Moaning or Wailing Chair... or... Electric Chair?!

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by CatBuilder, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    I was wondering if I should get a moaning or wailing chair or simply an electric chair to put me out of my misery. :(

    I was posting my build problems in Charly's thread, thinking since we were building a similar boat, it belonged together. Now, I have a big issue that has cropped up, so I started this thread.

    You can all see the type of construction here, in Charly's thread:

    Now, I have made 4 hull panels. Each panel is 1/2 a hull (it's a 45' catamaran).

    The first 2 hulls came out about the same. Each had some scarf joints that didn't bond well, creating a layer of the laminate that was not properly bonded in about a 12" (.3meter) circle. This is the same problem Charly had.

    The third hull panel had a tear in the vacuum bag below the mold where I could not get to it. That hull panel has a massive, 4' (1.3 meter) area that is not properly bonded, it split on each end while carrying with 1 meter splits through all 3 layers. The designer says the hull panel is probably bad.

    Hull #4 is sitting on the mold. I'm afraid to open the bag, but it did vacuum down better than any of the other hull panels and seems like there are no voids.

    My biggest problem with the project is that I cannot control the quality of the final product. I am forced to hire people who will do things like tear a hole in a bag where I cannot fix it, costing me a $3500 panel (plus their labor). I cannot control the outcome of the build! This is extremely frustrating and is causing me to doubt the process of building because it is not doable by a single person.

    First question: Is there a way to build a catamaran by yourself... WITHOUT others?

    My other questions are about the project, in general.

    I am a person of limited funds. This boat was supposed to help me escape the diminishing economy here in the States and keep out of the lower class. To say success is important would be an understatement.

    So... I am wondering, now that I have a $3500 mistake and several smaller ones... or a $30K mistake that just ate up more than half my life's savings, is this plan going to cost too much? Is there potential to lose my entire savings from making mistakes and forever be trapped in lower class here in the States, with all my savings destroyed or converted into a heap of trash?

    Should I abandon the project now, after spending $30K and try another route to our charters, or should I press on, risking everything? :confused:
  2. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member


    Here are some pictures of the damage:

    Ok, maybe the splits weren't 3ft long... here is one side's split compared to a standard tube of adhesive.

    Close up of the split. It goes through all 3 layers.

    The split on the other end. A little smaller, but through all 3 layers.

    Pulling back on the split to reveal the void that caused it.

    Looking into the unbonded area between the sheets. There are some very large unbonded areas on this panel.

    Attached Files:

  3. wardd
    Joined: Apr 2009
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    wardd Senior Member

    there is no reason given the time and resources one person couldn't build an aircraft carrier

    you could do it, it mostly requires thought about the process
  4. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    Ok, thanks for the thought. I'd like to ask a few follow on questions to you, because maybe I have not thought about this enough.

    1) How can a single person move an 8x8 sheet of 3mm plywood without it breaking?

    2) How can a single person lay down 36 of those 8x8 sheets, epoxied on all mating surfaces, on a mold, get a bag on and pump down in the time it takes a batch of epoxy to start kicking off? That single person has to mix up about 10-12 gallons of epoxy at the same time, between laminating the sheets on the mold.

    3) Once built, how can a single person move a 48' long by 8' wide panel around to cut it and set it up for stitch and glue? We struggled badly with 4 very strong guys, 3 of which are in the construction industry.

    I ask these questions not to be a wise ***, but because I spent so much time thinking about them and figured I had no choice but to hire people... people who punctured my bag and blew the panel by mistake.

    I had tried to build this boat myself all along, but came to points where I could not physically do things required.

    Do you have ideas on how to do those 3 things I may have overlooked?
  5. Herman
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    Herman Senior Member

    1) Straight up, with a purpose built clamp. However, handling these sheets with a helper should do. I generally like a helper with not too much own initiative. just someone that does what I say.

    2) Perforate the sheets every ft or so (can be a small hole). I would use a "bog" made from epoxy and cotton fiber, and on the runny side. This saves you pre-priming the sheets. Use epoxy with long working time (I have stuff that kicks only after 10 hours or more). Mixing 12 gallon of epoxy calls for some planning, prefilling every bucket of epoxy, and keeping the hardener already weighed close to it. My last job (infusion) called for some 200 kg (450 lbs) of vinylester, in 16 kg (40 lbs) batches. I hade a line of buckets with resin, and a line of small cups with curing agent.
    Perhaps even install a temporary oven with a small heater, to get the epoxy to cure after a succesful vacuum.

