This is the boat I had to rebuild after finding some unexpected issues. The boat I picked up was used, looked well maintained and the person that I purchased it from had used it on local lakes as well as the Great Lakes. Being that it was a fiberglass boat I knew any repair would be much different than an aluminum boat.
Below are some of the items that were needed for this project. As a disclaimer I have never done anything like this before, all of the information here is what I had gathered over time and the 2 months it took to complete this.
The boat is still rock solid today, 7 years later. If this article helps in anyway and you need to purchase any of the items, please feel free to use my Amazon affiliate links below.
- Safety Goggles
- 2 Part Epoxy
- Full Face Respirator (optional)
- 3M 5200
- 3M 4200
- Sponge Brushes
- Epoxy applicator
- Small buckets to mix epoxy
- Fiberglass Cloth – Do not use Fiberglass Matt with Epoxy resin. (You can also find fiberglass supplies at http://www.uscomposites.com ) You will need multiple different sizes of fiberglass cloth, make sure to get a 6″ – 8″ width roll for tabbing.
- Silica Thickener
- Fiberglass Rollers
- Expanding Urethane Foam
- Plywood – you can use Marine grade plywood however you can also use something like Arauco plywood and encapsulate it with epoxy resin.
- Tuff Coat (optional)
TIP: Make sure to cut out your fiberglass before you introduce any epoxy to the wood. And always make your fiberglass cut about 1″ larger than the wood you’re working on, you will come back and trim the excess off once it’s dried.
When applying epoxy resin to the plywood, you first want to clean the entire surface and edges of the plywood with acetone to remove any contaminates. After mixing the epoxy spread it on the plywood just enough to coat it on one side, use the epoxy applicator to smear the entire surface evenly. Also make sure to use your sponge applicator and get the edges of the plywood. You’ll notice you will need to apply the epoxy more than once on the edges as the wood will absorb the epoxy into the ply’s of the plywood.
Once the epoxy is somewhat sticky to the touch, lay your fiberglass on the surface that you just coated, pour some more epoxy onto the fiberglass and use the epoxy applicator to smoot out the fiberglass. The fiberglass will almost dissappear once you have enough epoxy on the wood. You can also use the fiberglass rollers to smooth out and bubbles or imperfections.
Once you have your first layer of fiberglass on an your first coat of epoxy, let it dry completely. Grab a clean rag and your acetone, wipe down the entire surface you worked on and put one more thin coat of epoxy on.
These are the basic steps to encapsulate your plywood.
When you’re ready to install the plywood, you will need to glue it and tab it to the mating surfaces. Tabbing is basically using thickened epoxy (silica thickener) and your 6″ or 8″ fiberglass cloth.
Basically you get your thickened epoxy and create a nice rounded corner for your tabbing to adhere to. That’s about it, you can see it above.
Always make sure to clean your tools with acetone when your done or if you’re waiting for anything to dry between stages.
After owning the boat for about a year, one of the seat bases came out of the deck and the person sitting in the chair fell flat on their back.
After further inspection it was clear that this boat was in worse shape than I had thought.
The deck was rotted.
The stringers were soft and water logged.
And the transom was shot.
A decision was made, I was going to keep this boat and rebuild the entire deck, transom and stringers.
To start out, I had to remove the cap from the hull.
After that, the gutting of the boat could begin. A couple of very important items were needed to do this. Besides the tools, there were safety concerns first and foremost.
A good full faced respirator, hazmat suit, and goggles.
It took a lot of work to get all of the water logged wood separated and removed from the hull. An angle grinder helped clean out the old fiberglass, wood and anything else that remained on the hull.
More cleanup and removal of old rotted wood and foam.
Once all of the old wood and rot was removed, I began building the new transom from Arauco plywood.
With the new transom in place, I began working on the new stringers. These would attach to the transom, bond to the bottom of the hull and are the foundation for the deck.
I carefully cut out the lower and upper deck, and glued it to the stringers. I also used stainless deck screws.
TIP: Anytime you drill into your newly encapsulated wood, overdrill the size of the hole. Fill it with thickened epoxy, let it dry completely, come back and drill your pilot hole within that thickened epoxy. This ensures water will never touch the wood that you’ve worked so hard to replace. I also did this with the splash well on the transom and the motor mounting holes.
With the below deck gas tank back in place, everything was coming together nicely. With the upper and lower deck in place, I then drilled 2 1″ holes using a keyhole drill bit in the lower deck, on the outside edge of the stringers. Using the 2 part urethane expandable foam I filled the outer cavities with the foam for buoyancy. I took the plywood plugs from the keyhole drill bits and placed them into the holes i just drilled. From there I used some thickened epoxy and fiberglass to reinforce the repair.
Re-attaching the cap to the hull was a pain and took a lot of time to get it lined up right.
One other thing I did was I decided to not re-add the carpet. This is a fishing boat and very rarely used as a recreational boat. Instead of carpet I used Tuff Coat over the entire deck. It has anti-slip additives and has held up really well over the years. The picture below is from 2012, since then I’ve upgraded electronics and my trolling motor.
At the end of the day the repair process for this fiberglass boat was much harder than I anticipated. But it was well worth it.
Make sure to checkout my boat summerizing and winterizing articles as well. Boat Summerizing https://www.mnfishingblog.com/2019/04/30/boat-summerizing/