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Old 03-07-2015, 16:48   #1
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How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

I'm thinking fibreglass/epoxy resin is a 60's invention but how long have fibreglass hand laid hulls been made. My boat was made in the late 70's, the hull is still as good as new, love the stuff, and my feeling is that yacht hulls in fibreglass dont predate the 70's - but I'm curious to hear from others who know about this..
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Old 03-07-2015, 17:12   #2
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

Fiberglas (the TM term) dates from 1936, with lots of experimentation in the decades before that. Its combination with polyester resin is largely related to WW2, by 1942 Owens-Corning was building structural FRP parts for airplanes. An Owens-Corning employee is credited with potentially building the first polyester resin and fiberglass FRP boat in 1942. There were earlier boats using other plastics, but none of them worked well. The mid 50's saw the beginning of production construction of FRP boats using the polyester resins we now accept as standard for boat construction.
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Old 03-07-2015, 17:16   #3
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

There is a book called "Heart of Glass" by Dan Spur (I think) that is a fantastic read if you are interested in the beginnings of fiberglass boat building and the heydays of the 60's and 70's when your boat was built.

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Old 03-07-2015, 17:28   #4
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

is epoxy resin a polyester resin or is it a different material? in general the two appear as quite different products - epoxy being more exacting in its mixing but also more versatile and durable in the conditions it can be used in, where polyester resin only requires a catalyst and the mix is fairly flexible but it likes a clean environment for curing. In general i use polyester above water, epoxy below. But i suppose 'polyester' could be a generic term where epoxy is more specific.
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Old 03-07-2015, 17:29   #5
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

i'll see if i can hunt the book up, thanx
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Old 03-07-2015, 17:36   #6
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

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Originally Posted by charliehows View Post
is epoxy resin a polyester resin or is it a different material? in general the two appear as quite different products - epoxy being more exacting in its mixing but also more versatile and durable in the conditions it can be used in, where polyester resin only requires a catalyst and the mix is fairly flexible but it likes a clean environment for curing. In general i use polyester above water, epoxy below. But i suppose 'polyester' could be a generic term where epoxy is more specific.
They are both resins but are also quite different. In simple terms, think steel and say aluminum, they are both metals yet quite different in applications and characteristics.
Our CF chemistics will hopefully give you a more detailed answer
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Old 03-07-2015, 18:41   #7
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

Epoxy is an adhesive, it has bonding capabilities with different materials that are entirely absent in polyester resin (some simplification, but not much). Entirely different chemistries.

Glass hulls, especially solid glass, and especially from the 60s through 80s are almost universally built with polyester - no epoxy anywhere (unless a post production barrier coat of some form of epoxy was put on the bottom because of blisters).

Epoxy was also used during the same period, but mostly in cold-molded and similar construction techniques. Very little was used in glass layup.

In the modern era, with many different fiber materials, many different core materials (far fewer solid glass hulls than in that heyday), and way more choices in resins it is much harder to make blanket statements, but in that era glass lamination was done with polyester. Epoxy was for specialized and custom boats. (Generalities, but I'd guess they apply >90%)
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Old 03-07-2015, 19:02   #8
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

Polyester and Epoxy are fundamentally different materials. Firstly, polyester is a "thermoplastic", meaning that if you heat it up, it will return to a moldable plastic state. Epoxy, on the otherhand is "thermosetting", meaning that once it hardens, it's not going to become formable ever again.

Like most (but not all) thermoplastics, polyester tends to be quite a bit more deflectable than epoxy before it breaks. It's use in fiberglass boats is not to provide strength, but rather to hold the strength members (the fiberglass) in place without movement so that they can provide the strength. You can think of it as a high quality glue in this application. Polyester is not waterproof, and old fiberglass hulls eventually become saturated with water. However, this is such a slow process that it doesn't really matter.

Polyester releases volatile organic compounds and gasses off for quite some time after production, which leads to "new boat smell". These VOCs are smog gasses, and this has led to the regulation of polyester boat production in California, killing the boatbuilding industry here.

Epoxy is quite a bit stronger than polyester and (unlike polyester) is impermeable to water. Unlike polyester, it is a strength component along with the glass in hull production and allows boats to be made to the same strength with fewer layers of glass. It also has considerably less outgassing, and because it's impermeable to water it doesn't have problems with blistering. Its considerably more expensive (5X) than polyester however, and only recently has it become competitive to build hulls out of it.

Epoxy is strong enough to hold carbon fiber in place and allow it to be rigid, Polyester is too deformable to rigidify carbon fiber (which is strong in stretch but breaks easily in deflection).

New vacuum-bagged injection moulding techniques for Polyester have extended its life in boat building, as VOC outgassing can be controlled and a finished gel-kote (pure polyester) layer can be applied to both sides, creating a finished hull that requires no liner. Finishing both sides of carbon fiber is still quite difficult.

