Practice Layup

Well, the foam molds are done, and it’s almost time to start the actual layup.  Here are some pictures of the CNC milled parts:

They look pretty awesome after some quick sanding and assembly!  The parts took pretty much the entire day to machine, so it is really important that the layup goes perfectly according to plan.  Frankly, the layup is far from professional, but it should be a cheaper and easier method to do in a garage.  Here are the in-house materials for this layup:

Should be interesting!

Should be interesting!

Here’s a short rundown of the purposes of each of these items:

  1. Carbon fiber: the main structural component of the boat besides the foam core.  After the layup, it will be smooth and sleek and will be able to withstand the internal/external forces applied by the water and motor.  I ordered twill weave fiber because it will drape over curves relatively well compared to the standard weave.  It also weighs about 5.9 oz/square yard.
  2. Epoxy: super flexible (effectively absorbs impacts) and spider-crack-proof (it will only crack at the point of maximum stress, so the overall structural integrity of the boat will not be compromised by small internal cracks).  This epoxy is also very important because it will not melt the foam on the inside.
  3. Nylon: easy replacement for peel ply and absorbs excess epoxy, while eliminating pinhole defects and creating a smooth overall finish.  This is ripstop nylon, so the tiny threads that can usually separate within the nylon won’t get everywhere.
  4. Batting: easy replacement for bleeder and distributes the vacuum for a more even suction.
  5. Foam tape: good tape for sealing bagging, but it will not be needed until the larger layup when Ziplock bags are too small.
  6. Plastic cups: used for mixing epoxy.
  7. Ziplock bag: easy replacement for vacuum bagging.

Alright!  Before the actual layup tomorrow, it’s important to see how well these materials work.  There are a few potential problems that might arise…

  • The nylon might stick to the carbon fiber (there could be coatings that leave an ugly finish)
  • The Shop-Vac (used in place of a vacuum pump) might not pull a strong enough vacuum
  • The epoxy might melt the foam (it shouldn’t, but stranger things have happened…)
  • The carbon fiber might not stick to the foam

The carbon fiber is soaked with epoxy and then placed on the foam.  Four sheets of the fiber is about a millimeter thick, but I think two will be sufficient for the purpose of this boat.  It’s then covered in the nylon and the batting and then is placed in the Ziplock bag.  Then it’s ready to be vacuumed overnight!

Corner test to see how well this style of layup can produce a sharp right angle

Corner test to see how well this style of layup can produce a sharp right angle

Tomorrow it will be time to take off the bagging and troubleshoot if needed (crossing my fingers that that will not be needed!).  Still on schedule!

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