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Old 28-04-2010, 16:19   #1
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Question Thunderbird Re-Fibreglassing Help

I have a Thunderbird fibreglass over plywood type of boat that I need to re-cover the whole bottom. It is in it's cradle and am looking for advice on doing everything. I have been researching fibreglass and epoxies but most methods do not talk about the boat being in it's cradle. What techniques can I use - do half the boat, then shift it in it's birth and to the rest? What grade of cloth should I use. How many layers? 1, 2 or 3? Do you stretch it tight and tape it down? tack it? I have 5 days to do this and am getting help from out of province people. I need to have all my ducks in a row so to speak and I get 1 shot so I must be sure of what I'm doing before I even buy all the supplies. Any help or if anyone could point me to a good step by step website, that would be great. It will not be in salt water - this is a river beast in New Brunswick Canada.

thanks.
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Old 28-04-2010, 17:51   #2
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Our first "big" sailboat was a late 50's era T-Bird that we acquired in the late 60's in San Francisco. At one point we also had to re-glass the bottom and I can tell you it took a heck of a lot longer than 5 days. In fact, it took more than 5 days to remove all the areas of damaged and de-laminated glass and then several weeks before the hull had dried out enough to allow us to proceed with repairs to the plywood and then prep the hull for the new glass. And the key to success is a dry hull and a good prep. Absent that, you'd be wasting your time and money.

You might be able to get some good information by contacting members of the T-Bird Class Association through Home of the Thunderbird Sailboat . As for methods, take a look at WEST SYSTEM | Use Guides.

In any case, good luck. The T-Bird is a great little yacht, but definately labour intensive.

FWIW...
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Old 28-04-2010, 19:31   #3
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First, congratulations on owning a great boat. I had owned a fibreglass T-Bird for 27 years and thoroughly enjoyed it. A great racer/cruiser. There is a local boatbuilder here that made some of the molds (from an original wood boat) to reproduce them in fibreglass (hull #1000), and is often seen helping people fix their old wood boats. Having seen many boats `fixed' I would strongly recommend you remove the keel, turn the boat over, then re-glass the bottom. Fibreglassing upside down is not that easy.

You will find it is not a big deal to remove a T-Bird keel (#1,500) depending on which caulk was used to bed it inplace. Unbolt the keel...lift the hull (#3,000) while detaching it from thekeel (this is the hard part) you have to use appropriate wedges pounded between the hull and the keel after the bolts are removed...slide the (braced) keel out. Lower the boat and turn it over. When I built my fibreglass T-Bird from a kit I borrowed a metal overhead frame that was use for fixing cars. two slings and a hand winch lifted the bare hull quite easily. The cast iron keels often need refinishing and this would be the perfect time to sandblast the keel, seal it with epoxy and give it a good fairing job. The T-Bird keel has an ability to stand quite firmly on it's flat bottom. I have often painted the whole bottom of the boat with hull resting on the keel while secured with ropes to prevent a wind toppling the whole rig.

I don't think five days will do it. An expert builder maybe yes. I would estimate weeks for a DOI.

If you want to contact the local expert here for advise on what layup to use for the re-fibreglassing try phoning John Booth during the day at his shop 250-386-9622 Victoria, BC, Canada. He is usually very helpfull to any T-Birder.

Remember to always pre-seal the bare plywood with a hot resin mix befor applying any standard fibreglass layup. This is standard procedure to prevent the bare wood sucking out the catalyst in a slow cure resin mix thus creating a poor final bond. Use of a wire brush to work the first resin seal coat into the old layup is a good idea to help with the bond. The use of epoxy could be quite costly for a job this size. I would stick with regular fibreglass resin (unwaxed between coats). Purchase a good angle grinder and a good mask and go at it. Ask for local help from someone that has done this work before. Fibreglass is easy to use if you know the techniques in using it and a nighmare if you are learning for the first time.

Good luck.

