Best Face Forward Page 2

Best Face Forward - Fiberglass Maintenance - Part 2
Maintenance April 2002 By Diane M. Byrne

Best Face Forward
Part 2: Blisters

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Fiberglass
• Part 2: Fiberglass
• Part 3: Fiberglass

 Related Resources
• Maintenance Index

But keep an eye on these tiny lines; if you notice them spreading and deepening, much like the crazing that’s common in old porcelain, have them examined by a fiberglass expert. And if the cracks are deep enough that you can insert a sharpened blade or even chip away at their edges, have them repaired right away by a qualified yard to prevent water and dirt from penetrating and doing serious damage. This usually isn’t a job you should tackle yourself, since oftentimes there’s an underlying condition that needs expert attention.

When it comes to hulls, however, experts strongly advocate having cracks of any size repaired. Even small cracks can let contaminants seep below the surface, leading to bigger problems and perhaps even failure of the entire structure if left untreated. And definitely don’t tackle this job yourself. If your hull is still under warranty, you run the risk of voiding the policy. More important, the cause of the cracking may be inside your boat and therefore not immediately apparent. A professional will not only mend the cracks but also determine and fix their source.

Hull blisters are exactly what they sound like: raised portions of the outer skin or gelcoat. They can be quite small–sometimes referred to as pimples–or quite large. A variety of things cause blisters, with the most common one being water intrusion. Dirt or other contaminants are also culprits, and resin bonding failures due to temperature and humidity changes or even problems during construction can also result in blistering.

Don’t let the size of a blister fool you into thinking it’s nothing to worry about. Blisters inflate and deflate in relation to changes in environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity and may dry out and even disappear after a boat is hauled and left to sit for a while. While broken blisters are an obvious cause for alarm, since they permit water to penetrate the laminate quite easily, even apparently intact blisters can lead to serious problems like delamination and core deterioration.

Next page > Fiberglass Part 3 > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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