In our last article, we talked about how the fiberglass boat market has seen sales pick up lately. While this style of boat construction is popular, it's worth noting that fiberglass is more susceptible to cracks and fractures than aluminum. As a result, any boat owner who has invested in a fiberglass vessel should understand how to patch fiberglass in the event that they experience a collision at sea.
In this article we'll talk about the steps needed to prepare the broken fiberglass for repair. According to BoatUS.com, this is the process you should go through before applying new fiberglass:
- Cut out the affected area: Before you patch the hole, you need to cut out the fractured or cracked part of the fiberglass.
- Dewax the area around the hole: This removes wax coatings that can interfere with the grinding process, thereby making it more difficult to use adhesive to apply a new layer of glass fabric.
- Grind the surrounding area: Using a 36-grit paper on a disk sander, grinding allows the resin to form a better bond.
- Prepare the area with masking: Resin has the tendency to run and drip, so you'll want to mask areas where you don't want the resin to stick. Usually this involves using paper or wax to coat the area you want to protect.
Once you've taken these steps, you'll be prepared to apply glass fabric over the hole.
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The fiberglass boat market is growing rapidly at a time when other parts of the boating industry are in decline. Trade Only Today, a boating news source, reports that the fiberglass segment has seen growth of 35 percent in the past two years, with Florida contributing the most sales in the United States.
The industry reportedly sold 19,500 fiberglass boats 15 feet or longer in 2013, up from 14,500 in 2011. Given that Florida has a year-round boating season, it's not surprising that it would lead the nation in boat sales. But the growth hasn't been limited just to the Sunshine State: The Northeast saw an increase in saltwater fiberglass boat sales of over 33 percent.
Why are fiberglass boats becoming so popular? It has much to do with the advantages of this material over aluminum, particularly for saltwater fisherman. Fiberglass is heavier, which makes boats more substantial and less shaky when they're out in choppy ocean waters. In addition, fiberglass isn't susceptible to corrosion from saltwater, while aluminum will eventually begin to rust and deteriorate in the same conditions.
This isn't to say that aluminum doesn't have its own benefits. If you're involved in a collision, either with another watercraft or a dock, a metal boat will bend and dent without being punctured. Fiberglass, on the other hand, will shatter with a strong enough impact, which means that it could be in danger of sinking if the collision occurs away from shore.
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