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Fairing support

Fairing a surface removes the highs and lows so the surface is level. It can mean filling holes and low areas, reshaping voids, or grinding down bumps so they blend in with the surrounding surface, appearing level, or "fair" to the eye, to the touch, or to the fairing batten.

The material for filling or shaping is called a fairing compound or fairing putty, which contains some type of resin—either epoxy, polyester, or vinyl ester. For convenience, there are premixed fairing putties, or you can make your own.

There are a lot of reasons to fair a surface while building or repairing a boat. Examples include:

  • Making the entire hull surface fair during construction, especially for wooden boats
  • Fairing large areas of a hull surface misshapen due to, for example, bowing out at the bulkheads as a result of years of hull stresses
  • Fairing small gouges and dents on wood, fiberglass, aluminum, or steel hulls before applying primer and painting
  • Fairing gelcoat imperfections above the waterline
  • Filling in holes after grinding down gelcoat blisters below the waterline before finishing with an epoxy barrier coat and antifouling bottom paint
  • Fairing a hull surface prior to wet layup with fiberglass to ensure an even surface because fiberglass is difficult to sand
  • Fairing a small area of fiberglass cloth that didn’t quite get filled in by the epoxy overcoats after wet layup and before priming and finishing
  • Reshaping and fairing damaged underwater appendages such as the rudder and keel for added speed
  • Filling holes after removing hardware
  • Fairing an entire hull before a paint job

Choosing a Fairing Compound

  •      What’s in a Fairing Compound?
  •      Types of Resins Used in Fairing Compounds
  •      Types of Fairing Compounds: Premixed or Make Your Own

Supplies for Fairing

Steps for fairing.

  •      1. Surface Prep
  •      2. Mixing the Fairing Compound
  •      3. Applying the Fairing Compound
  •      4. Sanding and Wiping

Using TotalBoat TotalFair to Repair Crazing

Fairing is more than just fixing dings and dents for cosmetic reasons. It entails everything from filling surface scratches in gelcoat, seamlessly repairing osmosis blisters on a hull, reshaping the leading edge of a keel, making a hull repair disappear, or smoothing the hull to get the fastest underwater profile.

A fairing compound contains resin—either epoxy, polyester, or vinyl ester, and each resin is designed for different purposes. Before deciding on a fairing compound, think about whether the faired area is above or below the waterline, and how you plan to finish the faired surface. Will you be finishing with primer, barrier coat, topcoat, or gelcoat? The answers to these questions determine the type of resin required in the fairing compound.

The key to successful fairing  is to use a fairing compound that contains the appropriate resin and thickening agents to do the job properly. The fairing compound needs to bond to the substrate being faired, and the finishing material (such as primer, paint, or gelcoat) needs to bond to the faired surface.

What’s in a Fairing Compound?

Fairing compounds or putties typically contain the following:

  • A resin such as epoxy, polyester, or vinyl ester
  • A hardener (for epoxy) or catalyst (for polyester/vinyl ester) for activating the resin and ensuring that it eventually cures to a hard, plastic material. Always use the exact amounts of hardener or catalyst specified by the manufacturer, or the resin will not cure properly.
  • A low-density filler such as fumed silica (epoxy) or chopped fiber (fiberglass strands) (polyester/vinyl ester) for thickening the putty so it won’t run or sag
  • An additive (such as glass microballoons) that makes the compound easier to sand after curing, since the resin and thickening agent alone result in a cured substance which is very hard to sand smooth

Types of Resins Used in Fairing Compounds

Whether to use a fairing compound containing epoxy, polyester, or vinyl ester resin depends mainly on:

  • The material to be used to finish the faired area
  • Whether the fairing is being done for cosmetic or structural reasons
  • Whether the faired area is above or below the waterline

Use the following table to determine which type of fairing compound is best for your fairing needs.

Types of Fairing Compounds: Premixed or Make Your Own

Fairing putties either come "premixed" with the resin and thickener already mixed and you just mix in the hardener or catalyst when you get ready to use the compound. Or you can use the "recipe method" to mix your own fairing compound using separate resin, hardener/catalyst, filler, and additive. Always follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions and wear appropriate personal protection when working with all resins, fillers, and additives.

Epoxy Fairing CompoundsThe Recipe Method: With this method, you take separate ingredients and mix them together to the desired consistency (think peanut butter). Ingredients include epoxy resin , hardener, a thickener (colloidal silica) to thicken and prevent sagging, and microballoons to make the putty easier to sand after curing, which might take a day or more. It’s very important to always mix the epoxy resin and the hardener first before mixing in additives. Also, you want to work quickly as the curing reaction, and, therefore, the working time, starts once the resin and hardener are mixed.

TotalBoat TotalFair . It has a yellow resin paste (part A) that already has the fillers blended in, and a blue hardener paste (part B). Mix them 1 part resin to 1 part hardener by volume until the putty turns a solid green with no swirls, and apply. Its simple 1:1 mix ratio and obvious color change make it much easier to use than other pre-mixed epoxy fairing putties.

With epoxy fairing compounds, the recipe method is good if you’re already using a liquid epoxy resin system for other projects. It’s also good if you’re finishing wood bright and don’t want the fairing putty to show. If this is the case, you would use your liquid epoxy resin, a clear hardener, and a filler that matches the wood to thicken the mixed epoxy. An example of a filler would be to use the dust from the particular wood being used, such as mahogany. Wood flour is a thickening agent, but the color of it does not match all woods, and it is typically used for fillets.

Otherwise, the pre-mixed method has the following advantages over the recipe method:

  • Fillers are pre-mixed in the resin, saving you time and guesswork.
  • A simple mix ratio makes it easier to get the perfect consistency every time.
  • It cures much faster and is ready to sand in a couple of hours.
  • The cured color stands out on the surface, making it easy to sand.

The Recipe Method: This method involves mixing together separate polyester resin containing wax and catalyst (MEKP or methyl ethyl ketone peroxide), a thickener such as (colloidal silica) to thicken and prevent sagging, and microballoons to make the putty easier to sand after curing. The resin and catalyst are mixed thoroughly first, then the filler and microballoons are added and mixed to the desired consistency (think peanut butter).

The Pre-Mixed Method : The faster, easier, cheaper way to fill dents and small gouges is to use a pre-packaged filling/fairing compound. These products typically contain a thickened polyester or vinyl ester resin compound and separate hardener. They provide easy instructions for mixing resin and hardener in precise amounts.

Some of the supplies you’ll need depend on what type of resin you’re using and whether you’re fairing a small area or a large area, such as a hull. The list below begins with general supplies for fairing, and concludes with optional equipment depending on your particular repair.

  • Heavy, abrasive tools such as an angle grinder or a Dremel rotary tool with right angle attachment for grinding out and beveling the edges of cracks, or for grinding down gelcoat blisters
  • Clean tongue depressors or a putty knife to dispense resin and hardener
  • Plastic spreaders or a putty knife for mixing and spreading the fairing compound
  • Personal protection for grinding, sanding, mixing, and application – a NIOSH-approved respirator, with organic vapor cartridges (for grinding/sanding fiberglass or gelcoat), an N95 respirator with vent valve or without (for grinding/sanding wood), eye protection, a hooded paint suit , and gloves
  • Sandpaper – From 60 to 180 grit for surface prep; 220-320 grit for sanding fairing compound
  • A long, flexible sanding block, or fairing board makes it easier to sand large areas effectively. It bends to the shape of the surface, but is long enough and flexible enough to bridge the low areas and knock down any high spots. To make your own fairing board : For a surface that’s more curved, use ¼" plywood; less curved, ½" plywood will do. The width of the board should be 3". The length should be a multiple of 11" to make the best use of sheets of sandpaper that are 7½" x 11". To make the board easier to control, bond a hand-grip at each end.
  • Sanding blocks – For sanding smaller areas. Choose from a variety of commercially available hard and soft sanding blocks for different purposes when sanding by hand. For example, a soft sanding block aids in sanding curves and contours; a hard sanding block is best for sanding straight surfaces.
  • Masking tape – For protecting areas immediately surrounding the area to be faired, if necessary, while sanding. Use a high-quality masking tape that removes cleanly. For taping curved surfaces, use a flexible tape .
  • Clean, lint-free wiping rags and denatured alcohol or acetone for cleaning the surface to remove dust, dirt, grease, and oil after sanding
  • Optional sanding items – Random-orbit sander (dustless, if possible) to expedite sanding large areas during surface prep, large diameter sanding disks and a vacuum cleaner to remove all sanding residue
  • Optional if using a recipe method fairing compound made with epoxy resin/hardener and fillers , peel ply is a special fabric that doesn’t bond to epoxy, releases easily, and leaves a smooth-textured surface. Use peel ply to prevent amine blush, which must be removed before applying additional coats of recipe method epoxy fairing compound or a coat of primer.
  • Optional if using an epoxy resin recipe fairing compound and finishing the faired wood surface naturally (bright) : Sanding dust from the type of wood you’re using to make a fairing putty that matches the wood. As with any thickening agent, the epoxy and hardener are mixed first, then the wood dust is added and mixed thoroughly.
  • Optional if using a recipe method fairing compound made with polyester resin/MEKP catalyst and fillers : If your polyester resin is a "laminating" resin (no wax), you need to add wax
  • Optional if fairing is to repair gelcoat blisters below the waterline : Epoxy barrier coat
  • Optional if fairing a hull or large area : Plaster’s hawk or hand board to hold a large volume of fairing putty. If the hull or other surface is very unfair, a notched applicator is ideal for applying putty instead of a flat plastic spreader. Also, for leveling the fairing compound after it’s applied, you’ll need a plastic fairing batten.
  • Optional if applying fairing compound to a metal surface : Need to apply an etching primer first so the fairing compound can bond properly

1. Surface Prep

Attention to surface prep ensures the fairing compound will adhere to the surface and stay in place once it’s cured.

