Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

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Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Sun Oct 07, 2018 9:11 pm

I’ve got some damage to the very rear of my Tiderace Xplore, right at the stern, on one side right at the bottom edge of the hull.

I had thought it was just some gel coat damage, but then I realised there was a small leak. When I investigated it further I found that the area around the gel coat deforms more easily than it should. I can deform the hull there with my thumb, whereas the rest of the hull has very little flex as expected.

I took a look inside, I could see what looked like some delaminated glass fibre. It is very hard to get to back there behind the skeg box, but in the end I managed to pull out some scraps of lose fibres and small chips of resin.

I need to work out how to do more than just a superficial repair, obvious just filling the visible hole with resin isn’t going to restore proper structural integrity.

There is no way I can reach the damaged section from inside the boat. The only thing I can think of to repair it myself is:

- lift the boat to 45 degrees
- stuff broken up chopped strand mat into the area with the damage
- pour resin into the stern until a couple of centimetres past the visible damage is covered (I estimate that would be about 300ml of resin)

A further complication is that I’m doing my 3* assessment in this boat in 12 days time.

Does this sound like a sensible repair ?

If I get Tiderace to take a look at it are they likely to be able to do a different more effective repair ?

There are some photos of the damage and videos showing the deformation here (for some reason there is a club of gel coat stuck to the inside of the hull near the stern that you can see in the internal photo).

https://www.icloud.com/sharedalbum/#B0v5VaUrzGJIVXo

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by Chris Bolton » Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:01 pm

If it wasn't a Tiderace, I'd wonder if it was always that soft, since I can't see any cracks in the gelcoat, but Tideraces are usually rock solid. The delaminated bit on the inside photos doesn't seem to go as far up the hull as the soft bit. I don't think you'll get enough solidity and bond pouring resin in and stuffing CSM into it (but I'd do it in that order if I did, not CSM first). A superficial repair to stop the leak would get you through 3*.

For a permanent repair, if it was my boat, I'd take the bold option of cutting out the soft bit, getting a good key on the far side and building up in layers back to the original surface. If that looks like it will be too solid, use lightweight filler (resin & microballoons) in the areas away from the surface. Build it up until just below the surface then a final layer of flowcoat (ie, resin with thickener or gelcoat with wax - same result) then sand it flush with progressively finer paper as you would a gelcoat repair (discussed elsewhere on the Forum and in the Almanac).

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:16 pm

Thanks. A complex repair like that is beyond me, I’ve done one single bit of glass work so far. And that was this week, patching damage under the front seat lip on my wife’s Romany.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by Jim » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:45 pm

I normally sand back the gelcoat, apply a patch externally and then flow coat over the top and just accept that there will be a slight bulge in the area to spoil the streamlining a bit. In your case there may not be a lot solid under the gel to appy a patch to.
Sometimes I do it the way Chris says.

Another method I have seen, in fact I have a racing boat with a very bad example of this, is to carefully cut a hole in the deck over the bottom damage, in order to get a hand in to sand the inside and apply an internal patch (maybe a couple of layers in your case), and then refit the bit you cut out of the deck. On my boat someone cut a piece of aluminium sign which they pop rivetted inside the hole and then stuck the piece of deck onto the sign using lots of gelcoat - it was real mess! I would suggest either using some resin and glass tape to make a flange (let it cure) and then bond the piece back to that, or screw some small straps into the corners - thin aluminium or ply. Bond the cut-out back in with a resin/filler mix and apply some narrow glass tape neatly around over the cut line (no need for the deck to be streamlined). Alternatively get a dinghy inspection hatch and make the cutout so that you can stick that hatch in afterwards and have future access to check the repair or re-do it. The hatch is probably designed to bolt in with a gasket, but if you use a decent marine sealant like sikaflex 291 instead of the gasket it would probably be better.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by Chris Bolton » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:56 pm

A complex repair like that is beyond me
In that case, I'd do the superficial repair for the 3 star and take it to Tiderace afterwards. For the 3* assessment, take some good quality gaffer tape (eg, Gorilla), a small bottle of meths and an absorbent cloth, maybe an airbag to put in the stern compartment if it gets knocked and leaks. You probably won't need them, but being prepared is always useful on assessment (the assessor doesn't need to know you have an 'at risk' boat unless something happens, and if it does you'll fix it).

