26
Apr
09

Feather Craft Vagabond Part Seven: A Caulking We Will Go!

The previous owner of our little vessel did “clue me in” to the fact that this Vagabond does, or did leak and take on a bit of water.  “Not much!” he said.

After putting water in the boat with a garden hose when first beginning work, there were no major leaks.  That being said, what was observed was the fact that the original “caulking” from the Feather Craft factory seemed to be failing.  It was very dried out and brittle, and flaking or even missing in some areas.

I became concerned about this “little potential problem”, and visited Clyde at Bi-State Marine in Erie, Michigan.  Clyde is fairly well versed in all things boats…and he suggested I give a new product from West Systems a go.  It is an epoxy that is strong and yet flexible.  It is said to be able to take movement, shock and vibration.  This sounds ideal for an aluminum boat.

After buying a small “kit” from Clyde that includes one bottle each of  resin and catylist, a couple of syringes for injecting the epoxy…into the boat seams, not yourself, gloves, and mixing cups with stir-sticks.  Nice kit.

To remove the old caulking was not very tough, as it was at the end of its life.

The caulking is fragile and missing in some areas between the plates at the stern.

The caulking is fragile and missing in some areas between the plates at the stern.

Clearly the spray-rail at the stern has stretched the rivets after years of battering the docks.

Clearly the spray-rail at the stern has stretched the rivets after years of battering the docks.This area is the worst on the boat. Clearly the rivets are pulled a tad, and the epoxy is goign to have to be applied in many layers.

feather-craft-boat-4-25-09-0032

This is the worst area of damage. Perhaps I should reset the rivets, but I'm curious if this epoxy will hold up. It will have to be applied in layers.

 

 

 

The keel will need looking after as well!

The keel will need looking after as well!

Here’s the secret to this epoxy.  You’ll want to heat the metal with either a propane torch or heat gun to get the metal warm, but don’t scorch or melt the aluminum!  Then using the syringe, simply lay a bead of epoxy down along the joint and then re-heat the epoxy.  When you reheat the surface the epoxy is on, it will “sweat” into the joints, around rivets, and “flow” much as solder does when soldering two copper pipes together.  This gives a nice sealed joint.
Since our problem areas are in conspicuous areas, I tinted the epoxy with West Systems Aluminum pigment, which also resists UV damage.  It also gives a close appearance to the original caulking.
This is the first of several layers of epoxy that will be laid into this open area at the stern.

This is the first of several layers of epoxy that will be laid into this open area at the stern.Here is a fresh fillet of epoxy laid into the bottom side of the spray-rail.

Here is a fresh fillet of epoxy on the bottom of the spray-rail.

Here is a fresh fillet of epoxy on the bottom of the spray-rail.

You can see after heating, the fillet of epoxy tends to "sweat" down into the voids where it is needed most.

You can see after heating, the fillet of epoxy tends to "sweat" down into the voids where it is needed most.In this photo the epoxy will have to have another "dose" to fill the area that sunk in. A layer or two may bee needed before doing cosmetic finishing.

When the G/Flex epoxy has dried, a wire brush was used to cosmetically dress up the fillet of epoxy.  This seam looks almost like the original caulking at the seam or the side sheets.

When the G/Flex epoxy has dried, a wire brush on a drill was used to cosmetically dress up the fillet of epoxy. This seam looks almost like the original caulking at the seam or the side sheets.

This seam will be sanded and once the buffing of the boats sides is finished, this should look very original to boat.
I’m not sure what direction this project will take next…so stay tuned!
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2 Responses to “Feather Craft Vagabond Part Seven: A Caulking We Will Go!”


  1. 1 Darlene Zemke
    June 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Hi there. I aquired the same boat recently–it was my father’s boat and it was passed onto me. Your story is an inspiration and you have done a great job so far with yours. Would you be willing to offer any advise/guidance as to what/where would be the best place to start with the restoration process. I would love to see my father’s boat look as beautiful as yours does. Would you be willing to please email me your email address to 1028darlene@gmail.com. Thank you
    Darlene


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