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   We have a cruising friend with extreme low budget and a badly storm damaged wooden dinghy.  He had been given some very old epoxy (the hardener was so dark, it looked like chocolate syrup) and he was desperate for a working dinghy.  Bits of scrap wood was available, tools and a shed was available, so the only thing needed was some courage to use the old epoxy and skill to use the tools.  We decided we had that and our friend had the will to work with us.

    For three days he and Nev fitted replacement parts after removing rot and damage from the elderly two part dinghy.  Another friend works at Wooden Boat and told me we could use baking flour as an additive to thicken it - he had tried it and experimented with it and found it ok.  I had heard that epoxy and hardener are ok many years past the sell by date.  Lacking an alternative, we went ahead and did the glue job today.  The epoxy has gone off properly already, the flour is pleasant to work with, and I suggest you experiment with it for yourselves.  It mixes easily with the epoxy, tools well, and is much more pleasant than wood flour.  Certainly I suggest you never toss out old epoxy.  One always finds these low budget desperate boating friends and it works!

      All the best,  Ann and Nev   

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stephen c veale said:

Chuck, You are correct about using the best materials available.  For my Tangoroa, Rhiannon, I bought the best materials I could find : ie., clear douglas fir timber, marine grade doug. fir plywood, and used  WEST epoxy throughout. I built the first hull in a chicken coop, using a wood stove for heat. 

     However, I made the mistake of using a kerosene tube heater, after rolling a coat  of epoxy on the hull.  The lesson learned was that the hydro-carbons from the heaters exhaust prevented the epoxy from  setting up.  As they say, "time heals all wounds...' but

 ...  I do remember spending alot of time and elbow grease removing the stuff!  Needless the say, that was the last time that heater was used.

 

Kerosene and propane heaters have CO2 and water vapor as their main products. Unburned hydrocarbons are also produced as you stated. The water vapor can be just as detrimental.

I tried to post another post last night but my dial up cellphone system did not work well. most wheat flour seriously has no fiber. It would work as a thickener but would not do much for strength. If I had to use it in pinch/remote location,  I would try to paint some layers of epoxy over it to try to keep mildew or fungus out.

Going right back to the beginning, my original statement was that flour works for emergency repairs when there is nothing better to be had.  I also said that old glue works for the same purpose.  That's it!  Our boat, Peace IV, was built to plans from best quality materials freshly bought for the purpose.  But when a desperate friend in need came to us for help, we were able to use up some old glue he was given and thicken it with flour to repair his dinghy.  The repair worked.  Ann and Nev

Experimenting with materials is only a small part of the problem of home built boats.  The main problem is that a lot of folks are over eager to change the plans and they are not familiar enough with the art and science of naval architecture.  So all these changes take extra time during the build process and some of the changes are unsafe or look awful.  Wharrams were willing to consider all the small changes we made to Peace IV during the build and they approved each and every one which made us feel greater confidence and security as we headed out to sea.  Ann and NEv

as far as eperimenting goes sure there is a place for it,i do not think we would be using epoxy if enough people do not experiment with it way back when.maybe the pro boatbuilders on this site have a few tips and techniques that have stood the test of time.with eperiments tho nobody really wants to be first ie a test pilot.i wonder if there could be other materials that one could use in certain areas of construction that would add to strength and stiffness.i made a mistake with the diagonal support stringers on my t26 hull between bulkhead 3 and 5.the stringers start at the keel and end under the bunk level,well i had glued them to go right to the frst horizontal strnger.after much anguish i left them there and added another set of stringers to the correct position.after alot of thought ifeel this mistake will actually stiffen the hull more in the areas where more load will be placed.we shall see.

paul.

I guess I am not as trusting a person as some folks.  I doubted everything about building our boat throughout the entire process.  We often wondered about the mathmatical formulas that were on our plans and just how certain they all were about their reliability.  We tested so many things and were so careful.  Has anybody ever seen actual test results re the strength of, say, West System glues?  I was told the micro fiber was chopped cotten if it comes from West.  I was told the creamy powder they call micro lite is made from ground up nut shells.  I was told the low density powder from West is micro baloons and colloidal silica.  80 to 20 percent.  I was told so much.... but was it true?  How do I know?  How do you know?  When we were building we bought what we were told was marine ply of highest quality.  We had to destroy our first attempt because all that high cost ply was defective.  It came from a well respected company.  Trust is something that was lost there for a while.  Not all of it came back.  I do a lot of testing when we work.  I suggest you do some too.  It is your boat and it is your life.  One reason we decided to build the boat ourselves is that we did not trust anybody else to care as much as we did.  Even then, we had quite a struggle with what we were told werre highest quality materials but we found them defective and had to remove them and redo the thing properly again and again.  At least we now have a good boat.  I trust that!   Ann and Nev

anne and nev you are spot on about expensive ply being sadly lacking at times.i bought the best marine ply i could made locally here in oz.well i was told that there were absolutely no voids in the stuff,well hello?now i have bought some ply that is half the cost which  i will use for the floors.yes i too have woken up in the night and wondered is it all good,but then again i think this is how it should be in a twisted sort of way.

paul.