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by SJD » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:25 pm

I have made similar repairs with good luck using a stick with a bent chip brush taped to the end. Granted, it is kind of done in the blind. I typically use West System epoxy with appropriate fabric in two layers, but not chopped strand mat. Wet out the area with the brush mentioned above, with a separate stick drape the cloth over the epoxy resin, then dab more resin over the area. It helps to have the kayak positioned so the resin settles into the repair area. This is similar technique used to apply inside seams. No, it is not perfect but it seems to work, the adhesive quality of epoxy helps.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by Aled » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:58 pm

Re-posted and expanded from Facebook (for UKRGB community and to preserve Tiderace response continuity)

Hi Andy, for a factory finish repair, consider sanding/grinding away the damage from the outside. Remove all the broken gelcoat, and stop just before you grind through the very last inner layer of glass (keeping a few strands of old cloth in situ will support the new cloth layers during the glassing, saving you having to work inside - failing this, grind a big hole and push a block of polystyrene inside to fill the void, sand this to shape and use it as a backing support during the glassing). Mask the area, and apply layers of woven cloth (200gsm 'ish for ease of use) with epoxy resin (I'm a fan of West Systems 105 / 205), and allow to cure. Sand the epoxy glass repair with coarse paper until the boat shape is restored, cutting no more than 1mm below the original surface, then gelcoat over the patch. Wetndry this and polish to an invisible repair - consider adding a keel strip for an easy cosmetic finish (though personally I'm not a fan of keelstrips).
If you're in a rush, just grind away the broken stuff, apply the glass/epoxy and sand it into an approximate shape, then go paddling - it should be watertight.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Thu Mar 21, 2019 8:59 am

I'm going to be brave and attempt this repair myself, taking Aleds approach (try grinding to the last layer first, if that doesn't work back the hole with something to glass over it).

One question, how many layers of 200gsm ish woven cloth do I need to aim for ? I'm guessing 4 ish ?

Given where the split is, I'm also going to have to grind a big chunk of gel coat off the keel, so I can get some glass round the corner onto glass the other side of the keel (the split is really, really close to the keel).

Not quite sure what I'm going to do with the rest of the 3kg of gel coat I've ordered (that is the smallest they are doing RAL 9003 in). Maybe get some pigment and colour it to patch up our yellow Romany Surf ;)

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by Chris Bolton » Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:35 am

how many layers of 200gsm ish woven cloth do I need to aim for
As many as it takes to build up to the surface level.
the 3kg of gel coat I've ordered
I don't believe you need gelcoat, as such, for the repair you're doing. Gelcoat is thickened resin without wax additive, for use as the first layer inside a female mould. Since there's no wax it stays tacky for the next layer. Then it forms the outer skin of the boat, and so usually has colour added. For an repair from the inside out, the tacky surface is a nuisance. I would use ordinary polyester resin with thickener and colour, but if you use gelcoat you should get some wax additive to mix into it.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by Jim » Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:56 am

Aled can probably advise best on the number of layers, it construction it is better to use fewer layers to avoid possible interlaminar shear issues, but this has to be compromised with ability to adopt the shape of the boat (thinner fibres bend better), and if there was originally a core material you will need extra layers to build up that distance too. When venturing into the unknown I tend to cut more patches than I think I need and any I end up not wetting out go back in my repair box for future use - it is much easier having the patches pre-cut than cleaning up mid-job to cut some more without messing up your shears and roll of cloth!

I aim for an inch or 25mm (ish) of overlap, so if this takes you over the keel line, then yes you will need to grind into that too. You shouldn't find that the keel gel is much thicker than anywhere else - it is a bit tricky to brush evenly into a V but gel coat doesn't really run and pool so there is no reason for it to be thicker where the V is shallow, the tighter the space, the more difficult it is to brush the gel in thinly though. So concentrate on keeping your grinder at the final angle of the hull and grind towards the keel from both sides, and then use a sanding block to round the ridge off later rather than risk going through the last layer on the keel where you really need it to guide the shape.

It sounds like it may be too late to mention this, but I tend to buy clear gel coat these days and add the appropriate pigment for the job. I still have pigmented gel coat filler that I will probably never use because I find it easier working with unthickened gel with pigment and wax instead of filler...

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:57 pm

Chris Bolton wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:35 am
[As many as it takes to build up to the surface level
.
That makes sense.
Chris Bolton wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:35 am
I don't believe you need gelcoat, as such, for the repair you're doing. Gelcoat is thickened resin without wax additive, for use as the first layer inside a female mould. Since there's no wax it stays tacky for the next layer. Then it forms the outer skin of the boat, and so usually has colour added. For an repair from the inside out, the tacky surface is a nuisance. I would use ordinary polyester resin with thickener and colour, but if you use gelcoat you should get some wax additive to mix into it.
I was using the wrong term, what I've ordered is the stuff recommended on the Tiderace website. So it is topcoat with wax in it.

