Thursday, 1 June 2017

Fixing Them Holes

A few posts ago you can see how the fibreglass blanket I epoxied over the hull had developed quite a few bubbles in it. The temptation is to ignore the bubbles and paint over them. The problem then is that those bubbles are brittle and will shatter if banged, and this will then lead to a major problem of repairing not only the hole in the fibreglass but the ruined paintwork.

Working in small areas, I have been bursting the bubbles and removing the chards, which leaves a hole through to the wooden planking:

I then filled the holes with a mix of epoxy resin and filler powder.

I will sand these filled holes down tomorrow.
You will have noticed how the lovely polished varnish effect has gone for I have sanded the hull all over.

This process of coating and then sanding will go on for weeks until we reach the final finish!

Sunday, 28 May 2017

THE SECRET WEAPON That Put The Icing (Frosting) On The Cake

It was on the American website that I follow religiously,, that I discovered the secret-weapon!

When one uses epoxy as a glue or as a filler, one has to deliver it to the area in which it is to used as efficiently as possible. I've tried trying to get it in place with a palette knife, pieces of wood and with a scraper. Although these ways work, it is very inefficient and......sticky.... and I have a bad reputation with sticky things!

Enter the secret weapon: the humble icing (frosting) bag, often called a pastry bag.

Icing/Pastry Bag
For the uninformed, this is a conical bag into which bulk icing  is placed. The tip of the bag is then snipped off to the required size. The bag is then squeezed and the icing emerges, very much like toothpaste out of a tube, and piped around the cake.

The problem I found was that when I put the glue in the bag, half of it got wasted sticking to the length of the inside of the bag: I only needed the bottom quarter of the bag, as epoxy goes-off very quickly so you can only work in small quantities.

My own invention was to put the bag in a tin (can) thus:

I mixed my epoxy glue in a yogurt carton and then scooped it into the bag:

Next I piped the glue beneath the bilge runner, which was loosely held in place by screws:

Finally, I screwed the runner into place, not too tightly but just enough for the epoxy to squeeze out a little (the epoxy's adhesive quality  secures the joint and not the pressure from tight screws, unlike many glues).

I then ran my gloved finger along the edges forming the squeezed out glue into a fillet.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Outer Stem Completed

Trying to laminate the five pieces of hardwood that go to make up the outer stem was complicated and took a long time. As I mentioned earlier, trying to steam-bend the pieces during the winter let to them splitting.

I finally finished the stem yesterday. Each piece had to be glued in situ, and then held in place by panel pins and, where the bend was tightest, screwed. When the glue had set I removed the pins & screws before repeating the process for the next piece.

Where the stem met the planking an irregular bead of white glue was painfully obvious to the eye. Similarly, the joints between the laminates could clearly be seen. 

The white line between the stem and the planks is an irregular bead of glue

Using a sharp chisel I got rid of most of the volume of glue. Next the sides of the stem were  planed and sandpapered. Finally, I covered the sides of the stem with epoxy resin mixed with filler powder to a peanut butter thickness. I covered the sides of the stem with this, neatly filleting it onto the planks.

I've fitted the runners along the bottom, with screws, although they still have to be glued in place.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Which Paint?

Sometimes I have to remind myself that one day this boat will get finished and look something like this:

In the meantime, I need to prepare the hull for painting.

Preparing the surface will involve filling and patching (see previous post) followed by degreasing.


The outer shell of the glassfibre/ epoxy has a layer of gelcoat. This will need to cleansed using a degreasing fluid.

Sanding (or Abrading).

Every video I see involves the use of a 'random orbital sander'. I take particular notice of :

This is a really wonderful (US) site and worth subscribing to: full of advice and practical videos on small boats. So I bought a sander & sanding disks on their say-so.  
Quantity of Paint Required (Areas to be Painted)

It's no good guessing at the quantity of paint, firstly, one needs to know the areas to be covered - I used this formula from the suppliers of my boat plans


There are two areas I'm interested in are,
 (a) below the waterline (the Load Water Line, LWL) which is the green area in the top photo.


  (b) above the waterline: from the top of the green area to the gunwale. Here the Length used with be the Length Over All  (LOA) ... not forgetting there are two sides! Where 'B' is the Beam (width at fattest part!) 

     Above             (LOA x B) x 2 x (Average Freeboard)
                                              (4.57 x 1.8) x 2 x (0.48)  = 7.8969 rounded to 8 sq mt

    Below               (LWL) x (B x D)
                                             4 x 1.8 x 0.5  =  3.6 rounded to 4 sq mt

....... and then the problems started ....

I got so much information on different types of paints I didn't know where to turn next ..... this video got me pointed in the right direction

The next problem was locating the paint. typically, if they had the paint they didn't have the colour (color), or in the right quantity. Then, by pure chance whilst browsing deck fittings on the site from whom I bought most of the materials for Seagull, I found they do the paint... further, if they didn't have it they would get it in 4 days.

Using the areas I calculated and using the area a pot of paint covered in square metres (sorry US friends, I prefer square footage too) I was able to come up with this list, plus all the extras:
750 mm
Epifanes Multi Marine Primer
750 mm
Epifanes Mono urethane
Dark Blue equivalent to 214 on Enamel Paint Chart
1 litre
Epifanes Paint & Varnish Thinner

Epifanes Interimcoat

Epifanes D-601 Thinner

Epifanes Foul-Away.

