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How to repair a GRP on a RIB

Overview
Introduction to repairing GRP Principal Products Required Choice of Hardener Filler Ingredients Preparation Guideline for Filling on Different Substrates Co bination !uantities of Resin and Filler Ingredients Ordering Resin S"ste and Fillers #easuring out $po%" Resin and Hardener b" &eight 'sing $po%" Filler in Fairing Curing &or(ing with Cured $po%" Filler

Introduction to repairing GRP


Most craft of whatever size or construction material have required filling and fairing compounds at some time either in their life or in their development and design. Production GRP hulls which emerge from the moulds with a smooth gel coat finish owe their fairness and quality of finish to the skill of the builders original shape or 'plug' from which the mould was formed. he same high standard of finish can also be seen in 'one!off' composite racing sailboats. hese craft mostly use epo"y rather than polyester resin in their construction and are built over a male plug. #ll one!off racing sailboats use lightweight epo"y filler mi"ers and specialized high performance paint schemes to obtain the necessary high standard of finish. Recently we have seen an increase in the number of craft$ both mono and multihulls$ which use foam or wood as the principal core materials in their construction$ particularly P%& ' (#) foam or cedar strip. hese hulls rely on e"tensive filling and fairing to give a surface finish which can match that of moulded GRP hulls. (teel boatbuilders also use epo"y filler to fair their hulls once the shaped steel plates have been welded together. *iller will take out any slight curvature imperfections and hide the welding lines before a final paint system is applied. *illing and fairing is a very labour intensive operation but an essential one necessary to ensure that the hull offers the least resistance to movement through the water. )owhere is efficient filling and fairing more important than on underwater appendages ! the keel and rudder$ where not only section shape can be controlled by application of filler$ but surface finish$ fairness and smoothness can be perfected for noticeable performance gains. his guide outlines the standard procedures which are necessary in order to achieve the best quality finish on wood$ composite$ ferrocement and metal surfaces.

Principal Products Required Resin S"ste


# resin system of some type$ usually epo"y or polyester$ forms the basis of every filler$ together with a mi"ture of inert filler ingredients. hrough the action of a catalyst$ in the case of polyester$ the resin is caused to polymerise to a hard plastic. +ith epo"y based products$ the resin reacts with a specialised hardener and together they 'crosslink' and polymerise to form an outwardly similar looking hard plastic material.

*or marine use especially$ epo"y resin based fillers are far superior to those based on polyester resin as they are inherently more water resistant$ shrink less during curing$ are more adhesive and have a higher degree of toughness and strength. #lthough epo"y!based fillers cost more they are the only type recommended for boat hulls. he epo"y resin and hardener can be supplied with filler additions pre!mi"ed into one or both components as a 'formulated' filler$ but most professional users working on a large scale prefer to create their own mi" by using a liquid epo"y resin system and low density filler 'powders'. his gives the user considerably more control over application and working properties over a wide range of working conditions. he user can vary the quantity of filler added to create 'thick' or 'thin' mi"es. he resin system will have a number ,usually at least -. of different hardeners$ each of which will offer different levels of reactivity when mi"ed with the resin component. his approach is referred to as the /recipe/ method. Resin systems have roughly the same working properties ,pot!life$ gel time etc.. when used with their fast hardeners. he gel times of systems using fast hardeners range from about 01!02 minutes. 3owever$ the term 'slow' for a hardener is only relative$ such that the gel time for one system's slow hardener may be much longer than another system's slow hardener ,e.g. from 04 minutes to -51 minutes.. he reader is advised to consult the data sheets of the products and note the 'gel times' of the proposed hardener and resin mi"es$ as this will give a relative inde" of working time of the final resin'hardener'filler mi"es.

Choice of Hardener
#ppropriate selection of hardener can give mi"es with different degrees of reactivity or speed. *inal choice of resin system and speed of hardener will largely depend on size of mi" required$ ambient temperature$ nature of substrate and total thickness of filler required. 6t is worth noting that it is possible to blend hardeners from the same system to produce intermediate gel times. 7ften$ it is possible to use the same resin system that is being used to build the component. his saves the inconvenience of buying a second system but it may not be the most cost!effective approach$ as another system maybe cheaper.