I'm still a glass fibre newbie...

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:59 pm

Jim wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:56 am
You shouldn't find that the keel gel is much thicker than anywhere else
That is good news, I was working on the assumption that it would be thick there and I'd have to do a lot of reshaping.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:57 pm

The gel coat _is_ a fair bit thicker on the keel than elsewhere. Probably getting on for 5mm thick in the spot I'm working on.

So I am going to have to do a lot of building up extra glass on the keel, as I imagine the topcoat can't really be used for filling in 5mm of missing gel coat ?

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:11 pm

This shows the weakened area, where the structure had delaminated over time, leaving just a paper thin skin under the gel coat.
Image

I had to cut back a fair way to get to a sound bit of hull. The keel itself is rock solid.
Image

I wanted to get something behind the hole to lay up the glass onto, I cut a bit of wood that would sit behind the hole.
Image

Then I attached a bit of thin closed cell foam to the wood, with a couple of screws.
Image

I added some super glue to the edges of the foam, popped it in the hole then held the foam against the edges of the hole by pulling on the screws. Then removed the screws and slid the bit of wood out.
Image

I don't think the foam is rigid enough to lay up onto. My plan at the moment is to put a single layer of glass just larger that the foam on, let that go off and then lay up the actually repair onto that.

It looks like I'm going to need a lot more layers on the keel to replace some of the 5mm of gel coat than I will patching over the hole.

I am wondering whether I've feathered back enough around the hole, though the hull really isn't very thick in this area at all, so it is hard to get any sort of angle on the feathering. I'm feeling more inclined to fill the space behind my repair afterwards now.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by Jim » Mon Mar 25, 2019 2:06 pm

I hadn't understood from description that it would be so clsoe to the end of a skeg - you will tend to get thicker gel here because it is difficult to brush it thinly (or spray) in a narrow gap like that.

You can't really feather the cloth - you can layer on layer, but depending on how you do that you will at least have a step at the edge of the outer layer. You have probably been reading instructions for much thicker laminate with thicker gel, kayaks are more delicate and as you see, not really practical to feather the glass! You want to grind the glass back parallel to the last layer (if you can determine that) leaving a step, and just feather the gel coat to disguise the repair. The overlap area is probably about wide enough, another 5-10mm wouldn't hurt.

Because of the tight curve of the bottom of the skeg and the way the gel has ground away you have too tight a radius for cloth to sit well over. I would suggest either cutting some narrow strips in different widths, or pulling some individual strands out of the cloth and build up on the bottom of the skeg to make a nice continuously rounded transition right over to the other side. Alternatively polyester car body filler will do the job - it will be as strong as the original gel.

The foam will support some glass OK, but will be too flexible to wet it out in situ, a neat trick for this is to get a clean smooth board (sacrificial), and wet out patches of cloth on that and then carefully peel them up and transfer onto the boat gently smoothing down onto the foam with well gloved hands. You can do the same with the strips or strands, and depending on confidence either build them up and than place the patches whilst still wet, or do them the day before and finalise the shape by sanding first.

To hold the patches over a curve, use either a release film (household cling film works if careful) or peel ply cut just slightly larger than the patch (so you can peel it off later) and use masking tape over the film to hold the patch in place whilst it cures. The tape may end up permanently stuck to the film or ply, but you will just peel that off the repair and throw it away - just make sure you don't have any runaway resin outside of the film that you put tape onto or it will end up glued to the hull! (a folded rag with a little thinners is useful for cleaning up stray resin whilst it is still wet, just beware thinners may melt your gloves).

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:25 pm

I had used chopped strand mat on the only previous repair I've done.

I bought some cloth this time, thinking it would be easier to work with. So far however, it seems like for small patches like this the chopped strand mat holds it shape far better when cutting it out than the cloth. I think I'll cut loads of patches out of both and see how I get on.

With the cloth you only need a couple of strands to fall off the edge and all of a sudden a third of the width of the patch has gone (maybe the cloth I've got is a bit course ?).

I think the CSM will curve round onto the keel ok, I'll stick a little strip of OHP acetate along the end to stop the resin sliding off.

