Fiberglass over Wood Questions

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by Tower of Power, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. Tower of Power
    Joined: Jul 2018
    Posts: 2
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    Location: Windsor, Ontario, Canada

    Tower of Power New Member

    I'm currently in the process of restoring a Glen-L Rebel that was built by my late grandfather. The boat has more sentimental value than anything so I'm willing to go the extra mile for her.

    Since my family sold our cottage, I've had the boat at a storage facility where they left me the spot the camera doesn't shine on. So, some people poked some holes in my cover and she filled full of water. Build from wood, only the outside shell of the hull is fiberglassed. So, it would seem now that some of the fiberglass has de-laminated and cracked. Also, the Keele(?) was never fiberglassed and is in rough shape now.

    I've added some pictures, I'm looking to see if there is any advice on how to move forward. My current plan is to find a way to flip the hull over, crack/peel off as much fiberglass as possible while also filling the keele with epoxy filler before fiberglassing the hull with a new layer. I'm also considering coating the inside of the hull with epoxy in the low spots where water collects - hopefully helping prevent this type of situation from re-developing.

    To try and make things simple let me ask these questions:
    1.) What is a good way to flip the hull over without damage? ~400lbs, flatbottom, 16'6" long.
    2.) How would you re-enforce the keele?
    3.) How would you repair the delaminating and cracked fiberglass?
    4.) What are your thoughts on an epoxy layer on the bottom of the inside of the hull?

    Inside the Hull:
    Full shot, while sanding down the outside:
    Keele Rot:
    Examples of some cracks on the fiberglass bottom where water slightly leaked out:
    More Keele Rot:
    More Keele Rot:
    And more. This is the worse crack/delamination:
    Another shot:

    Attached Files:

  2. Mr Efficiency
    Joined: Oct 2010
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    Location: Australia

    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    The "keel" looks like a lost cause, as might be the glass sheathing, and what lies beneath it. You should be able to flip that over onto a couple of old mattresses, or a few tyres, or similar, without incident. Then you can start to see what remains salvageable. As always, being on the spot is better than a picture, but when faults are very obvious in a photo, it usually looks a lot worse, in the flesh. Ordinarily, you would say a one-way trip to the dump, but if it has sentimental value, at least you don't want to die wondering if it could have been restored, realistically. I think I'd start by doing some walking on the bottom of the upturned boat, which might expose any gross structural deficiencies.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  3. ondarvr
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    Location: Monroe WA

    ondarvr Senior Member

    The keel is frequently bolted on after the hull is glassed, this allows it to be a sacrificial part that can be replaced easily.

    The glass should pull off in big sheets, sometimes it only takes a few minutes to most of it off.
  4. Blueknarr
    Joined: Aug 2017
    Posts: 1,252
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    Location: Colorado

    Blueknarr Senior Member


    I'm all for restoring an heirloom. Realistically you need to determine soon how far you'll go. "Just a little bit more" often turns into " well I've come this far, might as well keep going". Soon one has gone a hundred extra miles, only to realize there are a thousand more to go.

    This project will not make financial sense. It may be cheaper/ quicker and all together less painful to build a replica of grandpa's boat.


    But how I wish I could rebuild my old goat's gaffer.

    I wouldn't make plans for reconstruction unit the fiberglass is removed and all cancerous rot is exposed. Until then one cannot accurately determine how much effort will be required to restore.

    Best of luck.
    I hope your grandchildren will have to re-restore what you are about too.
  5. Tower of Power
    Joined: Jul 2018
    Posts: 2
    Likes: 0, Points: 1
    Location: Windsor, Ontario, Canada

    Tower of Power New Member

    The boat was built by my grandfather (who has a boat-building company for a short while) along with my Father when he was young. when I was young, I worked on the boat with my father - replacing a rotten transom. Both my father and grandfather have passed, and this is really the only thing I have that connects us. Expense is no concern, and neither is the time. I'm well aware that it doesn't make any financial sense. In fact, spending time meticulously working on it is rewarding in itself as I know they would have liked to see it done right. I almost feel a duty to do this to the best of my ability, ideally developing my skills further. Some of my best childhood memories revolve around this boat - and its influence is a big reason behind pursuing a technical profession. It is literally a part of who I am today.

