It’s been so hot in the tent that progress on the Roamer has slowed to a crawl. I’ve been tempted more than once to just cut the plastic off, but it’s way too soon. I’d just be making more problems for myself. So one workaround is to start very early in the morning, have lots of fans moving humid air around, and drink water…lots of water. But then we got a brief break from the heat wave. With the obligatory whining out of the way, I got the V-berth head walls and floor fiberglassed and hot coated with fairing compound. Just in time for the heat wave to return this week.
First, we cut all the fiberglass pieces to fit the complex shape of the V-berth head, then the fun began. But once the epoxy gets mixed, there’s no time to take pictures. Even when it’s only 85°F outside, inside the tent it’s hotter and the epoxy starts to kick pretty fast. So one guy is rolling epoxy on the walls while another is brushing into the corners. Another guy is out in the salon mixing up the next batch of epoxy. Once a wall is wetted out, in comes the 1708 biaxial fiberglass and more epoxy. Two guys in that head with the walls wetted out with epoxy…not something I ever want to do again. Tyvek suits were a requirement, which just makes the heat and humidity worse. Even with the big fume extractor running, it was pretty miserable. But we got ‘er done.
We used the same hot coat process for the fairing compound as we did for the bullet-proof cabin top. The fairing compound is a homemade mix of epoxy — the same West System we used for the fiberglass layer — thickened with fumed silica and glass bubbles in a 30/70 ratio. When we did the cabin top, we had to wait up to an hour for the fiberglass epoxy to set up enough so we could apply the fairing compound. If you try to apply the fairing compound before the epoxy starts to kick, it just pulls the fiberglass out of position. But this time, it was so hot that the epoxy was blasting past the tacky phase really quickly. We had to scramble to get the fairing compound on before the cure advanced too far.
It’s sticky and messy, but hot coating is the way to go, since it saves having to grind the fiberglass to apply fairing compound. Anybody who’s ever taken a grinder or sander to fiberglass knows how miserable that is. Plus, grinding breaks the fibers, which weakens the FRP matrix. Another benefit of hot coating is that you get an epoxy-epoxy chemical bond between the fairing compound, the FRP matrix, and the wetted out substrate, which is superior to the mechanical bond you get applying fairing compound over a sanded or ground surface.
After the walls were all coated with a light layer of fairing compound, we applied a piece of fiberglass to the throne dias and floor around it, faired that, then laid on the last piece for the entryway, which is also the shower floor, and faired that. Lotta work, but we got ‘er done.
Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Fairing the “Throne Room”