Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Poor Man's Fiberglass

There is a great post and discussion on sheathing a boat going on over at Dave's Triloboat blog but I thought I should make a post of my own regarding some experimenting I have been doing.

I have mentioned before that I intend to use 10 oz cloth with Titebond 3 because I have a fair bit of the cloth left over from the hull.  But I don't have enough to do both the decks and house.  From my experiments I am very happy with the thickness and toughness of the fiberglass/Titebond combo so I've decided I will use it on the decks.

But then I need to get something for the house sides and roof.  I believe that I have the answer.

Jeff, a local junker, fabricator and raconteur, who I met through this blog, put me on to a great fabric store across the river in Abbotsford.  It is owned and operated by some really nice South Asian people who spent quite a bit of time with me looking for a light, synthetic, woven fabric I can use to sheath the house.  I bought a small sample and brought it home to test.  It has a very nice print and would certainly make me a set of attractive undies.


I had asked them if they had an acrylic woven fabric but they did not.  But, polyester is something that has been used in marine environments with epoxy, so I thought I would make a test with this.  They told me this particular printed polyester fabric was very popular with their Mennonite customers and that they had a lot of it.  In quantity I can get it for $3.00 a running yard - at 56" wide is about 14 square feet.  Pretty darned economical!

Home we went.  By the way earlier in the day I did start planking the aft cabin roof but we had some rain, so this was a great opportunity to prep for the next step.


I laid the sample out on a piece of plywood, and proceeded to wet it with water.  The first thing I noticed was that like a cheap towel, it did not absorb easily.  Nonetheless, I did get it wet.  At that point I painted on the Titebond and rubbed it in with my hands.  It wanted to wrinkle so it took a little effort to smooth it out nicely.  I then stuck it in the food dehydrator to dry.

After a couple of hours I took it out and painted on another coat of Titebond, and put it back over night.


This morning I took it out and examined it.  Very tough, very smooth and bonded so well that it is impossible to peel.  The material is very strong too.  I have tried to tear it when dry it is quite difficult to do.

It is obvious though, that I will need to spend some time with fillers and the sander to get a nice surface to work with, before sheathing.  Because the material is so thin, and conforms to the surface so well, every blemish shows though.  But there is no visible weave really in the end result, and it should make a very nicely finished surface when painted - providing I take my time and prep well.  My son, who is off for the summer from teaching, will help out along with Lorri.  You see, we ARE under the gun to get the boat out of here sooner than later - and that's all I'll say about that.

I will be doing some more experiments with the method of application though.  I'm thinking that since wrinkles and such may be hard to deal with, I should apply the cloth in smaller pieces - say 30 inches square perhaps.  I saw this You Tube video  where smaller pieces of cloth are saturated in a glue/water mix in a bucket, wrung out and applied by hand.  I like it enough to test it out and will do so.  I'll report the results of course!

Anyway, we have the weather in our favour today so back to boat-building....

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