Clean If the surface isn’t clean, sanding will grind dirt, wax, and other contaminants deeper into the substrate, compromising the effectiveness of the fairing compound, and subsequent primers and topcoats. Clean the surface with a solvent, such as acetone or denatured alcohol, using clean rags and the two-rag wipe on/wipe off method: one rag to apply, one rag to remove. Change rags often so you aren’t smearing contaminants or residue over the surface.

(Optional) Grind Any surface cracks, crazing (micro-cracks), or gelcoat blisters need to be ground out and have their edges beveled using a right angle grinder or a rotary tool with a right angle attachment. Grinding and beveling roughs up the surface so the fairing compound can achieve a sound mechanical bond. The repair will look better and last longer.

Sand If necessary before sanding, mask any areas that you do not want to be roughed up. Roughing up the surface by sanding helps the fairing compound adhere better. Use 60-180 grit sandpaper, and sand down to solid material.

Clean Again If not using a dustless sander, remove all sanding residue with a vacuum cleaner. Clean the area again with acetone or denatured alcohol, and allow the solvent to flash.

Additional Surface Prep Considerations :

WOOD Wood is a very absorbent material, so if you’re using an epoxy fairing compound made with a liquid epoxy resin system, you need to ensure the compound achieves a sound bond on this porous surface. Before applying the compound, brush on a thin coating of properly mixed (that is, resin and hardener only) epoxy resin to first wet out the area to be faired. Then you can do one of two things:

  • Wait for the wet-out coat to cure, sand to ensure sufficient key (roughness for mechanical bond), remove sanding residue, and apply the fairing putty.
  • Or, you can apply the fairing putty to the wet-out surface once the surface is tacky to the touch.

2. Mixing the Fairing Compound

Mixing epoxy fairing compounds.

  • Combine the accurately measured resin and hardener in a clean container and mix thoroughly for approximately three minutes.
  • Working quickly, add the thickening agent and mix thoroughly. The reason you want to work quickly to mix the thickening agent (and the microballoons in Step 3) is that the mixture starts curing once the resin and hardener are combined in Step 1. Don’t be surprised if the epoxy resin absorbs a decent VOLUME of thickening agent before you achieve the desired consistency. For fairing purposes, the desired consistency is typically like peanut butter.
  • Add the glass microballoons and mix thoroughly.

For best results, measure and mix only as much putty as you can apply according to the indicated working life (pot life) and temperature specified by the resin manufacturer.

Use clean, dry tools and work as quickly as you can to mix fairing putty thoroughly when using the recipe method. The mixing of the resin and hardener creates an exothermic reaction which begins the curing process, so you’ll only have a small window of time to apply the fairing putty before it becomes unusable.

After adding and mixing in the thickening agents to the mixed epoxy resin, use the mixing stick to "wrap" the mixture evenly around the inside of the mixing cup. This action will reduce the amount of exotherm (heating process the resin goes through while curing), and increase the time you have to work with the fairing compound.

Always be sure of your measurements in order to achieve the proper cure. If improperly mixed, the unwanted results include no cure, soft cure, or shrinkage from too much heat caused by an excessive exothermic reaction.

To create larger quantities of fairing putty, you can gain greater accuracy measuring by weight. Before you begin, know the working time (pot life) of the product and mix only as much compound as you will be able to use in that time, or it’ll be wasted.

Note that even though the mix ratio by volume of a certain pre-mixed fairing compound might be 1:1, 2:1, or 3:1, the mix ratio by weight will not be equal ratios because the resin and hardener are different densities. Be sure to read the product technical data to determine the proper mix ratio by weight.

  • Measure the resin (Part A) quantity first. Place a clean, empty container on the scale and adjust the scale to zero so the weight of the container is not counted. Dispense the desired quantity of resin paste (Part A) into the bottom of the container, taking care to keep it off the sides. Take note of the weight and remove it from the scale. For this example, let’s say you have measured 12 ounces of resin.

In this case, the equation would be: 90/100 x 12 oz. = Amount of hardener needed

So, 1080/100 = 10.8 oz.

  • In this example, in Step 1 you measured 12 oz. of resin (Part A), so you would need to measure 10.8 oz. of hardener (Part B) into the second clean container (making sure the scale is set to zero again before adding hardener).
  • Place the two weighed amounts of resin and hardener on a clean surface and mix as indicated below.
  • Use a clean tongue depressor to dispense and place the correct mix ratio of Part A and Part B on a clean surface.
  • Use a plastic spreader to mix the two parts together.
  • Mix thoroughly until the putty is a uniform color, with no swirl marks.

Mixing Polyester or Vinyl Ester Fairing Compounds

  • Combine the accurately measured polyester finishing resin and MEKP catalyst in a clean container and mix thoroughly.
  • Add the thickening agent and mix thoroughly. Don’t be surprised if the polyester resin absorbs a decent VOLUME of thickening agent before you achieve the desired consistency. For fairing purposes, the desired consistency is typically like peanut butter.

3. Applying the Fairing Compound

Use a plastic spreader to apply the fairing putty. It’s not a good idea to try to fill deep holes in a single application because a layer of epoxy that’s too thick can cause excessive heat build from the exothermic curing reaction.

  • Fill the low areas proud (meaning just above the fair level) so you can sand them down to fair without having to refill.
  • To avoid extra sanding after the compound cures, use the spreader to smooth out the compound as close to the desired shape as you can. Blend it into the surrounding areas.
  • For fairing larger areas , use a spreader to apply the compound, slightly overfilling the area to be faired. If the surface is very unfair, use a notched spreader to apply the fairing compound. To level the applied compound, bend a plastic fairing batten so it matches the contour of the surrounding fair areas, and drag it slowly over the filled area.
  • Allow to cure completely before sanding.
  • You may need repeat the process of filling and sanding low spots until you are happy with the fairness of these areas. Before you know it, your hull will be fair and ready for priming.

Optional for Certain Epoxy Resins: Use of Peel Ply to Prevent Amine Blush

If applying a fairing compound made from the recipe method of epoxy resin, hardener, thickening agent, and filler, the cured surface may develop a film of amine blush, depending on the particular brand of epoxy resin. If amine blush is present, it must be removed before sanding. You can remove it using a ScotchBrite pad and water, and allow the area to dry completely. It’s not hard to do, but it does add extra time, especially if you have a number of areas to fill. Check with the resin manufacturer to determine if amine blush is an issue.

If it is, you can prevent amine blush, by placing a layer of peel ply over the applied fairing compound. Peel ply won’t react with the epoxy, and it’s easy to peel off after the epoxy cures. Be sure to remove the peel ply before sanding. Amine blush is not an issue if you’re using a pre-mixed epoxy fairing compound.

4. Sanding and Wiping

To prepare for application of a primer, barrier coat, topcoat, or gelcoat, allow the last layer of fairing compound to cure completely, then sand. Sanding makes the surface fair by smoothing down the high spots, and it roughs up the surface so the primer can adhere better. How much sanding you need to do depends on how smoothly the fairing material was applied. Sand the surface until it is fair and smooth.

Use a vacuum cleaner to remove sanding residue, then use a clean, lint-free cloth and denatured alcohol or acetone to wipe down the surface. Allow the solvent to flash.

Note that if using a high-build primer, it will only cover fine sanding marks or small pinholes in the faired surface. Refer to the primer manufacturer’s recommendation for the type of sandpaper to use for surface preparation prior to priming with a high-build epoxy primer.

Sanding generates toxic dust, so work in a well-ventilated area and wear protective clothing, and use proper dust collection methods. Be sure you also wear appropriate eye protection and a high-quality respirator at all times during this process.

