Covering the hull was not as difficult as it first seemed. Once I had cut the mat to size and laid it on the hull it was possible to brush it with a soft brush which removed the air under the mat so that it stuck to the hull just enough to stay in place.
The next task was to ‘wet it out’ with the epoxy resin. The only difficulty here was ensuring the mat was well soaked with resin and that the ply underneath was also fully impregnated. The way of telling you have this process correct is when the mat seems to disappear and the hull just looks varnished. If you can still see opaque parts and the weave of the mat then you need to go over it with more resin. The best tool to use for spreading the epoxy and working it into the mat is a plastic squeegee. The epoxy resin supplier also stocked these very useful items and I used four to do the hull. (I dropped one on the floor and when I picked it up it was covered in dust and polystyrene even though I had swept and vacuumed before I started!) You can see the plastic sheet I used to extend my garage in the picture below. The hull was two feet longer!
Once the resin was set it came the time for sanding the whole thing down. How well you do this will reflect on the finished hull. Personally I hate sanding things down! So I did skimp a little. Once all is smooth and to your satisfaction it is time for a second coat of resin. At this time if you find any holes, low points or blemishes it is time to fill them with resin mixed to a stiff constituency using the filler powder. This is what is known as ‘fairing’ the hull.
When the second coat is complete sand the whole thing smooth again. Make sure you have removed as many runs and uneven parts as possible. If you intend to paint the hull gloss white like I did it will show up every little run and blemish even if they look to be smoothed out on the resin coat. The best way to tell if all is ready for painting is to run your fingers over the surface and feel for high spots, don’t just trust your eyes.
The paint I had chosen turned out to be a nightmare! I purchased a two-pack marine paint suitable for painting over epoxy without a primer or under coat. It stank to high heaven and made me feel a bit squiffy even with a face mask, the garage door and window open. It was very thin and ran at the slightest provocation (which was most of the time). I tried a roller, no good it would not cover properly, I tried paint pads with the same result. I had to brush it on, it worked but I had to sand it down once it was set to remove the runs!
The second and final coat I was as careful as possible. It would look good just as I painted it, go back five minutes later and guess what? Watch it run! dam stuff! I would not use that again!
I have to say that the hull now looked as though it was pulled from a fiber glass mold. The paint finish once it was set looked and felt like a gel coat and it seemed as hard as nails.
The underside of the hull was now finished so it was time for the grand turning ceremony. First however I constructed another building frame the shape of the hull. This time I put heavy-duty wheels on it so I could move the hull around. This would make things easier as space was a ‘little tight’. It was also an advantage being able to wheel it out of the garage on a sunny afternoon to work on it. Spring had arrived!