Hull Sealing

    These pics were taken over winter break '99.  Before doing any seam sealing, I sanded the entire bottom of the hover.  After vacuuming, I was ready to seal all of the seams.  To do this, I used 2" fiberglass tape which is really just strips of fiberglass, and epoxy.  I found the best way to tape the seams was to put a thick layer of epoxy down over the seam with a small roller, lay the tape down over it, then with a 2" brush, paint on more epoxy, making sure to saturate the fiberglass fully.  Walt was home from WA for a few days and was gracious enough to give me a hand with the majority of seam sealing on the bottom.

  After all of the seams were taped, and the edges sanded smooth, I began the oh so expensive task of sealing the bottom.  I'm using West Systems Epoxy for the barrier coat.  Since epoxy basically becomes an inert plastic when cured, it makes a totally waterproof layer.  Before I started the process of sealing the bottom, I did some research on what to use for the barrier coat.  With the help of another UH-19P builder, Mike Pegg, and a couple of boat building organizations, I decided to use epoxy and wanted to use a product that Mike had suggested, Epoxy Plus.  At around $50 a gallon, it was much cheaper then the epoxy I had been using.  So, I called up Clark Craft, a boat building supplier, to order the stuff.  All was good until they told me that West Systems, the epoxy I had used for all other bonding, and Epoxy Plus may not compatible.  Ouch!  So, instead of spending $50 a gal. for my barrier coat, I ended up spending twice that using West Systems.  I just wanted to touch on that for anyone thinking about using West Systems epoxy.  While West Systems is one of the better epoxies around, it's also one of the most expensive, and as I found, may not be compatible with other epoxy products.

    Notice the external stringers attached to the bottom.  These give the skin more structural support.  This is especially critical for the cockpit area.

The best way to apply the epoxy for the barrier coat is with a paint roller.  Christmas day, I decided to go over to my brothers to start sealing the inside of my craft (which I forgot to take pictures of.  Grrr).  Since it was the 25th, all of the stores were, of course, closed, so I ended up using  2" and 3" brushes.  It took me 7 hours and a full gallon of epoxy.  Bright and early the next day, I went to the hardware store and bought myself a few roller covers, a 4" roller cage and a 9" roller cage.  The second coat took me 2 hours and a half gal. of epoxy.  There's a lesson to be learned somewhere in that.