Category Archives: Fiberglass Boat Repair

WEST SYSTEM Epoxy vs. Polyester for Fiberglass Boat Repair

By Tom Pawlak

Even though we’ve been promoting the use of WEST SYSTEM® epoxy for repairing fiberglass boats (boats made with polyester resin) in our manuals and Epoxyworks for many years, we continue to receive inquiries asking whether it is appropriate to use epoxy for polyester boat repair. Because of the misinformation still prevalent in marinas, local yacht clubs and on the Internet, we felt it was time to restate the case for epoxy. Continue reading

Polyester Over Epoxy

By Jeff Wright

Most production fiberglass boats are made with polyester resin. WEST SYSTEM® epoxy is a wonderful material for repairing polyester fiberglass boats. One reason for this is the ability of epoxy to form a stronger mechanical bond to a damaged laminate than polyester resin. Epoxy also provides a better moisture barrier than polyester resin. Continue reading

Custom Fiberglass Boat Repair

By Rich Simms, NMSC

Vessels used by the Bureau of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) can be subjected to severe conditions during law enforcement operations. Occasionally, the intense interaction between law enforcement vessel and suspect violators can result in unwanted vessel damage. The damage on this ICE interceptor was the result of intentional impact by a suspect vessel (Photos 1 and 2). Continue reading

Preparing a fiberglass laminate

A Better Way to Prepare Laminates

By Tom Pawlak

During a recent inspirational hardware store visit, I discovered a rotary wire brush made by Norton™ called the Rapid Strip Brush™. It is used with an electric drill and produces results comparable to bead blasting or a needle scaler. The package says it can be used to abrade metal, masonry and fiberglass. I immediately thought of a fiberglass application that I wanted to try it on. Continue reading

Repairing Machined Holes in Fiberglass

Technical Staff Report

First, we will classify the types of holes we are discussing as ones that are round and have been machined, probably with a drill, as opposed to punctures and cracks incurred from damage. The reasons they may need to be repaired are numerous: refitting, resizing, removing obsolete equipment, or mistakes. When repairing fiberglass boats, the challenge is to determine an appropriate repair strategy. You want a repair that is safe and adequate, but also realistic. You want to ensure that the repair is strong enough for the anticipated worst-case load and err on the side of being conservative. Continue reading

Repairing Machined Holes in Fiberglass

Making Practical Decisions when Repairing Machined Holes in Fiberglass

Technical Staff Report

Custom fiberglass boat repair First, we will classify the types of holes we are discussing as ones that are round and have been machined, probably with a drill, as opposed to punctures and cracks incurred from damage. The reasons they may need to be repaired are numerous: refitting, resizing, removing obsolete equipment, or mistakes. Continue reading

Replacing Damaged Bulkheads

By Dan Witucki

The port bulkhead with the chainplate still attached.

If you race a sailboat long and hard enough, it eventually will reveal its weaknesses, sometimes violently. My friends and I race an Evelyn 32-2 called Rush. Less than a month before the 2002 Mackinaw races, we were competing in the Saginaw Bay Yacht Racing Association, Gravelly Shoals race. Throughout the race the wind had been building and we were a little overpowered with a full main and 150% head sail. We had completed about 45 miles of the 50-mile race when the starboard chainplate decided it had enough and pulled out of the bulkhead. Continue reading

Replacing Damaged Balsa Core

By Bruce Niederer

I love my boat. I love to spend time with it-sailing it, working on it, improving it.

I think I need my head examined.

Seriously, there’s got to be something wrong with me! I actually expected that applying a new non-skid deck to TRIPLE THREAT, our 1981 Pearson Flyer, would be a fairly straightforward project. I always think like that before I get started. One would think I might know better by now, but that type of learning apparently requires some protein sequence that’s missing from my DNA. Continue reading

Damian McLaughlin Rebuilds ARION

By Kay Harley

Damian McLaughlin, custom boatbuilder from North Falmouth, Massachusetts, has been designing, repairing and building boats for more than thirty years. Recently, he finished the reconstruction of Arion, heralded at its launch in 1951 as “the first auxiliary sailboat built in fiberglass” and “the largest one piece hull of reinforced plastic in the world.” In 1950, Sidney Herreshoff, son of the famous Nathaniel, designed the 42′ Arion to be built using what was then an innovative new material: plastic resin reinforced with glass fibers, otherwise known as fiberglass. Continue reading

Repairing individual gelcoat blisters

Repairing Individual Gelcoat Blisters

By Tom Pawlak

Gelcoat blisters can be a serious problem if left unattended. At some point, your hull may need extensive repair, including gelcoat removal and epoxy barrier coats as described in Gelcoat Blisters: Diagnosis, Repair & Prevention. However, if you have isolated blisters and a manageable number to repair individually, we often recommend that you patch individual blisters and continue to use the boat until you determine the cause and extent of the problem. Continue reading