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Old 05-04-2018, 12:56   #1
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Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

Below is the chronology of refinishing PILAR’s two masts for replacing her 33 yr. old mast bands. Progress has been slow due to my ignorance as well as passing through rainy season, so problems now developing might be due to changing seasons which is why I’ve included the dates.

After heavily saturating then re-coating all spars with two more layers of penetrating epoxy last year, 3 layers of fiberglass cloth in epoxy mast bands were laminated on the Main & Mizzen masts in January 2018. At the time the lay-up appeared fully translucent with no dry, ’white’ spots visible in the cloth.

Two and three coats of one-part urethane spar varnish were applied after fully washing possible epoxy residue from surface of masts. In March, on the Mizzen mast, we realized the cloth had acquired what looked like dry areas in the two mast bands, and they seemed to be swelling. It was suggested that sanding had possibly removed the epoxy coating, exposing the cloth to the urethane spar varnish which was not compatible with whatever residue esters were in the epoxy saturated cloth. We stripped back to bare wood, and applied three new layers of cloth in epoxy for the two mast bands.

Two days ago we saw the same white spot problem beginning in the bands on the main mast. Very small but visible. Using a Dremel to grind them out, we began filling with epoxy. Thinking to hurry the drying between multiple coats of epoxy with the hair dryer, it was shocking to see the start of new tiny white appearing at the edges of the divots, where clear cloth had been.

I am questioning the possible quality of the glass cloth, bought locally (Philippines). The epoxy is Cord, recommended as the best here.

The urgency felt is compounded by only recently learning that just 1/3 or the land where I rent a house for a workshop, is owned by my landlord’s family. The rest (where the entry gate is) will be fenced when the land survey has been agreed upon. I’d like (NEED) to get my masts out before then.

May 2017 - Main & Mizzen masts removed

June- May - thru September 2017 all spars under (cheap) full cover awning
November 2017-2018 - Quality Garden cloth shade (70% sun block). replaces degraded old

June 17 - Mizzen saturated with first coat highly-thinned penetrating epoxy, followed by 2 more (slightly thinned).
Sept 21- Mizzen, 1 mast band, sudden rain halted second band
Jan 17, 2018 -Mizzen 2nd mast band on
Jan 23 - Mizzen 1st coat urethane spar varnish
March 17 - white spots on Mizzen mast bands, some beginning to raise - strip and redo 3 layers, 2 bands.

July 13, 2017 - Main mast-penetrating epoxy
Sept. Main mast 2nd coat finished
Sept 28 - Main mast- rain halts 3rd epoxy coat. tarp degraded, tears and splashes lower mast. Humidity.
Jan 19, 2018 -Main Mast bands, 3 layers fiberglass cloth/epoxy
Jan 25 -1st coat urethane spar varnish
April 4, 2018 - tiny white spots on Main mast bands begin appearing. Removed with Dremel tool, begin filling with epoxy, use hair drier to speed drying. White spots appear at edges of divots.

Will (again) go back to wood and laminate new mast bands on both masts but need some assurance that the same thing is not going to happen again.

Thank you in advance for any advice.

Sincerely,
Diane
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Old 05-04-2018, 14:11   #2
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

First, are you sanding all cured epoxy before recoating/laminating?

The white spots are usually caused by, water under the cloth (usually escaping from the wood), or incorrect lamination schedule (amine blush resins), or UV rot.

If your wood is not dry enough, then as the moisture escapes, it will cause bonding failures, which show up as white .

I only use NO BLUSH epoxy, and wait until the underlying epoxy has dried to a barely tacky state before applying new epoxy or subsequent e-glass laminates. Sometimes, over wetting can cause "solvent popping" which can show up as bubbles or delamination.

UV rot can appear in as little as a few weeks in tropical climates.
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Old 05-04-2018, 15:48   #3
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

wow, FAST help! Thanks, much appreciated, Sails.