I've put a single layer of CSM over the foam, will give that 24 hours and then lay up the proper repair over the top. From what I've seen so far I'd make a horrible mess of transferring pre wetted glass from one place to another ;)

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:28 pm

Patches (I only used the CSM one in the end)
Image

First layer
Image

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by Chris Bolton » Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:33 pm

I think I'd use woven. CSM is held together with a glue that dissolves in polyester resin, but not in epoxy. So you can't manipulate it round a curve as easily, if you're using epoxy. Woven is stronger as it has higher density of fibres. That also makes it harder to wet out, which is more of a problem with polyester than epoxy. As Jim says, the best way to hold the laminate onto the keel while it sets is peel ply, with tape over the top.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Mon Mar 25, 2019 4:32 pm

I'm using the CSM designed for use with epoxy, not the stuff that needs polyester resin.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by Chris Bolton » Mon Mar 25, 2019 4:55 pm

OK, I didn't know CSM for epoxy existed! In that case I think you're right to use CSM for the first layer, and the top layer, but I'd put at least one layer of woven in the middle.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Mon Mar 25, 2019 5:49 pm

Great, I was hoping to sneak in a layer of woven.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by Jim » Mon Mar 25, 2019 10:15 pm

A lot of CSM these days uses a binder that is suitable for polyester, vinylester and epoxy to avoid workshops needing several different rolls and potentially mixing them up!

I misjudged the size of the repair from earlier photos - it is really quite small, no wonder you have trouble with edge strands falling out of cloth. I usually pull 3 or strands from each edge as soon as I cut it to try to prevent further loss, I size the patches and ground out area to accomodate the extra few mm of feather edge.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Mon Mar 25, 2019 10:45 pm

My remaining concern is that even after a single layer of CSM, it already seems like it proud of the surrounding hull. I’m beginning to think it is a bit of CSM I should have been trying to get the other side of the hole rather than the foam !

Oh well, I guess if the worst comes to the worst I can grind it all out and start again...

(though I do need to have the hole patched one way or another in the next two weeks, as I’m off for my sea kayak leader training)

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Mon Mar 25, 2019 10:51 pm

Though it has to be said, the single piece of CSM is already more rigid than this bit of hull was when I first discovered the problem...

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by Aled » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:17 pm

The Tiderace boats that were built in Thailand wont have any chopped strand mat in their construction, only woven cloth, biaxial cloth, some unidirectional fibres and the Soric core material. In comparison to hand-laid polyester boats which are more common, you'll find the thickness of the Tiderace laminate to be more varied - parts that need to be strong will be thicker while other parts can be lighter. CSM typically takes twice or even 2.5 times its weight in resin, vacuum bagged woven absorbs less than its own weight in resin.
For example:
450g CSM + 1000g polyester resin = 1450g/m2
600g woven + 500g epoxy resin = 1100g/m2
The woven epoxy layup will be stronger, more flexible (in this configuration) and lighter - 25% more fibre, 25% less weight
Consider using a router to level off your CSM repair prior to gelcoating. I prefer to set the router bit to cut <=1mm below the surface of the hull - after cutting, the shallow area can then be filled with gelcoat then sanded back to flush. Admittedly, the differential nature of the laminate makes some repairs more tricky.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:26 pm

I wasn't suggesting that the CSM was superior to the original construction...

Just that the single layer is already stronger than the state this bit of hull had got into after being damaged and left to delaminate.

I do own a router, but I can't see me being able to sensibly use it as described, I'll just have to sand it back to <=1mm as best I can.

I'll also be attempting to use some woven cloth, just not confident I'm going to make it hold together long enough to work with it, so far it has fallen apart even when I've managed to cut it to shape.

I'm about to go and start cutting glass and give it a go, wish me luck ;)

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by Aled » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:34 pm

Best of luck, and thanks for contributing to the technical body of knowledge found within this forum.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:43 pm

It all seems so manageable until the resin hits the glass...

The deed is done now, getting it layed up and in place was more of a hassle than I expected.

As someone pointed out further up the thread, getting glass round the corner onto the keel was the tricky part. I'd taped some acetate to the other side of the hull, expecting to use it mainly to catch drips. In the end I had to tuck the glass under the acetate, pull the acetate over the top and tape it all down.

So I'm expecting a bit of a mess when I take the tape off tomorrow. At the very least I'll have the acetate to sand off ;)

I did manage to get one layer of cloth in there, but I really needed the CSM to get round that sharp corner onto the keel. The cloth just fell apart on the edge when I tried to shape it round the keel.

I've ended up taping over it quite a bit. I assume that will mean the resin takes a bit longer to go off ?

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by andynormancx » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:44 pm

And thanks for all the advice everyone.

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Re: Repairing glass fibre damage where you can't reach

Post by Chris Bolton » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:09 am

The resin cures as a result of mixing the two parts and doesn't need air, so taping over makes no difference.

Make sure you wear a mask and cover your hands and arms when sanding epoxy. It can sensitise you to further contact, a friend of mine can't even sit in an epoxy boat without getting a rash now.

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