR. NEVER USE WOOD AS A CORE MATERIAL, IT WILL ROT AND YOU WILL WISH YOU HAD NOT .THERE ARE SEVERAL TYPES OF CORE MATERIALS TO CHOOSE FROM. FOR A FLOOR OR ABOVE DECK BULKHEAD THAT IS NOT A PRIMARY STRUCTURAL COMPONENT 5 OR 6 POUND DENSITY SHEET OF DEVINYCELL OR KLEDGICELL COMPOSITE FOAM CORE IS THE RIGHT CHOICE. FOR TRANSOM, STRINGERS OR STRUCTURAL BULKHEADS K CELL 35 POUND DENSITY COMPOSITE SHEETS ARE AS STRONG AS PLYWOOD BUT LAST INDEFINITELY.
Resins are very critical to strucural integrity. There are good resins and not so good ones. Polyester resins are in three grades. Boatyard for general purpose small repairs where strength is not of major consideration. A mid grade layup resin used in all ares of layup and finally topend hand layup resins. The main difference in the resins is viscosity. Thinner resins are thin for a reason, more solvent than solids. Spend the money on better resins and you will be glad you did.

Step 3: Laminating

Next you need to setup a lamination table to work quickly and more efficiently. a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood on saw horses works well. cover the table with 4 mil or thicker plastic sheeting and your in business. Work in the shade or under cover to help make activated resins last a little longer before gel starts. To laminate simply layout the cut pieces of cloth on the table and roll out resin until entire cloth is saturated. Then pickup and position in place and use a metal roller to remove any air bubbles and produce a good bond to hull or preceeding layers.

Step4: Top Coats

THERE are many choices for top coats, fairing compounds and fillers. Most fairing compounds can be made on site using either resin or gelcoat along with a choice of filler. Micro balloons, glass beads, talc powder and many others are available but application is crucial. One may sand easily but tiny air holes dont always cover very well. Fairing compounds are great to fill areas to allow a lamination layer a better bond and prevent stress cracks after put back into service. Gelcoat is easy to work with and makes a great filler when topcoat will be gelcoat but not recommended when a paint is desired or in planning. If using an awl grip paint then always use a filler aw lgrip makes.

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