Builders’ Tips

3D printed deck fittings
We now use these, printed from the data file included in the download. However, if you wish to make Maroske fittings from glass fibre tube:
Maroske fittings made (slightly!) easier

I like the simplicity and elegance of Maroske deck fittings, but they are anything but simple to construct. Google “Maroske fittings” to if you are not familiar with the standard procedure. It can be a struggle to pull the PVC tube out after the epoxy has set. To make it easy to extract the tube I first put the wire inside the PVC tube, then wrap the PVC tube with PTFE tape, and then insert the PVC tube into the fibre-glass sleeve. This entire assembly is then threaded through the deck. I use fiberglass tape over and under the sleeve to spread the load, and then thickened epoxy smoothed over the entire assembly. The PTFE tape makes the PVC tubes easy to extract after removing the wire. I use a bottle cleaning brush to remove any remnants of PTFE that stick to the epoxy.
One way of producing lightweight Maroske fittings is to bond in a semi-circle of 3 mm plywood. This minimises the use of the heavy epoxy, and also produces an even curve, thereby facilitating the eventual withdrawal of the inner tube.
When positioning the fittings near the cockpit, bear in mind the need for foot-room. Those in the photo are a little too close for comfort.

Key to open screw-in hatches
Screw-in hatches are light and simple to install, and they don’t interfere with the elegance of the kayak. However, they can be difficult to undo, particularly if subject to temperature changes. This is only exacerbated by having cold wet hands. I made a simple HDPE (bread or chopping board) key. One side opens the large hatches, and the other side opens the day hatch. I use both hands on the key, pushing and pulling, for maximum leverage. There are a couple of holes for a lanyard to attach it in the cockpit. (No, not inside a compartment…….)

Weighing Epoxy
We use the excellent Smart Weigh digital scales to weigh the epoxy resin and hardener. The scales have an accuracy of 0.1g and a maximum capacity of 1 kg. They are equipped with a “tare” button, which re-sets the scale to zero after the container is placed on the scale. This is a great feature. The scales cost £6 in the U.K on eBay.
In the USA, eBay has the scales for $18 including shipping. Try “Smart Weigh SWS100” and Amazon.com has them for $10 – try “Smart Weigh SWS1kg”
Using the scales for weighing epoxy is described here.
One disadvantage of the scales is that they have a 60 second time-out, which can be inconvenient.

The importance of sheer clamps
Some kit manufacturers omit sheer clamps, and rely on taping the seams between hull and deck. We strongly advise against this. The sheer clamps produce fair smooth curves and enable a very strong joint. We’ve spent too much time mending these joints on $3000 glass fibre kayaks where glass tape has been the sole method of joining the hull and deck.

Tethering Barton-style hatch covers
Peter M. from Cornwall, UK, used ½” 6g A4 s/s pan head screws and suitable washers to attach a nylon R-type cable clamp to the central moulding on the underside of the hatch cover. Knotted shock cord (3mm) joins the cover to another R-clamp inside of the hatch fitted to one of the bolts holding the hatch cover rim in place. This means that when the hatch cover turns, the central R-clamp turns freely and the shock cord is not wound up.

Finishing the edges of fiberglass cloth
A clean finished edge is sometimes required on an area of glass cloth. This can be when, for example, just the floor of the cockpit is given an extra layer of glass cloth for abrasion resistance, or when a tapered extra keel strip is added. An elegant solution is to use dark coloured masking tape around the perimeter of the area, and laminate the glass over the desired area, overlapping slightly onto the coloured masking tape. After a few hours, when the cloth is set, but not hard, cut at the inner edge of the masking tape with a craft knife, and remove the surplus cloth and tape. The next day seal the cut line with resin.