  • Choosing a selection results in a full page refresh.

Building, restoration, and repair with epoxy

Epoxyworks

Preparing to Fair

By Greg Bull – GBI Technical Advisor

Those new to the process of fairing a boat’s hull or deck are quick to mix up a batch of fairing compound, WEST SYSTEM® Epoxy with a low-density filler, and apply it to the surface, so they can start sanding right away. My experience in boat repair and construction has taught me the importance of making a fairing plan and selecting the correct materials before any epoxy is mixed.

Understanding Fair and Smooth

It is important to understand the difference between fair and smooth. Smoothness describes the texture and fairness describes the shape. If you run your hand on the surface, and you feel bumps and hollows (or highs and lows), the surface is not fair. Another way to see a fair surface is by using a wood or plastic batten, which is a thin strip of straight grain wood that is ¾” to 1 ¼” square, it will always bend in a fair curve if only held at the ends. An unfair surface can be smooth to the point of being glossy but not look good to the eye. Simply sanding a surface smooth will not provide the fair yacht-like finish many builders desire. Fairing requires attention to the shape of the entire surface and requires planning where to fill and sand.

Developing a Fairing Plan

Before you apply epoxy, you can save significant time and fairing compound by marking where the fairing compound should be applied. This requires determining the profile of the surface.

Determining the profile, or fairness, of a surface can be accomplished quickly and save a significant amount of fairing compound and sanding. A common method is to take a pencil and scribble over the entire surface.

fairing yacht hull

When marking the surface, it’s important to scribble in multiple directions so the low spots are obvious after sanding.

The next step is to sand with a longboard. A longboard is often a custom-made board that sandpaper is bonded to. In the case of the rudder in the pictures, a longboard only needed to be about 12″ long. On the hull of a 40′ boat, it may be 3′ to 6′ long and require a couple of people to run. On mega yachts, the boards are often over 10′ and require multiple people to move. The reason for the length is to follow the fair curve of the surface, bridging over any hollows and sanding down only the high spots.

fairing yacht hull

Sand pencil marks to reveal high and low spots.

If a simple dual-action sander was used instead of a longboard, the surface would become smooth but the small 5″ pad would follow the highs and lows of the surface. This would result in a smooth but unfair surface.

An alternative to the pencil method is the chalk stick method. This process utilizes a batten that is coated with carpenter’s chalk. By moving this chalk stick back and forth on the surface, the high spots will become visible. This process is described in detail in the Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction , page 245. Again, both of these methods are performed before any fairing compound is applied.

fairing yacht hull

The high areas have been sanded down into old fairing compound and fiberglass. The remaining pencil lines indidcate the low areas, where the new fairing compound needs to be applied.

fairing yacht hull

Mark the low areas and then remove the pencil lines with sandpaper, so that the thickened epoxy will bond well to the surface.

Mixing 407 and 410 Fillers

WEST SYSTEM fairing fillers are added to WEST SYSTEM Epoxy to create a fairing compound. Adding fillers increases the volume of an epoxy batch when blended into the mixed resin and hardener. These fillers are made of microspheres and balloons that are very low-density. This mixture has a lower density than neat epoxy resulting in an easy to sand material.

Generally speaking, when adding 407 Low-Density Fairing Filler to make a thick fairing compound, the volume will be about twice the original volume of the mixed resin and hardener. With 410 Microlight® Fairing Filler it will be about two and a half times the original volume. This information is very handy so you do not overflow your mixing cup or waste epoxy. To learn more about estimating, see Terry Monville’s article “ How much Will it Take? ”

Note: Just a reminder, surface preparation is required for proper adhesion of the fairing compound. We always recommend sanding the entire surface with 80-grit sandpaper before applying epoxy.

Dark Colored Topcoats

When fairing an area that will have a dark colored topcoat, you will need to consider what filler to use. WEST SYSTEM provides two options: 407 Low-Density Fairing Filler and 410 Microlight Fairing Filler. 410 is easier to sand and very easy to mix into the epoxy. Because of these traits, this filler is not very resistant to high temperatures. Dark colors can become very warm on sunny days, which can cause the surface to distort slightly. 410 can be used under light colors and below the waterline without concern.

If a dark colored, high-gloss finish is desired, consider using 407. WEST SYSTEM 407 is resistant to higher temperatures. 407 is a stronger fairing compound and therefore is slightly more difficult to sand than 410. This can be beneficial on decks or other areas that can see foot traffic, particularly when someone is not wearing boat shoes.

With all fairing applications, once the sanding is complete, the surface should be coated with neat epoxy. This thin coating of epoxy fills pinholes and provides a uniform surface for your primer.

Fairing Clear Finished Wood Surfaces

On areas that will have a clear finish, using fairing compound is not an option. Adding fillers to the epoxy will obscure the surface and hide the wood grain. When fairing clear surfaces, the chalk stick method described earlier is an excellent process for identifying high spots. The chalk marks will wipe off easier, so that the epoxy does not over coat the chalk marks.

Since the only option to fair the surface is removing high spots, expert boat builders will emphasize the importance of good craftsmanship—having your mold frames in the proper placement, cutting accurately, and fairing from one station to the next. The strip planks and veneers will naturally take a fair shape if the mold is also fair. With stitch and glue construction, care should be taken to have each piece cut accurately, and the edges checked for fairness before assembly. Keep in mind, with plywood construction, only a small amount of wood can be sanded before you may sand through the top veneer. This can result in an undesirable or spotty appearance under a clear finish.

If the boat is completed, and the clear finished area is not fair, it can still be corrected. The process for fairing a clear finished surfaced was explained in a previous EPOXYWORKS article, “ Refinishing a Wood Strip Canoe .”

Simple steps, like a fairing plan, prior to mixing your fairing compound can save time and materials. Taking the time to identify low and high spots on your surface will make your fairing job much easier. Also taking extra time fairing clear finished wood surfaces early in the construction process pays dividends by the time you get to the epoxy process.

Want To Learn About the fairing process?

Marine Insight

Hull Fairing And Development: Why And How

Remember how you might have created many things out of paper folding such as animals, flowers etc. back then you had actually learnt the concept of development of 3D dimensional objects starting with 2D laminas (e.g. paper). Now, let us think of something quite complex in three-dimensional terms but quite large in size. Yes, I’m talking about a ship’s hull.

How would you design a ship hull with all its curvatures and characteristic intricacies such that it doesn’t become too complex for production? Obviously, you would search for ways to break it down to smaller manageable pieces which can be easily processed in the workshop as the workshop has to find out practical ways to create a scaffolding/loft for bringing the desired hull shape to reality.

The concept of development of the hull plating for production is a very relevant one even in today’s CAD (Computer Aided Design) era. The ship hull is designed on a software platform which enables the user to visualise the 3D problem (Representation of the three-dimensional hull lines as 2D equivalents in various sections i.e. the sheer plan, half breadth plan and the body plans) in an intuitive manner. By making changes in any one of these sections, the user effectively manipulates the lines in 3D changing the other sections instantaneously.

Given this great advantage, we come to the actual problem of fairing a hullform while keeping the curvature developable with plating. Fairing often tends to get many definitions across literature, but it effectively serves certain purposes:

• Superior hydrodynamics: optimal vessel speed, low resistance, increased fuel efficiency, manoeuvrability, etc. • Aesthetics: appeal to the human senses, functionality after life cycle (e.g. conversion to resorts, display in museums, etc.)

However well built a vessel might be, it might serve its purpose very well, but the finishing and fairing job done reflects the shipbuilder’s attention to the tiniest of details and is often a matter of pride for them. Finishing and fairing are often considered among the finer arts of shipbuilding.

For a moment, think of you have the job of producing a smooth surface out of a body with a coarse surface, you have the option of removing away the high points on the surface until you reach a low level (something often done with wood), also you have the option of adding material to reach a higher level to maintain evenness (paints and surface applications) you could also take some material from the higher planes and deposit it on the lower planes to reach a degree of smoothness. Shipbuilding employs paint, surface preparation, and many other techniques to achieve the level of finishing of modern-day standards.

A ship hull is composed of numerous steel plates which are rolled or bent to give the characteristic shape at some section. Take a look here at a ship’s shell expansion plan:

Hull

This represents the developed surface of the plating used (at plate level) in the manufacture of a vessel and often gives an estimate of the steel to be used in manufacturing the ship. But since the development of a shell expansion plan comes quite later in to the ship’s design cycle, the designer is faced with the problem of ensuring that the hull surface is fairly developable. This is where software comes in. Advanced ship design productivity suites like MAXSURF or DELFTship provide fairing modules for this. The principle on which these are based is that the curvature of a certain ‘patch’ or element in the hull skin can either stand for single/multiple or positive/negative curvatures for the collection of points within it.