    I think the only condition where I would call it off, would be if the hull plywood is too far gone - at that point I'll probably just rebuild an identical boat.

    Having said all that, thanks for your replies! I was hoping there was a trick way to flip the boat over but so be it. Once its flipped though, I'll have to set it down on something - I'm thinking of building a ladder-style frame with some casters but the mattress previously suggesting could be promising too. You just can't move her.

    I figured something like this would be the case. I noticed the keele wasn't 'glassed and I figured it was because of how easy it would be to break/crack the glass if you rub up on a rock/sand/trailer/launch ramp. I imagine that the channel it fits into would be 'glassed though? is this common practice? Also, any recommendations for wood "species" for a new keel? Not sure yet how they differ in terms of thermal expansion / swell vs the (mostly) plywood construction of the rest of the boat. Will have to do some homework.

    The plywood actually looks surprisingly good on the inside, all things considered. Perhaps a byproduct of marine grade plywood, or some treatment. I'll certainly find any issues once I pull up the 'glass.

    Thanks for the replies everyone!

  6. viking north
    Joined: Dec 2010
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    Location: Newfoundland & Nova Scotia

    viking north VINLAND

    I realize this thread is some 2 months old but based on back yard boat building and repairs actual work on the boat hasn't progressed to the point where additional input would be too late. The rule of thumb with laying a resin impregnated product FRP over an old and damaged wooden boat is: first accept it will be only a prolonging of the inevitable. A 5 year extension at best. Remove as much of the rot as possible. It is not even necessary to remove the keel or the keels shoe if it is reasonably solid just dig out the rot. Next remove that rub rail strip along the deck edge and plan to end the FRP coverage under this strip unless you want to cover the deck. When you install the new strip it will aid in bonding the FRP edge to the hull. Next the hull has to be dried out and that will require 3 to 6 months inside a building for this amount of wood mass. The use of a dehumidifier in a small heated space would certainly speed up the process. Then it's sanding to remove as much of the exterior hull paint as possible followed up by filling and sanding filling in the hollows, holes and cracks. Marine and Automotive medium glass reinforced polyester filler is just the answer for this. A U.S. product available at that popular Canadian automotive store for approx. $60.00 for a 4L gallon. :D In reality sold by weight. About 4 layers of matt with regular polyester resin if your running a tight budget. The same 4 layers of matt with slightly outdated polyester resin if your running a really tight budget. :D lay on an extra 3 to 4 layers over the keel extending it about 3 inches out onto the hull for good chafe and strength protection. Next just in case you missed doing so, it's back to sanding and filling and sanding to reasonably smooth it all out in ready for a roll on gel coat. To prolong the life of all your hard work, I recommend you also: (1) paint the interior,(2)not leave the boat at a mooring, (3)keep the interior and especially the bilge dry after use (no long term standing water) (4) if not stored in a building, fabricate a proper frame to promote water and snow run off . (5) Use a good heavy duty poly tarp bungy fastened in place. Why bungy fastened - I have never seen a good poly tarp damaged when supported by a proper anti chafe protected frame, and fastened with bungy cords. That's about it other than buy only the best tools for the job, especially a top notch shop vacuum (exhaust ported to the outside) a good respirator, two elastic style dust masks, and don't skimp on the sandpaper. #40 for the heavy cutting, #60 medium and # 100 to 120 should do for the quality you want on this project. Oh, a bar fridge to keep the refreshments cool and a good vaporizer to smooth out the legalized plant.:D
    (The use of epoxy or vinyl ester resin would be just a waste of money on this life extension project.
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