I did it was a pretty intensive part of the course. We had to be able to identify what areas and materials were under what types of stress, calculate that stress using math E=F/A in Nm2, set up a test sample and then pull it apart to identify its fail point. There was little difference between polyester and epoxy as it was the glass that held the strenght the resin is just the binder. There was no cotton bedsheets tested in that lab, you would be shot for even suggesting it!

You may well be right about the ingredients of West System, I never looked into it as I never use West. Any organic materials or compounds are a nightmare for me in this damp climate.

As I mentioned before the resin manufacturers don't get it right all the time and with the ammount of epoxy I go through I have been on the recieving end of a bad batch occasionally. I just keep to the spec and if problems occour and I have done everything right to my knowledge I get the resin company involved. They're usually quiet good about it as quality is in their best interest too.

Regarding Plywood it's the same thing. Plywood voids or not is only as good as the glue that holds it together I don't use anything less than Lloyd's approved BS1088 and I personally hand pick the sheets prior to purchase and look at the ammount of veneers used and the BS1088 stamp on every one. If it is stamped BS1088 and it fails to do its job I'd be on to them as well but fortunately that hasn't happened yet.

As a boat builder to trade I have to stick to the rules and as long as I do I don't have any problem sleeping at night.

This is the RCD in print and it gets upgraded every year. Good bedtime reading, there's no mention of flour or cotton bedsheets in any part of it though.



Ann and Neville Clement said:

I guess I am not as trusting a person as some folks.  I doubted everything about building our boat throughout the entire process.  We often wondered about the mathmatical formulas that were on our plans and just how certain they all were about their reliability.  We tested so many things and were so careful.  Has anybody ever seen actual test results re the strength of, say, West System glues?  I was told the micro fiber was chopped cotten if it comes from West.  I was told the creamy powder they call micro lite is made from ground up nut shells.  I was told the low density powder from West is micro baloons and colloidal silica.  80 to 20 percent.  I was told so much.... but was it true?  How do I know?  How do you know?  When we were building we bought what we were told was marine ply of highest quality.  We had to destroy our first attempt because all that high cost ply was defective.  It came from a well respected company.  Trust is something that was lost there for a while.  Not all of it came back.  I do a lot of testing when we work.  I suggest you do some too.  It is your boat and it is your life.  One reason we decided to build the boat ourselves is that we did not trust anybody else to care as much as we did.  Even then, we had quite a struggle with what we were told werre highest quality materials but we found them defective and had to remove them and redo the thing properly again and again.  At least we now have a good boat.  I trust that!   Ann and Nev

Hello,

    Here is some reality check for all of you. 

    BS1088 marine grade ply top of their line from Robbins (no less) bought direct having been hand selected by us with great care, was the stuff that delaminated when we were putting it on as the skin for our lower hulls back in Britain in 1997.  The ply could be torn apart with bare hands.  There were areas where no glue was to be found between laminates, places where the glue had gone off before pressing the laminates together, voids, overlaps, etc.  We had already dry fitted both hulls before we noticed the problems because we had been so dazzled by that sticker in the corner where it stated how it was Lloyds AA approved marine ply....   You can have all the stickers you want, buddy, but the ply can still be junk.  It was a real eye opener for us.

     We never had bad glue, but Nev did get allergy from the glue and that was a real serious medical problem requiring many, many specialist visits.  I understand there is a concern about inhaling the additive dust.  Years and years ago, the additive that was recommended was asbestos powder so that is something to think about. 

     What I am trying to say is to use your heads and be extra careful.  We only get this one body and we gotta take care while we are building and sailing our boats.  Once out here, we are having a wonderful time sailing a great boat in a real paradise.  Just be careful and don't let anybody pull the wool over your eyes. 

    Ann and Nev

Wow! they're not my ply supplier but I would not expect that from them, their top of the range ply is suppose have a 20yr guarantee and that's certainly reflected in the prices they charge! If that happened to me I'd have them in my yard so fast their head would spin.

Did you confront them about their product failure?

Ann and Neville Clement said:

Hello,

    Here is some reality check for all of you. 

