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.