(This is the second of three posts about my boat rebuilding project)
Having torn apart the boat (described in my Podnocker Deconstruction post), it was now time to start building replacements for everything I’d torn out. The first step was setting up an epoxy mixing station:
The epoxy both seals the wood against moisture and soaks into the fiberglass sheets to provide it strength. It can also be mixed with various substances to turn it into glue or thickened to turn into filler to fill corners. (Later in the project I ran out of the ground fiberglass filler I had ordered, and had to switch to cake flour: yes, there is flour holding my boat together!). But this was still early on, before I started to run out of things, so I was happily making glue out of the epoxy and to glue together two ¾” pieces of plywood to make a new 1 ½” transom:
Both sides with sealed with multiple applications of epoxy, and then glued into place.
Once the glue had dried, I added some filler around the top and sides (to avoid any hard corners), filled the holes used for the bottom wooden boards serving as clamps, and covered the whole thing a sheet of fiberglass epoxied into place:
Next up was construction of the stringers. I used the old stringers that had come out (one of them in pieces) as templates for the shape of the new ones, shown here:
I deviated from the old design in the thickness, however. Since each of these had to be longer than the 8′ plywood, I decided to double-up on the width, overlapping and screwing the boards together to make the single, composite piece. This made it considerably easier to wrap in fiberglass later: I could round the top edges more, and didn’t have any awkward extra pieces sticking out to try to get around and over with fiberglass. You can see how they overlap and are attached together here:
Around this time, I screwed up a batch of epoxy. Essentially you mix epoxy by combining epoxy resin with epoxy hardener. As it combines, it heats up, and as it heats up, it combines faster. Mixing a large batch is almost always a bad idea because this process can run away. But that can even happen with a small batch if you aren’t careful and don’t use it quickly enough. Here’s the result: a solid block of epoxy. When this “flashed” in the plastic container, it was too hot to touch; I had to let it cool down before I could remove it:
Meanwhile, I’d also been doing some minor repairs on the top side. Here you can see bits of filler added here and there to cover up holes:
Here are the old cleats, with bolts in various states of decay:
And finally, off came the Podnocker name:
Back to the bottom
Now that I had the stringers ready to go, epoxied, screwed, and glue together, I had to set them into place, which required some ancillary construction:
With the stringers held in place, I then used some filler (epoxy plus ground fiberglass) to round out the corners so that the fiberglass sheets could go over the stringers without any air gaps:
Notice the two different filler colours in the above photos: it was at this point that I ran out of the ground fiberglass filler that I’d ordered and had to switch to cake flour (ordinary flour would work too, but cake flour is a little finer and thus a little more consistent). You can see the difference in the above photos: the white filler, on the starboard side, is the ground fiberglass; the off-white filler on the centre and port stringers is the cake flour.
Here’s the stern of the boat, where the two side stringers connect to the transom:
And here’s what it looked like the next morning, once the filler had hardened enough to hold the stringers in place without the supports:
The next thing was to put down a couple layers of thick, 17oz, biaxial fiberglass cloth. This stuff is thick, with two layers of fiberglass strands running at 90⁰ angles to each other. It also soaks up large quantities of epoxy—soaking these fiberglass layers into place probably used as much epoxy as everything else in the job combined. Here’s the finished job:
With the stringers firmly in place, the next job was to put the floor on top of them. The floor is constructed out of four pieces: one 8×4′ plywood sheet with a bit of tapering towards the front, another piece extending this another couple of feet, then a vertical riser of about 4″, then a raised triangle section in the bow (this is the bow storage area). Here’s a shot of me cutting out the bow section:
Before I could put that piece in, however, I had to replace the flotation foam that had been there originally. This stuff is neat: you mix the two parts together for about 30 seconds, then it starts expanding, and expanding, and expanding. It’s also almost entirely closed-cell foam, so it won’t absorb water (it would be pretty useless as flotation foam if it did!) What you see here is the final result under the bow: I’m not completely sure how far under the deck it extends: my guess is about 3-4′.
Here’s the deck with a layer of fiberglass epoxied down, and the sheet of fiberglass ready for epoxying into place over the bow section. Note that this fiberglass (and the layer over the transom) is much thinner stuff than the structure fiberglass over the stringers: it’s meant for protection, not structural support.
Here’s the entire deck fiberglassed down. You can also see the boxes for more flotation foam added into the back corners.
At this point I poured more flotation foam into the two boxes at the back.
Now the structural rebuild (at least of the bottom section of the boat) was done! Time to bring the boat back out into the world:
Here are some shots of the flotation foam. I did a much better job on the port side:
And for the major construction, that was pretty much it. The boat was ready!
Okay, it was still far from ready, with various things that still had to be done, like drilling a hole from the drain at the back, adding the stern and bow eyes, tube for the bilge pump, etc. But the major part of the construction was finished, and I was ready to start repainting and redecorating.