Now that your kayak is past the skinning and shrinking process, you are ready to begin the coating process. For those of you who have worked with fiberglass resin, will find this very similar. This product you will be using is a two part urethane, witch is 100% solids. 100% solids means what ever you put on your boat will stay on your boat.
Most urethane products are less than 10 % solids, witch means most of the product evaporates in the air. This is not the case here. Because of this we will be using very little product to cover your boat. As a matter of fact you will just need a quart of resin and ½ quart of activator to cover the average 17’ kayak with 840 den cloth. This material is also non-flammable, and odorless.
Lets begin. First, if you have a boat about 17’, you want to put your saw horses about 5-6’ apart with the kayak upside down. The objective with the saw horse placement is to transfer the weight load evenly so not to disturb your kayak's established lines. For example if the support of the horses was at the ends of the kayak, gravity would take our your shear and rocker of your boat.
If your kayak has a pitched deck, your kayak will lisp to one side. This is normal due to the pitched deck in the boat. (not applicable for Greenland kayaks) We will take advantage of this and tilt the kayak up away from the fist side we will start applying the urethane.
Because I am right handed I prefer to work clockwise around the boat. But it really does not matter what side or what direction you work in. What does matter is that you keep consistent in a pattern. If you start on the port side, finish the port side completely before working on the starboard. This way you will always know where to start with every new mix.
For the first mix I recommend a “6 and 3”. This should be enough for either the port or starboard side of your kayak. Pour your material into the mixing cups. Double check your amount and then pour the contents into your neutral container. Stir thoroughly for 5 min. If possible tilt the kayak away from the side that you are working. In other words make the side you are working as level as possible. This will keep gravity in your favor and allow you to finish the gunwale with more ease. Then begin to pour about 80% of the resin, in a ever bead down just to the side of the kneel for which you are working. Start to pour about a foot from the end, and finish your pour about a foot from the end. We do this incase you pour too much so you have some extra cloth to take any extra resin. It is easier to add more resin, than to you should have the spreading card in your hand of favor and lay the card on about a 60 degree angle (always work the bevel side of the card on the boat). You do not want to scrap off the material. But rather push the material into the weave of the cloth. Also you are trying to feed the next chine to with the surplus resin. You should be working (long pulls) continuously down the entire length of the kayak. Use common sense with your card to feed more resin to the next chine or give more to the facet you are working. Just work down to each chine at a time, changing your angle of your card to disperse the material. Remember there is very little extra. Do not waste and drop all over the floor. Again if you can not keep up with the mix, make smaller batches. After you wet out the cloth on one side, you will take one of your brushes and brush the bow and stern. This must be done in as thin coat as possible. The brush will apply the resin with a very think coat. It is very important that you stretch the resin with the brush as thin as possible. It is instinctive to put the resin on thick filling the holes. This is because the resin applies so well. But if you put it one too thick; you will find in several hours that the resin will start to bubble and run. This will create problems later.
Don’t forget, you will be able to go over the bow and stern again when you finish the deck. Even if you feel the application is too thin, don’t worry you will have better results if you wait till the day when you do the deck. If you do not have enough mixed to complete the side, just make another batch and complete the side. If you have too much, just tilt the kayak and start the other side till it is gone. Then mix another batch and pick up where you left off. Don’t forget to work clock wise or counter clock wise. Being systematic will make your life easy.
Now that the cloth whetted out, you are going to start the build up process. You have put the majority of the resin on, now a little will go a long way. This time mix a medium (4oz and 2oz), this will be enough to cover the entire kayak. Begin at the same starting point you started in the beginning. Just repeat the process as before. Remember this batch should be enough to cover the entire kayak. Keep this coat thin. When all the resin is on , baby sit your work by orbiting around the kayak smoothing and leveling the resin. Continue leveling for about 10-15 minutes allowing it to tack a little. Keep working against the gravity by angling your blade, to lift the material back in the desired location.
Look over your kayak, observe the sheen. Notice most of the area has a high gloss sheen. You will also notice that there is some spaces where you can see some dull spaces. Maybe you can see some fabric texture. The objective of the third coat is too cover these dull areas and even everything to a glass like finish. You may not need so much resin as before. Usually I use a small batch for the last coat. This is usually the most prudent. Don’t forget you can always mix another small if you need it.
Like before, you will orbit around the kayak, smoothing and leveling. Check the bow and stern for bubbles. Take the sharp corner of your leveling tool, and pull in the corners popping the bubbles and working the resin into the sewing holes. Check the deck at this time too. Some resin might have ran onto the deck. This resin will collect and want to drip. It is very important that you flatten and smooth the resin. If some of the material ran on the deck, it is not big deal as long as you spread, and thin the material over the deck. When you do the deck the next day the resin will conceal, and chemically bond over your overrun.
After time you will have to have to apply more pressure and increase your blade angle to move the hardening resin. There will be a curtain point where you can not move the material. This will depend a lot on the temperature, humidity, and UV. It is not unusual to have to baby sit your kayak for runs for 2 hours. Just relax, smooth and pop bubbles.
If you see foaming this means the material is too thick in this area. You have too choices at this point. You can try with a lot of pressure to thin the material to near by area, or you can take this material with your card by increasing your angle and wiping off your card with a rag. This foaming can occur if there is a lot of humidity and or the resin is applied too thick. If you have some foaming in your finished results, it is just cosmetic.
The deck is the same as the bottom. In review allow the kayak to lisp from side to side. Move your sawhorses out to about 8’ apart. You will be working in your clockwise, or counter clockwise rotation. Choose the side of the kayak (port or starboard) for which you will begin. Tilt the kayak on the side that is the closest to level that you will start your work. Your first coat will be a large (6 and 3). This will be enough to cover the entire deck. Try to pour small amounts at first so you get the feel of how much you will need. It is easier to add more than to move around too much resin. If you have extra after covering the deck just simply go back to the beginning and start your second coat. If you run short just mix your second batch (4 and 2) and continue. Your second batch will be enough to cover your kayak with the second coat. Most likely you will have extra. If you do, brush on the resin on the outside of the cockpit. Keep in mind you will have to do the inside of the cockpit as well. Usually a small batch (2 and 1) is enough to finish everything. After completing the deck inspect your work from yesterday. Check the bow, stern and gunwales. These are the places where missed areas and pin holes are found. You will have a new perspective now that the kayak is right side up. Just bush and blade the obvious places. Remember thin coats are better. Now that you are finished with the deck, change the tilt of the kayak and smooth. Baby sit your kayak until the resin is not moving any more. Do not over work the material. Wait till some sagging occurs, take one long pull from over the length of the boat. Then let the resin level. Pop any bubbles that might occur in the seams with the edge of the card. Take your card and place the corner sharp edge in the seam and run the whole length of the boat. You will hear popping noises. This is normal, and a good thing. Also smooth any material that runs down the gunwales. Keep changing the tilt of the kayak to balance the gravity for both sides. Lastly don’t forget to relax and have fun.