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Old 12-08-2010, 05:56 PM   #1
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Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

Where is a good place to learn about fiberglass fabrication basics for marine projects? All the Google searches I have done come up with fabricating speaker boxes for cars. I don't know even things like what gelcoat is? How does it differ from paint? What to use as cores for things? I mean, I really need to start from scratch. I want to try and make a dash for the flybridge that will allow electronics to be recessed into it and I want to rearrange the engine gauges and thruster controls so that they make more sense.

I was thinking about going to the local library as an option too. Any books I should look for too?
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Old 12-08-2010, 11:28 PM   #2
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

I don't know where you are, but in Anacortes Washington there is a new school of Marine technology that I think has classes in fiberglass boat construction.* ...........Arctic Traveller
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Old 12-09-2010, 12:38 AM   #3
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Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

Not sure how much time you have on your hands, but I wanted to know about marine diesel mechanics and how the systems work on a boat, so I hired on with a Marine Diesel Mechanic...and you will be surprised how quickly someone will take you as a helper/student if you tell them your only pay will be the knowledge you receive. (and I have learned allot) Normally they will work around your schedule, but remember, they are earning a living....so allot of what you will learn will be from watching and not from lecturing/tutoring. Remember also, you are a helper...so be prepared to be a gopher (gopher this and gopher that or whatever he/she asks you to gopher) and try to get involved and volunteer to do the things you feel secure in doing.

Go to a haul out yard or talk to a mechanic, or maybe check with a yacht broker friend, most will be able to give you good info on leads as to whom you should talk to.*

Hope this helps....Good luck.

-- Edited by Roostor on Thursday 9th of December 2010 02:14:29 AM
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:13 AM   #4
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

For molding small parts like a dash vs creating a hull from scratch , look at the EAA site for books.

The backyard aircraft folks are among the best creators of one off items for their use.
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Old 12-09-2010, 06:10 AM   #5
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

I bought a book several years ago by Alan Vaitsus (spelling??) and I thught it was pretty good. Helped me make a lot of repairs.
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Old 12-09-2010, 06:49 AM   #6
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

This link has some downloadable pdf's on faberglass fabrication from West System, if you want a little wintertime book-learnin'*

Sorry, I forgot how to make this a clickable link.


http://www.westsystem.com/ss/how-to-publications/
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Old 12-09-2010, 07:33 AM   #7
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

There are two very good books you can find on Amazon sur a few bucks. It will teach you the basics. Then it's like anything else: practice and experiment.

http://www.amazon.ca/Fiberglass-Repa...1904043&sr=8-2

http://www.amazon.ca/Fiberglass-Boat...d_bxgy_b_img_b

What you want to do is not an easy first project but's it not rocket science either. I took a classe last year and they gave us a toy boat with a hole in the hull. We had to repair it. Maybe you can start with something like that to get a feel for it. Or find an old piece of fiberglass at the yard and experiment.

The two major problems of working with fiberglass are the fumes and the dust when you sand. This is not the kind of thing you can do in your basement.

And to answer your question, gelcoat is a colored resin similar to the resin that is used to glass. When they build a boat they start by shooting gelcoat on a waxed mold (a bit like paint). Once cured they apply the fiberglass (either with a chop gun or by hand, a few layers at a time). Once everything is cured, they demold and voilą, you have a hull. There are many variations to this technique of course but this is the basics. For your project you will probably have to build a form and glass over it, then paint or gelcoat. Building a mold for a single piece is a lot of work and a bit complicated.
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Old 12-09-2010, 07:57 AM   #8
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

I would take ARoss advice and try West System first. Their pdf files are extensive and written for the novice.
Tom Pawlak is the tech guy at West Systems. I've found him knowledgeable and easy to talk too.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:44 AM   #9
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

Gonzo: *In my own search, I came across these sites. *Dig into them, and you'll probably find examples of what you want to do. *With the dash, it sounds like you may want to consider mold-less composite construction. *Articles and even videos on how-to.

http://www.fibreglast.com/category/Learning_Center


Here's another article on using GRP/Urethane Foam Composite that I found extremely helpful when building a pilothouse enclosure.


http://www.rqriley.com/frp-foam.htm
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:39 AM   #10
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Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

Quote:
GonzoF1 wrote:

