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Fairing Compound and the Evil Tarp Monster

posted Jun 7, 2010, 5:28 PM by Christopher Hubbell   [ updated Jun 7, 2010, 5:50 PM ]

After a long morning of filling blisters I began fairing the side decks with a mixture of West 105/206 and 407 low density fairing compound.  I chose the 407 over 410 because it's made to be stronger, and the decks take some abuse.  Using a large spreader I worked the compound into place.

It's very messy stuff to work with when you're not yet an expert because you need to apply it over large areas with a wide spreader.  In my case, the work was made more difficult because it was insanely windy this afternoon.  Not only were the gusts driving me nuts as I worked on the narrow side decks without lifelines, but every now and then it was blowing thin whisps of compound off the spreader and onto my decks.  Messy!

407 filer is unbelievably fine grained.  It actually flows like water as you stir it into the resin, and if you stir too quickly it will float into the air in puffs.  I ended up finding a rhythm using four pumps of the epoxy then filling it to somewhere between ketchup and peanut butter consistency.  It was hard for me to get it applied and smoothed out fast enough to work with significantly more pumps.  Not as efficient as possible, but it worked out fine becuase I keep a good stock of mixing containers, spreaders, and sticks.

Eventually I was able to get an initial coat onto 100% of the starboard deck, and 75% of the port deck. I ran out of time before I could finish the last short segment, so that's for next visit.  The picture isn't a very good one, but it gives the idea.

By the time I finished I had a very smooth surface a little thinner than what I'd need, but about 90% of what I expect it to be.  It looked fantastic to see a solid color and solid surface after all these months of jagged fiberglass.

Unfortunately, I had stretched the clock (as usual) and really needed to get the boat tarped up so I could make it home for dinner.  There isn't a lot of time between the end of school and my son's bed time, so I didn't want to miss more than necessary.  As I begin the next phase of the story, keep in mind my earlier statement about the wind conditions...

As I began wrestling the tarp from the bow back towards the stern the wind of course picked up.  It filled the tarp like a baloon.  I was holding on, but it took quite a bit of effort to keep the tarp from sailing away along with me.  As I worked it over the stern rail a gust slapped the big blue monster and caused it on both sides to snap in and out of the fairing compound a few times.  I was nauseated at the sight.

The good news is that this is the first coat.  I will need to sand it, and a few ridges or dents will be easily remedied by the second coat.  What I'm so, so, so not happy about is the tarp picking up fairing compound and no doubt spreading it on my tposides, and eventually ending with the condition of my tarp being epoxied to my hull.  I'm sure it will pull away easily since the tarp is so worn out, but I expect to have to sand the hull in a few spots to get rid of the mess.  Not what I had in mind, but with the windows out I absolutely HAVE to keep the tarp on the boat.

I'm dreading my next trip out, but maybe I'll get lucky.