    BS1088 marine grade ply top of their line from Robbins (no less) bought direct having been hand selected by us with great care, was the stuff that delaminated when we were putting it on as the skin for our lower hulls back in Britain in 1997.  The ply could be torn apart with bare hands.  There were areas where no glue was to be found between laminates, places where the glue had gone off before pressing the laminates together, voids, overlaps, etc.  We had already dry fitted both hulls before we noticed the problems because we had been so dazzled by that sticker in the corner where it stated how it was Lloyds AA approved marine ply....   You can have all the stickers you want, buddy, but the ply can still be junk.  It was a real eye opener for us.

     We never had bad glue, but Nev did get allergy from the glue and that was a real serious medical problem requiring many, many specialist visits.  I understand there is a concern about inhaling the additive dust.  Years and years ago, the additive that was recommended was asbestos powder so that is something to think about. 

     What I am trying to say is to use your heads and be extra careful.  We only get this one body and we gotta take care while we are building and sailing our boats.  Once out here, we are having a wonderful time sailing a great boat in a real paradise.  Just be careful and don't let anybody pull the wool over your eyes. 

    Ann and Nev

   We did confront Robbins re the poor ply they sold us and the importer was brought over to our build shed along with the two managing directors of Robbins.  They did try to compensate us for the poor ply and for all our several weeks of working with it - all of the ply we got from them had been improperly manufactured including the 18mm and the 12mm so we had to cut them up and toss them out as garbage and start all over again.  We had to cut up one lower hull that was already glued up and the other dry fitted in the shed we had rented for the build.  Nev was devastated and I was so angry I was almost silent about it and any kid knows that when mom gets silent angry they should quick head outside (even through the window!).

    Robbins hired a man to rebuild our lower hulls at no cost to us and he was said to be a professional shipwright.  He was no such thing unfortunately but was a true scoundrel who got paid by Robbins up front so they were stuck with him.  Since we did not hire him, we could not fire him and the agreement was not in writing.  Nev and I kept pestering Robbins about the man's poor work and finally they wrote us a letter saying our pestering was causing problems at their build location and they had only agreed to rebuild our lower hulls to plans and needed to get on with it so please we should stay away.  BINGO!  We now had a written agreement signed by both managers! 

     In the end a surveyor was hired who worked with us to insure the new lower hulls were properly brought up to spec and helped with all the negotiations and then worked with us to make those lower hulls meet all structural requirements and win the full approval of Wharrams themselves, their draftsman, the glue representative from West, and both of us.  It was quite a long process getting those hulls made right, but they were put right in the end and seen to be right too.  The delay cost us shed rent so more compensation was provided including money and a 55 gallon drum of West System epoxyy.  I do think Robbins was not aware of either the poor quality of the first pile of ply that was sold to them as first quality.  I suspect that second quality ply was somehow substituted in place of first quality.  I also think that Robbins tried very hard to get our lower hulls made right and were not aware that the man they hired to rebuild our lower hulls was a scoundrel.  I do know this, that the Wharrams were extremely helpful throughout the process of negotiation and finally bringing the lower hulls up to spec and they worked well with our surveyor who was a bulldog in his determination that things should be made properly.  They were all right there by our side helping us make the boat strong and beautiful and we will never forget them for that.

   We had the same surveyor inspect the boat 8 times during the build to insure that all was well then and ever after and things were made right and proper.  He had built a Wharram as a youngster and when I sent his final survey report to our insurance agency, they were greatly impressed with his credentials, his report, and all the detail of his work.  They said they never got such a detailed survey and rarely had such fine credentials. 

    The thing I will always remember is Ruth Wharram on the phone helping us to keep our spirits up throughout the stressful period.  Ruthie is an extra fine person.  One can admire James and Hanneke for their cleverness and good work, but one adores Ruth.  She is extra lovely.

     Now we have no troubles with the boat after over 40,000 miles out here in paradise.  We have had her inspected closely on two occasions when out of the water and no problems were found and it was a well known boat designer and builder who did the inspection.  He also sailed with us and said "Jimmie made you a fine boat design here!" and this was while we tacked to windward in light airs with only the small jib up just to see if she would do it.    He was greatly impressed with the windward performance of Peace IV.  This was none other than Walter Greene from Maine. 

   So if anybody had problems during a build, they should take courage and make things right.  It takes determined  effort but it can be done if you want it badly enough.  We did!  Ann and Nev


I have heard stories where the criminal fraternity get hold of regular domestic ply and add their own stickers or stamps to it such as "BS1088" so they can demand a higher price for it. Maybe both you and Robbins were a victim of this. Great story and sharing it may of helped others from falling into the same trap. I'm glad it all turned right for you in the end.
Ann and Neville Clement said:

You can have all the stickers you want, buddy, but the ply can still be junk.

      Just be careful and don't let anybody pull the wool over your eyes. 

    Ann and Nev

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