142. Top Tips Tuesday - An easy 'How to' guide with West Systems

This week's 'Top Tip' is an easy "how-to" guide on repairing the area around a stanchion base on a fibreglass boat. Lots of boats have damage around the stanchion base and if left they can lead to much more serious problems when water gets into the deck, not to mention the added risk to crew.

Many thanks to West System Epoxy's Hamish Cook and David Johnson for their permission to use this article.


We asked Hamish… How do you repair a stanchion on a fibreglass boat?

Is one or more of your lifeline stanchions coming away from its base? It’s a common problem but it’s vital that it’s fixed quickly. A repair with thickened WEST SYSTEM® epoxy and fibreglass will do an excellent job, as our technical expert Hamish explains.

There’s a lot of stress placed on the humble stanchion. Often knocked when docking, or shoved when setting sail, it’s not uncommon for them to weaken, or even wrench away from their base entirely. However, given the vital role that these posts play in crew safety, it’s essential that they’re fixed as soon as possible.

On a fibreglass boat, fixing a stanchion base with epoxy is a relatively straightforward procedure. My colleague David Johnson has produced a video (above) talking you through the repair. Here’s my written step-by-step guide to assist you through the process.

Step 1 – Grind away the damage

The first step is to take out the stanchion and grind back the hole to remove all damaged material. When grinding, ensure you taper in to the centre of the hole; grinding a bevel around the edge will create an enhanced surface area for your epoxy bond, so that the repair is as strong and long-lasting as possible.

Step 2 – Insert a backer

Make sure you wipe the area clean with alcohol.

Then, if the hole is deep (if you’ve exposed the inside of the boat), you’ll need to push in a backer which your epoxy resin repair will adhere to. We recommend using peel ply for this. Cut your peel ply to size and push it inside the hole, cementing it in with WEST SYSTEM epoxy thickened with WEST SYSTEM 406 Colloidal Silica. Leave it to cure.

Step 3 – Apply thickened epoxy

Mix up some more WEST SYSTEM epoxy resin and hardener and blend it with WEST SYSTEM 406 Colloidal Silica to a mayonnaise consistency. Use a small brush to apply this to the peel-ply-reinforced gap, pushing it well in and smoothing it around, so that it fills any irregular shapes. This will ease the transition to the fibreglass part of your repair.

Step 4 – Apply fibreglass

Once this has cured, the next step is to mix up some more WEST SYSTEM epoxy , this time adding some WEST SYSTEM 402 Milled Glass Fibre Blend. Push this mixture into the hole with a mixing stick first of all, before working it into the hole with a brush, stippling to feather out any spiky bits of the fibre and remove any air bubbles.

Step 5 – Apply your peel ply

To help compact the repair, apply some more peel ply to the fibreglass mix when it’s wet. Ensure the peel ply is nicely wet out by the fibreglass mixture. If you’re working in any sort of windy weather, you may wish to apply masking tape to secure the peel ply.

That’s all there is to it. Once this has cured, you can grind it back, apply your gel coat and re-fit the stanchion. You’ll find this is a sound repair that will last a long time.

Don’t forget to watch our stanchion repair video by David Johnson.

Want to know more about fibreglass boat repair? We have a whole host of articles – take a look here.

Image credit: Sailnet.com

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