Filler Ingredients
+hereas the resin system will control the working characteristics$ mechanical and chemical properties of a filler$ the filler ingredients will dictate how easy the filler will be to apply and finally sand down to provide a fair smooth finish. he 'hollow sphere' type of filler is the only type which will create a filler mi" with the two desirable characteristics of being both lightweight and relatively easy to sand. his type of filler can also be used for structural adhesive purposes$ especially for low density fillet bonding. 3owever$ the glue mi" created is relatively weak and therefore it should be restricted to certain types of wood bonding. 3ollow spheres are often described as /microspheres/ and are very effective at reducing the density of the mi" by displacing resin. #s the microspheres have a hard$ resin resistant 'shell' the resin does not penetrate the 'interior' of the bubble. #lthough the user is free to add whatever filler proportion serves his particular needs$ there is a ma"imum practical additive level for each type of filler powder. here must always be sufficient resin present to coat each microsphere and bond one microsphere to the ne"t$ effectively creating a type of 'foam'. he greater the proportion of the filler ingredient added$ the lower the density of the filler mi" will become. 6f too much filler powder is added to the resin ,beyond the point where all microspheres are effectively coated.$ the mi" will become 'dry' and 'pasty'$ and difficult to work. 6t also may not bond well to the surface to which it is being applied. he two principal types of hollow bubble filler are phenolic microballoons and glass bubbles. able 0 compares the characteristics of filler mi"es.

Table 1. Comparative Properties of Fairing Mixes Created from Different "Hollow Sphere" Ingredients

Property Density Physi%al Hardness *ase of Sanding +ater Resistan%e Cost

Ranking rder !#$ightest "#Heaviest !#Softest "#Hardest !#*asiest "#Diffi%)lt !#Highest "#$owest !#Cheap "#*xpensive

! Phenoli% Mi%ro&alloons Phenoli% Mi%ro&alloons Phenoli% Mi%ro&alloons 'lass ()&&les 'lass ()&&les

" 'lass ()&&les 'lass ()&&les 'lass ()&&les Phenoli% Mi%ro&alloons Phenoli% Mi%ro&alloons

Preparation Guideline for Filling on Different Substrates &ood


+ood is an absorbent material and therefore the best possible adhesion is obtained by first pre! coating with an unfilled solvent free epo"y resin and hardener mi". he filler mi" can then be applied either after first leaving the surface to cure and then sanding to obtain a good key$ or whilst the initial unfilled epo"y coating is still wet or tacky. 8eep indentations or screw holes may be filled without pre! coating.

Pol"ester GRP a) Fibrous *a inate Surface without Gel Coat


Solvent wipe with a fast evaporating epoxy solvent, Pre-%oat with %lear. )nfilled solvent-free epoxy resin mix first and treat as for &are wood, Polyester 'RP sho)ld &e well %)red otherwise the epoxy %)re will &e inhi&ited and there will &e poor adhesion to the s)rfa%e,

b) Pol"ester Gelcoat Surface


+et sand with 021 ! 091 grit paper then solvent wipe with a fast evaporating epo"y solvent to obtain a good key. he polyester should be well!cured.

Pol"ester Filler or $po%" Filler


# previously filled surface should be well abraded with :1 ! 91 grit production paper and wiped with fast evaporating solvent before commencing any further filling. he polyester should be well!cured if epo"y filler is to be used.

$po%" FRP
his may or may not have used nylon peel ply incorporated into the last laminate layer. 6f it had$ then tear away the peel ply and simply apply the filler. 6f no peel ply was used then sand the surface thoroughly with 91 grit production paper and clean with a fast evaporating solvent such as clean acetone.

Co bination !uantities of Resin and Filler Ingredients


+here the 'recipe' method of creating an epo"y filler mi" has been selected$ the following information contains guidelines for making the mi" to a fairing consistency. he relative quantities may be varied by the user to create thinner$ thicker or more thi"otropic mi"es to suit individual application needs.

