How would you finish this console?

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by stephentyler20, Apr 6, 2010.

  1. stephentyler20
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Byram, CT

    stephentyler20 Junior Member

    First off... boat is an '88 Wellcraft 210 in otherwise good shape.

    I've done a lot of restoration to the rest of the boat - the last nagging thing is this console. It was originally a black fiberglass cap (pictured below), which housed the stock gauges, buttons, etc. I came to despise the appearance of it, and vowed to replace it this spring.

    Well, I've removed the cap (just screwed in), and found that underneath is it a semi-finished fiberglass surface, with ugly holes roughly cut out to accommodate the gauges and switch panels.

    Now, I should say I have ZERO fiberglass experience, but I want to learn, and I've done a lot of homework. My buddy told me that I should plug up the holes with plywood (which I've done, see the picture), coat the whole thing in mold release, then layup fiberglass mat on top until I have a suitable "cap" of sorts (similar to OEM design but much simpler and more "marine" looking). Then, sand, fill, fair, paint that so I have a finished surface. Then I can attach it to the surface more permanently using hex screws or a hinge or something, and install the gauges in that (it would then be serviceable, too).

    I'm wondering what you all think of this idea? What makes me anxious is the finishing part - that is, sanding, filling, etc to get a smooth glossy surface. To me, this seems like it will be excessively difficult. Is that true?

    I'd really welcome all suggestions, whether for this idea (such as what materials/methods to use) and for other ideas. Specifically, how will I lay up the fiberglass on the vertical surface without it sloughing off?

    Old:
    [​IMG]

    Current:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    Hi Stephan. I empathize with your apprehension but that thing was, indeed, ugly... But, black is good to minimize glare (flat black). A problem is getting flat black to look finished and clean. One way might be a flat black Formica or leather. I agree that white looks better and a perfect finish is time-consuming to achieve. The plywood is a poor mold surface - you are going to want to seal, wax and PVA. Melamine board would have been better. No matter, it will work. Lots of work to make this look OEM and cleaner than original but worth the effort. When you glass, mask WELL, everything, be very deliberate and practice on something to throw away first, use a well draping fabric like multiple layers of cloth or 1708. No roving or 3208, no matt. When it is time to lay up, post another pic. If it is flat panels, best to do them on a flat surface off of the boat. I didn't really follow - are you thinking to cover the whole thing and pull a part off of that?
     
  3. stephentyler20
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    stephentyler20 Junior Member

    Thanks for the reply... That black was definitely shiny, but worse than that was the 80's odd-angle style shape, which I dreaded. I have all new gauges, and I just want that marine white simplicity.

    I should have mentioned, I am going to saran wrap the plywood to make the mold release better. Hopefully that will work. I'll wax it too!

    I don't care if this looks cleaner than OEM, I just want it to look good. It won't be perfect, I realize that... this is partially just a learning experience.

    Two questions:
    1. Why no mat? I thought that was the way to go...
    2. What about laying up on the vertical surfaces? How do I do that?

    Yes, I am planning to cover the whole thing and pull the part off that. Wouldn't be possible, from what I can tell, to do this off the boat unless I create a mold first out of plywood or something, which I think would be difficult because of all the angles.
     
  4. stephentyler20
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    stephentyler20 Junior Member

    Let me just tack one more question on here... What can I use to fill the little gaps around the plywood that I have here. Would bondo suffice? This is just to get a relatively smooth even surface to lay the mat onto, but I would need it to release afterward.
     
  5. pescaloco
    Joined: Feb 2006
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    Location: so. california

    pescaloco Senior Member

    I think it's great to know fiberglass and if you like boats well worth the effort to learn how.

    Another option for you might be to repair you Fiberglass without being concerned about the cosmetics. (good for you learning curve / time and all)

    Make a template out of masonite or similar and go to local plastic supply
    get some black marine board with a stipple pattern maybee 3/8 or 1/2 thick and make all your cut outs etc. or have the supplier fabricate for you with nice routered edges and cut outs it will look great.
     
  6. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    Matt offers bulk and filling but little strength. Also, cloth lays and drapes so nicely that it is always my first choice on projects like this. Mask well, wet the surface, lay the cloth into it when it gets tacky, use a short-nap chemically-resistant roller and a brush and a bit of rubber squeegee (don't save money, have all on hand because you may need any and all depending on the lay of the cloth. NO AIR, work purposefully and get first layer on before it gets tacky. Just as it starts to get tacky, repeat (total thickness you'll want at a 1/8" or 3/16"). If it gets away from you, don't try to save a mess - remove the bad ply, walk away until tomorrow, sand off globs, and try again. Finish with a seven oz cloth and you will minimise fairing/putty. Watch your catalyst ratio and don't try to extend your pot-life by shorting catalyst. Practice on cardboard and know the temp, size of batch (it generates heat and will kick faster in larger batches), and exact amount of catalyst. I don't remember - you were using polyester, right? If using epoxy, you can comfortably extend pot-life with a slow cure but there are considerations when using it, as well.
     
  7. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    The saran wrap easy release trick works very well. Personal experience.
     
  8. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    Let me just tack one more question on here... What can I use to fill the little gaps around the plywood that I have here. Would bondo suffice? This is just to get a relatively smooth even surface to lay the mat onto, but I would need it to release afterward.

    Like mark says, cloth is better.
     
  9. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    Oh yeah, bondo is fine, or modeling clay - You're gonna' have Saran Wrap over, right (hard to get poly to release from Bondo)? I've never used the wrap like this, how does one keep the wrinkles out?
     
  10. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    Mark, the pieces I made using Saran Wrap were not large, so I just took my time and worked out the wrinkles first. I found I could wrap a board for gluing small pieces on and get easy separation even using Gorilla glue. Usually I would have to replace the Saran Wrap between gluing though. Polyfilm also works and does not wrinkle due to thickness. I have even used Walmart or Home Depot bags when in a rush doing small stuff.
     
  11. stephentyler20
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    stephentyler20 Junior Member

    You guys are really throwing a wrench in this for me... I was all set to use mat, but you're saying cloth? The problem is there are a bunch of little shapes and corners, and I feel like cloth will be harder to navigate around those corners.

    Also I'm really starting to lean toward using West Systems epoxy instead of poly resin for 2 reasons 1. better supply (local marine stores carry West systems), 2. better instructions online at their website.

    Would that be a BAD choice?
     
  12. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    The cloth is easier to work with. Remember the shape is really the resin. The cloth is just to re-inforce. The cloth will be easier.
     
  13. stephentyler20
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    stephentyler20 Junior Member

    So use cloth AND mat, or just cloth? How many layers of each?
     
  14. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    Just cloth. You can build it up in layers if you need it thicker.
     

  15. stephentyler20
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    stephentyler20 Junior Member

    OK and do I use laminating resin or finishing resin? Or general purpose?
     
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