Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hot Mess - The Bottom Part 1

I was pretty burned out from working 60+ hours a week for the past 3 weeks on the new shop and I had gotten it to the point where it was at least watertight, so I decided to take a break this week and get the Force 5 back up to speed.

I don't know the entire history of the Force 5, but it started production in the early 70's and was a competitor to the Laser (although I don't know which one came first).  When I was a kid they had one at the camp I went to and it was the coveted boat in their small fleet of Optis, Sunfishes, and other assorted dinghys.  I always had fond memories of the boat and when I saw it on craigslist I couldn't resist.

The boat was in really rough shape with several holes that look like they had been repaired by a deranged first grader with too much grey playdoh. There was no sail, no running rigging, and all the woodwork (splash coaming and thwart) was missing.  I probably would have passed on this boat
except the expensive bits (mast, boom, rudder assembly, and daggerboard) had been stored in a garage and were in surprisingly good shape.  The paint is flaking off the mast but it appears solid.  That left me with the following tasks:
  • Purchase and install new rigging. (fun job)
  • Build new thwart and coaming.  I have several lovely chunks of old growth honduras mahogany that is just a pleasure to machine.  I just needed to either find templates (Thanks Chris Z. from or approximate. (fun job)
  • Fix and fair the hull. I've always liked fiberglass repair and have gotten good at it over the years and with a boat so small, it shouldn't be much of a burden at all. (time consuming, but still fun on small scale such as this)
The great thing about this boat compared to other boats I've done is it's soo freaking small that every job is manageable and economical. Late last week I ordered epoxy, primer, and paint and jumped into the project.

I started on the bottom and flipped the hull over (woohoo, I don't have to lie on my back for a week with a grinder).  It was hard to tell what the substance was that was used to plug the cracks and holes in the boat, but it wasn't quite soft, but certainly wasn't quite hard.  It might have just been dried pigeon shit, but I knew it all had to go.  It was all loose enough so I didn't even have to pull out the angle grinder with 24 grit discs; 60 grit on the R.O. sander was adequate and ensured I didn't grind through the paper thin hull.

Mmmmm; bailer
An hour later and I was ready to start re-building (did I tell you how refreshing it is to not have to spend a full week grinding before re-building).  I identified several actual holes/cracks in the hull that warranted 6 oz cloth.  The biggest section was along the bow, there were tons of cracks/holes and I ended up doing a 4 foot by 1 foot section of cloth.  Other areas were what appeared to be cracks from being trailered incorrectly (or maybe somebody took it 4-wheeling on a jeep road).

The bailer was also a complete mess and I ended up using 1708 biaxial cloth for that because it protrudes below the hull and is just asking to be clobbered by all sorts of things.

Once all the patches were cut out, I mixed up a batch of epoxy and wetted everything out.  Before calling it a day, I mixed up a smallish batch of fairing compound and filled most of the smaller dings, gouges, and the like.

First round of patching done.
Start of bailer rebuild.  When the boat is flipped back over I will fill with epoxy and then re-tap holes.

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