by Ron Pratt



Part II of Ron Pratt's great Viper restoration saga continues.....


I started with grinding the overlaps to level them out.

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This is the core-bond. Super light stuff.

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Weighed out the catalyst.

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Bedded in the stringers and laid a double bias over them.

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Cut the balsa.  I had six 2x4 sheets to start with.

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And realized I am 1-2 sheets short.

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I got all the full sheets Gerald has. Hopefully he has some scraps I can use.

I got working on it last night at 4 pm and came in at 8 pm. The original plan was to have the floor on Sun eve. Each step is only a couple hours of work with two people.

Initially, I was going to do a full floor to splashwell knee brace. After talking with Gerald and looking over the shapes of the transom / splash well, he came up with a way to stiffen the transom sufficiently without the braces. We'll be using long fibers horizontally (woven roving) in the layering of the transom build-up. Also the top of the transom plywood will be held down 3/8" to 1/2" and filled with long straight and diagonal fiber material which will carry the load into the angled portions of the transom and staggering layers as you approach the corner where the sides meet. Did I explain this alright? Do you see what we're trying to achieve?

I believe it should work.

I called Gerald this morning and he had plenty of balsa on hand so I'm saved.
I ran over to his shop at lunch and grabbed 1 1/2 sheets and some cool 18" vise grip clamps for the transom.

I started at 4 pm spreading the core bond then mixing some hot resin. I looked like a Benihanna chef with a party of twelve. Luckily Caprice came home shortly afterward and took over priming the balsa.

Got 99% laid down by 6:45 pm then had to stop to go to an Alaska Day variety show. (Earning 72 brownie points)

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Got home @ 8:30 and finished laying in the balsa. I cut a bondo spreader to spread in core bond for a fillet at the base of the stringers.

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The next layer of double bias will be much stronger if it isn't folded into the base of the stringer. The cut spreader made a 3/4" radius. I also rounded the inside of the bow V for the same reason.

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We wrapped things up @ 10 pm.

So here's a question for those of you who have already re-cored your boats: How can you tell if you have an air pocket between the core and hull?

Gerald stopped over shortly after I got home to check on my progress. He took a quarter out of his pocket and dragged it....on edge across the surface of the balsa listening carefully to the scraping noise. In one area the tone deepened slightly, which indicated a hollow spot beneath the core. By using this method we were able to locate a 5" diameter area that wasn't securely bonded to the hull. Gerald located the top of the hollow spot and drilled a 5/16" hole through the balsa. I syringed in a couple ounces of resin, which filled the void. This was the only spot we found in the hull.  This is a really cool trick that I felt necessary to share with those of you who will be re-coring in the future. (And I bet those of you who have already re-cored wish knew this trick back then.)

Okay,... back to the progress for tonight... Re-ground the perimeter of the balsa/filler and laid two 14' long strips of double-bias, 38" wide, from stem to stern. Holy crap! What a bitch!!! Gerald recommended unrolling it as we went. Even with my faithful wife running the roller feverishly behind me and turning the heat off in the garage, we JUST finished working out the air bubbles as the leftover resin in the bucket started to gel.

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The transom started with one layer of mat and woven roving (keeping the horizontal strands as level as possible).
As soon as this firmed up, core-bond was troweled on and the resin-coated (primed) 3/4" plywood was bedded in place. Due to a shortage of core-bond, I used a 1.5 oz. mat between the two pieces of plywood. At this point I clamped everything together, made a rum and coke and called it a night.
[note] the five wood clamps were removed from the top of the transom just prior to this picture being taken.

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Tomorrow I'll buckle everything up, throw it in the water and give you speed results.

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Tomorrow I'll smooth out the putty, lay in double bias, install the transom , and hopefully get the floor cut. All depends on "interruptions".

Tonight I laid up the transom, cut the floor, coated both sides with some hot resin, then (after it was dry), put a layer of cloth on the underside.

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I wrote a note on the under side of the floor [I love this ~ Mark].

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Should be able to get the floor in tomorrow.

OK here's Fridays progress;

Caprice was playing with the camera so I'll post LOTS of pictures so it will appear I was busy all night..(although it is 9:52 right now).

I got the floor glued down and a layer of double bias around the perimeter.
Neat trick #46 from Gerald Gangle;

Put a gallon zip lock freezer bag in a coffee can and fold the bag over the top of the can. Pour the core bond in the bag, cut off a corner and instant dispenser.