BJB
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Old 29-04-2010, 02:14   #4
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Wear the best respirator available. It will save your brain.
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Old 29-04-2010, 03:23   #5
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For large jobs with much exposure I'd go a step farther. I set up a hood and use a shopvac to blow air in from a remote location. Doesn't cost a lot, shopvac with blower side, garden hose, hardhat with canvas attached and a clear window in front to see out of. I use hose from shopvac to go from waist to brim of hardhat where it blows across face, diffuser keeps it from messing with eyes. Epoxy is even more toxic than polyester. FGCI.com has some online articles on fiberglassing.
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Old 29-04-2010, 08:09   #6
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Thank you all for the great advice. I have videos of the current state of the hull on-line.

and the keel bolts

I was planning on using expoxy. I was going to basically follow this technique:
Method: How to fiberglass a boat using Poxy-Shield epoxy resin
but maybe not Glen-L - could be West Systems. Issue is that I have nobody around who's into sailboats really. My dad is a boat builder from way back but has never had to do such a large job. We were wondering if we could fibreglass to where it is sitting on the dolly and then let it set - jack it up and slide it over and then do the strips where it sat. The 5 day thing is that dad will come here from Ontario and I have 5 days off - I'm not saying the whole boat project will be done in 5 days - just the fibreglassing part as I need a 2nd person who's done it before. Good respirators are already on my list - 3M makes a great one for $50/ea. For the keel bolt rot, I was going to inject it with some CPES™ (Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer™) as that seems to make it rock hard and totally water resistant for quite some time. If I can get 10-20 years out of this boat with refibreglassing it, we will be happy. It is completely dry right now as it is covered under 3 layers of large tarps - we will leave it tarped for the project and work underneath.

Areas I am unclear on in this project are:
If I leave the bolts on, how to I stitch or overlap the fibreglass.
How many layers of fibreglass do I need and how thick?
Once a flull layer is on, do I do another strip up the middle to re-inforce it?

If you see the video of the hull, you will see the fibreglass is simply pulling away. Can I just patch it up or do I need to do the whole thing.

Thanks for all your great help.
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Old 04-05-2010, 11:18   #7
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I was really hoping someone would add to my last reply. Thickness? Patch or complete redo? Any more assistance would be greatly appreciated.

thanks.
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Old 04-05-2010, 12:20   #8
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I regret that no one has been able to respond to your questions. It is not because no one cares. Unfortunately, the work required on your boat is rather esoteric in this day and age. For what it's worth you might try signing up at ITCA Thunderbird Sailing Forums - Powered by vBulletin . The T-Bird owners I've known are a good group and always seem ready to help one another; and, they are the best source of knowledge about the boat.

FWIW...
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Old 04-05-2010, 13:04   #9
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Sorry I cannot view videos from my current location but can offer some fiber glass insite. The smaller the weight ounce the easier to go around odd shapes 8oz is good. Larger for flat surfqce 16 oz. I built a bunch of layers of 16 and it took 25 layers to get .5 inches. Looking at web site plans I would think .25 inch would be good. I have used 4 different epoxy products and like aero marine best. Best price as easy to mix. Good web site is www.fiberglast.com and they offer advice.
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Old 04-05-2010, 13:36   #10
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svhylyte - the t-bird forums are not safe and I wish I could post there.
================================
What is the current listing status for tbirdforums.com?
Site is listed as suspicious - visiting this web site may harm your computer.
Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 5 time(s) over the past 90 days.
What happened when Google visited this site?
Of the 1 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 1 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2010-04-22, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 2010-04-22.Malicious software includes 5 scripting exploit(s).
Malicious software is hosted on 1 domain(s), including updatedate.cn/.
This site was hosted on 1 network(s) including AS2914 (NTT).
===================================


sv surya - thanks for the advice.

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Old 04-05-2010, 21:06   #11
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My buddy John Edwards sails a T-Bird at the Royal Victoria YC and says: He should contact www.thunderbirdsailing.org or if he does not mind making a phone call, call John Booth in Victoria at 250-386-9622. Nobody in the world knows more about fiberglassing TBirds than John. He has probably built 50 boats."

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