After we glued the Azek down as our new core material, we prepared to layer fiberglass onto the new core.
We started by cutting fiberglass mat to the shape and size of the entire sole. We cut the corners and let them double up for added strength. Then we rolled a bolt of 4 foot wide fiberglass cloth out and cut that to fit. Once the first layer of cloth was cut in place, we pulled it up and used it as a pattern for the second piece. Each layer of fiberglass was slightly smaller than the one under it so that we could sand the edged without sanding through any layers.
Rather than try to match the shape of the rudder post fitting, we left the glass long and planned to chisel it off afterward. We also cut a cross into the cloth for the fuel fill but left all the material in place.
Once the glass was cut, we filled gaps and leveled the low spots as well as we could. This mostly meant building up the areas around the fuel fill and the rudder post. Once we started, it was imperative that we kept moving, since you can layer on the epoxy until it’s no longer sticky, but after that you have to allow it to cure, then sand, before adding more. We were determined to get the glass laid in one day, and we did.
Epoxy on the Azek, fiberglass mat on the epoxy. We rolled more epoxy onto the mat, and it took quite some time before we got the hang of it. Keeping the roller dripping wet and not rolling too many times was key – otherwise the fibers making up the mat would begin to stick to the roller, then bunch up and try to lift. Ugly! One of the high spots that tormented me during fairing was due to this problem. In the future, I might put down the mat and let that set up, then sand it flat before laying on the cloth. There’s less grinding that can be done with cloth, since the weave is part of its strength.
However, this time we went for broke, laying on the cloth and more epoxy, more cloth and more epoxy. It’s a shame that such a huge effort looks rather unimpressive in pictures, but here you go.
On a side note…the fiberglass flaps we left around the fuel fill packed under so nicely and filled the space so well that we left them. Rather than try to build another wooden platform like the old one, we decided to make a molded epoxy base that would build on the strength of all that fiberglass wedged up in there.
While grinding down the rough edges of fiberglass on the footwell sides, I realized that more fittings needed to be removed. Oh, and maybe it would be a good idea to tape everything? After all, I was going to try to fair up the sides, which would mean slopping epoxy very near some very important items…
After sanding the fiberglass as smooth as possible, I made up a bad-ass concoction of West Systems 407 Low-Density filler and epoxy. I wanted something that would be easy to sand and didn’t need strength. The filler went on well with a large spreader and I didn’t attempt to smooth it too much. In the past, the more I work it, the shallower I make it. That means that I still have low spots after fairing and have to do it again. I wanted to skip that if possible, and did a pretty good job!
In the photo, it’s not just shiny – it’s thick! When I started sanding it down, I was struck by the difference.
I’m glad I picked the low-density filler, because my fancy plan worked! Building it up a little extra made it come down fair without having remaining low spots. I was a very happy sander.
And the whole thing, sanded.
After a coat of straight epoxy to seal the filler and another sanding, we primed.
However, we couldn’t paint immediately. There was the small matter of the cockpit drains…