    Is your mould airtight? Or do you work mold-less?

    3) Build 2 overhead cranes on wheels, they can be wood. With 2 clamps on the panel, and two tackles or engine hoists, one can move the panel and keep it in place for the laminating. I was able to turn a 500 lbs boat in whatever position I liked, with just one engine hoist and no-one to help.
  6. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    That hurts :( .. what comes to moving alone large plates I know its tricky but doable, anyway there are ways to go around things like in my project moving 3/4" x 1 3/4" x 35' strips (three separate at once) each having glue on two sides.. Just don't hurry things too much, think it over a week or two until get it solved..
  7. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    My mold is an open, male mold. Sheets are laid up over the top of it, bag on the mold first, then plywood, then top of bag goes over the top plywood sheet.

    I don't understand #2... are you saying there is a way to get the epoxy into the mating surfaces of the plywood without pre-coating? Bog, as I understand it, is a thickened epoxy. Any more tips on this interesting idea of skipping the pre-coat?

    Curing the epoxy is not my problem. It is 26.6C as I close up the bag at dawn, rising to 39.4C in another hour or two. I keep the vacuum on all day at 39.4C. The problem was that the bag was holed, so when the epoxy cured, the layers of plywood did not bond.
  8. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    This is probably some great advice. Thank you. Maybe it is time to go out drinking for the weekend!!! :D
  9. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    SamSam Senior Member

    I have little idea on what the whole project entails, but it seems once you get the panels made, the hardest/trickiest/touchiest part might be over. What else will entail putting so much material/money on the line at once, with a narrow time frame like that?

    How realistic are you on your figuring of time and materials and money? Is there much margin for error?
  10. Herman
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    Herman Senior Member

    -vacuum the bag over the mold, so you have a nice working surface, then tape a second bag to the first bag after laminating, and vacuum that down as well. This way you press your laminate to the male mould.

    -yes, when mixing epoxy resin and cotton fiber, you have created a very resin rich bog. Under a bit of pressure, the epoxy will be pressed out of the cotton, and into the bare wood. One remark though: make a bog that is very wet. You use the cotton just to keep the epoxy in place. If you use too much cotton and too much pressure, then you will end up with dry cotton between your sheets of wood.
    One of my clients made a constant camber catamaran, and used a male mould, vacuum, epoxy and cotton.
  11. Charly
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    Charly Senior Member

    Hey Catbuilder,
    I wholeheartedly recommend a weekend of drinking:D . and relaxing. Forget about the details for a few hours. Seriously. Sometimes you need a little gap to put things in perspective. You are young and life goes on. The good news is that tomorrow is another day, and you will have the rest of your life to fine tune things towards perfection. Mistakes are a gift. They are an opportunity to learn. They are an inevitable part of life and a vital part of the learning experience. You have created something, and nothing is static. Tomorrow you can tweak it, change it fine tune it, or scrap it. The important thing is that you have the rest of your life to deal with it.

    As to doing it "alone" You are bright enough to know that the answer is of course not. Everything about this whole process is made possible by a fantastic web of human cooperation. You will always need help, and you will never have complete control over the results.

    I really like that last pic btw:D


  12. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    It's also possible to fix a partial flaw in a panel. Time taking though to remove some material layer by layer around the damage and prepare the fixing.. It's also better to do it in two or three partial areas from opposite sides.. hard to describe with words but don't have video
  13. wardd
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    wardd Senior Member

    sounds like a scarf patch

  14. AndrewK
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    AndrewK Senior Member

    CatBuilder, Charly summed up the situation very well.
    The small voids and tears while annoying can be fixed easily, as your photos show the surfaces inside the voids will be shiny. So unless they are very small I would not inject epoxy to fill them as recommended in the other thread, rather open them up and do a scarph patch.
    Panel #3, if the voids are just too numerous and throughout the entire panel then unfortunately scraping it may be the most economical option. But if sections are sound then reuse these to make a new panel.
    At this early stage while you are handling large wobbly panels I think hired help is the most economical solution. When the halves are joined together and become stiff and self supporting then you will be able to work on your own with the use of temporary timber cranes and block and tackles.

    First start by taking the weekend off then come back and asses the fate of panel 3 and go foreword from there on.

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