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Project Log:  Sunday, March 13, 2011

The epoxy and varnish on the new cabin side panels had cured overnight.  I prepared the epoxied back side for final installation by washing the new epoxy and lightly sanding the surface. 

On the exposed side of the panels, I elected to cover them with some heavy paper, just in case I got adhesive on my hands or to prevent scratching from clamps or misplaced bracing.  I used the paper patterns from which the panels had been created, and taped the paper in place with some low-tack masking tape.

I prepared my materials and tools for the installation ahead.  It seemed like a straightforward job, but required many clamps, cross braces, tubes of adhesive, and more.

Although I'd solvent-washed the cabin sides yesterday before creating the patterns, I washed the bare fiberglass once more to ensure that it was clean and dust-free.  Then, with my clamps and adhesive and tools at the ready, I proceeded with the installation.

To secure the panels, I chose 3M 5200 quick-set polyurethane for its ease of application, well-known durability and bond strength, and its thixotropic, gap-filling characteristics.  Because the bonding surface was smooth and generally even, I applied a relatively small bead, as I'd not need much to make up for surface irregularities, and I didn't want the dense, stiff adhesive to prevent the 1/4" plywood panels from adhering to the contours of the cabin side.


With the adhesive applied, I pressed the panels into place, sliding them slightly to help spread the adhesive beneath.  The pre-cut porthole openings meant that I could easily clamp the panels in place, ensuring a tight fit at the openings and holding the panels securely till I could install cross-bracing.  I used thin wooden protectors (paint stir sticks, in this case) beneath the clamps' pads on the inside surface to avoid marring the cherry panel.


Once both panels were in place, I installed pre-cut cross bracing at the forward and after ends, and in the center between the ports.  Though I'd thought this would be enough, closer inspection revealed that I needed additional bracing near the bottom edges of both panels, so I cut some strapping to length and installed it tightly between the panels.


This was all I'd planned to do this day, and in any event the complex bracing essentially ended any chance of doing additional work in the cabin.  Even though the quick-set 5200 purported to cure in approximately 24 hours, my shop was a bit cooler than the 24-hour cure temperature, so I'd leave the bracing and clamps in place for as long as I could--which worked out conveniently since I'd  not have a chance to get back to things for several days anyway.

Total Time Today:  2 hours

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