by Ron Pratt



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


I got a lot done tonight. Sanded the edges of last nights cloth, laid on the last three pieces, spread some microballoon putty on the front and sanded smooth. The trick is to get on the putty as soon as it firms up. It sands like sheetrock mud. I made sure I didn't sand into the cloth.

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Here's a close up of the seam in the cloth.

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If all goes well, my post tomorrow will have the deck ready for final prime and glassed to the hull.

I finished what I was hoping to do by 3:30 pm. Beer thirty!!!

The upper deck is 95% ready for prime and paint. The hand rub lengthwise and crosswise is perfect!! This deck is STRAIGHT!!!!

The deck and hull are sealed at the flange and glassed from the inside. The bow area was a MAJOR PITA!!!!!! I had 6" wide strips of double bias 3' and 6' long wet out and rolled up. I had my head rammed between the hull and deck sideways, reaching as far as I could. The last few inches, I used 4" strips of the glass draped over a brush that was taped to a stick. I VERY carefully fed it right into the crease and smoothed out.

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The splashwell was glassed on the underside to the transom and some putty was put in the joint to create a radius.

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Horrible day outside today. Pouring rain and wind @ 45 mph. Good day to work on the boat.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. There's a bunch.

When looking at the pictures,.....the almond color is factory, the golden is mine , and the green is previous repair as well as the black gobble goop stuff that peeled off. The green repair is massive!!! Just look how far it goes. I haven't found the end yet by the bow. Looks like part of the hull was cut out near the front of the pad. You can see the line.

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This bottom is really messed up. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Well, I got four hours put in on the hull tonight and not a lot to show unfortunately. I decided to strip the black gel coat off the hull starting with the "good" side. I thought I'd have the whole hull down to the factory blue gel coat by 8:00 or 9:00 pm. Wrong O!

Got most of one side done. Found lots of stress cracks running crossways thru the lifting strakes. The boat must have ran through rough water with a bad core to do this much damage. I'm most likely going to have to cover the bottom with cloth like with the deck. We'll see.

Sanding around the lifting strakes is NOT FUN!!

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Well, if I had seen this boat before making the "deal", I would have thought twice about getting it. Obviously I have more time than money. As far as I know, this was the only go-fast hull nearby so I had to make it work.

Gerald is stopping over to look at the mess. Unfortunately, laying cloth up to the edge of each lift strake won't add the strength I need. I'll have to round the edge to allow the cloth to lay in tight over the outside corners of each strake. Also the ORTHO resin I've been using doesn't have enough "peel" strength for the hull. It WILL work if I put a mat then a cloth but it will make the surface uneven and add weight.

Gerald has some trick vinylester  resin with some additives that will sufficiently bond the cloth to the hull.

Hopefully, we'll meet up this afternoon and make a game plan.

Did I say I was getting REALLY tired of sanding?? I found some 36 grit 6" round sand paper at NAPA today. What a score!! I was using 80 grit to do the first side of the hull and it was slow going. It wasn't cheap. 50 sheets of the 80 grit (blue) was $37.00 employee cost (my cost) from Carquest auto parts. The brown 36 grit listed for $160.00 for 47 sheets!!!! I sniveled really hard and got it for cost at NAPA for $87.00.

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Gerald stopped over with some vinylester resin and hardener. He looked at the damage I uncovered. Looks like I'll need two layers of cloth over the strakes to stabilize them. Cracks like this will need to be ground out and filled in with additional cloth. (This is actually a lifting strake.)

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Area's like this need the extra glass removed as it's laying on top of the blue.

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I got most of the other side stripped. The new sandpaper cut the black gel coat faster but I spent quite some time leveling out the old repair glass.

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This is as far as I made it tonight. Came in at 8:30 for dinner and could hardly move. These long hours bent over the boat are hell on my old body.

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Hopefully I'll finish grinding tomorrow.

Another night of sanding and grinding. Man, I'm loving this!!

I have almost all the extra glass ground off.

What you see that isn't tan in this picture was cut or ripped out of the factory hull. The green repair glass is paper thin and laying on my glass from the inside. I wish I could get pictures to show the stress cracks.

Gerald read them like a palm reader and showed me where it hit (probably a rock) and the stresses went there. Not to confuse these cracks with the ones in the lifting strakes. (Those happened after the green repair)

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I wasn't looking foreword to grinding this piece off. Tried pushing the putty knife against the edge. Whaaa-Laaa.

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Tonight I used my 1/4" thick piece of aluminum flatbar on edge to find any high spots and ground level. I cleaned up the sides of the lift strakes and put some glass in the super low spots. I mixed up some micro balloon putty for the bow area to get the warbles smoothed out before adding the cloth. I should be able to get the last grinding done tomorrow and start with the cloth.

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Still need to make the windshield / windscreen. Should be able to squeeze it in this weekend.

The hull is all fair
ed out for the cloth layup. Tomorrow Caprice and I will get it laid up, the fairing putty on, and sanded straight.

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Halloween day: Spent 6 hours covering the hull with cloth and vinylester resin. Used 6" wide strips of cloth to put the 2nd layer on the lifting strakes.

This was NOT FUN!!!!! We started wetting out the center and working upwards then down.

I was finishing up the strips as kids started showing up trick or treating.

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Well, here's the difference,....... What did you guys do this weekend? How about last week? Last weekend?, The week before? You can see where I was. EVERY DAY!!!  Once I started, I knew I was going to TRASH my garage, driveway, our cars, the 4-wheelers, and the ski boat with fiberglass dust. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

We have pretty mild winters up here (we're just above Seattle ).

I started this thread three weeks ago today. I got most of the fairing putty on the hull. Ran out of micro balloons. Cleaned the shop with three fans and a leaf blower.

Tomorrow I'm going to make an applicator like a cake frosting tip so I can squirt putty on the lifting strake edges.

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Made this tool for rebuilding the lift strake edge. Bottom of a transmission funnel (new, no oils) and a syringe with the tip hogged out.

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This is what it should look like in operation. ...... in theory.

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Sucked up the filler and squirted out fine.

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Now,...... between today and Monday I'm putting in a "air moving" system in the garage which will double as a spray booth. Still looking for a vision for a rear fairing, flip up rear seat unit that will look cool, find a front seat shape I like and make a mold,..... and make some cool side panels that connect the floor to the sides.

I'll try to get the windshield,...uhhhh, I mean "wind screen" laid up this weekend if I have time.

I have a reason for what I do and can at least come up with a "reasonable" explanation of "why".

I started building the windshield edges with micro balloons but it wasn't staying put. (Even thick). The filler is made with fumed silica aka Cabosil. It looks and feels like instant mashed potatoes. It's harder to sand than the balloons so I trim it as soon as it firms up.  If you look at the pictures, it starts blue / green and turns a tan/ clear shortly after the hardener is mixed in.

I try to take pictures to show "clearly" what I'm doing but sometimes doesn't show properly. The strakes are straight and the trimmed "filler" is pretty darn true.  As soon as I touch them up, I'll take a better shot down the edge.  Trust me.......they will be perfect!!

I may not do something like someone else might,....but I can make a good argument as to why I'm doing it this way. We can agree to disagree.

- End of Part III -


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