Certain typical representations of such curvature are as follows:

1.) In ship designs, the transverse curvature is particularly higher than the longitudinal curvature and so it might be helpful to exaggerate the transverse curvature in view to aid the designer in finding out the inconsistencies (if any) in the fairness of the model. For this reason, some programs allow this to be represented as one of the rendered forms.

Hull

2.) Another important tool allows us to modify particular waterline contours based a graphical representation of the curvature along the contour, often called curvature porcupines. Notice the radially outward emerging lines in grey? The height of these lines are proportional to the amount of curvature inherent at the location. Even a slight change in control point position alters these greatly and hence offer a better intuitive experience of fairing. In the event an outward emerging porcupine ends up inside the waterline, the section indicates a hollow in the hull surface and needs rectification. The porcupine curve which runs along the porcupines should be fairly smooth, if not, then there are options to change the stiffness of the control points used in the model.

Hull

3.) One popular and simple way of evaluating the fairness is by using the rendered hull using lighting highlights. This shows how light would bounce off the surface of the hull around the hull and often is useful in creating promotional and non-technical content too. This tool entirely depends upon the user’s perception and can only be used for major bumps/irregularities.

Hull

Read the full article on the Navisieger magazine here

This article is authored by  Sudripto Khasnabis  and was originally published at the inaugural issue of Navisieger. Navisieger is a magazine published by Learn Ship Design. It is a confluence of insights on the maritime technology sector taken from academic experts, naval architects, industry veterans in this field, in the form of articles and exclusive interviews. Learn Ship Design is the first student initiative in India that works towards enhancing industry-academia engagements in the maritime sector. 

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Hull Fairing and Stern Blocks

April 17, 2016

The next big step is to fair the hull.  This is an important step, because if not done correctly, the hull planking won’t lay flat.  Fortunately, it is a pretty straightforward process, so you just kind of ‘dive in’.

Basically, it is just a lot of sanding.

The goal of hull fairing is to bevel the edges of the bulkheads so that the hull planks lay flat.  If we didn’t do this, the planks would only hit the corners of the bulkheads.

fairing

The process is pretty simple:

  • Hold or secure a hull plank against the bulkheads.
  • Note where the plank doesn’t lie flat across the bulkhead edges.
  • Sand until it does.

Using a sanding block that can span several bulkheads helps, since you can ‘rough in’ the bevel across multiple bulkheads.

Photo Apr 16, 4 00 01 PM

Fairing the hull

Sometimes, a bulkhead will be too short, and there will be a gap between the bulkhead and the plank.  Rather than sanding down the surrounding bulkheads, you add a little strip of wood to fill it out.  I ended up adding two – one one each side of the ship (different bulkheads).

I also faired the deck, using a deck plank to ensure that the tops of the bulkheads were even and straight.

Overall fairing the hull took several hours.

The next step was the  horn timbers .  These are strips near the stern that run along the keel. They form the beams that planks will be attached to.  In the practicum I’ve got, and in some build logs, I see these installed flush with the surface of the keel, and the planking goes over the keel.  When I look at the plans, this looks wrong.  According to the hull planking plan, the planks in this area should sit flush with the keel.  The horn timbers should be recessed from the surface of the keel to allow for this.

sternplanks

Let’s go with what the plans do.  The horn timbers were cut, the ends were angled, and the pieces installed.  I used a piece of hull planking to verify the placement.

Photo Apr 16, 2 57 18 PM

Planks should sit on the horn timbers and lie flush with the keel.

Next up are the stern blocks.  These are blocks of wood that are added at the very back of the ship to finish out the shape of the hull.  This requires you to take block of wood, cut it into two pieces, and shape it to fit.

Photo Apr 16, 3 38 03 PM

These blocks of wood need to be heavily shaped to create the stern.

This took a while – probably 4-5 hours spread over two days.  If I had a scroll saw it might have gone faster, but I don’t have one.  The pieces were cut on a table saw to the right width.  I then traced the shape onto each piece and cut it out using a hand saw.

Photo Apr 16, 3 38 37 PM

I’m adding a scroll saw to my wish list.

The pieces were then glued into place and shaped by hand.  I used a combination of my Dremel, a sanding block, and my Proxxon pen sander.

Once the bottoms were shaped, I flipped the ship back over and worked on the top.  It needed to be leveled out, as well has tapered in towards the back.  I traced the shape from the plans and made a template to be sure I tapered correctly.

Photo Apr 17, 8 35 54 AM

Completed stern blocks.

So, my hull is faired, and the work at the stern is finished.  What’s next?

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File / All you need to know about the fairing

fairing yacht hull

Before starting the season or before launching your boat, it is essential to proceed with a refit, which consists of cleaning, inspecting, repairing and painting the hull. This step is crucial to guarantee the best performance of your boat.

François-Xavier Ricardou

The fairing is an important step in the maintenance of a boat, allowing to maintain its performance by minimizing the resistance of the hull in the water and guaranteeing a better speed and maneuverability. In addition, it prevents the accumulation of shells, algae and other marine organisms that can affect the speed and maneuverability of the boat .

After a period of immobilization, it is essential to clean the hull of your boat. The careening must be done every year, and can raise many questions about the steps to follow and the products to use. Whether you are looking for technical products for optimal gliding or resistant products for the whole season, there is something for everyone.

Even if it is not the most pleasant period for boaters, you should not make a mountain out of it. We offer you a complete file to make your careening a success.

Summary of the report

8 essential checks at the time of refit

8 essential checks at the time of refit

Boat renovation: primer and epoxy undercoat

Boat renovation: primer and epoxy undercoat

10 steps to a successful refit

10 steps to a successful refit

Why do the hulls of our boats get dirty?

Why do the hulls of our boats get dirty?

How to choose the right antifouling for your boat and your sailing program?

How to choose the right antifouling for your boat and your sailing program?

What is the essential equipment to apply antifouling?

What is the essential equipment to apply antifouling?

Choose your antifouling paint, which matrix for which use of the boat?

Choose your antifouling paint, which matrix for which use of the boat?

Knowing the quantity of antifouling necessary for the careening of your boat

Knowing the quantity of antifouling necessary for the careening of your boat

Is it necessary to apply antifouling to the propeller of his sailboat?

Is it necessary to apply antifouling to the propeller of his sailboat?

The method for applying antifouling, step by step

The method for applying antifouling, step by step

How do I know if I need to redo my erodible antifouling?

How do I know if I need to redo my erodible antifouling?

fairing yacht hull

May / June Issue No. 298  Preview Now

Fairing by Machine

Illustrations by robert lapointe.

Fairing grinder

A flexible fiberglass backing glued to a grinder’s foam pad is all that’s needed to convert the tool into an efficient fairing device.

A retrofitted grinder eases this arduous task

by Damian McLaughlin Illustrations by Robert LaPointe

M ost boatbuilders have little tricks that make a job go faster or better. Fairing a 40′ hull is an arduous task often accomplished by two-man teams wielding fairing boards—which, appropriately, are often called “torture boards.”

In my shop, we do 90 percent of the work of fairing with a grinding device, saving the torture boards for a final pass and for hard-to-reach areas. A grinder removes a substantial amount of material, quickly. The trick is in controlling that removal. We use a common, heavy-duty 0–6,000-rpm sander-polisher retrofitted with a shop-made pad. The pad is a 9″x11″ rectangular piece of fiberglass or Lexan glued to a standard round foam backing pad. Using this setup, we find it is virtually impossible to ding the surface being faired.

I didn’t invent this device, but I have done a fair amount to optimize its effectiveness. The rectangular pads are used for fairing both convex and concave surfaces. For convex surfaces we mount a sheet of fiberglass about 0.095″ thick onto a very stiff foam pad. The fiberglass sheet is commercially available, but the best approach is to make it in the shop; the off-the-shelf material is a bit more dense and therefore heavier than preferred. To create your own, lay them up on a pane of glass placed on a perfectly flat surface. Standard mold-release wax assures removal of the finished piece from the glass. I use three layers of double-bias 12-oz non-woven fiberglass sandwiched between single layers of 6-oz woven cloth and unthickened epoxy. I allow the laminate to sit for several days to ensure that the cure is complete. If you don’t want to make your own rectangular pads, the fiberglass sheets for them may be purchased from industrial suppliers such as Manhattan Supply Co. ( www.mscdirect.com ).

Grinder in use.

A grinder retrofitted with a fiberglass backing plate removes a lot of material, fast, from convex surfaces. The machine must move diagonally across the surface. It’s a good idea to practice in order to learn the machine’s nuances.

Concave surfaces are addressed with a sheet of 1 ⁄ 16 ″-thick Lexan attached to a very soft pad—a more flexible arrangement than the one previously described. The stiff foam pads we use in my shop are from 3M and are called Stikit disc pads; the part number is 05579. The soft pads for fairing concavities are from Ferro and the part number is 808D.

