Restoring 20+ year old fibreglass kayak, need help..

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by e32lover, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. e32lover
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    e32lover Junior Member

    Gday,

    I picked up this fibreglass kayak off an old dude for free the other day, he said he bought it new 20 years ago, took it out a couple of times, then it sat in his front yard exactly where i grabbed it for 20 years.

    I like the looks of it, and it appears to be in good condition for its age. I would like to fix it up and get it seaworthy again. I cleaned it as best as I could, and the paint didnt come off at all, although the paint has some minor cracks here and there.

    From what I can see, the biggest problem is that the seal between the top and bottom has worn away, and will probably need to somehow be re-sealed.

    Although it looks quite bad from the outside, it is actually still watertight.

    I have very limited fibreglassing skills, and was wondering what would be the best path to take to restore this vessel. Although it looks ok to me, I have no idea how well fibreglass holds up over 20 years, so any advice would be greatly appreciated, btw great forum guys!

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    In this photo i shone a light from behind it, and you can see where the seal has worn out and the light is coming through.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    A lot has changed since it was first built. looks like the deck and hull have been glassed together and must have been a good job if its not leaking . The dings and chips and grotty bits personally i would tack a grinder and carefully grind the bits all the away round and back again useing a epoxy filler with micro fibres and west glue mix then sand smooth and reglass the outside join area about 60mm wide with a layer or two of 400 gram double bias glass tape and peel ply over the top !, fill fair and sand and paint the new glassed area ,then fit a rubber neoprene belting to fully protect the deck/hull edge !!.and fit a neoprene/rubber bumper over the ends
    Looking at the inside a resin coat over the whole inside could protect the fibres and seal them from the elements ! mainly water intrussion into the glass cloth !!:D
    Use epoxy resin throughout the whole project !! The older polyester resin will be getting a little brittle so add some good quality materials !!
    Just because its old doesnt mean its no good !. restore and smile with pride ! handle with TLC and get some enjoyment for your efforts !!
    Shapes change and so do we ,its not a race horse and was never meant to be but ,round lakes etc you'll be smiling all the way !
     
  3. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    that is an obsolete design, white water kayaks a evolved quite a lot. Not sure it is worth investing a lot of time and money into it (likely for less that a proper rebuild you can find a much more modern used one).

    If it is appears structurally sound I would just strip the paint off the damaged area, fill the voids with filler, sand the rest and paint it. THan have some fun with it in not too rough conditions until if falls apart. Than buy a modern one.
     
  4. Milehog
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    Milehog Clever Quip

    UV rays can destroy fiberglass resin. I'd be wary of any laminate not protected by intact paint or gelcoat. Was the boat 'stored' upside down?
     
  5. e32lover
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    e32lover Junior Member

    Thanks for the replies, The boat was stored up side down. I'd probably like to just go for a repair that will be effective in making the vessel sea-worthy again, rather than a full restoration.

    In regards to the sides, so if i sand it down and add filler to the sanded areas, what would be the best product to use for filler? Also, can i sand the front and back and use filler there too?

    Finally, I understand the paint offers some protection and water resistance to the fibreglass, the paint is predominantly intact, however it is quite faded, and in a few places cracked, would i be better off sanding down the entire vessel and re-painting it after I fill in the gaps? Or do you think the factory paint will be adequate?

    Thanks again for your advice, much appreciated.
     
  6. pauloman
    Joined: Jun 2010
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    Location: New Hampshire

    pauloman Epoxy Vendor

    I own the exact same kayak, and I have seen one other one just like it. I mounted a short skeg on the aft 1/3 which greatly improved flat water tracking. Also made a custom carved out foam block 'back rest."

    Probably just thickened epoxy for 99% of the trouble spots.

    mine was also free - so sun damaged that the glass was 'loose' and making everyone come in contact with it start to itch. A coat of solvent thinned epoxy fixed that.

    paul - progressive epoxy polymers, inc.
     
  7. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    SamSam Senior Member

    I had a British book from the '60s "Building A GRP Canoe". It was all enclosed kayaks, but they called them canoes.

