The Beginning of the End

Lots of progress. First off I was only able to get in 15-30 minutes a few nights the past week but that was enough to effectively finish the bulkheads and hatch pulls. Both sides of the bulkheads are fully varnished and done. The insides of the hatches are complete and the pulls were attached. A simple hole was predrilled from the under side and a single screw was added for strength after I epoxied the pulls to the outside of the hatch lids. The inside of the screw head was covered in epoxy and the pulls and surrounding lid area received a couple coats of epoxy over a few days. All that’s left to do is sand them.

You should also notice now the hatches don’t quite sit nicely. Some of this will resolve when the foam seal is installed, and some I will probably have to live with. It’s really noticeable in a close up shot like this but not obvious from a standard viewing distance. The pulls will sanded smooth along with any epoxy on the lids around them going through the grits up to 220 like everything else.

On Saturday, after a final wipe down I started to apply the varnish to the deck and the outside of the hatches. Using the same pattern as before, back and forth to apply it, up and down to evenly distribute it and then back and forth once more with a light touch to break the bubbles and blend it. Always finish by going from dry to wet with the final strokes. I’d do a foot or two section on one side, switch to the other side, do the same section, then the next and then switch back and repeat. This way I never left a wet edge for more than a minute or two before blending into it.

Even though it’s just the first coat the color pop was simply amazing to me.

The varnish was left to dry overnight. Sunday I got back to work with an initial sanding. You can see some sags and other irregularities in the first coat. This is normal. Some 250 grit (yeah, that’s an odd number but I had an old pack laying around) sand paper scuffed the surface nicely and took care of any blemishes.

Before applying the second coat I took advantage of the deck being dry and shifted to work on the bulkheads. Both were placed and then I masked around them to avoid getting the sealant all over. I’m using a marine adhesive sealant from 3M. I applied it to both sides, used a gloved finger to smooth the bead out and then spent some time cleaning it up as best as I could.

Contorting into the hatch openings with a caulk gun and my arm left little to no room to actually get my head in there to see what I was doing. A few parts were done pretty much by feel but most I could at least get some kind of sight line on. The final image is a good example of applying where I could see. The rest going up and around was done pretty much blindly. Of course reaching in to smooth and clean wasn’t the easiest either but since this is a one time operation I’m satisfied with the result.

I also took advantage of a dry deck (not sticky with drying varnish) to tweak the hatch rims. A few spots needed a bit of attention shaving down some epoxy high spots.

A second coat of varnish was then applied to the deck deepening the finish and the protection. I think the results speak for themselves. The will be at least two more coats with the only hold up now being the drying time. Then I can switch to the hull and apply the necessary coats there. I’m also applying the varnish to the hatch lips.

So the remaining list is really short now. The last three items will take less than an hour in total and I already did a bunch of hatch tweaking today so unless the foam seal creates an issue the hatch final fitting may be done already.

  • Hatch – final fitting/tweaking – partially completed
  • Varnish, varnish, varnish
  • Install deck lines
  • Install foam seal on hatches
  • Install seat

Moving Forward Again

Sad to say the skim coat of epoxy did nothing to remove the visible weave. It did reduce the visible aspect of it quite a bit but didn’t eliminate it at all so I’ll not be putting any epoxy on the other half. It would just be time wasted. Instead I have to accept that up close there will be some weave visible. From about 16 inches away you can see a bit of it in the dark walnut strip in the pic below. Not obvious though and from 3 or more feet away it pretty much disappears. It’s one of those things if you’re looking for it you’ll find it, otherwise it will probably never be noticed.

So I proceeded to work on sanding back the fill coat to return the surface to the nice 220 grit level smoothness I had before. With a bit of Bio-Solv to wipe it down you can see the weave is mostly not there. Even after the solvent evaporates off it’s still barely visible. Look closely just above the center of the last image and you can see a small patch.

So after completing the sanding I grabbed a round file and knocked off the edge of the tie downs. They didn’t really feel sharp but I didn’t want to take any chances.

I rolled the stand out into the sun to get good lighting and did a full Bio-Solv wipe down of the entire hull and deck. I then went over it inch by inch looking for any last defects or issues that need to be fixed. Found a bunch but all very minor. Most were just some sanding marks that will easily be removed. A couple of drips to still be removed. A few were slightly rough patches that I hit with another thin coat of epoxy and a few spots I found along the part line (where the hull and deck were joined) that look to have a 1/4″ paper thin gap that needs filling. I marked them all with a small piece of tape so I wouldn’t forget any. Unfortunately many of those shots were blurry so only a few are shown below.