T he rectangular pad is the exact size of a sheet of production paper. Care must be taken to attach the foam disc to the pad’s exact center in order to avoid balance distortions. I carefully locate the center with fine pencil lines crossing the rectangle from opposite corners. Also, I cut the corners of the rectangular pad to a 2″ radius and sand all edges, for safety. Mark the center with a centerpunch; and with pencil dividers make a circle the exact size of the pad’s diameter. This is the glue line. Then make a concentric ring ⅛″ larger than the pad’s diameter. This is the actual reference line, as the epoxy will squeeze out and obscure the first circle you drew. Both surfaces to be glued must first be abraded with coarse sandpaper—except the Ferro pads, which have a cloth layer glued to their surface, which improves adhesion. Use two thin, level coats of epoxy on each gluing surface. Clamp the whole affair together by laying four 1x4 boards across it and weighting them with 4-lb lead weights, or something similar. Make sure the surface under the rectangular pad is flat; otherwise, the pad may become permanently distorted. Likewise, never store the pad on its face with the machine attached to it, for it will be rendered useless from foam distortion.

One must be careful in using this tool—both for the safety of the operator, and for those in the vicinity. Eye protection is a must. The thought of this rectangle zinging around at 3,000 rpm is a bit scary, but in practice and with ample caution you will find it very safe and easy to use. A beginner will figure out its nuances after some practice, but there are some operational tips to help you get started.

Fairing inside curves.

A soft foam pad and very flexible sheet of Lexan allow this tool to fair inside curves, too.

First, the optimal speed seems to be about 3,000 rpm. If you’re using a variable-speed machine, slower speeds will help you to gain confidence. Second, constant diagonal movement across the surface is essential. Never move fore-and-aft along a waterline. Third, move your feet 3″ to 4″ for every pair of arm passes; areas that require you to be on your knees or reaching out still require constant motion. Multiple passes, removing small amounts of material on each pass, is the best procedure. As the job progresses, the visual perception of irregularities will disappear. We dust off the hull often and inspect visually and with our hands. Using the flat of a pencil, we mark imperfections. In addition to marking these trouble spots, we also use multiple S-shaped scrawls across the whole surface so we don’t lose track of where we’ve been.

The soft-foam-and-Lexan version (we call it the “Superflex”) has some quirks of its own, as it is used on concave surfaces. Its handling characteristics will become obvious with some practice, but know that heavy pressure will allow contortion of the pad into tight areas and, even with this pressure, the pad will still do a good job of fairing.

Article ends

Seeking a challenge, Damian McLaughlin left his job as a carpenter and cabinetmaker 40 years ago and began building boats. After 34 custom and over 100 rowing boats and daysailers, he is still enjoying the challenge. His shop is in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

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FAIRING THE HULL FOR NEW PAINT!

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Good progress on the hull so far but there’s still more to the fairing process to get it perfect 😉 Next week should be the last of it then onto the painting using the new additive from Alexseal!

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Welcome to MHM Industry Services

MHM Industry

Yacht fairing, introduction.

Sailing the open seas on a luxurious yacht is an experience of unparalleled elegance and adventure. To maintain peak performance and an impeccable appearance, yacht fairing plays a crucial role. At MHM Industry, we take pride in offering top-notch “Yacht Fairing” services that ensure your vessel glides through the waters with grace and beauty. Let us take you on a journey to discover the art of yacht fairing and how it can elevate your sailing experience.

The Art of Yacht Fairing

Yacht fairing is the process of shaping and smoothing a yacht’s hull and superstructure to achieve a flawless surface. The art of fairing requires a delicate balance between craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology. Our team of skilled professionals at MHM Industry has mastered this art, and with meticulous attention to detail, we deliver results that surpass expectations.

Enhancing Performance and Efficiency

A smooth hull is essential for maximizing your yacht’s performance and fuel efficiency. By removing imperfections and irregularities on the surface, yacht fairing reduces drag, allowing the vessel to glide effortlessly through the water. This improvement in hydrodynamics not only enhances speed but also contributes to fuel conservation, extending your range for longer voyages.

Perfecting Aesthetics

Beyond the technical advantages, yacht fairing significantly enhances the visual appeal of your vessel. A smooth, unblemished surface gives your yacht a sleek and sophisticated look, turning heads wherever you go. Whether you seek a classic, modern, or unique finish, our “Yacht Fairing” service is tailored to cater to your style preferences and individual taste.

The Customization Experience

At MHM Industry, we understand that each yacht has its own personality and characteristics. Our “Yacht Fairing” service allows for extensive customization options. Our team works closely with you to understand your vision and bring it to life. From selecting the right materials to achieving the perfect finish, we ensure that your yacht is a reflection of your unique identity.

Durable and Long-lasting Results

Quality is at the core of everything we do at MHM Industry. We use premium materials and cutting-edge techniques to ensure that our fairing solutions are durable and long-lasting. Our commitment to excellence guarantees that your yacht’s fairing will stand the test of time, providing you with a lasting investment that maintains its allure.

At MHM Industry, our “Yacht Fairing” service is a harmonious blend of artistry and technology, dedicated to enhancing both the performance and aesthetics of your yacht. Our skilled team takes pride in delivering flawless results that exceed your expectations. Whether you’re an avid sailor or a luxury enthusiast, we invite you to experience the transformational power of yacht fairing with us.

Contact us today to embark on a journey of elegance and efficiency, as we craft a yacht fairing solution that elevates your vessel to new heights of beauty and performance on the high seas.

Marine Adventurer

Fairing Compound Definition – Its Benefits with some Tips

A fairing compound for a boat is a material that is applied to the surface of the hull in order to smooth it out and make it more aerodynamic. This is important for racing boats and other vessels that need to move through the water as efficiently as possible. There are many different types of fairing compounds available, and each one has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. It is important to choose the right compound for the job, and to use it correctly in order to achieve the best results.

It is used to fill in gaps and smooth out imperfections in the boat surface. Boat fairing compound can also be used to create a watertight seal on the boat surface.

Fairing Compound Definition - Its Benefits with some Tips

What are the colors of fairing compound?

Fairing compound is used to smooth and shape the surface of a fiberglass part. There are many different colors of fairing compound, but the most common are white and black. Some other colors that are available include blue, green, and red. 

The color of the fairing compound can depend on the type of resin that is used. For example, if a polyester resin is used, then a white or off-white color is typically used. If an epoxy resin is used, then a black or dark color is typically used. 

Most people use white or black fairing compound because they are the most common colors and they work well with most types of resins. However, it is important to choose the right color for the job so that the finished product looks good.

Types of Fairing Compound

There are three types of fairing compound: the solid, the semisolid, and the liquid. The choice of a particular type is based on the shape and size of the object to be faired, as well as on other factors such as manufacturing method and required strength.

The most common type is the solid fairing compound, which is made from a mixture of plaster of Paris and whiting. It is applied in two or more coats, with a final coat of lacquer or paint to protect it from the weather. The semisolid fairing compound is a putty-like material that is mixed with water before use. It is applied in a single coat, allowed to dry, and then sanded smooth.

The liquid fairing compound is used mainly for boat hulls and airplane wings.

Fairing compound can be bought from most automotive stores or online retailers. It is usually sold in tubs or cans, and comes in a range of colours including black, white and grey.

How to use Fairing Compound

There are several ways to use fairing compound, but the most common is to spread it on with a brush. It’s important to get an even coat, and make sure that all of the surface is covered. The compound will dry quickly, so you’ll want to work in small sections.

Once the compound is dry, you can start sanding. The goal is to create a smooth surface, so you’ll want to use a fine-grit sandpaper. Start with light pressure and gradually increase it until you reach the desired finish.

If there are any bumps or inconsistencies in the surface, you can use a putty knife to fill them in. Be sure to smooth out the putty before it dries.

Once the surface is completely smooth, you can apply a primer or paint.

How to choose the right fairing compound for your needs?

There are a few things you should consider when choosing a fairing compound. The most important factors are the climate where you will be using the compound and the type of material you will be fairing.

If you will be working in a hot climate, you will need a fairing compound that can withstand high temperatures. Some compounds can start to break down at temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a cold climate, on the other hand, you will need a compound that can withstand low temperatures. Some compounds can freeze at temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

The second factor to consider is the type of material you will be fairing. Most fairing compounds are designed to work with either fiberglass or metal materials. Make sure to choose a compound that is compatible with the material you are using.