    They were built like that, with 2 halves from 2 molds joined together with fiberglass tape on the inside. The process of joining them was to tape and tie the two halves together and then prop the hull up on end. Getting the tape applied was not easy and any way possible to get the tape laminated on where it held them together and didn't leak was the right way. All methods involved having your head stuck in the seating hole with paintbrushes and/or rollers attached to long sticks, immersed in styrene fumes, taking breaks just this side of becoming unconscious or when your eyes became unseeing from tears. The best process seemed to be to pre-wet the tape with resin, roll it up and then letting it unroll in the vicinity of the seam and maneuvering it into place somehow with whatever worked best. The very ends being hard to seal properly, the general procedure was to dump in a smallish wad of glass and resin, which also gave the ends some toughness to bash into rocks and things without breaking so easily.

    Kayaks have numerous hull shapes depending on their use, from long, narrow and flat lengthwise and crosswise, for easy paddling and tracking in lakes and oceans etc, to short, wide, rounded crosswise with lots of rocker lengthwise for whitewater, where you need to be able to maneuver much more than paddle distances, and have more hull volume for buoyancy in aireated water.

    The kayak shown looks like a good river or lake kayak that would handle rapids if high maneuverability wasn't required and the bow wasn't stuck into the water much, as it is long and thin and has less buoyancy. Maybe a class 3 rapids.

    It looks like a fine kayak. I wouldn't get too involved with 'restoration' and would concentrate more on 'using'. Thickened resin and a matching color paint on the outside would make it presentable. Or a contrasting black stripe around the seam. It makes me itch just looking at the interior. A coat of resin like Paul Oman suggests would take care of that. Or, like I used in canoes when I was making them, latex porch enamel. Cheaper, less toxic, lighter weight and you could do color, like white or tan. If you had to do any work on the inside seam, that should be done first. If you were to use it for touring or daytrips, a few hatches would be handy and also allow you easier access to the seam. You won't be able to carry much though, depending on your weight. Actually, they are very sensitive to weight and are sized according to the operators weight, I assume you've tried it on the water to see if your too heavy or not. A rubber skirt that attaches to the lip around the seat hole and tight around your waist keeps out most water, but you still want some flotation to keep it from sinking to the bottom if it does fill. Plastic soda bottles, milkjugs, foam or bags will work.
     
  8. e32lover
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    e32lover Junior Member

    Thanks for all the great repplies.


    Ill prob go for quite a basic repair just to get it sea-worthy, ill sand down the outside seam, as well as a few chipped areas, then fill it with a fibreglass filler, then paint it. For the inside, ill give it a mild sand, and coat it in the latex porch enamal. With the outside seam, how far on each side of the seam should I sand and apply filler to? Also is there anything else that i should be aware of?

    I was thinking of using 3M Fibreglass Filler for the outside, will this be ok?

    Thanks again
     
  9. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    SamSam Senior Member

    That sounds like a good plan. It's easy to get too involved with things like that and spend way more time than it's worth. If you like doing stuff like that it's fine, but if you are more interested in using it than fixing it, you have to be careful not to un-do too much that you have to re-do to make it usable. Too much would be to separate the halves and get it all spiffy as new (unless that's the part about boats that you enjoy). I might possibly try and clean up the inside seam and put another layer of tape on it, but that's because I have some experience with stuff like that. If I did start something like that, more than likely I would soon be asking myself why I ever started doing it. "If it isn't broke, don't fix it" is a good plan.

    Just fill what you have to, you're not adding strength so much as preventive maintenance and looks, so you don't have to go x amount on both sides of the seam.

    Things I hate with fiberglass are the rough unfinished places. To reach under for something and get a fiberglass splinter driven under you fingernail can ruin the moment. Fiberglass splinters are brittle and don't pull out like a wood one, they just break off and fester until you've pretty much grown a whole new set of skin. The woven roving in you kayak under neath the footrest looks like a suspicious area with those WR ends standing up, and the taped seam is probably like cactus, especially where it's hard to reach.

