by Ron Pratt



Well, he's gone and done it again. My good friend Ron Pratt in Alaska has completed another incredible project. As many of you know, Ron has written several articles for this website, including his amazing Baby Virages. Ron first posted this saga on a message forum, but was kind enough to set it up for me so that I could bring it to you here in an easy to read format that will be safely archived. Thanks Ron! So, here is part I.....


October 8, 2009 we go again!!
I got all my previous obligations taken care of and can now get going on the Viper. I'd like to be Balzy and say it will be running in 30 days BUT that usually bites me in the butt.

I'll say "by Christmas" to be safe.

I received the boat around the 4th of July and stripped out the balsa and separated the deck in a couple days. I built a jig to hold the hull. It's supported on either side of the pad, all six lifting strakes, the underside of the deck / hull flange, and across the transom. The left side had a bad hook thru all three lifting strakes and a rocker (opposite of hook) on the right side.
With all the coring out, the hull sat flat on the jig. The core and stringers had been replaced earlier and wasn't done properly.

This is how I got it. Notice the repair to the dash?

Jeez!! And you thought Hydrostream laid up their hulls dry. Look at this gobble mess from the rear seat base. Also the woven roving is dry.


It was regelcoated and is peeling. N..I..C..E!!!!!!!! Yea, quite the "turd"!! Total exterior strip job back to the original gel is in order.


I used a linoleum scraper to get some of the cracked (from shrinkage) gel coat off.

Here she sits under the AMX. I just got done painting a friends Whaler sailboat.

Here are some shots of the jig.


There's been alot of debates on balsa vs. foams. Our local boat builder uses both and said for my boat, Balsa was the best material to use.
I have the Balsa and a 5 gal pail of core bond. As soon as the two 5 gal pails of resin arrive, I'll hit this thing full steam!! (Or should I say,...."STREAM") Should be around a week.

This weekend, I'll clean up some of the edges in the hull and maybe lay out the stringers and cut the transom.

I'll pull the deck and since I have two gallons of resin,...may flip it and repair the dash. Hind sight,.....

the deck is too flimsy. I'll have to repair the dash with the deck mounted to the hull.
I took some comp time off work and got the lid off. Here's some pictures of some horrible repairs!! You can see the delamination of the patch. Unfortunately, if I try to grind it all out, I get a hole. I'll have to make it as flat as possible and glass over then remove the mess on the outside when I flip the hull over. You'll really like to see that.

I just called the fiberglass supply store to see when the 5's are coming in. The order got lost. I asked her if I were to buy five 1 gal cans ($37.95 ea) = $189.75 The 5 gal pails are $139.95. She said she could do $152 for the 5 of the 1 gal cans and honor that price for groups of five.

The 1.5 oz mat is 1.29 /ft, I'll need around 100' but I can buy a roll with 208' for $174.00.

Looks like I'm going shopping.

These are the two grinder/ sanders I use. The 4 1/2" has 16 grit and the 8" uses varying grits from 24-80 stick-on.


The initial lay-up will only be attached to the old glass thru a "Mechanical" bond. 24 grit is the finest you can use to get proper "tooth" to adhere to.

Once I start laying up, I won't leave any glasswork exposed for over 36 hours that I plan on adding more to. That way I can use the "chemical" bond and not have to re-grind.

I spent a few hours on Sat cutting the transom plywood and making the stringers. I used #1 Douglass fir 2x4's 122" long. The top was radiused and the bottom notched to sit on both steps.

I use Fiberlay ortho laminating resin because the mfg. date is written on each can. It's light colored and pours out smooth. I watched a friend use Bondo brand resin and it looked like burnt coffee and poured out like jelly.   It was NASTY and took forever to set-up.

I'm going to get out in the shop in a few minutes and set up the tables and start cutting material for the first lay-up. I'll have to add some extra mat in the areas where there are holes to level out the surface. Then a 1.5 oz mat and a woven roving will get laid in running side to side. As you can see in the last picture, I plan on adding a couple more layers in the pad area as it appears there will be some grinding on the outside to get it perfectly straight (front to back). I'll also get the stringers resin coated with a 10% styrene “thin” to get it to soak in and seal the wood. (I've had wood pull the resin from the fiberglass in the past.)

Here's the materials I'll be using.

This is the 1.5 oz mat and the double bias rolls.

This is the 24 oz woven roving.

This is the 6 oz cloth.

Caprice and I spent just over an hour laying up 1 mat and 1 woven roving to give a good base. The layers overlapped on the pad so it's double thick.

Gerald Gangle (our local boat builder and mentor) popped over to see how we were doing.

The stringers are resin coated and ready to install. Oh,..and yes, I did trim the outer edge where the glass ran wild.

For weight vs. strength compromise, we're using lighter fabrics as we work up.

I won't let the cat out of the bag but keep watching and I'll be showing some cool stuff as we proceed.
Gotta keep you coming back.

- End of Part I -


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