Benefits or Advantages of using Fairing Compound

There are several benefits or advantages of using fairing compound on a boat. Some of them are:

Increased speed

Fairing compound is a mixture of fiberglass and resin used to smooth the surface of a boat. It can be applied with a brush or roller, and it dries quickly. Applying fairing compound to your boat can increase speed by reducing drag on the hull. The smooth surface created by the fairing compound helps the boat move through the water more easily. If you are looking to get the most out of your boat, adding fairing compound is a great way to do it.

Increased fuel efficiency

In a study recently completed at the University of Southampton, it was found that the use of a fairing compound increased fuel efficiency by 6.5%. The study, which was funded by the European Union, focused on boats travelling in a straight line. The boats were equipped with both a fairing compound and a control group without the compound. 

It was found that the boats with the fairing compound travelled an average of 6% further than those without. In addition, the study showed that using a fairing compound can result in fuel savings of up to 15%.

Aids in protection from the weather

Boat fairing compound is a mixture of resin and fibers that are designed to protect a boat from the weather. The compound is applied to the surface of the boat, and it hardens to form a protective layer. This layer protects the boat from UV radiation, water, and wind. It also helps to keep the boat looking new for longer.

Makes the boat more aerodynamic

The speed of a boat is determined by the water’s resistance and the power of the engine. In order to reduce resistance and increase speed, boat builders use fairing compounds. Fairing compound is a material that is applied to the outside of a boat to make it more aerodynamic. 

It smooths out the surface of the boat and eliminates any bumps or ridges. This reduces turbulence and drag, which allows the boat to move through the water more easily. The use of fairing compound can make a significant difference in a boat’s speed, especially at high speeds.

Reduced turbulence

A new fairing compound is being used by boat builders to reduce turbulence and drag. The compound is made of a flexible polymer that is applied to the surface of the boat. The polymer forms a thin, smooth layer that reduces drag and turbulence. Boat builders are excited about the potential for improved fuel economy with the new compound.

Reduced engine noise

According to a study recently published in the journal ” Applied Acoustics “, the use of a fairing compound can reduce engine noise in boats by up to 10 decibels. The fairing compound, which is a type of sound-absorbing material, was found to be most effective when applied to the engine cover and cowling. Researchers believe that the use of a fairing compound could help make boating a more enjoyable experience for passengers and reduce the amount of noise pollution produced by engines.

Tips for using fairing compound

Fairing compound is a material used to fill in and smooth the surface of a boat. It can be applied with a brush or a spray gun. There are several tips for using fairing compound effectively: 

  • Make sure the surface is clean and free of dust and dirt.
  • Apply a coat of primer before applying the fairing compound.
  • Work in small areas, using long, even strokes.
  • Let the compound dry completely before sanding it smooth.
  • Sand with increasingly finer grades of sandpaper until the surface is smooth.
  • Apply another coat of primer and sand again if necessary.
  • If you are using a spray gun, make sure the tip is clean and clear before each use. 
  • After applying the first coat of fairing compound, allow it to dry for 72 hours before applying the second coat. 
  • Apply another coat of primer and sand again if necessary. 

Top and best brands of fairing compound

There is an overwhelming number of brands and types of fairing compound to choose from when repairing or restoring a boat. So, how do you know which one is the best for your needs? 

The brand that you choose will likely depend on the type of boat that you have. Fiberglass boats, for example, require a different type of fairing compound than wooden boats. In addition, some compounds are better for smaller repairs, while others are better for large-scale projects. 

That said, here are five of the top and best brands of fairing compound available on the market today: 1) Marine-Tex; 2) 3M; 3) West System; 4) Smith’s Clear Repair Compound; 5) Total Boat Fairing Compound.

Fairing Compound vs Bondo

Fairing compound is a fiberglass resin that can be used to fill in gaps and smooth out surfaces on boats. Bondo is a type of putty that is often used as a filler for car repairs. So which one is better for repairing your boat?

There are pros and cons to both fairing compound and bondo. Fairing compound has the advantage of being easy to use and it dries quickly. It is also less likely to shrink than bondo. However, it can be more expensive than bondo, and it can be harder to find. Bondo is cheaper and easier to find, but it takes longer to dry and can shrink more than fairing compound. It is also more difficult to use than fairing compound.

The main advantage of fairing compound over Bondo is its durability.

In the end, the best option depends on your needs and preferences.

Fairing Compound vs Body Filler

When repairing a boat, there are a few key things that need to be done in order to make it watertight again. One of these is making sure the surface is smooth and even. This can be done with either fairing compound or body filler. 

Fairing compound is a type of putty that is used to fill in small dents and scratches in the surface of a boat. It is also used to create a smooth surface before painting. Fairing compound comes in a variety of colors, so it can be matched to the existing color of the boat. 

Body filler is another type of putty that is used to fill in dents and scratches. Unlike fairing compound, body filler is white and does not match the color of the boat. However, it is thicker than fairing compound and therefore can fill in larger dents and scratches.

Fairing compound for boat is a great way to keep your vessel looking new. It is easy to use and helps to protect the surface from weathering and fading. Be sure to use it on a regular basis to maintain the beauty of your boat.

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It Takes a Tough Sailor to Make a Smooth Boat Bottom

fairing yacht hull

Fairing in through hull fittings will go a long way toward reducing bot­tom drag in light air, but it won’t really do the job unless the paint surface of the bottom is smooth.

A surprisingly high percentage of boats not used primarily for racing have bottom paint jobs that range from poor to atrocious. If your bottom has peeling patches that haven’t been in, brush marks from failure to smooth out thick bottom paints, or stipple marks from ap­plication with a roller, your boat will be slower in light air than it could be.

Bottom paints, unlike topside paints, are not formulated for smooth application, in most cases. They have a high solids content and quick-flashing solvents, a combination guaranteed to make smooth application difficult. Even the racing boat with the smoothest bottom didn’t start out that way. The smoothness is the result of a fair amount of time consuming, but not particularly difficult labor. If it pays off for the racing sailor, it can pay off for any sailor.

Unfortunately, the bottom of the typical non-racing boat generally gets a lick and a promise. Bottom painting is usually the very last thing done before the boat is launch­ed, and by that time all you want to do is get the thing in the water and go sailing. The bottom is a classic case of out of sight, out of mind.

If your bottom painting and boat launching sequence consists of slap it on and slip it in, you’re doing yourself and your boat no favor. Just one extra day of work can go a long way toward improving light air performance of almost any boat.

On the other hand, if your bottom paint is a peeling mess, one day of work won’t get you very far — but then your boat won’t get you very far very fast in winds under eight knots either.

While small areas of peeling paint can be faired in with polyester putty such as Bondo, it may be almost as much work to fair and patch as it is to start from scratch and do it right.

Chances are that if your bottom paint has begun to peel, it will only continue to get worse, in spite of patching of the finish. If you don’t take it all off this year, you’ll pro­bably have to do it next year.

Removing Bottom Paint

Getting the old bottom paint off is one of the least plea­sant tasks associated with boating. Most bottom paints sand poorly. Using a heat gun puts a lot of unpleasant and toxic vapors in the air. Drill-attached mechanical paint removing tools we have used are hopelessly slow.

That leaves chemical paint removers, and chemical paint removers are messy, expensive, and no fun at all. Generally, however, they are the best solution.

When choosing a paint remover, you must select one that is mild enough that it will not harm the hull material beneath the paint. If you have a fiberglass hull, use only a remover specifically formulated for use on fiberglass, such as International Fiberglass Pintoff 299. The use of more powerful removers may seriously damage your gelcoat, if in doubt, don’t use it!

When using paint removers, you must mask off areas of the hull that are not to be treated. Splashing of the remover is inevitable, so take the extra time to mask off topsides and boottop with newspaper and masking tape. Use paint remover sparingly near masking tape, as it may dissolve.

Use cheap, throwaway bristle brushes to apply paint remover. Foam brushes will dissolve. Do not under any circumstances use steel wool to remove paint sludge. The small particles of steel wool which inevitably break off will turn to tiny rust marks guaranteed to plague you forever.

Wear protective clothing when using paint remover. Old long sleeve shirts, old pants, and old shoes are called for, as are rubber gloves. Protective glasses are also a good idea.

Use a thick coat of paint remover, and be patient. Most people waste about half of each coat of remover by scrap­ing it off before the action is completed. The stuff is ex­pensive, so impatience is costly.

The ambient temperature will greatly affect the speed with which the remover acts, so you must rely on the ap­pearance of the surface to judge when the remover has done its things.

When the paint is bubbling off the surface, test a small area with a wide (3″) putty knife. If the paint peels off down to the fiberglass, it’s ready. If not, wait a few more minutes (but not so long that the mess becomes dry).

Realistically, several applications are likely to be required, particularly if there is buildup of several years of paint.

