I just checked and my last canoe post was at the beginning of November. I really didn't do much between American Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was kind of a busy time with work and getting ready to go back to Ontario for the holidays. Oh yeah, and I was making my Mom a warping board for her weaving, which took up a couple weekends.
But there is some progress on the canoe to report. After the first layer of fibreglass I added two extra strips of cloth over the bow and stern stems for a little added durability. These blended in fairly well and shouldn't be noticeable once all of the varnish is on. Then I applied two more coats of epoxy - squeegeeing on the first and brushing on the last. Afterwards I waited a couple weeks for it to fully cure and then scraped off all of the drips with a cabinet scraper. As most first-time builders do I think I put on the epoxy too thickly. Oh well, it is better than not putting on enough. It just means more work at this stage with scraping and sanding. I didn't do much else till Tracy and I returned from the holidays at the start of January. The first weekend back I was eager to get to work again and I got through the grueling task of sanding the epoxy smooth. It was grueling mostly because I put on too much epoxy and it was quite uneven in places. With the power sander starting with 80 grit and moving to 120 grit after one pass I leveled and smoothed the surface of the epoxy. This is supposed to be important in achieving a flawless uniform glossy finish at the end. I spent about 6 hours without break sanding. The dust gets everywhere and I didn't feel like cleaning up to eat until it was done. I spent three to four hours the next day cleaning up the mess from all the dust. During sanding I would pause every once in a while to vaccuum off the canoe. I found that a fibreglass canoe and a plastic vaccumm make an excellent static electricity generator! ouch. All in all it turned out pretty well. I sanded down a little too far only a couple places on the edges of the added bow and stern strips. Otherwise, I didn't damage any fibreglass and the weave is mostly invisible.
This weekend I undertook the much more enjoyable task of flipping the canoe over to an upright position. Saturday I cobbled together three padded cradles in the shape of the two #5 stations near the ends and the #0 station in the middle. Then today I enlisted Tracy again to help with the flip. I had to chisel off some extra epoxy that had dripped down to form little puddles around the bow and stern stems in order to separate the canoe from the strongback. The ends of the stems will be cut off eventually anyways so it didn't damage the canoe. I was a little worried that I would have trouble lifting the canoe off of the station molds so I just unscrewed all of the station molds from the strongback first. This seemed to be a great idea until Tracy and I lifted the canoe up and flipped it over. At this point all of the heavy plywood station molds tipped over into the canoe. I was worried that the hull was going to crack, but it just bent a little and held strong. A couple of the tipping molds did leave little dents in the cedar strips on the inside though. D'oh. I think they will mostly sand out.
It was an amazing day here today. Its January and it was about 75deg F (25deg C) and sunny. Perfect for setting the shell out on the strip of grass in front of the house for a photo before returning it to the garage to finish.