The bulkheads are completely finished after sanding the high edges off of the fiberglass tape and giving them a light coat of epoxy. The foot braces have been installed and are complete. I cut the hip braces to size and shaped them with a flat file and sandpaper. They were then dry fitted and adjusted until I was happy with the fit. I then masked off the areas on the hull and cockpit coaming where the braces will be epoxied in place and sanded them, after which the hip braces were lightly epoxied in place. The next step will be to make fillets and fiberglass the hip braces in place.
This evening I was able to complete the epoxy fillets and fiberglass tape on the aft bulkhead. There is undoubtedly some technique for making nice, clean fillets to embed the tape into, but I clearly don’t know it. The instructions said to “smear a fillet of thickened epoxy around the bulkhead and glass it in place.” So I thickened the epoxy to the same consistency that Pygmy recommended for the fillets on the shear seams (thickened to sag, but not run), but I think I should have made it thicker (like putty maybe) and applied it by hand instead of using the dental syringe to squirt it into the gap and then trying to smooth it out like caulk. I got the job done, but it isn’t pretty. At least it is consistent with the appearance of the shear seams I suppose. One thing is certain though, these bulkheads are water-tight and aren’t going anywhere! In the next couple of days, and before I start on the hip braces, I will knock the rough, high edges off the fiberglass tape on the bulkheads and give them a light coat of epoxy to make them smoother so nothing can catch on them.
The next step on the kayak is the hip braces, and it is something of a relief that those are the last fillets and tape that I will have to do. Ever. Unless I decide to build another boat.
This evening after work I was able to get the fillets and fiberglass tape finished on the forward bulkhead. It took me about 90 minutes start to finish (cutting the tape to size for both sides of the bulkhead, mixing and thickening the epoxy, piping the thickened epoxy into a dental syringe, making the fillets, applying and bedding the tape, and finally, mixing 1.5 oz. of new epoxy to wet out the tape, and then wetting out the tape). The tape fought me fiercely, which has been my experience with all of the fiberglass tape I have applied to this kayak going all the way back to the sacrificial keel tape, but I prevailed! *sigh* One down, one to go. My plan is to do the aft bulkhead tomorrow. Then, after the epoxy cures fully on both of the bulkheads I will sand the edges off of the tape as I did on the inside seams, and give them a light coat of epoxy to make them smooth and pretty.
Because I worked hard to make sure that both bulkheads would land exactly where I want them, I decided that it would be a good idea to glue them in place with lightly thickened epoxy before I make the very thick epoxy fillets and then apply fiberglass tape. This is not in the Pygmy hatch and bulkhead instructions, but I don’t want there to be any chance that I might accidentally push them out of position when I am applying the fillets or bedding in the tape. Also, since the only way that I can reach far enough into the cockpit and hatches to reach all areas of the bulkheads is to turn the kayak on its side, I worried about bulkheads flexing out of position as I turned and strapped the kayak. I can now put that worry behind me. This will add several hours (perhaps a day) to the process while I wait for the epoxy to cure enough that I can go back and start on the fillets, etc., but I think it is a reasonable precaution.
EDIT: I have decided to wait until tomorrow to resume working on the bulkheads. I want the epoxy that I applied today to be fully cured before I start doing the fillets, etc. It won’t hurt anything to wait, and it is cheap insurance, as the saying goes.
I finished using my templates to get the shapes of the bulkheads just right. I have transferred those shapes to the actual bulkheads, which as I have mentioned before, have been fiberglassed on both sides with fiberglass cloth. Now they’re ready to go. Because it has been more than 72 hours since I fiberglassed both the bulkheads and the inside of the kayak, I have sanded where I will epoxy and glass tape tomorrow, and have sanded the bulkheads all over so that they will take the epoxy, and so that I can brush a thin coat of epoxy on both sides after I am done gluing/taping them in, so they will be pretty.
When I was trimming the fiberglass at the back of the cockpit coaming my utility knife slipped and I made a cut about 2″ long in the fiberglass cloth on top of the coaming. I didn’t sand it out at the time because I thought that the epoxy coat that would follow would soak into it and make it invisible. That didn’t work out like I thought it would. So I let that coat of epoxy cure figuring that I still needed to sand the high spots out of the tape anyway, and at that time I would sand far enough into the tape to get the cut out. I did that, and that didn’t work out like I thought it would either. As you can see in the photos below the scratch is still visible. Now I have to decide if I want to try again to sand it out, or leave it the way that it is and call it good enough. I’m not sure what to do. I’ll sleep on it and decide tomorrow.
Being a perfectionist is not always compatible with being a first time kayak builder.
EDIT: I have decided to leave it as is.
I had time after work to fiberglass the second side of the hatch lips (I did the first side yesterday), and the fiberglass cloth over the seams on the top of the cockpit coaming. It will be good to have this done before I start on the bulkheads. The instruction manual has the hip braces and seat installation before the bulkheads and hatches, but I think that I will have more room to work on the rear bulkhead if I wait to do the hip braces until after I have the bulkheads in.
I finished the starboard inside shear seam in the same way that I did the port side (see earlier post). The next step on the kayak will be the bulkheads. They are ready to put in the boat, I just need to let the shear seams cure completely before I try to put them in. I’ll try to get one or both of them in after work this coming week. But they may wind up waiting until next weekend.
I’ll make some small descriptive comments in the photos themselves. Otherwise, the pictures will speak for themselves.
Same process on the starboard side tomorrow.
Well, I feel better now that the starboard shear seam is done. It went better than the port side did, and overall it worked out fine. If I had one bit of advice to give to anyone who is going to do this themselves, I would say to make sure that the fiberglass tape is well “bedded” in the epoxy fillet before you start to try to wet it out. This helped quite a bit to help keep the tape from shifting around when I was wetting it out. This was especially true in the bow and stern where I was working blind because I couldn’t get my head and my arm in the hatch opening at the same time!
The entire inside of the kayak will be cleaned and I’ll lightly sand any high spots in the tape and give it a light coat of epoxy,
and then my plan is to put one coat of varnish over the entire inside of the kayak. EDIT: I talked with Suzanne at Pygmy Boats today and asked about varnishing inside the kayak, and she said in no uncertain terms, that it was a bad idea and that Pygmy advises against it. OK then. No varnish on the inside of the kayak. I’ll have to figure out another way to make the inside pretty.