Velocette part 8, glassing the hull
23 November 2021
Frozen snot! That's what wooden boat folks call fiberglass. Doesn't matter, strip planked boats must be fiberglassed inside and out. The strips form the shape and provide a stiff core for the fiberglass skins. Without the fiberglass, the wood just isn't strong enough. Most builders don't even use waterproof glue to glue the strips together. Without fiberglass, the boat would just melt apart. But Titebond now makes a waterproof wood glue and I used it.
But first, the hull has to be planed and sanded perfectly smooth. This step is crucial to getting a smooth, fair shape. As stated before, extra care aligning the strips will lessen the work to fair the hull. I'll pay a bit more attention the next time. I started with a long plane taking paper thin shavings at 45 degree angles to the planks. The smell of the freshly cut cedar and walking barefoot among the carpet of shavings is a joy.
The fun is over when the long board comes out. I cut a 48” x 6”, 60 grit sanding belt into a long strip. This was glued to a piece of 1/4” plywood and two handles glued to the ends. The 1/4” plywood can flex a bit to conform to the hull shape. Again, the hull is sanded at angles to keep it fair and smooth. Some call the long board “torture board.” No question about it, this is hard work. I sanded by hand for 1 ½ days to fair the hull. It would have been so easy to just run a sander over the hull but this would not yield a perfectly smooth skin.
Again, “Building Strip Planked Boats” has great tips on how to fiberglass the hull. I used 6 oz fiberglass cloth and Mas Epoxy. The glass cloth has to be handled carefully, it is a loose weave and will distort and bunch up. Being loose weave, it will also conform to compound curves which is desirable. Lisa and I laid the cloth out carefully on the hull. Two pieces were necessary to span the width and they overlapped on the keel. Great for added strength where it is needed.
The cloth is smoothed out with a dry paintbrush. Resin is poured in a puddle in the center of the hull and a plastic squeege is used to spread it around. It is easy to tell when the cloth is soaked with resin, it turns transparent. But too much resin adds weight without strength. When the glass is saturated, the squeege is used to scrape off as much excess resin as possible.
After the resin cures, sand smooth and roll on a thin layer of resin to fill the weave of the cloth. I decided to add the mahogany rub rails while the hull was still on the mold. The rails would further stiffen the hull while it was held in shape.
Then came the moment of truth, We lifted the hull off the form. Looks like we now have a boat!