Sunday, September 30, 2012

Leeboard repair - the "rope trick"

Dry fitting for the "rope trick"
I damaged the leeboard on Cream Cheese last year by driving away from the launch ramp with the board dragging in the gravel.  I discovered my error after about 50 yards, but by that time I had chewed off about 3/4" inch off of the bottom corner of the leading edge.  Later on Grahame Byrnes, designer of the Core Sound series, told me about "the rope trick".  The idea is to glue an epoxy saturated synthetic rope (usually nylon) to the leading edge of the board, thus providing a well shaped but very durable surface.  Here's an example from the Core Sound 20, Dawn Patrol:

Rope on the rudder of the Core Sound 20, Dawn Patrol.
It protects the leading edge of underwater boards

I decided to try the rope trick myself.  First I cut away the damaged wood and fitted the rope.

Fitting the rope
Then I soaked the rope in epoxy and draped fiberglass cloth over it and let it partially cure (8 hours over a cool night).  I made a mistake at this point in the process.  I should have used thickened epoxy to fill the spaces between the rope and the board but I didn't.  As a result, there are air pockets.  Hopefully this won't be a major issue since the boat is dry sailed and all surfaces are thoroughly coated with epoxy.

Fiberglassing rope in place

Then I filled using epoxy thickened with fused silica and microballoons and let it cure.

Filling and smoothing

I made a first pass at sanding and smoothing and filled some more with thickened epoxy.

Final sanding before painting

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