Finally, GRP repairs complete!
Well finally after about 80+ hours of hard slog I can now say that I have completed one part of Wanda’s restoration. The internal structural repairs to the shell have been completed; that part of Wanda’s damage has been dealt with and restored with great care and effort. Preparation for laminating was the most time consuming part of the process, as I expected. Recently the repair activities have been concerned with laminating the shell and applying flow coat. This completes the process and leaves the shell in as good condition as day 1.
Rebuilding the shell
Once the frames were set and laminated in place, a new shroud web was cut out of 18 mm ply and bonded. This in turn was then laminated. Overall an additional 4-5 mm of thickness was added to the shell thanks to the application of several layers of 600 GSM Quadaxial matting. I feel very confident that this is more than adequate, and that the shell is now as robust as when first released from the mould in 1989.
I then had to fabricate blocks that the settee bearers fix into. This provided a good opportunity to use some neglected tools that had been gathering dust; I used the circular saw to create a 45 degree chamfer, the jigsaw to cut the slits and the belt sander mounted as a bench sander to smooth everything over. GRP laminate likes smooth corners and rounded edges. You can watch the procedure in the video below for more details.
As previously mentioned, a lot of the time in restoration is spent in preparation; preparing the work area for grinding, preparing the surface for laminating, preparing the surface for flow coating etc. I was keen to get flow coat applied to the sections of exposed fibreglass. This required just a bit more preparation work. I had to sand back all areas that had fresh laminate applied; purely to remove any loose fibres that may have been standing out. I also needed to cut back the outline of the port light that had matting covering it, and the tabbing around the bulkhead needed to be cut back flush. Finally it was time for the flow coating to be applied. You can see more of that in the video below:
Not so fast…
Just when I thought I could cross one big ticket item off the list, I uncovered a whole set of new problems. To date I had been concentrating on areas that were visibly identified by stress cracks showing on the hull; I would then remove all furniture etc to expose the corresponding area from the inside of the shell. Often you would see stress cracks on the inside also. As the stress cracks on the hull were all forward of the nav station we drew a line there, and scoped the investigation and assessment to this region. However there was that unknown of the visible filler on the waterline; why was that there, and what lay behind it? This question had been niggling away at me for some time.
I decided it was time to expand the scope of the investigation, and check aft of the Nav station. To date all of the lockers and cabinets aft of the Nav station were filled with clutter; as everything had been shoved back there to clear the way when doing the repairs. So it was not easy to get a clear view, but when I moved some junk out of the way the view was disconcerting. In the lower cupboard aft of the nav station I found some serious de-lamination and punctures. In the upper locker I found that the tabbing around the bulkhead had been broken. The same moving further aft into the hanging locker. Thankfully this was the extend of any further damage to the shell. I was confident there was no more nasty surprises to be uncovered as every square inch had been inspected now.
Get that grinder out again…
Basically it was back to the drawing board; I had to again set up plastic sheeting everywhere to prepare for more dust, grind back all the damaged GRP, apply new laminate and repeat the entire process of what I had been doing for the past 4 weeks. Fortunately as I was now experienced in the process and a lot more efficient we managed to repair all of this in about a week. The videos below show more on this: