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There are many things on our gliders that we can fix ourselves. Most of the techniques are familiar to us. The ones that aren't, are not too hard to come by. When we need a skill, someone at the gliderport is usually about to embark on a related project and is happy to trade knowledge for an extra pair of hands. Fiberglass, on the other hand, is almost an arcane art. It's not as if you can go down to the Hardware Store and talk with the answer man about it. The stuff in the auto body section at the Building Supply Company says polyester on the label. That sounds like an old leisure suit. You almost want to buy some just to see if it still comes in that funny green color. Where, then, do we start?
Fortunately, there are some folks who have the same concerns about product quality that we do. They build boats. Big boats. Alas, 55 gallon drums of time dependent epoxy and industrial strength measuring pumps, accurate to the microliter, are a little outside the scope of the normal glider project. I rarely have enough friends who need to make repairs at the same time that I do, to justify that much goop. But there is an answer to our problem. The boat adhesive producers need customers as much as we need their products. The knowledge, and the products are available. We've just been looking for them in the wrong place. The answer lies in sailboat magazine advertisements.
The two leaders in the marine epoxy field, West System and System Three, deliver sample kits at competitive prices. They're intended to introduce boat builders to the products so that they will buy them in industrial quantities. That's lucky for us, as the trial sizes are more than adequate for the kind of repair we usually deal with at the gliderport.
West System markets through a comprehensive marine catalog. Their Maxi-Repair-Pack sells for $13.35 plus shipping, and contains filler, gloves, fabric, stirrers, mixing cups, epoxy and resin. What is unique is that the epoxy and hardener are premeasured in foil packets for 6 repairs. The Handy-Repair-Pack contains foil packed material for 2 repairs and sells for $5.45. They also carry several excellent books on epoxy and gelcoat repairs. West is the market leader in marine adhesives.
The System Three Trial Kit contains larger quantities of Silica Thickener, Plastic Fiber, Wood Flour and Microballoons than does the West package. $10.00 buys 12 ounces of hardener and resin, fiberglass cloth, brushes, measuring cups, fillers, a roller cover, a squeegee, gloves and their new Epoxy book. They're like the number 2 firm in the rental car field. They try harder.
Do they sell real epoxy? Not polyester? You don't make cold molded hulls for ocean crossing maxi-racers out of polyester. It's epoxy. It's fresh. They both sell a lot of it. You won't be disappointed with either kit. And who knows, you might want a drum of the stuff some day.
System Three Resins
Seattle, WA 98107
Watsonville, CA 95077