Mi"es of lower density can be created for other applications e.g. to create a low density 'syntactic' foam for filling rather than fairing purposes. 3ere the mi" may have a higher filler loading to allow application by trowel in specific areas. #s a specific e"ample a Microballoon mi" for this purpose can be made with a density of 1.2 g'cc rather than one nearer 1.; g'cc used for fairing. *airing mi"es are required to be more mobile because of the greater area to be covered and to suit the tools and application equipment used. )ote the inclusion of colloidal silica to the mi" in every case. #lthough added in relatively small volume compared to the primary filler ingredient$ colloidal silica serves the very useful function of giving additional non!sag properties to the mi". his is a particularly desirable for vertical or sloping surfaces where some 'sagging' in a filler mi" may be e"pected whilst the filler is still in a workable state$ before sufficient hardening has taken place. he following material weights , able -. will create one litre of low density epo"y filler.

Table 2. +eights to %reate ! litre of low density epoxy filler


Primary Filler Mi%ro&alloons 'lass ()&&les Primary Filler +eight Colloidal Sili%a +eight !"2g !"2g !!g !9g Resin / Hardener +eight 324g 994g 0otal Filler Mix +eight 5264g 53:4' 1pprox, Density of Mix 4,7g8%% 4,2g8%%

7ne litre of filler$ if spread evenly$ will produce an average 0mm thickness over an area of a square metre. Generally$ for filling and fairing on rough surfaces$ sufficient quantities of resin system and fillers should be ordered to allow for an average thickness of -mm ,- litres of filler mi" per sq.m.. his will allow for uneven surfaces and losses through sanding.

Ordering Resin S"ste

and Fillers

he following information will be useful when ordering suitable epo"y resin system and filler ingredients to create fairing mi"es using Microballoons. he quantities indicated in able 5 will produce a low density filler mi" sufficient to cover the area shown to an average thickness of 0.1mm.

Table 3. Material ;)antities re;)ired to prod)%e a low density filler mix s)ffi%ient to %over the area shown to an average thi%kness of !,4mm,
1rea 2 !4 "4 94 34 24 +t of Resin < Hardener =kg> "," 3,3 6,6 !9," !:,7 "",4 +t of Mi%ro&alloons =kg> 4,7: !,99 ",77 9,?? 2,9" 7,72 +t of Colloidal Sili%a =kg> 4,47 4,!! 4,"" 4,99 4,33 4,22

#easuring out $po%" Resin and Hardener b" &eight


he weight method of measuring relative amounts of epo"y resin and hardener is the most accurate method of combining the components in e"actly the right ratio. %olume methods using graduated cups may be sufficiently accurate for epo"y systems with simple mi" ratios such as -<0 or 5<0 resin!to! hardener ratios. Metering resin and hardener using pumps may be appropriate for small volumes found in some adhesive applications but is too laborious for the volumes generally used for creating fairing mi"es. Measuring by weight is easily achieved using simple$ ine"pensive electronic scales. hose of either kg or 2 kg capacity which have an accuracy of = -> are most suitable.

'sing $po%" Filler in Fairing Procedures

his section is divided into<

a> Overall Fairing + the removal of high spots in order to %reate a fair shape whi%h &lends perfe%tly into the overall shape, &> *ocali,ed Fairing + making small areas s)%h as fastening holes or lo%al voids smooth to the to)%h and )ndete%ta&le,

Preparing the #i%


(elect an appropriate epo"y resin system and hardener speed to suit the application. Measure out sufficient quantities of materials to make a suitable quantity of filler which can be spread over the work area and made smooth well within the working time that the hardener will allow. 6deally start with small volumes until some idea of working time is gained. 6n order to prevent early gelling of the resin and hardener before the application is finished$ reduce mi" volumes if ambient temperature levels rise or a faster hardener is used. Mi" components thoroughly. #lways mi" resin and hardener thoroughly first before adding filler ingredients. &hoose a suitable vessel such as a smooth!sided plastic tub in which to mi" the filler. 7nce mi"ed$ transfer the filler mi" to a board and spread thinly ,maybe up to 01 mm thick. to help dissipate the heat of the resin'hardener chemical reaction and so lengthen the working time of the mi".