After the old paint is removed, it may be necessary to wash the hull, either with a solvent or with water, depending on the paint remover used. It is important that all traces of paint remover be eliminated before going on to the next step. A large portion of the success of a good bottom job both in light air performance and in longevity of the surface -lies in the preparation done before application of bottom paint. Bottom preparation means more than a good sanding to provide adhesion for the new paint. It means the creation of a smooth surface that is impervious to water.

While the process of gelcoat blistering is not completely understood, there is little doubt that overzealous sanding of bottom gelcoat can create a porous surface that increases the likelihood of blistering. At the same time, failure to adequately sand the bottom gelcoat means poor paint adhesion, flaking, and ultimately, a repeat of the paint stripping process.

The best way to prepare a gelcoat surface for the application of bottom paint is thorough machine sanding, followed by one or more coats of epoxy primer. The epoxy primer will provide a surface far more impervious to water than the original gelcoat surface of the hull.

Sanding can be done with a compact orbital sander, or with a foam pad in a slow speed rotary sander. Unless you’re skilled with a rotary sander, stick with the orbital type. A rotary sander in inexperienced hands is second only to a belt sander in its ability to turn a valuable boat to a piece of junk in minimum time. We once observed an overzealous owner with a rotary disc sander halve the value of a 34-footer in two days of grinding.

As a rule, 100 grit aluminum oxide paper in a sander such as the Makita 04510 will do an adequate job of surface preparation prior to the application of epoxy primer. Remove all sanding residue with an air hose, a vacuum cleaner, or a solvent wipedown before priming. If you use solvent, it must be compatible with the epoxy primer used. The thinner for the primer is usually the best choice.

Priming and Fairing Before priming, any obvious gouges in the surface of the hull should be faired out with an epoxy-based fairing putty. The dings must be thoroughly clean and dry before applying compound. A portable hair dryer can be used to remove all traces of moisture from gouges. You can use a premade fairing compound, such as Interlux 4496A/4497B, or you can make up your own from epoxy resin and microballoons or microspheres.

It is important that the fairing compound not be harder than the surrounding surface, or it will be almost impossible to smooth without creating hollows. For this reason, super hard epoxy compounds designed for mending broken metal are not recommended for fairing. An epoxy and microballoon mixture just dense enough to hang on a vertical surface without sagging off is ideal.

Priming with a two-part epoxy primer is the key to a long lasting bottom finish. Every major paint manufacturer makes this type of primer. A good example is Interlux 404/414 Barrier-Kote Epoxy primer, but there are plenty of others on the market.

Epoxy primers can be applied by brush, roller, or spraying. For the average boatowner, one of the best ways is to apply with a smooth roller while someone follows behind with a wide foam brush, smoothing out the roller nap marks. However you apply it, make the coat as smooth as possible, since sanding out surface irregularities in epoxy paint isn’t easy.

Putting a good bottom on your boat is probably one of the most time-consuming jobs you will face as a boatowner.

No matter how careful you are in applying the primer, sanding will be necessary. You can sand with the same electric sander used to prepare the surface before priming, but wet sanding with silicone carbide paper is faster and more effective. You cannot, of course, wet sand with an electric sander.

When wet sanding, you must use some type of sanding block. The ideal sanding block for the rounded surface of a hull is dense rubber, with just a little flexibility. Rubber blocks sold for auto body repairs are ideal for this. You must not sand without a block, as even the slight differential in pressure between the different fingers on your hand will make it difficult to get a really smooth surface.

220 grit paper, used wet, is just about right for sanding primer. If you find yourself cutting through to the base gelcoat in a lot of places, however, switch to finer paper.

The secret of wet sanding is to use plenty of water, as the paper clogs quickly. You use much less paper wet sanding than dry sanding if you rinse the paper constantly. It also helps to hose off the hull frequently. It is possible to wet sand without a hose, using a large bucket of water for rinsing your sanding block, but a hose is far more effective.

If your hull is a good, smooth fiberglass molding, wet sanding with a small block will be effective. If, however, there are numerous bumps and hollows, a longer sanding block will have to be used to keep from accentuating local irregularities in the surface. You can make your own “long boards” for fairing using l/4” plywood or Masonite, padded out with a thin layer of Neoprene or other dense, closed cell foam. Simple wood grips can be screwed to the top of the board, with the paper wrapped around and stapled to the top. A board long enough to accommodate two sheets of paper laid end to end is the maximum size one person can handle comfortably, and will do an adequate job on most surfaces.

As an alternative, you can use blocks of Foamglas, which can be cut to any size, and which works very well when used wet. Used dry, it makes a terrible mess, and is one of the most uncomfortable materials you will ever handle, as the small glass particles can really irritate the skin. A further disadvantage of Foamglas is that it is too abrasive for most surfaces, and will almost instantly cut through coats of primer. It is most effective in preliminary fairing in new construction or on a heavily puttied hull.

Foamglas is a product of Pittsburgh Corning, and is an insulating material used in the construction industry. Check the Yellow Pages under “Insulation Materials” for a local distributor. Foamglas is available in small, prepackaged pieces under various names (touted as a “miracle sanding product”) but the cost is ridiculous when purchased this way.

You must use heavy gloves, preferably leather, with taped up fingers, when using Foamglas. It will cut through fabric work gloves in a matter of minutes when sanding, so you can imagine what it can do to hands: it’s probably a good way to permantely remove your fingerprints.

As a rule, wet sand whenever possible. Not only will the paper work faster, but you will create no sanding dust to get in your hair, eyes, and skin.

After thoroughly sanding the first coat of epoxy primer, you will probably discover small surface irregularities that you missed the first time around with the fairing compound. Epoxy fairing compounds stick well to epoxy primer, so you can still touch them up before applying the next coat of primer.

If you’ve cut down through the primer to the gelcoat in only a few places, touch these up with a patch coat of epoxy primer before applying another full coat. If you’ve cut through in a lot of places, either your hull surface is uneven or you used too coarse a grit of sandpaper. If you need to spot prime more than about 10% of the bottom, just put on another full coat. It will go faster than a spot prime coat.

In all cases, a second full coat of epoxy primer is recommended. You really want a good, thick epoxy barrier between your bottom gelcoat and the water. In addition, a thick prime base will let you get away with years of wet sanding your bottom paint without fear of cutting through to the glass.

After applying a second coat of primer, wet sand the bottom again. Spot prime and re-sand any places where you break through to the gelcoat after the second coat of primer.

Now spend some time going over every square inch of the bottom. The most effective way to do this is at night, using a handheld spotlight with the beam directed almost parallel to the hull surface. Dings and brush marks will stand out like a sore thumb, showing you areas that need a little more work. Since the quality of the bottom depends very much on the attention you give it at this stage, take your time. They may laugh at you now, but we know who gets the last laugh.

The epoxy surface should now have a dull sheen. Any high gloss patches haven’t been adequately sanded. Admittedly, you walk a fine line between having a smooth, fast surface and one that is too slick to hold bottom paint.

Painting Proper application of bottom paint varies with the type of paint used. As a rule, the preparation you have done is far more thorough than that recommended by the paint manufacturer, and you may undo your hard hours of labor if you blithely slap on a coat of paint.

If you’ve gone to the trouble to carefully prepare your hull, you’ll want to use at least a medium hard paint to get a final surface as good as the subsurface you’ve created. The bottom paint should be hard enough to allow wet sanding.

Because fouling characteristics vary so dramatically from place to place, the most practical bottom paint is the one that works best for boats in your area. That statement isn’t a copout, it’s a simple fact.

Although most paints have good general instructions on the can, it can be helpful to call the manufacturer for more details. Every paint manufacturer has a chemist or technician who can make recommendations for the application of bottom paint over a smooth, fresh, epoxy bottom. The paint chemist can also tell you what type of applicator will be most effective and give the smoothest job.

Like the epoxy primer, the bottom paint must be applied as smoothly as possible. As a rule, two coats of paint will yield a paint film thick enough for wet sanding, although the required film thickness for effective antifouling properties will vary from paint to paint.

Spray application of bottom paints is not a job for amateurs. Solvents such as xylene and toluene, used to thin some paints for spraying, and the organotin antifouling components of some bottom paints, are quite toxic. An amateur -or professional using inadequate protective clothing or lacking a respirator designed for toxic vapors is simply asking for trouble.

Application with brush or roller is far less dangerous (but not safe). Protective clothing, including long sleeves and gloves, should be worn at all times, and the use of a respirator -not a paper particle mask will offer further protection.

The same precaution goes for wet sanding the bottom paint to achieve the final smooth surface. Don’t get the bottom paint residue on your skin. Wear rubber gloves, long sleeves, and a respirator. The 3M #8709 Easy Spray Paint Respirator, which costs under $10, is an inexpensive, fairly comfortable respirator for use when toxic materials such as bottom paints are handled only occasionally.

