It was decided to build the plug for the RL28 hull mould at home under the house
(Queensland high set homes are great for this) and I was impatient as usual to get
started. At age sixteen when I built my first boat I was already obsessed with
sailing and ever since then the thrill of starting a new boat had never left me.
Previously all the moulds for the fibre glass boats we had built had been formed
on hulls built in the conventional manner. This is a huge job where the perfect
finish required for the mould can take months of hard work. There had come on the
market at that time an excellent high density foam product that was available in
sheet form, this could be cut into strips, and we were going to try using it in
lieu of conventional planking.
Having scaled up our sections drawings to full size (less 1 ¼ inches all round to
allow for the planking thickness) we made up the 14 frames that formed the hull
shape. These were mounted on a strong back resting on three trestles at handy
The idea was to plank over the frames with 1 ½ x 5/8 battens spaced about 2"
apart. This proved to be a quick and easy job as the battens just fell into
place and only required one nail on each frame.
Now, ready for sheathing with the foam, I enlisted the help of David Mogg (David
was to later design and build the 30 ft Starfire and became a marine surveyor).
We cut the ½ inch thick foam into six inch wide strips, shaped and laid them
diagonally over the form, fastening them with screws from the inside, using some
200 a side, it was a tiring job working overhead and very cramped up around the bow.
When both sides were complete, the stem, keel, and skeg were shaped up from blocks of foam.
The sheathing complete the whole structure had to be sanded off till it was fair
smooth shape. This proved to be a bigger job than we had anticipated as the foam
material was a lot tougher than we thought. We used a six foot long board with
sand paper attached, one of us at each end and it took several long days to complete.
When all was fair and true a layer of fibre glass matt and resin was laid. We
used a waxed resin as a lot of sanding was to be done on each successive layer.
The matt was followed by woven rovings, and the hard work really began, sanding
off the overlaps before the final layer of matt.
The fibre glassing complete and all sanded down a thickened application of flow
coat was applied, and when cured, this was sanded until only a matt surface remained.
This was repeated until we had a perfectly smooth pigmented surface with a matt finish.
Next the final preparation began, using very fine wet and dry paper, followed by
a cutting compound, and then the whole surface was buffed up using Brasso to bring
up the final finish.
The whole exercise took about a month for two men, we had worked six days a week
and sometimes twelve hours a day, and how our arms and shoulders had ached, but
I would guess that would be only be about half the time it would take to build a
conventional wooden hull to the same degree of finish.