Gerald didn't tell me about the coffee can trick until I told him it was a PITA to get the putty in the bag while holding it open with one hand and spooning out the putty with the other. (This is when I was bedding in the stringers).

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Spent all day Sat on the boat.
After grinding the edges of the double bias strip around the perimeter of the floor, I laid a layer of mat over the floor and onto the sides.
Once dry, I cut the bulkheads for the seat boxes, toe board, and foreword bulkheads. I thought it would be nice to make sure the hull was still level and not twisted before glassing in the bulkheads.

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Got around to digging out the rotten bow eye backing plate and replaced it.

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The seat box tops are resin coated and will be mounted and glassed in tomorrow.

So far I have used 11 gallons of resin and five gallons of core bond putty. There has been VERY little waste and I have been watching the resin to fiberglass ratio carefully.

The corebond B870(w) is a "polyester based adhesive for foams and balsa" is what I got from Gerald. Try That's what's on the bucket.  It doesn't weigh much, maybe 15#. I used a V-notch trowel to spread the putty. You can see in some of the pictures, I used a bit to bed the transom, stringers, floor, and fill in the edges.

Today (Sunday) is Alaska Day. ( Alaska was bought from Russia on this day and the transfer was taken place in my little town).

I had 3/4 gal of resin left so I got the seat box lids glassed in. (Still have one quart left).

Time to go watch the parade and have some "family" time. Then clean the shop.

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The mess.

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As soon as the weather clears up, I'll take the deck outside and grind the perimeter of the lip and cut out the wood behind the dash.

I set the deck back on the hull and rolled the whole boat out of the garage and started stripping the 2nd gel coat job off the deck. What a PITA!!!!!!

Started with the 8" buffer with 40 grit stripping @ 9:00 AM. Had a fan blowing all the dust in the driveway. Made a HUGE mess but got the deck stripped by 5:30 pm.

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Everywhere there were spider cracks in the gel coat, I had to remove ALL the gel coat so they wouldn't "telegraph" into the final paintjob.

Caprices Mustang and Bug were covered in gel coat dust!!

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Had my dad and a friend stop over to flip the deck and set on the hull so I could glass up the new dash plywood, and fill in a bunch of unused holes.

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The dash was soooooooo messed up. There was a second layer of plywood screwed to the original. I had to chisel out JB Weld , Globs of resin, and bondo.

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Tomorrow I'll get some more resin and fix all the "issues".

Finished @ 7:00 PM.

Got all the holes covered and dash laid up.

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Gerald is coming over tomorrow to look at the cracks. I don't mind adding a layer of cloth if there is a chance it will come through. Hey, it's just a bunch more grinding. This isn't the only spot on the boat. That's why I want Geralds opinion.

Gerald stopped over and told me what I didn't want to hear (and what you all knew)

The pictures don't show the amount of cracks in this deck. This poor ole gal has been rode HARD.

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I spent a few hours sanding the whole deck again and rubbing the surface to get it as absolutely straight as possible,..... and it IS pretty darn straight!!!
Gerald wanted to see more of the gel coat off so I could skin the ENTIRE deck with cloth. At first I almost got sick to my stomach, but he had a "layout" plan that made sense and would only take a few hours to accomplish.

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I mixed up some chopped glass (looks like rice) and microballoons into a putty and spread over the hole repairs to level out. That was it for tonight.

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Wait till I flip it over. You will really get a kick out of seeing what's on the hull.
You guys don't know how lucky you are getting your projects with a decent exterior. I'm gettin' screwed all the way around on this one .

At least my wife is still supportive.

The fiberglass supply store got their shipment of resin in today so I picked up a 5 gal pail ($139.95)
Got the patches sanded down and over 1/2 of the deck covered.

I thought about a rear faring but this "budget" project has gone WAY over budget. I'm hoping I'll be able to afford carpet and paint.

My wife came home just as I was laying out the first piece. Told her to get into her grubbies and get some gloves on. move it, move it, move it.

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The squeegee smoothed out the cloth and removed the excess resin.

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After it firmed up, I trimmed the edges with a razor knife.

Tomorrow I'll sand the edges and lay up the front side panels and splash well.

After looking at the pictures, it "appears" there are dry spots in the cloth. It's reflections from the lights.


- End of Part II -


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