Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I made a canoe float

A guy that works with my dad got hold of an old and very porous canoe a couple weeks ago. It looked like someone had dropped it off the back of a truck, which cracked, bent, and broke large holes all in the hull. The problem looked to have been made worse by someone who tried to fix the holes with a grinder rather than some sand paper. Some of the gaps in the fiberglass were as long as someone's arm and an inch or so wide, some were just big enough to see daylight through, and one was almost large enough to fit my head through. The tail end was tenuously held connected to the rest of the canoe with the aluminum along the top edge and hope. Unfortunately I lost the "before" pictures of the canoe, but as you can see below, the holes in the vessel would have ensured it went down in the water much faster than it went forward if you tried to take it out for a leisurely ride. The middle bracing support and the front seat were also missing in action, so replacements for those would have to be fashioned as well.

My dad, I, and his coworker started by covering the large holes with a slick black plastic that the fiberglass wouldn't stick to and the smaller ones with packing tape. We then cut some strips of fiberglass to size and mixed up some resin. It was a hot day, and fiberglass resin sets up fast when it's hot, so we had to work fast. We added to coats to the large holes on the outside, one coat on the small holes and inside, and generally coated anywhere that looked to be of questionable strength with more resin, which was most of the boat.

After all that had set up and hardened, we worked on the missing pieces, the middle beam and the front seat. we cut both out of wood, coating the middle beam in resin and fiberglassing the bottom of the seat to the boat. the whole thing looked almost seaworthy now.

I had to head to work before they were finished, but when I came back the next day, the canoe had been painted and apparently taken out. They said it worked as well as a new one. You wouldn't think that something that looked as much like a big piece of trash could be recovered like that so quickly. Very cool stuff

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