Epoxy & fiberglassing resources

Finishes, paints and coatings

Epoxy & fiberglassing resources

Postby Esteban » Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:03 pm

Raka.com sells epoxy, fiberglass cloth, fillers, and tools.
Raka Epoxy Manual available to read online or to print a copy to better understand how to use epoxy. It is 9 pages long. It would be good to make a copy for your project file or notebook.

WEST SYSTEM User Manual (Part 1) —15 pages is very worthwhile to print and save a copy to your project file or notebook.
WEST SYSTEM Product Guide (Part 2) —15 pages

West System has videos and How To use guides that are very helpful to read. The use guides can be printed and saved to a project folder or notebook.
epoxy-chemistry "Mixing epoxy resin and hardener begins a chemical reaction that transforms the combined liquid ingredients to a solid. The time it takes for this transformation is the cure time. As it cures, the epoxy passes from the liquid state, through a gel state, before it reaches a solid state"
Applying cloth and tape is a very good use guide for applying (fiberglass) cloth and tape.

You can click on any of the following West Systems videos to watch them:
Dispensing and mixing epoxy video
Adding fillers video
Fairing video
Applying Fabric video
Barrier coating video

Boat, kayak and canoe builders have websites that share good fiberglassing techniques:
Updated 9/10/13 How-to Make a Transparent Glass Lay-up by Laughing Loon Kayaks and Canoes.
The Task
There are many different techniques to apply epoxy resin and fiberglass cloth on stripper boats. The results of each technique can vary greatly depending on the skill, patience, powers of observation, ability to visualize, experience, and dumb luck of the person applying that technique. These are a lot of variables beyond the control of most novices. However, there are a lot of variables that can be controlled. This is my experience with fiberglass and epoxy lay-ups. What works well and not-so-well...
he continues with a very thorough step-by-step "how-to" description of his best fiberglassing techniques. It is well worth reading for practical information and "tips of the trade." It would be a good idea to print and save a copy to a project notebook.

Fairing and priming the outside of the hull by Boat Builder Central shows the process of fairing (creating a smooth surface) with photos of the process all the way to a painted hull.
They have a forum for sharing ideas. Resins, Fiberglass and Paint is a sub-forum.

Abrasion Resistant Fabrics, Fiberglass, Kevlar & Carbon. Common and Exotic fibers used in building wood strip kayaks and composite shells. by One Ocean Kayaks discusses the pros and cons of different reinforcing fabrics.

Several teardrop builders have good building guides for a fiberglassed plywood teardrop:

Joanne's Desert Dawg Joanne built a Grasshopper style teardrop that she fiberglassed and painted. Her web site shares many helpful details of the construction of the camper from start to "finish" ("finish" in quotes because there is always more tinkering to do). I've had the pleasure of meeting Joanne and seeing her Desert Dawg teardrop trailer.

CampingClassics.com by Steve Fredericks has Information for the home builder. He sells A Teardrop Builder's Shop Manual. I bought one myself. Steve's "inside out technique" for building a teardrop is a time and back saver. He leans toward building woodie teardrop trailers with clear finishes that beautifully show off their wood grains and colors. The Gallery. Camping Classics' Finished Projects

Some additional suppliers of epoxy and or fiberglass cloth:
US composites sells epoxy, fiberglass cloth, discounted carbon fiber, and many supplies.
solarcomposites sells a wide variety of composite fabrics.
ill street composites sells epoxy and a wide variety of composite fabrics.
Aero Marine an epoxy supplier in San Diego, CA.
MAS epoxies sells epoxy and has good How-To videos and articles on their web site.
Last edited by Esteban on Sat Oct 19, 2013 6:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Epoxy & fiberglassing resources

Postby oakinteriors1 » Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:42 pm

Using a short nap roller to apply fill coats of epoxy to fill in the weave can be aided with a heat gun to get rid of the air bubbles works great...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=p ... gHwqo#t=63
Last edited by oakinteriors1 on Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Epoxy & fiberglassing resources

Postby Esteban » Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:43 pm

oakinteriors1 wrote:Using a short nap roller to apply fill coats of epoxy to fill in the weave can be added with a heat gun to get rid of the air bubbles works great...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=p ... YgHwqo#=63

A good find! :) :thumbsup:


Last edited by Esteban on Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Epoxy & fiberglassing resources

Postby Esteban » Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:18 pm

West System videos roughly in the order you might use their products:







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Re: Epoxy & fiberglassing resources

Postby Esteban » Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:27 pm







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Re: Epoxy & fiberglassing resources

Postby Esteban » Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:38 pm

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Re: Epoxy & fiberglassing resources

Postby oakinteriors1 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:07 am

Kayaks
Rugged & Ultra-Light
Wood-core, fiberglass composites give you the high tensile strength of fiberglass on the surfaces and the high compression strength of wood in the center. They are much stronger and stiffer than fiberglass or wood alone. This enables us to build boats much lighter than a similar hull can be built out of fiberglass or plastic. This superior strength allows a wood-core-glass boat to be about 30% lighter than fiberglass and up to 40% lighter than plastic.