-pplication a) Overall Fairing


?sing a plasterers 'hawk' to hold a suitable volume of filler$ transfer a manageable amount to the surface using a fle"ible metal applicator and apply in thin layers to avoid air pockets. *or fairing large areas of 5!2m- at a time on boat hulls use a plastic fairing batten ,a length of plastic drain pipe is sometimes used. held by two people. #im at a slight overfill. #pply no more than 5!: mm at a time. 7n very unfair hulls the 'notched applicator' technique is useful whereby the initial filler application is by a batten with a 'notched' or serrated edge$ which gives a furrowed surface to the filler. 7nce hardened the surface is sanded using long sanding boards which will take off the tops of the 'ridges' on the high areas and leave them intact on the low areas of the surface. his technique ensures that the minimum of filler is used and sanding time is shortened because only 21> of the normal filler quantity is removed with every sanding stroke. 7nce fair the hollow areas and 'furrows' are filled level to the original epo"y surface$ it is useful to use a slightly colour!tinted mi" for the second filler application to differentiate it from the first when subsequently sanding.

b) *ocali,ed Fairing
#pply the filler with a spatula or metal straight edge. # higher loading of primary filler is often used together with colloidal silica$ to create a stiffer filler mi" for this type of filling.

Curing
#ll epo"y filler mi"es will sand most easily when fully cured because a fully polymerised epo"y will not soften as a result of the heat generating abrasive action. (ince most filler mi"es are sanded before being fully cured$ a coarser grade of paper will be necessary in order to avoid 'clogging'. +arm

conditions with$ ideally$ low humidity help the epo"y components to react most effectively. Please note that when sanding non fully cured epo"y care should be taken to ensure minimal skin e"posure to the sanding dust and that dust masks should be warn. Please see each resin system's instruction sheet for details.

&or(ing with Cured $po%" Filler Preli inar" Fairing


he aim of fairing is to remove e"cess filler in a controlled manner in order to ensure a visually 'perfect' surface. # variety of tools and cutting edges may be used in the initial stages to remove the worst lumps of filler to create a surface on which abrasive paper will be most effective. he following , able :. outlines some of the tools which may be used.

Table 4. 0ools )sed in fairing


S)rfa%e Coarse l)mps < &)mps 0ool @S)rform@ Ca&inet S%raper 1ngle 'rinder +orking Mode M)ltiple (lade Single (lade 1&rasive sanding pad and dis%

Smooth Filler

Stiff or Flexi&le (oard 1&rasive Paper sheet or a&rasive dis%, *le%tri% or air powered random or&ital sander

'sing -brasive Papers in Fairing and Finishing


wo basic types of abrasive paper are usually used. *or coarse sanding the paper used is aluminium o"ide 'production' paper obtained by the metre from a roll. his can be cut to convenient length to use on boards or mechanical sanders. he other type is wet or dry silicon carbide paper which can be used either wet ,with water as the 'lubricant'.$ or dry and is always used for final finishing of coatings. he abrasive paper is usually cut and used on a rubber palm!held sanding pad. he following , able 2. is a guide to the abrasive grades used at the different stages of fairing.

Table 5. 'rade and 0ype of 1&rasive Paper


S)rfa%e *poxy Filler or +ood Polyester 'el%oat High-&)ild *poxy S)rfa%er 8 Bnder%oat Poly)rethane )nder%oats Poly)rethane Finish Coats 0ype of Sanding 'eneral Ro)gh Fairing Fine Fairing Finishing =wood only> S)rfa%e Preparation Fine S)rfa%e Fairing Cery Fine S)rfa%e Finish Deying for Finish Coats Cery Fine S)rfa%e Fairing and Deying Paper 'rade 34 - 74 64 - !44 !"4 - !64 !"4 - !64 64 - !"4 !64 Aot Bsed Aot )sed +et-or-Dry 'rade Aot Bsed Rarely Bsed !64 - ""4 !64 !"4 - !64 !64 - ""4 "64 - 9"4 "64 - 9"4

)ote< he lower the 'grade' number the larger the grit particle and the lowest density of cutting particles.

Fine Fairing and Finishing


7nce the main fairing has been completed$ leaving a sanded$ fair$ smooth surface$ the ne"t stage is to use a type of coating system which is of fine filler ingredients. hese high build$ undercoat'surfacer type of products are more common in the automotive industry but are becoming increasingly usedcharacterised by its high loading as part of the fairing process in the marine industry. .ac( to /op