Big manufacturers like Beneteau and Catalina have doubled down on Polyester for cruising hulls, and are moving to carbon/epoxy for their performance racing lines, putting them in position to exploit carbon/epoxy when the market will bear it while retaining the low cost advantages of polyester for as long as possible.
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Old 03-07-2015, 20:18   #9
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

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Originally Posted by charliehows View Post
my feeling is that yacht hulls in fibreglass dont predate the 70's - but I'm curious to hear from others who know about this..
In 1942, Ray Greene built an eight foot dinghy of polyester GRP.

In 1947, Greene left the US Navy and established Ray Greene & Co., in Toledo, Ohio, and produced several GRP boat designs starting in 1948 with the Rebel 16 sailboat based on lines drawn by Alvin Younquist. Greene produced 5,000 Rebel 16 sailboats. By 1952, a class association for the Rebel 16 had formed with members spread across the Midwest and south to Kentucky and Texas. In 1963 the class association had 136 members.

In 1958, Greene starting producing the New Horizons 26, followed in 1961 by the Rascal 14, the Vixen in 1963 and the Kittiwake 23 in 1972. Roy Green retired and sold his company in 1975.


See: http://www.nickelsboats.com/sailboat...gged-p-11.html


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Old 03-07-2015, 20:25   #10
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

The first production (poly) fiberglass boat which could be called a cruiser was the New Horizon in 1957. But the first really successful production boat was the Pearson Triton which was launched in 1959.
Good Old Boat - The Birth of Fiberglass Boats article

Although epoxy has been around as long as polyester there were issues with it's formulation namely it's ease in coating. The Gougeon brothers figured a better formula around 1970 and epoxy boat building became a reality.
History

I don't know when the first successful production epoxy/glass boat was launched.
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Old 03-07-2015, 22:53   #11
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

Quote:
Originally Posted by charliehows View Post
I'm thinking fibreglass/epoxy resin is a 60's invention but how long have fibreglass hand laid hulls been made. My boat was made in the late 70's, the hull is still as good as new, love the stuff, and my feeling is that yacht hulls in fibreglass dont predate the 70's - but I'm curious to hear from others who know about this..
Polyester fiberglass composite as we know it with room temperature setting dates from around 1942.

Dinghy, daysailor and consumer motor boat boat production started not too long after WW-II, about 1947

The earliest production fiberglass sailboats with cabins date from the mid-1950's: Bounty II, Chinook, New Horizons and Triton in that order.

Book called "Heart of Glass" by Dan Spurr covers the history pretty well including a lot of technical developements leading up to fiberglass as we know it as well as the history of the people involved.
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Old 04-07-2015, 05:21   #12
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

“... According to Dan Spurr, editor of Practical Sailor, and the author of a forthcoming book on the history of fiberglass sailboats, Heart of Glass, "It probably was a fellow named Ray Greene in Toledo, Ohio. He built a fiberglass and polyester sailboat in 1942, probably a Snipe...

... The first sailing auxiliary made from fiberglass appeared in 1951. "It was called the Arion, a 42-foot ketch." states Spurr. "It was a one-off design by Sidney Herreshoff. Then Fred Coleman's Bounty II came out in 1956."

Dan goes on to explain that Ray Greene was not finished either. "He formed his own boatbuilding company and produced a 25-foot Sparkman & Stephens design in 1957 called the New Horizon," says Spurr. "He built 175 of them. That was a pretty good number of boats, and right before the Triton, too."

Tom Potter, the driving force behind the Triton, agrees. "Ray Greene did bring out a fiberglass boat before we did, at least what you would call the first sailing yacht," he says. "It was kind of an odd looking boat, though. The Triton certainly was the first mass produced boat that sold well."...”

But there;s more to it ➥ Good Old Boat - The Birth of Fiberglass Boats article
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Old 04-07-2015, 08:53   #13
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

Quote:
Originally Posted by charliehows View Post
I'm thinking fibreglass/epoxy resin is a 60's invention but how long have fibreglass hand laid hulls been made. My boat was made in the late 70's, the hull is still as good as new, love the stuff, and my feeling is that yacht hulls in fibreglass dont predate the 70's - but I'm curious to hear from others who know about this..
My first sailboat was FRP in 1965; although, that was the year the manufacturer switched from wood. He had little experience with FRP and all the members were sized as if wood and boat built like a tank.
Also used epoxy, didn't use polyester until energy crunch in the 70's and then blisters started appearing.
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Old 04-07-2015, 09:37   #14
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

Glass part was m making boats in Santa Ana in the 50's when I was a kid.
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Old 04-07-2015, 09:56   #15
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Re: How Long Have Fibreglass Hulls Been Built?

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Originally Posted by charliehows View Post
I'm thinking fibreglass/epoxy resin is a 60's invention but how long have fibreglass hand laid hulls been made. My boat was made in the late 70's, the hull is still as good as new, love the stuff, and my feeling is that yacht hulls in fibreglass dont predate the 70's - but I'm curious to hear from others who know about this..

Owens-Corning 1937
but the Russians had parallel programs and had produced a practical passenger boat in 1939. Clearly there would be dinghys etc before that.

Really does it matter? Most of these early experiments were not usable in the same way todays boats are
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