Worst moments in boatbuilding

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by BlackSnow, Feb 26, 2010.

  1. BlackSnow
    Joined: Feb 2008
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    Location: Iowa

    BlackSnow Junior Member

    I am starting this thread on a whim, because I have a few funny boatbuilding stories to share. Some of them have been only personally embarassing, others have been downright setbacks, of the 1 step forward, 2 steps back variety. I will start by sharing one my finest moments, because my normally reserved personality is emboldened by the anonimity of the intraweb.

    I was working on a major step on my 23' cabin cruiser, which involved glassing/epoxying nearly the entire inside of the boat. This is before the stringers and frames were added. The hull had recently been flipped from its upside down position to rightside up.

    Anyone that has done this before on a sizable boat realizes that it is a very labor intensive process. I found this to be true, in spades...

    I recruited my buddy for a large part of the process, but was then left alone to complete the job after several hours of work. As the hours wore on, I found myself using more and more epoxy with slower and slower results. Eventually, I worked my way into the bow of the boat. Unfortunately, this required me to kneel/sit/slip/slide on previously epoxied portions of the interior. In hindsight, of course, I would have started at the bow and worked toward the stern. Lesson learned.

    As I progressed into the wee hours of the very hot/humid night, I was forced to abandon all hope in completing the process in an orderly and safe fashion. After slipping and sliding around on uncured epoxy for quite some time, I finally finished saturating all of the interior with 12 oz. cloth. When I extracted myself from the boat, I was covered head to toe in semi-cured epoxy.

    I know that this is very unwise, as it can lead to epoxy sensitivity. However, my only thought upon finishing this task was to get into the shower as soon as possible. I stripped down on the deck and pursued the mostly futile exercise of using a shower to get the epoxy off my skin.

    Anyone who has done anything similar will not be surprised when I can say I spent the next following night/day being covered in extreme stickiness. I was able to wash some off with acetone, but it is next to impossible to get it all off.

    When I woke up the next morning, I was very chargrined to discover that my butt cheeks had been glued together. Then, to add insult to injury, on my deck I found my "tighty-whities" securly epoxied to the deck. My wife, of course, proceeded to tell the entire family. Such is the life of an amatuer boatbuilder...

    Please share your f*$#-ups.
  2. Landlubber
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Brisbane

    Landlubber Senior Member

    next time you feel like covering yourself in epoxy, use white, el cheapo vinegar as the solvent, it removes the expoy without forcing more of it into your skin (with acetone).....

    ....you did not of course really do this..........I mean lock yourself into a corner.....surely not......maybe?
  3. don4465
    Joined: Feb 2010
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    Location: Elliottsburg, PA USA

    don4465 riverman

    Mine is a worst maiden voyage. I bought a 14 ft sneakboat that had a rotten pointed transom with a foot pedal tiller on it. My solution was to cut off the transom area and install a flat transom resulting in a boat like a flat backed canoe. I used silicone for caulking and put on a thick couple of coats of rustoleum green paint. I finished just in time to take it on a weeks vacation to Canada powered by a trolling motor. I took it out the first time by myself( this was 15yrs ago and I only weighed about 150lbs then) and it took on a little water but seemed fine. I beached it and talked my wife into going out for a sunset cruise. We made it 20 yards off shore before the inside was 3/4 filled with water and barely made it back to shore. The silicone had softened and given way. After a day of soaking the wood did swell and I used the boat for another year. My wife has never gotten back in any boat with me since, no matter how seaworthy.
  4. TeddyDiver
    Joined: Dec 2007
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    Location: Finland/Norway

    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    Allways see the bright side of life :p
  5. Itchy&Scratchy
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    Location: Oxford & South Africa

    Itchy&Scratchy Senior Member

    I think mine has to be the old leaving the bung out.

    Classic situation, reverse the boat and trailer down the slip, pull the car out, make sure youve got everything you need,rods fly's etc.
    right off for a bit of fishing.

    Standing on the nice clean casting deck that I made for my 16 footer when you get the sneaky feeling that the boat is feeling a bit heavy, look back and realize the waters almost up to the gunwhales.
    Oh Sh*t !!!!

    Jump behind the consol and fire her up only to realise that my weight shift is about to send us to the bottom, so end result is me standing in front of the drivers console steering backwards, trying to keep as much weight as I can, as far forward as I can, to balance all the weight in the aft section of the boat.
    Put some power on hoping to accelerate the drainage and eventually make it back to the slip, all the while wondering how to get the boat far enough out the water so as not to damge the hull, due to the excessive weight and drain the water at the same time. Fortunately the slip I was using was really long with quite a shallow incline and built in its own little sheltered harbour....
    and possibly most important............:p

    THis happened on a week day with very few people and boaters about so saved myself heaps of embarrassement.:eek:

    Needless to say, I did get a good days fishing in the end, and now check, oh , at least five times before the boat hits the water.:D :D
    He He He...

  6. Itchy&Scratchy
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    Location: Oxford & South Africa

    Itchy&Scratchy Senior Member

    Ok so I just read the thread heading, maybe my worst moment as described above wasnt boatbuilding per se but I thought it funnny nevertheless.
    Hope thats ok
  7. Herman
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    Location: The Netherlands

    Herman Senior Member

    My worst moment is pulling a cabon hull from a mould (in foot by foot sections), after I was advised to use Frekote mould release. Never used the stuff again...

    More unhappy moments, although not by myself:

    Infusing a carbon hull, approx 100.000 dollar worth of materials. In the end, hastily there was a new batch of epoxy needed. Conveniently, there was still one bucket of epoxy standing. It wasn't untill 3/4 of that was infused in the boat, before someone realised there was no hardener in...

