Peeler Skiff - Lessons Learned

As my friend Bob and I wrap up the construction of my new Peeler Skiff, "About Time", I thought that it might be appropriate to share some lessons learned.

Thinning epoxy with acetone makes wetting out glass cloth much easier and reduces the chance of using too much resin.  The acetone evaporates before the resin cures, so it does not appear to have any negative effect on the resulting layup.  Wish we had learned that trick sooner rather than later.  Using a chip brush and the thinned resin did not disturb or stretch the draped glass cloth nearly as much as forcing unthinned resin into dry cloth did.  Thinning the epoxy also helped the resin penetrate the surface of bare wood better when applied to the interior of the boat as well as the quarter knees, breasthook, inwales, and outwales---minimizing runs and leaving a smooth, hard surface.  One still needs to use unthinned resin to fill the weave of the glass cloth after the initial layup cures.  WARNING: This applies only to wetting out glass cloth and coating bare wood.  If the resin coating is thick enough that it cures before the acetone evaporates, it will cure fully, but it will be too flexible for good structural integrity.  I used MAS formulations and have not tried this with other manufacturer's products.

Pay attention to the fillets and the glass tape that covers them.  Watch out for drips and runs.  As the manual tells us, doing a good job there saves considerable filling and sanding.  When visiting last year's Wooden Boat Show at Mystic, a common piece of advice from people who were displaying the boats they had built was "Get a good sander!".  Most often recommended were products from Festool.  I bought a Festool 5" random orbital sander, a Festool finish sander, and a Festool Mini-Vac.  One of the smartest things I did in the whole project---the sanders work extremely well and there is no sawdust in the work area.

We are finishing the Peeler with Interlux PreKote primer and Brightsides using foam rollers followed by tipping with foam brushes.  So far, it has given the boat a smooth, hard finish.  I've spent too many of my 68 years finishing brightwork, so I chose to leave no wood bright (brightwork is beautiful but people often don't realize how much time it costs them).  Paint is the ultimate UV protection and provided us with the flexibility to use (removeable) sheet rock screws where clamps won't work well and to fix and fill problem areas with epoxy and wood flour.  We are also using Interlux Flattening Agent in the interior paint for a non-glare finish and Interlux Non-Skid Additive on the seats and sole.  Utility has its own beauty.

Because the Peeler design does not have a true stem and because I plan to use "About Time" to teach my grandchildren boat handling, we epoxied a 26" length of 1/2" stainless steel half-round to the front of where the two side panels converge to form the bow.  It is covered with the same glass cloth that seals the rest of the exterior of the boat.  Hopefully, if the kids drive the boat into a dock it will spread the load well enough to avoid serious damage.

If all continues to go well, we'll be launching "About Time", within a couple of weeks.   She'll live on her trailer near Wickford, RI.  My grand kids and I are eager to get out on Narragansett Bay to fish and dig clams.  The Peeler Skiff is a wonderful design and kit---beautiful, well engineered and documented, and with first-class materials.  The folks at Chesapeake Light Craft could not have been more supportive and helpful through the whole building process.

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RE: Peeler Skiff - Lessons Learned

   How much did you thin the epoxy with acetone? Did you use a percentage or shoot for a particular consistancy? I haven't got to the outside on my Peeler yet so this sounds like it could help out when I do.

You're way ahead of me but hopefully we may meet on the bay. Will you be putting in at Wilson Park.?

RE: Peeler Skiff - Lessons Learned

>>>>Thinning epoxy with acetone makes wetting out glass cloth much easier and reduces the chance of using too much resin.  The acetone evaporates before the resin cures, so it does not appear to have any negative effect on the resulting layup. >>>>

Unofficially, I've done this, and it's possible to make it work if you're very careful.  

Officially, both CLC and MAS would disown any attempt to thin the epoxy with acetone.  The possibilities for disaster are numerous, most especially the likelihood of trapping acetone behind a gelled film of epoxy (as the poster mentions), preventing it from evaporating.  In this case the epoxy will not cure properly.

Obviously you'll need fairly emphatic ventilation in your shop if you're going to be using acetone or other high VOC solvents.  

There are enough downsides that I just don't recommend thinning the epoxy.  The MAS is already very thin as resins go, making it unusually good for coating and saturating.

RE: Peeler Skiff - Lessons Learned


PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO JOHN'S WARNINGS ON THE TOPIC.  I got better results with thinned epoxy than with unthinned, but it's very easy to screw up --- not just badly cured epoxy, but asphxiation or explosion using acetone.  The area I work in is extremely well ventilated.  Also, the thinned epoxy was used in 70 to 80 degree temperatures, promoting acetone evaporation.  I have a fair amount of experience with solvents so I tend to be very careful with them.  Acetone is far more volatile than paint thiinners.

We aimed for a particular consistency, but I would guess less than 10% acetone.  We mixed small batches and worked in a very well-ventilated area (excellent cross ventilation).  I did not use power tools until well after the epoxy had cured and the acetone was totally out of the air.  Acetone is very flammable.

I'll be keeping my boat within a mile of Wilson Park.



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