View Full Version : stripping old fiberglass skin

Mark in Modesto
07-16-2002, 12:38 PM
I'm considering buying a 1959 Owens, 24' cruiser, but the owner says the glass over the wood hull needs to be completely removed and replaced. I haven't seen it yet as it's way out of town, but I thought I'd ask this forum how such a procedure is best performed and to determine if this task would supercede the value of the boat, regardless of the condition of the rest of the vessel.

Thanks in advance,

Frank Wentzel
07-16-2002, 01:22 PM

Under the glass you are likely to find extensive rot. Hulls are usually glassed to "remedy" a problem. The problem usually will get worse under the glass.

/// Frank ///

[ 07-16-2002, 02:23 PM: Message edited by: Frank Wentzel ]

07-16-2002, 02:18 PM
Stripping fibreglass is like stripping paint, except it's got more fight to it. You can use whatever tools you can lay your hands to pry the stuff away without damaging the wood underneath(pry bar, screwdriver, etc) , then peel strips off. Whatever is left (epoxy etc) has to be ground off with a good quality grinder or sander.

It's what you do with it next that's interesting, since I assume you want to put the eventually put the boat back in the water, and not just plant flowers in it. (We've all been there.)

Fibreglassing a wood hull is a completely anathema to hard core forumites. For some of them, it's more a religious thing, but in practical terms, it can be a bad thing, since it just hides problems that should be dealt with.

On the other hand, stich and glue boats are often entirely encased in FB. However, if that seal is not maintained, there can be lots of places for the rot to hide.

Also, the Gougeon Bros./ West System manual on wooden boat repair advises against fibreglassing any plank on frame construction, since the movement of wood during wet/dry cycles is too great.

Here's my experience:

I've recently stripped fibreglass from an 18' Y-Flyer scow. (plwood, tack and tape seams).

Fibreglass along the bottom seam, to seal plywood edges. --> there was no rot here, since it was on the bottom only, and the wood was able to breathe to the inside of the boat.

Fibreglass along an inside seam to seal the joint between the keelson and the plywood. --> there was rot here, since the wood had nowhere to breathe.

NB this was only a really small strip 2-3" wide, and I was surprised at the amount of rot, for a drysailed boat.

Most of the wise ones on the forum seem to agree that this is common. I'd say that in a larger boat it's difficult to avoid trapping moisture in the wood. (bilges, frame edges etc.)

So, you may be looking at stripping it off, and a total restore too.

As to value, assuming your time is free, you may be lucky to break even, when considering the cost of materials!

[ 07-16-2002, 03:25 PM: Message edited by: WWheeler ]

Nicholas Carey
07-16-2002, 04:46 PM
My experience has been that most glass sheathing on wood hulls was applied with polyester resin, which fortunately doesn't stick very well.

Removal usually consist of grabbing a loose edge and pulling. Comes Right Up! :D

Rich VanValkenburg
07-16-2002, 06:06 PM
My experience is the same as Nicholas, but be prepared should some wood come with it. In the case of my deck, the more wood that came off with the 'glass, the better.


07-17-2002, 09:23 PM
A 40+ year old boat that's been glassed with godknowswhat by godknowswho? Look on the bright side, Mark, maybe its fastened with iron screws and nails and the rust is holding it together smile.gif