Featured image (above): A typical vacuum bagging setup.
What is vacuum bagging?
Vacuum bagging is when a composite that is laid up and wet out by hand is then put under vacuum to compact the laminate and force out excess epoxy. Vacuum bagging has been a choice method of manufacturing and repairing composites for a long time. Continue reading →
After working for many years as a master plumber, followed by many more at Automotive Concept Studios where I fashioned conceptual car models from clay, I ended up with arthritis and two hip replacements. All the heavy work had caught up with me, leaving me disabled and dependent on a cane. I decided to leave Michigan during the winter months and move to Zephyrhills, Florida. I settled in and started looking for an activity to do, maybe metal detecting, fishing or golf.
Downtown, I happened by a martial arts school and stopped in to watch a class. Afterwards, the owner (Master Gary Hernández) and one of the instructors (Ms. Karuna) introduced themselves to me. Both have 4th degree black belts. I explained my health issues: limited mobility and the need to use a cane. They outlined a class Master Hernández teaches in Cane-Fu®, which is specifically beneficial to someone in my situation. Continue reading →
While most of our customers are successful when using WEST SYSTEM Epoxy to repair damaged fiberglass, we have become familiar with some common mistakes that are easily preventable. These mistakes are made by both professionals and amateurs. The information discussed in this article is available in our Fiberglass Boat Repair Manual and WEST SYSTEM User Manual, and on the WEST SYSTEM website.
A typical fiberglass repair in cross section.
This diagram illustrates how we recommend laminating a repair after the damaged Continue reading →
Cover Photo: A small sampling of the Gougeon 12.3 canoe family. Robert Monroe’s cold-molded canoe (foreground) came from a half-mold that eventually resulted in the a 12.3 mold (object directly behind first canoe) which has been used since 1989 to produce dozens of offspring that reflect a wide raged of tastes and technology.
The Gougeon 12.3 canoe represents several decades of experimentation by employees of Gougeon Brothers. Dozens have been built but no two are exactly alike. The evolution of the Gougeon 12.3 parallels our love of boating, passion for innovation and desire to build better boats—all of which contribute to the products we produce today.
It started 35 years ago with a personal project of Jim Gardiner, who was an employee of Gougeon Brothers at the time. He wanted to build the lightest solo canoe possible Continue reading →
Cover Photo: Steve Gembrowski spent 10 years building the Ken Basset designed RASCAL, a mahogany runabout.
Fifteen years! Not that it took 15 years to build; it was more like a year and a half. I first saw a photograph of RASCAL and decided right then, if I ever build a boat, this is the one. RASCAL was a new design by Ken Basset for a modified V-bottom 14’10” runabout with a beam of 5’4″ and hull weight of 420 pounds. For the next 15 years, RASCAL became one of those projects sitting on the back burner, waiting until I had enough time and money to comfortably build her without having to compromise on engine, equipment or material. I’m sure plenty of builders out there can relate. My first step was to set the standard to which the boat would be built. Continue reading →
Customers frequently ask us how to calculate the amount of fiberglass fabric or epoxy necessary to build or repair a fiberglass laminate. My son Brad and I are about to build a fiberglass canoe, so I will use that as an example to describe how to determine material needs for a project. Continue reading →
A vacuum hold down feature can be incorporated into a table to hold individual sheets of plywood in place while you machine scarf bevels. This feature works especially well when using the router box technique described in the scarffing article. You’ll need a fairly large vacuum pump. We use an oilless rotary vane vacuum pump made by Gast, Model No. 3040-V115A. It generates 25 cubic feet per minute (cfm) at no vacuum and 5 cfm at 20″ of mercury. Smaller units may work, but lots of cfm and reasonably high vacuum are required when plywood is warped or rough. A vacuum table will work most efficiently holding down smooth, flat plywood panels. Continue reading →
Composites have been on the automobile motor sports racing scene for some time now. Indy cars, Formula 1, IMSA GTP (International Motor Sports Association Grand Touring Prototype), and others employ composites to the fullest limit of the imagination (and budget). Engine builders are even beginning to use composites for internal components. Autoweek, Advanced Composites and similar magazines write about composites constantly. But most of these applications involve sophisticated techniques, tooling and materials such as autoclaves and resin-impregnated materials (pre-pregs). These require aerospace-level technology not commonly available or economical for the amateur builder. Pre-pregs and other advanced composites employ adhesives that require an oven to promote curing (post cure). Continue reading →