Here's the quote in British Pounds (US multiply by 1.3)

To finish steam-bending the outer stem I adapted my drain pipe - which bent under the steam, by taping it to some stout timber worked out (below)

Thursday, 6 April 2017


It's about four months since I last posted. I confess that the disappointment with my application of the Epoxy Resin did take the wind from out of my sails, but there was more reasons to it than that for the long gap.

The cold weather (can't work if the wind's from the north) kept me 'grounded', and then it was Christmas and so on and so forth. This, however, is not a journal about my private life, but the log of the building of Seagull. To anyone reading this blog in years to come there will be no obvious gap in the build. So what have I been up to today?

I began by fixing the problem near the bow where the Epoxy resin had bubbled up. I broke the brittle bubbles and gave the whole area a good sanding. This is what it looked like:


I then cut out a piece of the fibre glass cloth to patch over where the bubbles had been - I had read this was how to repair the hull if damaged.

After one coat of Epoxy Resin, the area now looks like this:

After patching (the white marking is ok it's only sanding marks)

I also mixed epoxy resin with filler modules and filled the holes on the transom:


This left the broken piece of wood on the stem - which had snapped in the freezing weather:

I removed the broken piece and glued it back together again. Next the steamer: kettle and drain pipe were returned to action. The wood went into the pipe and steam from the boiling kettle passed through it for 30 minutes.

The previously snapped piece was quickly screwed and glued in place - successfully.

Monday, 21 November 2016


I don't know if Murphy's Law - "If anything can go wrong, it will" - is international or not but it certainly applies here at the moment.

Although Seagull looks fine from a distance:

I'm really unhappy about the way the Epoxy Resin over the sheathing has worked out. I've never used this system before and never seen it done other than on videos. Consequently I have made all the classic mistakes.

   For a start, where sheets of sheathing lapped over each other the whiteness remains after two coats of epoxy. Worse than that are the large bubbles that have occurred near the stem and stern.

I will have to sandpaper these out and recover the area. On the stern I have cut out the bubbles to show what will happen to them if I ignore them: the bubbles will shatter at the first knock.

OK, I'll be able to fix the problems - but it means I will have to paint the outside of the boat to cover the cosmetic consequences of my ineptitude.

The next problem is the weather. We have storms raging, with freezing North Easterly gales. This direction turns my boathouse into a wind-tunnel and freezer.

I braved the conditions but the cold adversely effects the timber making it brittle. For example: the stem which I steam bent (a couple of posts ago) didn't like being being fixed back in position in the cold. There was was a sharp crack! and I turned to find this:

It seemed a good time to get back to portrait painting in a warm studio and wait for the wind to change direction.

Daisy (Great Granddaughter)

Work In Process - 'Brotherly Love'  (Great Grandsons) 

Monday, 14 November 2016

The Emperor's New Clothes

Do you remember Hans Christian Anderson's story of the Emperor's new clothes? For those who don't: The emperor is scammed into buying an invisible set of clothes; the salesman convinces the emperor that only intelligent people can see the clothes. The Emperor parades in the nude whist everyone congratulates him on buying such a wonderful set of clothes.

Seagull, antithetically (my favourite word which means in contrast) starts off with a very visible set of clothes ... which slowly disappear, albeit they are still there. How this happens is rather difficult to explain, but I owe an explanation to my dear friends, Julie the painter/tutor/genius and Lynne the writer/tutor/genius, both were worried (see last post comments) that we would lose the rich colour of the planking.

Because boats are always female, when I dressed Seagull, the analogy  that comes to mind is a wedding dress. 

As you can see, the beauty of the wood seems to be hidden. Before I explain to you the process you're about to witness, let me set the scene.

1. The planks are made from Red Cedar because it is knot-free, has a lovely finish when varnished, and bends easily without splitting. The downside is that it marks easily if bumped - in the way boats do - and water eats it alive. So if I could cover it in something that gives it strength and stops it coming into contact with water then I would... and  that's exactly what I am doing: Woven Fibre Glass Cloth is the material I am using to sheath Seagull both outside and in.

2. Epoxy Resin is basically a glue, which I used earlier in this blog, and it is this that I shall use to stick the wedding dress onto the boat.

I push the yellow handle on tin 105 down and it delivers five portions of the resin into the tub at the front of the photograph. I then push down the handle of the smaller tin marked 205 and it delivers 1 portion of hardener in the tub. I then stir the concoction for 2 minutes until it is fully blended. The mixture has a working life of about 20-30 minutes during which time it gets hotter and hotter ... one can't hang around. I then pour it onto the fibre glass and I use a paint roller and plastic 'scraper' to spread it over the wedding dress.

It isn't as easy a process as it sounds: the cloth wants to move and make wrinkles and 'snags' as easily as ladies tights (so I'm 'er told).

It's surprising how long this takes to do: one side and the transom (back end) took most of the day.

There will be two further coats after this one. Besides being a glue, epoxy and the fibre glass set into a steel like coat that brings both strength and a resistance to surface damage. Finally, the resin sets like a very shiny varnish.