Sanding cured epoxy, YES, sometimes TOO well (sanding thru to cloth) hence the reason for extra thick coats after lamination. I realize now that I don't know how long it takes to cure. Maybe we didn't wait long enough before applying first coat of spar varnish?

No bubbles visible in epoxy as we laminated successive layers so, given that we wet out heavily, perhaps it is solvent 'popping', though the water aspect is a troublesome possibility, too, given the humidity. I wonder if it is possible for the glass to have picked up some...the wood had been sealed between monsoons, but there was still rain this last January.

I don't know what UV rot is, what it looks like, but had been warned about UV degrading the overall epoxy, so varnished as soon as we were able to laminate the mast bands. There was difficulty finding 3oz dynel which delayed putting them on. Gave up and used local fiberglass cloth.

Very grateful for all your observations. Will keep every one in mind as we remove and redo them while still horizontal. Far less work now than when back in the boat.

Thank you again so very much,
D.
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Old 05-04-2018, 16:05   #4
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

"Extra thick" will cause problems. Proper lamination is just enough epoxy to wet out the cloth completely. If you want to get rid of the cloth print through, brush on extra epoxy after the previous application goes tacky.

It usually takes between 8 and 72 hours for epoxy to cure completely depending on the temp and humidity. Being that you are in a tropical climate, it should be pretty fast (8 or so hours for complete cure with normal hardner.) Depending on the type of epoxy you are using, subsequent laminations should be applied after 2-4 hours, when the previously applied epoxy had gone tacky (finger sticks, but does not leave a mark.)

However, if you are varnishing or painting over epoxy, you should wait 24 hours, then scuff sand the epoxy (use a green 3M Scotch Bright pad with water; dry well), then apply the varnish/paint according to the directions.

UV Rot is UV degredation of the epoxy. It looks exactly like your photos of the dry spots, and is caused by the Sun. It takes a few weeks in the tropics for this to start to occur.
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Old 06-04-2018, 02:07   #5
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

Have been in town all day, just now return with tons to unload but want to make quick reply to let you know you've given terrific information and i have a lot more confidence about getting it done right this next time. Too tired to know if I have any further questions. Caught a glance at your PM and will reply also to it as soon as I can. You have been terrific. d.
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Old 06-04-2018, 05:26   #6
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

You can work epoxy dryer than polyester resins..as was said earlier "allow to dry and apply another coat if u want to build up thickness.I don't think u would need to build up thickness unless u continue to add the fibre as well,for adding strength.
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Old 06-04-2018, 10:51   #7
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

It sounds like water or moister in your glass.
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Old 06-04-2018, 16:16   #8
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

It is many decades since I was in a tropical location, So I have to ask if it could be a consideration that the fiber glass product He is using could have been affected by humidity before it was obtained? I have placed cloth in an oven at lower temperature in the past when I suspected that it had become damp in storage.

Is He adequately mixing the epoxy resin? I actually picked up an old all metal Hamilton Beech milk shake maker with the cup missing at the local Hospital thrift store for $6. and mix the resin we use in washed out Yogurt containers. Mechanical mixing is far better; Though scraping around the sides of the cup after with a stirring stick has value if you are quick. So as to not loose working time.

Application of the next layer on top of one that has tack cured was recommended to me by John at west system during a phone call. However part of the rational of NOT applying it any thicker than you have to is to control heat build up. and to prevent fractures by having as much glass fibers in the lay up as possible.

I also speculate about the humidity in the wooden spars? or natural oils in some tropical hard woods? I did not notice the spices of wood specified.

Looks like it would be a bit of a challenge to rig a tent to provide shade?
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Old 06-04-2018, 16:22   #9
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

Yes, thanks so much for offering advice. I appreciate the information and will apply less thickly. I was foolish the way I had us going about it.