So why cover a plywood panel thicker than 1/8'' , supported by framing, and a plywood panel on the backside? I understand saturating raw wood with epoxy then coating with urethane...but why the cloth in such an application?
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Re: Epoxy & fiberglassing resources

Postby Esteban » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:36 pm

oakinteriors1 wrote:Kayaks
Rugged & Ultra-Light
Wood-core, fiberglass composites give you the high tensile strength of fiberglass on the surfaces and the high compression strength of wood in the center. They are much stronger and stiffer than fiberglass or wood alone. This enables us to build boats much lighter than a similar hull can be built out of fiberglass or plastic. This superior strength allows a wood-core-glass boat to be about 30% lighter than fiberglass and up to 40% lighter than plastic.

So why cover a plywood panel thicker than 1/8'' , supported by framing, and a plywood panel on the backside? I understand saturating raw wood with epoxy then coating with urethane...but why the cloth in such an application?


Fiberglassing a teardrop camper seems like a very good idea. It doesn't cost all that much. It adds strength to plywood, weather proofs it and can help prevent plywood from cracking and or checking. It makes "stretching" plywood easier to build a camper bigger than 4' x 8'. It is a good base coat for varnish or paint. It makes it easier to build any size teardrop and it is much lighter than aluminum sheet.

Currently (Oct. 2013) 4 or 6 ounce 60" wide fiberglass cloth costs about $6.50/yd. from Raka.com in small quantities. I estimate about 12 (linear) yards would be enough for the sides, roof and hatch of a 5' x 10' teardrop trailer. Around 75 bucks for the cloth.

The thing that makes me hesitant to use 1/8" plywood on the sides, roof and hatch is a concern for its firmness and puncture resistance. Maybe out of ignorance. I fiberglassed 1/4" plywood and like its firm feeling. 1/8" plywood would save about .4 lbs. per square foot compared to 1/4" plywood...so the weight savings would add up. So, mixed feelings if I were to start one again.

I'd be be open to use 1/8" plywood for the hatch skin...with fiberglass and (marine)paint on the outside. 1/8" plywood for the hatch skin might save about 10 pounds and make it a little easier to open the hatch.

For a 5' x 10' teardrop there might be about a 50-60 lb. weight difference to entirely skin it with 1/4" plywood compared to 1/8" plywood. Worth it? :thinking:

Some weight and cost calculations:

In boat building forums I've learned that a 50/50 ratio of epoxy (liquid ounces)/fiberglass cloth (weight per square yard) is ideal.

60" wide cloth has 15 square feet (3x5=15). 12 (linear) yards of it will have 180 square feet. 180/9=20 square yards. 20 square yards of 4 oz. fabric x 4 oz. of epoxy per yard requires 80 (liquid) ounces of epoxy to wet it out. A 3 quart kit of epoxy (96 oz.) should be enough to fully wet and fill the fabric (with several coats of epoxy) and allow for some waste. It currently (Oct. 2013) costs $59.00 from Raka.com.

The epoxy and cloth needed to fiberglass a 5' x 10' teardrop currently costs about $135.00. ($59 epoxy + $74.04 for cloth = $133.04))

If you get a 1-1/2 gallon epoxy kit it raises the price to about $175.00 and you then have plenty left over to waterproof the underside of the floor and to use as a "base coat" for interior varnish (or paint). ($98 epoxy + $74.04 cloth = $172.04) Pumps, brushes and mixing cups will be needed too. Their cost is low to moderate and will vary for each user.

Fiberglassing a teardrop camper seems like a bargain to me. It frees you to build any size camper you want more easily than using aluminum sheets does. Especially if you build over 4 feet wide or tall. It weatherproofs very well and weighs much less than aluminum. 4 oz. fiberglass cloth filled with epoxy will weigh just under 1 oz. per square foot. 6 oz. fiberglass cloth filled with epoxy would weight a little less than 1.5 oz. per square foot.

SAF.com indicates .032 aluminum sheet weighs 0.452 lbs. per square foot or about 7.25 oz. per sq. ft.
.040 sheet weighs 0.564 per sq. ft. or about 9 oz. per sq. ft.

edited to add estimated cost for epoxy and fiberglass, and weights per square foot of fiberglass and aluminum sheet for comparisons.
Last edited by Esteban on Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:29 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Epoxy & fiberglassing resources

Postby Lonewolf42301 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 2:08 pm

Good info..... :thumbsup:
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Re: Epoxy & fiberglassing resources

Postby Esteban » Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:56 pm

Estimated weight to skin a 5' x 10' teardrop sides, roof and hatch. 144 is the total sq. ft. to be covered in each estimate.

1) 4 oz epoxy and 4 oz. fiberglass: 8 oz / 9 sq. ft. = .888 oz per sq. ft. x 144 sq. ft. = 127.872/16 = 7.992 lbs.

2) 6 0z epoxy and 6 oz fiberglass: 12 oz / 9 sq. ft. = 1.333 oz per sq. ft. x 144 sq. ft. = 191.999/16 = 11.99 lbs.

3) .032 aluminum: 7.25 oz per sq. ft. x 144 sq. ft. = 1044/16 = 65.25 lbs. (not including trim pieces, glue or any waterproofing under aluminum)

4) .040 aluminum: 9 oz per sq. ft. x 144 sq. ft. = 1296/16 = 81 lbs. (not including trim pieces, glue or any waterproofing under aluminum)
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Re: Epoxy & fiberglassing resources

Postby CARS » Sun Nov 03, 2013 1:53 pm

My brain hurts from just reading all the figuring you did Steve. Thanks for doing the math for us! :thumbsup:
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