Restarting Wood Duckling Build

In the Fall of 2016 my brother bought a Wood Duckling kit and started building.  The idea was that he would give it to my daugther (who was 2 at the time) so she could come kayaking with us.  Things happened, my daughter is now 8 (and ready to kayak), and the Duckling isn't finished.  The partially completed project and materials have been sitting in a shed since the project began.

I've decided to take up the cause and attempt to finish the project.  I'm a moderately accomplished hobby woodworker who has watched a lot of YouTube on wooden boat building, but that's about it.  I am hoping to get some insight from the experience and wisdom gathered here as I restart this project.  I do have some specific questions, but I suspect there are also questions I'm not asking that I should be asking.  Any and all feedback is welcome and appreciated!

Here's a look at where the project is right now, after moving it to my garage:

Looking at the manual, I think I'm at a point where the hull has been glassed and the exterior sanded.  The deck has yet to be glassed.

My first question is about the sanding that was done to the hull.  Does this look like it was oversanded?  Should the weave of the fiberglass be visible like the pictures seem to show?  I also notice one spot where I'm fairly certain it was oversanded because the raw wood appears to be visible.  This spot is where the hull and the deck meet.  If this has all been oversanded, what's the remedy?  Glass and epoxy it again?  If all of this is actually fine except for the one spot, what's the remedy?  Since it is at the joint between the hull and the deck, could this be corrected when glassing the deck?

My second question is about the epoxy and the pumps.  These have been sitting for years.  The resin seems to pump fine.  However, the hardener doesn't pump easily and appears to be brown-ish in color.  My memory from my brother working on this is that both resin and hardener were relatively clear.  I'm thinking I at least need a new bottle and pump of hardener.  Perhaps I need to get more resin too.  Thoughts?

I'm sure I'll have other questions too as I make progress.  I appreciate any and all help, feedback, or comments any one can provide as I dive into this.


5 replies:

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RE: Restarting Wood Duckling Build

Welcome Travis.

First, your easy question. Hardener gets brown in an open bottle as it ages. It also picks up a diaper pail smell, but it still works fine. Mixing up a small batch to verify that it still hardens before actually using it on the boat will tell you if you need a new bottle or not.

Hardener pumps can be cleaned out with vinegar, then flushed with water to get rid of the vinegar traces (which will really mess up your build if they are not gotten rid of), dried thoroughly and then re-used. Of course, now you've got a toxic vinegar/hardener solution which you can't put down a drain or into the environment. I pour it into clumping kitty litter and take it to our county dump that has a toxic materials disposal facility.

Alternatively, you can decide that the pumps are expendable items and just buy a new set, hardener and resin. Or you can combine the ingredients by weight, instead. Just be sure that you follow the manufacturer's instructions if you do that.

Now the fiberglass question. Looking at the photos, some of those areas where the white weave is visible look to be bubbles. That is, places where the glass has lifted off the wood and there is air underneath. Others look to be oversanded. And yes, there's at least one spot where the glass has been sanded through to the wood.

The first thing that you need to do is to wipe down the whole glassed area with a rag soaked in denatured alcohol. That will remove the white sanding dust and give you a clearer view of what's what. It will also show you if a spot is oversanded or not. If the weave disappears while the surface is wet with alcohol, then it's OK. It is on the verge of oversanded but not quite there. Note that the weave will come back when the surface dries, but the way it looks when wet will be how it will look when it's varnished or gets another coat of epoxy.

The bubbles have to be fixed. Remove the raised glass, sand the edges of the area smooth, apply a fiberglass patch  that overlaps a couple of inches onto the good glass and feather the edges when it's cured. Done carefully, it'll be invisible even under varnish.

Any exposed wood also needs to be patched. You do get a break for the oversanded areas at the top of the hull where it meets the deck. The deck glass will overlap onto the hull and act as a patch for the oversanded edges.

I have a build page for my WD12 that has a bunch of hints and explanations that will also apply to the Wood Duckling. You might want to take a look and see if there's anything there that will make your build easier.

Finally, paint covers a multitude of sins.

Have fun,





RE: Restarting Wood Duckling Build

Thank you, Laszlo!  This guidance is exactly what I needed to understand the best next steps.  Thank you for the details and the explanation.  I'll use these methods, and I'll be sure to read through your WD12 build as well.  Thank you again!


RE: Restarting Wood Duckling Build

As usual, +1 on Laszlo's advice above.

The one item that I would add is that you might consider buying new fiberglass cloth for the deck instead of using what came with the kit.  Fiberglass cloth is coated with chemicals that help it wet out.  Those chemicals are water soluble so over time humidity will degrade the coating.  Over the years I have successfully used cloth that was several years old but had a different experience this last build.

Last fall, I was asked to build an 11 year-old, new in the box Pygmy Osprey kit as a fund raiser for a non-profit.  The kit had been stored in an unheated garage in Orlando, so it had been protected from water but was subjected to heat and (minor) cold.  The fiberglass that came with the kit was in a sealed plastic package so we elected use it to save money.  We made this decision knowing that we were going to paint the hull anyway.  It turns out that the glass was VERY hard to wet out despite perfect conditions in my garage and new MAS epoxy.  It was a real chore.  From a structural stand point, the hull came out fine but it did not look good.  At certain sun angles, the weave was visible over most of the hull, with some areas worse than others.  Below is a picture of the worst area.  You can see the weave above the chine.


As Laszlo said, paint covers many sins.


RE: Restarting Wood Duckling Build

   Forgort to add that we bought fresh cloth for the deck, and as you can see it came out great.

RE: Restarting Wood Duckling Build

Thank you Mark for the additional feedback!  The fiberglass material that remains has just been sitting in a box, not in plastic bag, exposed to heat, cold, shop dust, and who knows what else.  I'll get some fresh fiberglass for the deck and hopefully have a better first experience than I would if I used the old stuff.

I wiped down the hull with denatured alcohol and did indeed find a number of spots where the weave is still visible.  Might be going with a painted hull :)

Thanks again for the guidance and wisdom offered here.  I'll report back with how things progress.



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