    On the inside I would wipe/scrub it with acetone or rubbing alcohol or maybe soap and water. Actually, that is probably what I would use, some dish soap and water with an assortment of scrub brushes wired to sticks and then rinsed really well with a jet nozzle on the hose. If you have to any laminate work to do, you don't want to use the water unless you can let it dry out for several days. Or do the lam work first. You don't have to wait so long for latex paint, wipe it dry and put a fan in for a few hours. The procedure I would use, after cleaning, is to first paint the inside, then sand it, and then paint again. If you sand the bare glass, you get an big amount of itchy dust and what glass gets sanded becomes fuzzy. Its kind of like sanding string, or your socks, or your cat. The dust is harder to clean up and a coat of paint on that ends up rough and needs another coat anyway. So if you paint it first and then sand it, it's less dust, the glass you want to smooth up sands easier, ends up smoother and the dust cleans up easier for the second coat.

    The 3m stuff should work. Depending on what kind it is some are easier to apply smoothly and sand easier than others.
     
  10. SamSam
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    SamSam Senior Member

    BTW, that's not paint on the outside, that's gelcoat- colored resin. You can go to an auto parts store and get a buffing pad for a drill and some buffing compound and probably buff the hull back to it's original color and shine.
     
  11. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    your plan is good, but be careful when sanding, you do not want to be cutting the fibers (it will weaken it). Sand just enough to roughen the surface to get a new layer of filler or paint to bond. If the paint is still well bonded that is all you need, if there is extensive peeling of old paint use a chemical stripper to remove it.

    Paint will protect the resin from breaking down in the sunlight, all fiberglass needs to have several coats of something that blocks sunlight or it will break down. Paint is as good as anything else, costs less and easy to apply.

    good luck with it.
     
  12. e32lover
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    e32lover Junior Member

    Thanks for all the great advice, very much appreciated, I began work on it today, and have sanded the paint about 1 inch on each side of the seam around the entire vessel, as well as sanded the front and back and restored a nice pointy shape to it.

    After sanding off the paint (or gel), I noticed the fibreglass has chipped away abit around the seam in a few places, and the gap between the two halves is bigger than i thought in places.

    Although the inner tape appears to be intact, i am getting minor leakage out the worn parts of the seam.

    I initially planned to sand around the seam, apply epoxy or fibreglass resin, then sand it back abit, then mildly sand the rest of the bottom half of the boat, and apply a few coats of marine paint.

    But inspecting the size of the gap and condition of the fibreglass in parts of the seam, I was thinking of applying some more fibreglass. I have a few sheets of fibreglass here that should be sufficient for covering the seam about 1 inch on each side, and give it more of a nice rounded smooth shape. Just not sure wheather to re-fibreglass over the existing fibreglass around the seam, or just apply the resin to fill in the gaps.

    Being a novice, I was wondering if its possible to just apply more fibreglass over the existing fibreglass around the seam to add strenght?

    Thanks for your time, its much appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  13. e32lover
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    e32lover Junior Member

    Check out my above post regarding whether to fibreglass or not, here are some pics i just snapped up of the seam after sanding

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    [​IMG]

    thanks
     
  14. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    SamSam Senior Member

    Yes, that will work. A little fiberglass tape over the seam, filler in the low spots, some fairing and paint and your good to go. Are we itchy and scratchy yet? ; )
     

  15. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I don't think I'd bother with the tape, just fill the ding, and divots with thickened epoxy, then apply a cosmetic skim coat of fairing compound (more epoxy) and sand smooth to finish. The proper procedures can be found in the "user's guides" at www.westsystem.com and www.systemthree.com. You will not need much material, nor goo, a quart will likely do (the smallest amount you can buy). The epoxy you want to use in your country is BoteCoat and pick a temperature best suited for the conditions you'll experience during the cure process. West System is also available there, but cost more. You may also consider logging onto Mik Storer's site > http://www.storerboatplans.com/Faq/faqindex.html < as he speaks Australian, so there will not be any translation issues.

    It's not a big job, but there are a few steps. Wet out the whole area with unthickened epoxy, fill the divots and gaps with thickened epoxy, then over coat with a light weight fairing compound (pre-mixed or home made with balloons or spheres), let cure, sand smooth and paint to suit.
     
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