Wet sanding bottom paint is little different from wet sanding epoxy primer, except that you may be able to use finer grits of paper. All you want to do is smooth down irregularities resulting from paint application, removing as little paint as possible. Once again, the rubber sanding block is the ideal tool.

By the time you get to the point of wet sanding the bottom paint, you’re probably pretty tired from the seeming ly endless tedium of bottom sanding. If thorough sanding of the entire bottom is more than you can bear, concentrate on the front half of the hull. Few boats maintain laminar water flow much past the keel.

Putting a good bottom on your boat is probably one of the most time-consuming jobs you will face as a boatowner. It is not something to go through if you plan on selling the boat next year.

However, a smooth bottom will pay big dividends whether you race, daysail or cruise. The advantage in racing is obvious. The smoothness of the bottom doesn’t affect your rating under any racing rule, but it has a dramatic effect on light air performance.

Good light air performance should be the concern of the cruiser, too. A boat that is sluggish in light air from a rough bottom will have to carry more fuel, since you’ll probably run the engine more in light air.

A smooth bottom will help you save hours on short passages, days on longer ones. A boat averaging 6.25 knots will complete a 625 mile trip in 100 hours. A boat that is a quarter knot slower -a conservative estimate of the difference in speed a smooth bottom can make in light air -will take more than four hours longer to make the same trip.

Over time, the effort you put into creating a smooth, well-sealed bottom will probably pay off in lower maintenance. Most peeling bottom paint is the result of poor surface preparation. If you go through the effort of putting a good bottom on, then thoroughly wet sand before applying more paint, you’ll have less paint buildup. Less paint buildup means less tendency for the paint to separate from the hull.

It may be psychologically difficult to put the time into the part of the boat that no one ever sees. It’s not like the instant gratification you get when someone admires your varnished mahogany or well-oiled teak. Nevertheless, you can take pride in knowing that a smooth bottom on a boat is one of the important jobs in making your boat better, and that you can do it yourself.

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IMAGES

  1. Yacht Hull and Foil Fairing

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  2. Boat & Yacht Fairing Specialists

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  3. Yacht Joy side fairing detail before launch at Feadship (2)

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  4. Fairing the Hull

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  5. Fairing the Hull

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  6. Difference Between Yacht Fairing & Surfacing

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VIDEO

  1. Fairing the hull #diy #totalboat #boatrenovation #fairing ng

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COMMENTS

  1. Fairing

    Making the entire hull surface fair during construction, especially for wooden boats; Fairing large areas of a hull surface misshapen due to, for example, bowing out at the bulkheads as a result of years of hull stresses; Fairing small gouges and dents on wood, fiberglass, aluminum, or steel hulls before applying primer and painting

  2. 3 Steps to Fairing a Hull, Building a Fairing Tool, S2-E27

    In this episode of the Art of Boat Building I begin fairing the hull. In this 3 step processes we discuss the method of hand planing followed by sanding with...

  3. DIY Fairing and Filling

    For fairing, we favored lower density, easy-to-sand, faster curing recipes such as West 105/205 resin with 407 filler used below the waterline and 410 above. ... Spring is but a month away, so I am plunging once again into polishing and waxing fiberglass boat hulls. This post covers almost everything you need to know about cleaning, polishing ...

  4. Preparing to Fair

    Those new to the process of fairing a boat's hull or deck are quick to mix up a batch of fairing compound, WEST SYSTEM® Epoxy with a low-density filler, and apply it to the surface, so they can start sanding right away. My experience in boat repair and construction has taught me the importance of making a fairing plan and selecting the ...

  5. Preparing to Fair

    Those new to the process of fairing a boat's hull or deck are quick to mix up a batch of fairing compound, WEST SYSTEM® Epoxy with a low-density filler, and apply it to the surface, so they can start sanding right away. My experience in boat repair and construction has taught me the importance of making a fairing plan and selecting the ...

  6. Hull Fairing And Development: Why And How

    The concept of development of the hull plating for production is a very relevant one even in today's CAD (Computer Aided Design) era. The ship hull is designed on a software platform which enables the user to visualise the 3D problem (Representation of the three-dimensional hull lines as 2D equivalents in various sections i.e. the sheer plan ...

  7. Hull Fairing and Stern Blocks

    The goal of hull fairing is to bevel the edges of the bulkheads so that the hull planks lay flat. If we didn't do this, the planks would only hit the corners of the bulkheads. The process is pretty simple: Hold or secure a hull plank against the bulkheads. Note where the plank doesn't lie flat across the bulkhead edges.

  8. PDF Fairing a Megayacht

    The superb metalworking skills of the De Vries yard and its various sub-contractors produce hulls and super-structures with very true surfaces. The flats are flat, without the "hungry horse" look, and the compound-curved sections are remarkably fair. Consequently, less fairing is required to produce a flawless surface.

  9. Epoxy Fairing Compounds, Part One

    Assuming that the Fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) boats hull and deck structure are sound, a DIY crew can turn their attention to the dings, scrapes, and scuffs that are evidence of the test of time. ... Mas Fairing Compound is a 50-50 mix of yellow and blue pastes (part A and B) that yields a consistent, green hue when mixed properly.

  10. All you need to know about the fairing

    The fairing is an important step in the maintenance of a boat, allowing to maintain its performance by minimizing the resistance of the hull in the water and guaranteeing a better speed and maneuverability. In addition, it prevents the accumulation of shells, algae and other marine organisms that can affect the speed and maneuverability of the boat. ...

  11. Fairing the Hull / next steps (Wooden Boat Rebuild / EP95)

    Rebuilding a historic sailing yacht - Fairing the Hull (EP95)Support / Donate; http://www.sampsonboat.co.uk/supportBecome a Patron; http://www.patreon.com/sa...

  12. Used Boat Buying: Keel Repair and Hull Fairing

    First on the list was to repair the bottom of the keel and smooth the underwater surfaces of the hull. The keel bottom was cracked and chipped and had the remains of a coral reef stuck to it. Unfortunately, it was also resting on two wood blocks, and the whole boat weighs over 10,000 lb.

  13. Fairing by Machine

    Fairing a 40′ hull is an arduous task often accomplished by two-man teams wielding fairing boards—which, appropriately, are often called "torture boards." ... After 34 custom and over 100 rowing boats and daysailers, he is still enjoying the challenge. His shop is in Falmouth, Massachusetts. SHARE. ACCESS TO EXPERIENCE

  14. Fair Through Hull Fittings: Essential to a Smooth Bottom

    You can begin along the path to a fast bottom by recess­ing or fairing in through hull fittings that protrude beyond the surface of the hull, particularly in the forward half of the boat. ... Flush fittings are frequently used in fiberglass boats with cored hulls, since the total hull thickness is enough to accept then without weakening the ...

  15. FAIRING THE HULL FOR NEW PAINT!

    Good progress on the hull so far but there's still more to the fairing process to get it perfect ;-) Next week should be the last of it then onto the painting using the new additive from Alexseal! ... * Order Total Boat Supplies HERE and Help Support Boatworks Today with your purchase!: https://bit.ly/2E1a0or

  16. Yacht Fairing

    The Art of Yacht Fairing. Yacht fairing is the process of shaping and smoothing a yacht's hull and superstructure to achieve a flawless surface. The art of fairing requires a delicate balance between craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology.

  17. FAIRING THE HULL FOR NEW PAINT!

    Good progress on the hull so far but there's still more to the fairing process to get it perfect ;-) Next week should be the last of it then onto the painti...

  18. Fairing Compound Definition

    Applying fairing compound to your boat can increase speed by reducing drag on the hull. The smooth surface created by the fairing compound helps the boat move through the water more easily. If you are looking to get the most out of your boat, adding fairing compound is a great way to do it. Increased fuel efficiency

  19. The Metaphorical Boat: Moscow Metro

    It has been over a year since first being introduced to Limerick based 4-piece Moscow Metro* through their wonderful debut double-A side containing the tracks "Spirit of a City" and "Cosmos" for free, which sounded near perfect in spite of the band only being together for a few months at the time of recording. Now fast-forward 12 months, and as a result of the initial love for the band, they ...

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  21. It Takes a Tough Sailor to Make a Smooth Boat Bottom

    A smooth bottom will help you save hours on short passages, days on longer ones. A boat averaging 6.25 knots will complete a 625 mile trip in 100 hours. A boat that is a quarter knot slower -a conservative estimate of the difference in speed a smooth bottom can make in light air -will take more than four hours longer to make the same trip.

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    These boats are built by a wide variety of boat manufacturers with hull types including deep vee, modified vee, catamaran, planing and other designs. A total of 642 brand-new boats and 762 used boats are among the 1,404 high performance boats that are now available on Boat Trader, which features listings from both professional boat and yacht

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