    The neighbour of my grandparents:
    Build a boat in the basement of the house. After completion, realise that there is no way it can get out. Dismantle it, and reassemble on the attick. Realise that it will not get out either. Dismantle it again, and assemble it in the garden. Realise that the houses are all connected together, and constructed in a (somewhat) circle, with only very narrow passages every now and then (just enough for a bicycle) so this wise man decided it needed a crane to haul it over the house.
    He then launched the boat in the river across the street. The boat was leaky, but that is normal with wooden boats, so he tied it to a tree. As the boat was not well balanced, a large amount of stone was placed in the back, to balance the boat. A day later it broke the lanyard, and the boat was not found again...
    If you see this happening in a comic movie, it is a bad joke in a bad movie. Worst of all, this happened for real.
  8. keith66
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    Location: Essex UK

    keith66 Senior Member

    Back in 81 i aquired the last Wing 25 hull, there was no deck moulding so i decided to put a wooden deck & cabin on her. Beamshelves were bonded in & i measured back from the bow each side & marked where the main beam went. Having set the main beam in i fitted the rest & put the ply deck on. The cabin was soon built & beams set in, something didnt seem quite right but i carried on anyway, It was only when i went to fit the forehatch that i realised the hole was not square, I still remember the feeling of horror as i realised what i had done.
    I had set the main beam in with one side forward of the mark & one side aft of it. All the beams were pissed. There was nothing to be done but build a beautiful elliptical forehatch from mahogany with a sycamore inlay & round portlight in the middle. Loads of people commented on that hatch but i never let on the real reason for building it!
  9. susho
    Joined: Dec 2006
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    Location: the Netherlands

    susho Composite builder

    Chef was on a holiday, so it was the freelancer and me(the intern) I don't know who was more experienced :p
    Running low on slow hardener, but plenty of fast hardener.
    It was all mixable, so we called the supplyer guy how to mix the two for about two hours open time.
    So we mixed the stuff, started laminating(quite fast already)
    After half an hour the resin already thickened up a bit, so we had one of those stress moments. Laminating really fast(and messy) never minded the peelply, put the rest of the vacuum bed on top, and sucked the hole thing vacuum.
    It came out quite allright. few bad spots we had to repair, but no lost product. looked like **** without the peelply, and all the foil rincles in it, but it was only the inside.
  10. Herman
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    Location: The Netherlands

    Herman Senior Member

    Ah, that reminds me of a job where I was invited to help. 5 hours open time (TECAM, so 100 gr batch, 23 degrees).

    Laminating would take approx 3-4 hours, with 5 people.

    When we started, all was nice and cool (20 degrees or so). But the roof was made from some sort of corrugated sheet. When the sun hit the roof, temperature rised to 35+ degrees, and lots of radiation. The only large door that could be opened would let the sun shine directly on the workpiece.

    What a job...

    Came out nice, anyhow. But never again in those circumstances.
  11. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    Epoxy not curing on the side of a 57' sporfisherman. Had to peel it off, burn and scrape, and grind off all the sticky crap.
  12. Landlubber
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Brisbane

    Landlubber Senior Member

    Funny story when I was working in China.

    The new boy on the block managed to sell the yard a new gelcoat/chopper resin gun set up. I will not name the brand as it was not their fault.

    Anyhow, he decides to demonstrate to the yard how the machine works, and sits there reading the book......alarm bell ring in my mind and I ask my translator if he has ever used this thing before, she comes back and says, yes, he is the expert on these machines......I decide to watch the show.

    They set up a 45 footer to be gelcoated....away he goes and the job is done by about 4pm. Next morning I touch the job, still very sticky...I phoned the fella to come down to the yard immediately, and when he arrives I show him the result of his endeavours.......the MEKP side of the gun was not run, it was an external mix gun, so NO MIX.

    Three days of cleaning then another week of rewaxing a one year old mould was the result.
  13. Steve Clark
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    Location: Narragansett Bay RI

    Steve Clark Charged Particle

    Nothing beats chipping a part out of a mold. If you do it well, you ruin the part and the mold. If you go for the gold, you can do what I did last week and drive a chisel into your thumb as well and spend the morning getting stitches.
    Another classic day was delivering an order of Optimists that had been reduced from 12 to 5. So in addition to working all of a holiday weekend, I get to deliver the boats AND write a check to the customer.

  14. Adam Focht
    Joined: Jan 2010
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    Location: Michigan

    Adam Focht Junior Member

    The first boat I actually had a hand in building, was a 16' pram, cored with balsa sandwiched with e-glass. I was about 14 years old at the time and hadn't done much else other than sweep up my dad's shop and had no experience in glass what-so-ever. We built it in my dad's garage, out of a quickee plywood mold. The outside of the boat was shot with gelcoat that we blended sort of a dull deadgrass / Olive Drab green color as we were going to use the boat mainly for duck hunting.

    To finish the inside of the boat, it was my job to use some of the same gel coat, and mix in a very fine sand (like ashtray sand) for a completely non-skid coating on the inside.

    So, I began brushing it on and finished several hours later, which was in the early evening.

    The next day, I went to the garage and stuck my hand into the still wet gel coat I brushed on the day before. I double checked the catalyst bottle, sure enough, it read High Point 90, "clear" catalyst. My dad insisted that I didn't mix it how he showed me, I didn't mix it enough, etc etc. So after I scraped off all the gel coat, completely washed down the inside of the boat (can you say GIGANTIC mess?), one of the guys that worked for my dad walks into the garage and says "Hey Adam, did you see the ACETONE I brought over?... I put it in the clear catalyst jug..."

    I've been doing a minor 'sniff test' on clear catalyst ever since :D
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