Where is a good place to learn about fiberglass fabrication*

I was thinking about going to the local library as an option too. Any books I should look for too?
I picked up a book called This Old Boat .* Don Casey. Best I have found. Puts things into plain English, often humorous but very informative..
FYI. Gell coat is just resin with a pigment and hardener*added

*

SD*
<h3 class="r">Check this out Fiberglass Repair by Don Casey</h3>
*


-- Edited by skipperdude on Thursday 9th of December 2010 10:44:35 AM

-- Edited by skipperdude on Thursday 9th of December 2010 10:45:12 AM
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Old 12-09-2010, 03:04 PM   #11
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

Some good stuff here. Thanks.
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Old 12-10-2010, 07:36 AM   #12
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

I'm watching a few videos on YouTube about this subject and was wondering if there is a recommended marine alternative to West Systems Epoxy?
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Old 12-10-2010, 07:41 AM   #13
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

Hiya,
** Mr. Gonzo.* Polyester MAY be a preferrred material for making your new dash because it sets up faster, is cheaper and doesn't necessairily have to have the specific properties that make West System and the like a better material for SPECIFIC" applications.
** I've done some work with both and in*a number of*ways, polyester is easier to work with.
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:19 AM   #14
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

I also vote for polyester resin. I have worked with epoxy but I really prefer to poly because that has always been the base material and I would rather keep it that same. I also sometimes use fiberglass reinforced bondo as a bulk filler and that is poly compatable.
Poly*sands easier in my experience and I most often finish with gelcoat rather than paint and poly likes gelcoat.
Also with poly resin I normally use 1 1/2 ounce mat rather than cloth. It fits the needs for most of the projects I have worked on.
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:50 AM   #15
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

I would say about 90% of boats are made of poly resin.

Remember epoxy will stick (adhear) To poly* But poly will not bond with epoxy.

So if there is an addition on your boat that is made of epoxy* you can't use poly

but you can use epoxy* on any fiberglass componet.

Plus poly is about 1/2 the price.

SD
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:53 AM   #16
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

Go to the "Plastic Classic Forum" for all you want to know and more. They're sailboaters for the most part but the forum moderator knows his stuff.

http://plasticclassicforum.com/
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:48 PM   #17
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

Question- why do you never hear of someone spraying a new gelcoat over existing fiberglass?
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Old 12-10-2010, 09:03 PM   #18
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

Quote:
Forkliftt wrote:

Question- why do you never hear of someone spraying a new gelcoat over existing fiberglass?
It can be*done, and it is done, on a small scale. I have a friend that has done it and taught the method to our kayak club. Honestly, I don't think it would be cost effective, as opposed to painting.*It requires as much preparation as is necessary for painting, then spraying the gelcoat, then sanding smooth, then polishing and polishing and polishing. Ever finer grits and much labor... ... ... ... ... I'm so tired that I can't continue. Paint it!!!

*
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Old 12-10-2010, 09:18 PM   #19
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RE: Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

Quote:
Forkliftt wrote:

Question- why do you never hear of someone spraying a new gelcoat over existing fiberglass?
This can be done but it is generally not considered a cost-effective method.* Plus repairing gel coat that gets dinged, chipped, or cracked is a muti-step job.* And there is the issue of matching the color, which is apparently harder with gel coat than paint.

Paint, on the other hand, is easy to repair if it gets damaged and getting a color match is easier.

I've been told that some high*yacht manufacturers have done away with gel coat altogether in the manufacture of their new fiberglass boats and paint them from the outset.

*
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Old 12-11-2010, 09:56 AM   #20
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Learning about fiberglass fabrication?

Quote:
Marin wrote:

*I've been told that some high*yacht manufacturers have done away with gel coat altogether in the manufacture of their new fiberglass boats and paint them from the outset. __________________________________________________ ___________* *I know for a fact that this is true and some really big names in yacht manufacturing converted to paint years ago. Not only reasons that Marin stated but for cost in the manufacturing process. The obvious side benifit is the ease of touch up. (I guess he DID cover these two points.) My own boat has a painted hull and is now* entering its 7th year. (Still looks great)


*


-- Edited by SeaHorse II on Saturday 11th of December 2010 10:59:58 AM
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