Time to make plastic boats! It's GRP fortnight!

You never can tell what one week to the next will be like at the BBA! This week we learned all about GRP – Glass Reinforced Plastics! This was such a departure from woodwork and introduced us to an entirely new way of approaching boat building. It’s crazy how you can go in to a week with literally zero knowledge of a subject and come out at the other end with plastic model boats created by your own fair hands!

We started by learning the basics of the proportion of pigment and catalyst that needs to be used in conjunction with gel coat (the surface layer) and the resin which is used in conjunction with glass tissue or glass chopped strand mat (both a bit itchy if you aren’t wearing gloves as they are literally made of little strands of glass). So first we made a tile, we had to wax up the mould tile first and then we applied gel coat to it. I used 2 different colours and made a little piece of art. I think it looks like the sea meeting the sky. I mixed the light blue mysef.

Then, we went back to some woodwork and carved, by hand, a boat shape. I actually ended up carving something close to a Hastings beach boat! I only realised when I was coming to the end of the process and was so happy to see this happy result! I can’t believe I actually got to make a Hastings beach boat after all! Making the mould was so sweat inducing... sawing, planning, spokeshaving, sanding. It was intense. I can’t believe that but a few months ago I had never even held a plane before and now I took about 2 hours to carve and entire model boat by hand. Amazing. After making it we had to sand it and sand it and sand it. Then w coated it in 2 coats of gel coat and sanded that from 80 grit sandpaper all the way up the grits to 1200 and then polished it up to a beautiful shine. So proud.

Then we had to wax it again and again and again... then we painted it with black gel coat, I was kinda sad to see the wood disappear at that point and had my fingers crossed that I would see it again. After that we coated the gel coat in tissue, resin, chopped strand mat, more resin and tissue with more resin. Then... we left it to cure. Mine exothermed a bit which was a bit of a concern as it all shrinks when that happens which could make the moulding harder to take off the mould... oh dear!

The next day we came back to our creations and mine would not come off! Noooooooo! I was despairing a little bit... it looked like the front had a bit of tumble home so it wouldn’t come out... oh noes! TIME FOR THE BONESAW! So I used the bone saw to cut a little bit off the top and, lo and behold, it came off! The top of it was pretty mulched up on one side but the other is ok. I was a bit sad that it wasn’t perfect anymore but it is testament to all the mould has been through so I decided not to try and repair it.

Now I had a lovely mould! After that it was all about making little boats! I made a light blue one (I mixed the pigment again!) and then I made one that had red stripes and a slightly grey white outside with a slightly blue white inside. The two whites looked like they were much less white in the pots than they do on the boat but I’m still happy with the result... this will also be the basic colour layout for the Christmas Wherry so it was good to see it in the flesh for the first time. I think it looks gorgeous!

Now all that was left was to run a bath, give the little boats their first taste of the water and try and wash off the extreme smell of styrene that we had been dealing with all week! It’s strange how you get used to such an extreme smell... tho after a full day in the little GRP hut my head felt a little strange and I was always so exhausted!

Next week is another assessment week... we are making little model plastic racing yachts... I won’t be blogging about that as it is a little stressful and also an official assessment type thingummy so best to keep it a bit hush hush.

I also started gig rowing with my bench buddy and then started re-learning sailing (I got my level 2 years and years ago)! There wasn’t a breath of wind for the sailing, so it was kinda hilarious being out with other BBA peeps and very slowly not going anywhere in beautiful Lyme Regis.

Here are the videos! There are two as I was very excited to show all the things that I made this week! The first video goes through the making process for the tile and the mould for the plastic boats and in the second video you get to see the plastic boats!