With a few small patches of epoxy drying on the kayak I moved to the bulkheads and inside of the hatches. Gave the hatches a thorough sanding through the grits and then applied a coat of varnish. The bulkheads, at different stages in the process, received either a 120/220 or a 400 grit sanding and a coat of varnish. The 400 grit smaller bulkhead is now on the 4th coat and I think this will be the final.

Prior to varnishing I also did a sanding on the cockpit interior to take care of a few last drips and then gave that a coat of varnish too.

Lastly I installed the foot braces. Well, last in the list, actually I installed them before varnishing the cockpit as you can probably tell from the pictures. I simply matched each one up to the corresponding side (drain slots facing down keyed which one went where), slipped them over the bolts and installed the washer and nut. A nut driver was used to snug them up. The first went on easy, the second didn’t want to slip down enough to accommodate the nut so I had to sand off a bit of epoxy that got on the bottom of the bolt stud. Literally just a few seconds and then brace guide slipped all the way on.

So after the interior sanding and brace installation I then applied a coat of varnish on the inside. I won’t get much time this week to work on it but am hoping for a few minutes each evening to put another coat of varnish on the hatches and bulkheads as needed. This should have me ready for final touch up sanding of the recent patches next weekend and then I can start with final varnishing of the whole kayak. Somewhere in that mix, when the bulkheads are done, I’ll install them too. Thankfully the varnish is fine to brush on in cooler weather. Not sure if I get an early start if I can do two coats in one day or just one. I’ll have to check it as I go.

Remaining to do list:

  • Last minor defect sanding
  • Install bulkheads
  • Hatch – final fitting/tweaking
  • Varnish, varnish, varnish
  • Install deck lines
  • Install foam seal on hatches
  • Install seat

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Let’s start with the oops. During the last few sanding sessions I’ve noticed some of the fiberglass weave showing through. I checked on some of the kayak building forums and the general consensus is that I’m hitting the top of the weave but it’s not really anything to worry about. But it will be at least a little visible, with light in the right direction, even after varnishing. Most builders say they have this, usually in more places than they want, too and not to worry. I could put on another thin epoxy coat and then resend more gently and that might hide the weave, but it might not. In the picture below I’ve highlighted a section of the deck where this is visible. In the other picture, this shows three coats of varnish on one of the bulkheads and you can see short “lines” in the lower part of the picture which is the weave showing through.

More later on what I decided to do about this.

The main goals today were to sand out the tie down points and the line guides. They were pretty rough to start with, but a bunch of sanding later and all are looking really good. I went through a LOT of 60 grit discs on the tie downs and line guides then a moderate amount of 80 grit to finish these off.

Once done with the sanding I was still debating with myself what to do about the weave. I did a vacuum and tack cloth and then a bio-solv wipe down to see how it would look. Cleaned up nice but the weave is still visible. I’ll probably have to consider trying another fill coat to see if it will help. That can happen another day though as I have the time and the weather is good for doing the end pour.

I started by getting the kayak to the front of the house where there is a 90 degree inside corner that I can prop it up on. An old rug section was placed on the ground in an attempt to avoid damaging the tip. With a bit of wrestling and only banging the end on the ground once (I’ll have to see what if any damage this did later) I finally got it into place. It’s pretty much straight down through the access hatch to the end point.

Normally a batch of epoxy is 2 or 3 pumps of epoxy and hardener. Even during the initial wetting out where I needed a lot I still did not do more than 5 as the one time I tried more it started to set up before I was done applying. But being as this wouldn’t be applying but rather just pouring it in I mixed up a 10 pump batch to ensure I had enough. Turns out this was WAY more than I needed. Filling the end well past the pipe only would have needed 4 or 5 pumps. This also, unfortunately, is a good opportunity to see the angle that the pipe ended up getting installed at. From the outside I don’t expect anyone will really notice this but I’ll still know it is there crooked.

So with about half the batch available I decided today was “another day” and grabbed a brush and got as much visible weave as I could reach covered with a thin coat. When done I checked the end by the pipe and saw nothing leaking out so even as is the pipe was a good solid waterproof connection, this end pour will only help. It’ll also make good reinforcement for any stresses put on the tie down during transport.