Am so grateful to have this forum. I was desperate when I saw that even the second time, having stripped one mast band and replaced it CAREFULLY AND THICKLY to ensure no dry spots, then saw the same hint of white looming again. Was up for hours during the night, searching for the chronology to post, couldn't believe how quickly the responses have come! Slept well again, last night, thanks to Cruiser's Forum support. Thanks again, am very grateful.
Diane
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Old 06-04-2018, 16:34   #10
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

Have to make this quick, Coastal Explorer, time to get to work but YES, I have wondered about the quality of the glass I have been using. I will ask the local expert about that detail. Not a lot of choices for quality products here, most of the glassing work being done is by fishermen. Cheap to buy is the requirement, and We'll fix it later the answer when 'good enough' is the standard.

Spruce Spars. Hadn't thought about using a blender! Great idea.

Very kind of you to offer all these ideas. VERY much appreciated!

Sincerely,
Diane
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Old 06-04-2018, 16:47   #11
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

Diane...Just as an after thought, Most of us use small plastic spreaders when making epoxy resin and glass lay up. If you apply a 'puddle' with a brush, The thin plastic is used to sort of squeeze out and spread into dryer areas to wet them out evenly. I Wonder if these were available & offered to you where the epoxy resin was purchased?

Also though doing this so often, The thought to mention the obvious escapes mention. I assume you know to clean up tools, & brushes using white Vinegar? I hope you are using Nitrile gloves.
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Old 06-04-2018, 16:52   #12
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

A Milk shake drink stirrer not a blender, A blender could be dangerous by throwing product out of the jar at you.
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Old 06-04-2018, 17:27   #13
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

Not about to your problem with the "dry" spots, but related. You do know that epoxy is damaged rather quickly by UV? The varnish you are applying over it is a partial protection when new but will have a fairly short life in the tropical sun. When it fails the epoxy will then be damaged. It may not be as pretty but paint is a much more durable protection.
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Old 06-04-2018, 17:38   #14
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

CoastalExplorer...in the dinghy with a bit of time to think while motoring to work, felt foolish when I realized I'd said Spruce Masts instead of Douglas Fir, almost solid lamination of really beautiful old growth Doug Fir.

Now, at the house, see how even sillier I can get when rushing: milk shake stirrer, not blender (actually had been wondering if that would be TOO much action, so a few brain cells were still working).

Yes, have and use a plastic scraper with a brush to apply resin, and my local workers did introduce me to 'Suka'--white vinegar--for cleaning up. But you were right about difficulty finding proper materials. I am using an old plastic scraper we'd carried on board but while searching for another when in Cebu, a much larger city on the island next to us, I found curved and straight plastic fan blade replacements that worked really well, too.

This is it. Today is laundry/cleaning/gardening/cookery morning and Saturday afternoon of workers and kids doing art. Also a birthday of one so time to start baking a cake...any more responses will have to wait until tomorrow when I'm home again and have the day to myself for replying.
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Old 06-04-2018, 17:50   #15
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Re: Urgent Advice needed - 2Months later, ’dry’ spots in epoxy/fiberglass

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pauls View Post
Not about to your problem with the "dry" spots, but related. You do know that epoxy is damaged rather quickly by UV? The varnish you are applying over it is a partial protection when new but will have a fairly short life in the tropical sun. When it fails the epoxy will then be damaged. It may not be as pretty but paint is a much more durable protection.
YIKES! While struggling to regain internet and make reply post, your information popped up. Have to stop and think about that. The local guru has been adamant about just that, epoxy not liking UV and varnish not being enough but SPAR varnish has traditionally had ocher in it (if I remember correctly and it wasn't spruce instead) (sorry, Saturdays make me crazy with all we have to do) but I did a lot of internet research to be sure that was still the case and everything I found supported SPAR VARNISH, not regular varnish as protective of epoxy. Then again, it was not an exhaustive search and will acknowledge the human tendency to stop searching for contrary information once one's bias has been confirmed.

Obviously I will be searching further, tomorrow.

Thank you for this additional, ah, stimulating bit of information.


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