Repairing a hole in a compartment
Let’s suppose you were rock-hopping, and holed the Vember’s hull. You did, of course, have a buoyancy bag filling most of the compartment, enabling you to get home…… The challenge in repairing a hole in a bow, stern or day compartment is that there is no easy access to the inside to facilitate a simple patch repair, unless it is close to a hatch. In an emergency, just cover the hole in repair tape, but, when back in the workshop, here’s how we do it: 1. Remove the damaged area by sawing round it with a jigsaw, or a hacksaw blade held in a rag. Make any corners well rounded, to reduce stress concentration. 2. Prepare a patch of 3mm marine ply (left over from your deck construction) to be the same shape as the hole, but about 25mm (1″) larger all round its perimeter. Drill a hole of about 3mm diameter in the approximate centre of the plywood. 3. Coat both sides and the edge of the patch and the hole with epoxy resin, and let it set. 4. Lightly sand one side of the patch, and draw a conspicuous pencil line on this side about 1.5″ (40mm) in from the perimeter, and all round it. Sand the first inch or so (25mm) of the inside of the compartment around the hole. 5. Pass about a foot (300mm) of 1/8th (3mm) cord through the hole in the patch, and put a bulky knot at the end of the cord on the un-sanded (inner) side, of the patch. Tie a one inch diameter loop in the cord on the outer side of the patch, and leave the excess cord intact. 6. Check that you can now “post” the patch through the hole in the hull, and pull it back by hand until it is firmly pulled into the correct position and orientation inside the compartment, as shown by an even view of the pencil line around the hole. The patch can be manipulated into position with one hand, while putting tension on the cord with the other. A temporary knob hot-glued into the centre of the outside of the patch can aid this procedure. Don’t lose the patch inside the compartment! Tie a large tool to the other end of the cord to make sure. Remove the patch and cord. 7. After the rehearsal, generously coat the outer inch or so of the perimeter of the sanded outer face of the patch with epoxy resin thickened to peanut butter consistency. The resin must hold its shape when the patch is vertical. 8. Delicately feed the patch through the hole, and pull the patch into its correct position and orientation. Slide a large screwdriver or piece of timber through the outer cord loop. Rotate the screwdriver to twist and thereby shorten the cord until the patch is pulled snugly against the inside of the hull, and an ooze of epoxy is visible. Maintain outward tension on the cord with one hand while rotating the screwdriver with the other. (This is known as a Spanish Windlass technique.) Tape the screwdriver to the outside of the hull when the desired tension is achieved, remove any excess epoxy, and leave the epoxy to set. 9. Remove the Spanish windlass system, cutting the cord and allowing the inner knot to fall into the compartment. 10. If the kayak has a painted finish, fill the resultant void with epoxy thickened with lightweight fairing compound, then sand and paint. If clear-finished, then use pieces of the hull stripping material to make a careful cosmetic repair. Then:
Mark an inch (2.5 cm) or so around the damaged area
Sand down to the wood within the marked area
Apply twill over the marked area, overlapping onto the non-sanded bit by about a cm. (NB – make sure you’ve sanded the bit that’s being overlapped to remove any varnish and key the epoxy without damaging the existing twill)
Lightly sand the edge of the twill patch to feather in any hard lines
Epoxy over it once or twice so it’s buried
Hand-sand the patched area so it has a matt finish.
If you varnish your boats, then cover the matt patch in varnish. If you don’t use varnish then cover it in carefully-applied epoxy. NB – for a perfect finish, you could re-sand your entire kayak and completely varnish/epoxy her.

What can I use to remove excess uncured epoxy?
The best solvent for cleaning up uncured epoxy is white vinegar. The cheaper the better! It is non-toxic and readily available. Sure you can use nasty solvents like acetone but vinegar works. Never use solvents of any kind to clean epoxy off your skin. Many solvents make it easier for epoxy to penetrate the skin which can increase the risk of reactions to the epoxy. We recommend wearing gloves and protective clothing and avoid getting epoxy on the skin in the first place. The best advice we have heard to clean epoxy off skin is to use friction (wipe it off), or soap (emulsifier), or let it dry and peel it off.

Black Keel strip
When the hull is left with a clear finish, it is difficult to spot when the keel has been scratched from contact with the beach or rocks. Water can then pass through the scratch and soak the plywood. This issue with a clear finish can be avoided by applying a coat of black pigmented epoxy (10% epoxy pigment) in a strip down the most vulnerable part of the keel, entirely below the water-line. If you taper the ends it can even look elegant. Good quality masking tape is worth the extra expense for this task. I use the blue 3M 50mmn (2 inch) wide tape.

Knee tube for pump
It seems a shame to spoil the lines of a beautiful kayak by having an ugly plastic pump on the deck, however sensible and practical that may be. I install a knee tube under the deck. The knee tube construction is very basic. I use a length of 100mm diameter sewer plastic pipe as a mould, and laminate two layers of whatever glass cloth I have handy round the pipe, using either polyester or epoxy resin. I cut it to length and width when set, and glue some split plastic flat wire sheathing round the ends to protect feet, etc. I now angle the front of the tube for maximum foot clearance. I install the tube with the kayak upside down, using a few blobs of 5 minute epoxy, and later put a fillet of thickened resin down each side. I then install a piece of elastic shock cord across the mouth to stop the pump falling out. Note that you may have to shorten your pump. By removing an end cap this is usually possible. On some pumps I also temporarily remove the handle to shorten the rod.
Reed will supply spray skirts (decks) with bale tubes to enable access to the pump without removing the skirt, if you consider this necessary: https://www.chillcheater.com/aqshop/catalogue.php?id=2911

Thickening epoxy resin when used as a coating.
Occasionally one needs to place a coat of epoxy resin on a sloping surface, or on an exterior corner. One example is filling the weave on an existing keel strip, where the angular keel line makes the resin flow away from the apex of the upside down hull, which is exactly where one wants the thickest resin. Another example is filling the weave on parts of the cockpit rim and upstand. On all these I use 10% black pigmented epoxy resin with just sufficient West 406 Colloidal Silica filler powder added to make a “paint” that will still brush out smoothly, but will not run and sag as much as pure resin. This gives a very hard and shiny finish. I first mix the resin and catalyst very thoroughly, then add the pigment with much stirring, and then gradually add the powder until I obtain the desired consistency.

Ensuring the skeg box does not leak
Two builders have reported water leaks from the top corners of the standard plywood skeg box. The plywood and inner solid wood framing of the box have simple joints at these points, so there is potential for leaks. We recommend special care to ensure the skeg box is water-tight. Do not use excessive clamping pressure which would exclude all epoxy adhesive from the joints. Apply glassfibre tape and resin over the outside perimeter of the box. Spoon a small amount of warm thin resin into the upside down box while it is on the bench, before the hole is drilled for the skeg wire fitting, and tip the box so as to run the resin into the joints. Leave the box upside down until the resin is set. Fill the box with water if you wish to check for any leaks. Taking extra care at this stage is less trouble than attempting to cure such a leak after the kayak has been completed and launched.

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