So, the to do list with the deletions and the additions is:

  • Full once over to look for any defects or other stuff that needs fixing
  • Light fill coat on other half of kayak to cover weave spots
  • Final sanding over whole kayak (check inside too for any drips or other issues with the finish in the cockpit
  • Install foot braces
  • Install bulkheads
  • Hatch – final fitting
  • Varnish, varnish, varnish
  • Install deck lines

I’ve noticed two small areas that were sanded through the weave and into the wood and one area that looks like a 1/2″ stretch or so where there is air under the fiberglass. If I find anything else in the once over it’ll get added to my fix list, otherwise these I already know about are fairly quick fixes although given drying time for epoxy they’ll probably actually take a few days to be completed.

A Quick Sand and Splash

Just a quick work session this evening lasting a half hour. It was enough to do a preliminary sanding of one of the tie down holes. The before shot is from the front, the after shot is the rear one rough sanded down.

I also did a more aggressive sanding of the bulkhead that was varnished to attempt to remove some dimples from the surface. After cleaning I applied a new coat of varnish to see how this comes out.

Finally the line guides were a little rough with the weave being something I could still feel so I applied another fill coat to them.

I want to do more, but I can’t

More progress was made today, unfortunately most of it involved epoxy so now I’m stuck waiting for it to dry and can’t really do anything else.

First I sanded down all the line guides, or specifically the epoxy and fiberglass strips that I put on them. Once cleaned up I applied a second coat of epoxy. I forgot to take any pictures as this is just more of the dozens of other times I’ve done epoxy and sanding now.

Checking a few reference videos (Petrel play for one… see link below) and I realize I should have done the end pours and tie down drilling long before attaching the deck. This would have allowed the end pours to be done easily instead of having to balance the kayak on end. Oh well. I know better for next time.

Moving on to the tie downs, I started at the rear, drilled a hole through and found air for part of the hole. So the rear will need an end pour. I went ahead and sanded the hole and then installed the 1″ brass tube that I planned to line it with. So here is one of those oops moments. It went in fine but the hole is slightly over size (even though I checked both the tube and bit with calipers and found them to be nearly identical) and some how I didn’t drill it straight. It’s much more exaggerated with the foot long bar in there. Once trimmed down and sanded to fit it won’t look as crooked, especially since it will only be seen from one side at a time. I probably could have done this better and will try differently at the front.

So I moved to the front and tried there. This time I did a small bit pilot hole and paid even more attention to my guide lines and the level and this time the hole was nearly perfect. But it’s a small hole. So back to the 1″ bit and an attempt to enlarge it. Going slow and constantly checking for level and of course coming in from each side to meet in the middle to avoid tear out and I think this one is much better. A piece of tape marks the point to cut the tube. Bonus, on the front I had solid wood all the way around so no need for an end pour.

First I epoxied the tubes in place which also provided for sealing of the underlying wood, I also used this epoxy to do the fill coat on the line guides (mentioned earlier). Mixing up some more epoxy, adding adhesive filler to thicken it and then some saw dust to color it and I went ahead an used this to fill any gaps around the tubes and help further lock everything in place. Application was easy… a nitrile glove covered finger to scoop it up and push it into place.

Once this all dries I’ll file/sand down the tubes to be flush with the hull.

With little else to work on due to the epoxy drying I turned to the bulkheads. The first coat of varnish still had that wet look, although it was dry. Just minor surface contaminates (dust, etc.) was found. I used 400 grit sand paper to give it a quick once over and remove those. The paper was folded, unfolded, cut half way through, then refolded so that the grit side never touches another grit side. Makes for an easy to use size with three more surfaces I can expose by just refolding it. After a quick sanding the feel was back to smooth so I applied another coat. Checking some resources (Nick’s Petrel Play video, episode 18, for one) and I was aiming for 4 coats but three may be sufficient, especially for these internal surfaces. I’ll see how it comes out after coat 3 before deciding.

  • Drill/fit carry handle/tie down holes – Done, epoxy and glass still needed.
  • End pours – only in the rear
  • Line guide fill coat(s) and sanding – in progress. One done, will evaluate if another is needed once dried.
  • Install bulkheads
  • Hatch – final fitting
  • Varnish, varnish, varnish

Next time will be sanding, fill coat evaluation and fiberglassing of the tie down holes. Probably the rear end pour too. If the line guides fill coat is sufficient I can move to final sanding on these, otherwise I’ll need to do one more fill coat on them. I need to get a finish on the other side of the bulkheads so I can then install them. The varnish is such that I can easily do a coat a day so by mid to late week I should have both sides completed.