Monday, January 17, 2011

Building The Pygmy Kayak - Part 2

What a mess
After sanding
After stitching the hull together I got to mix my first batch of epoxy.  With a little trepidation I pumped out the first batch like a chemist mixing his first batch of explosives.  Next I pulled the plunger out of the syringe and poured the concoction in, I discovered about 6 months later that I could draw it into the syringe like the doctor does and it makes a lot less mess.  The purpose of this first batch is to fill the seams between the stitched together pieces.  The next day it was time to cut and pull all the staples in the hull, what an exciting moment, seeing a boat held together only by glue.  What would be next, you guessed it, sanding.  And wow what a time commitment that was,  it took 5 hours to smooth out the mess created by running epoxy.  This is also where I should have followed the instructions a little closer, you see they are very clear about keeping the sander flat on the panels.  I discover that I could sand away excess epoxy faster by turning it on end, however, the 3/16" Okume plywood is three layers with a dark layer in the middle, it does not take long to sand through the top layer and expose the middle one.  I really did not learn this lesson until about the end of the project.
Moving on to the next step, putting the four coats of epoxy onto the exterior of the hull.  Keep in mind the second coat is the fiberglass cloth.  Temperatures outside had dropped below the 50 degree mark and were closer to freezing, I had no way of heating my unit except with a small space heater, entirely ineffective for heating a large empty space.  According to the instruction each coat of epoxy had to be applied within 72 hours of the last coat so that it would not harden up too much and the next coat would adhere properly.  The first coat went swimmingly, and I went home to let it dry for two days.  To put the fiberglass cloth on the first coat needs to be dry so the cloth moves around easily.  When I came back the epoxy was slightly tacky, but being as I had a time table and as we all know instructions are meant only as guidelines and not absolutes, I went ahead and put the cloth on.  The cloth stuck to the hull like bee's to honey and I never got it smoothed properly and thus I developed little wrinkles that would later have to be sanded out.  What I should have done was take the cloth off and go home.  The next two layer went on with out much of a hitch.

Stitching and gluing deck
The next step was to stitch and glue the deck together, this is another fun stage because now the final look of the boat is taking shape.  I had gotten better at avoiding the sharp edges of my wire staples, or maybe it was the work gloves I had purchased.  Taping the deck to the hull insured the deck kept the proper shape and then more epoxy was applied and allowed to dry.  Outside of the need for sanding it looked almost good enough to put in the water.  But I definitely had a long ways to go yet and certainly more errors to make.  But that will be the subject of part 3.


  1. Nice project you have going there. I’ve been thinking of buying one of these kits myself for a while so I would have something a little nicer to paddle in than my old polyethylene beast. Keep us updated on the progress; it will be interesting to see the final product.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I would highly recommend the boats from Pygmy. The instruction were very complete and clearly stated and since this was my first kit boat I needed all the help I could get. They also tell you to call anytime you need extra help, though I think I only did that once.