I am giving real serious consideration to refinishing the bottom of my 14' Tatman the right way - with fiberglass cloth and tape wrapped over the edge of the bottom, followed by coats of epoxy. I will need to remove the chine battens, which were installed with copious amounts of 3M 5200 adhesive, which is described as "permanent." Do I have a ghost of a chance of removing the battens without ruining them or tearing up the fir plywood side panels? Has anyone developed a procedure for this? Thanks!

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not that permanent. cut off saw will get those battens off.

Please do not "wrap" the fiberglass around any sharp corners, especially a chine cap. Fiberglass cloth/epoxy & graphite your boat bottom and then replace the chine cap. Use 3-M's #101 polysulfide as your sealant/adhesive for the chine cap. You might want to remove the cap in the future. We never use 3M's #5200 polyurathane for this type of work. 5200 is fine for installing the main bottom.

Ray Heater
Dave and Ray,

Thanks for the advice. Thanks to Jason K's excellent blog post here a while ago, I think I've got a fairly clear idea of how to go about it, including putting a radius on the edge of the bottom.
I've seen and heard about wrapping bottom cloth over the side panel and covering the chine joint with it. Sounds like a good idea to some but only time will tell. I mean real time, not just from guys who did it last year on the first boat they built. I've restored some old boats, I mean real old, not just ten or fiveteen years old. but 40-55 years old and have always been impressed with the shape of the wood at the chine joint. No fiberglass anything in those days and the chine caps where screwed on over some sort of non-permanent bedding like tar paper or rubber strips. We have polysulfide bedding compound these days and it works very well. Of course we can seal the end grain of the bottom panels with epoxy now to protect it even better but when you wrap cloth over the end grain and joint you are creating a water trap. Ray showed me how to run the cloth to the end of the bottom panel, seal the end grain with epoxy and bed the cap. My fleet of working boats are all built this way and have never had a chine leak or rotted bottom. My oldest working boat is only 15 years old but I know Ray has been doing it like this for 20-25 years with great success. Clean chine joints last a long, long time.
AJ, you make a very interesting point. I have to admit I've been a little leery about taking a router to the edge of the bottom and I shied away from glass in the first place because I've seen too many old wooden rowboats rotted when water got between the wood and fiberglass cloth that was put on to "modernize" them.

Currently, the treatment on the bottom is just CoatIt epoxy over the bare fir plywood. In some ways the stuff has been tough as nails, with scrape marks that have done little more than mar the finish. But at the edges of the hull, up next to the chine cap, it will sometimes fracture off. Also, I think the assembly crew (which included me, I must admit) made a grevious error when we covered the recessed screw heads with conventional plastic wood before applying the epoxy. I think what happens is that a direct impact to the plastic wood powders it, leaving the epoxy with nothing to grip.

What's the trick to getting a perfect bond edge on the fiberglass cloth? The idea intrigues me.

I know AJ and Ray are totally the masters (Hi guys!). If you take a gander at my blog: www.thtchronicles.blogspot.com, I recently made a drifty with ZERO fiberglass on the bottom.
Boats in the old days were done like this. Wood bottom with a skid shoe over that.

I did this for the same reasons we oil the interior of boats. Water that gets in, gets out through the wood pores. Any hard finish, glass, epoxy will trap water = rot. I still feel queesy about glassing a bottom just to the edge. You WILL hit rocks, and it WILL get scraped and it WILL let water in.

But if AJ says its solid, I gotta believe him.

Just another perspective. Good luck with whatever you choose.
PS (my sacrificial shoe is holding up well we ar ein the middle of a low water period. no hang ups, no interior floor fractures, and the shoe is a littl emore than just scuffed up.)

Let's get a few things straight. Ray Heater and his partner Cyrus Happy can be reffered to as master builders. They are my mentors, my go to guys, when I am scratching my head. I'm just another guy, like the rest of you, with a wooden boat monkey on his back. Lucky for me I am an outfitter and need to keep a fleet of boats up and running so we get lots of hands on building and maintenence experience. Our restorations give us a chance to breath life back into an historic piece and continue to hone our shop skills. I've built many of Ray's kits so I have a good handle on the techniques that Ray and Cyrus have developed over many years. I've seen them evolve their boat building to include the modern epoxy techniques when appropriate. We have embraced their fiberglass/epoxy/graphite bottom on our restorations and scratch builds because it works for us here on our Wyoming waters.

Now back to the bottom. When we talk about running the glass to the edge we mean the edge of the boat, not the edge of the chine cap. When the chine cap is installed it will protect that thin fiberglass edge. We tried running it to the edge of the chine cap on a few of our boats but found that after about 5 years of hard use water did begin to migrate under the glass because the edge of glass was taking hits. When that edge is protected by the chine cap we have had not problems. Took us five years of hard use to see this. We have also experimented with some interesting bottom ideas on some of our recent builds and restorations that I will not even mention for another 5-10 years because that is how long it takes to know if it was a good idea or not.

Another master builder in my opinion is Steve Steele. Steve continues to build boats the old fashioned way as his father, the legendary Keithe Steele, did for so many years. No epoxy or fiberglass in his boats and they work just fine. In some cases simpler is better. You are experiencing that now on your latest build with the old style plywood shoe. I'm sure you will keep us updated on that.

Thanks for your input on this forum. Sure is fun isn't it.
I love these types of discussions. Trying new methods and seeing what works and doesn't is what improves and stimulates the evolution of any project - a wooden boat in this case. I have just finished a boat with the wrapped fiberglass over a rounded bottom edge, the sharp chine over that and the resulting gap filleted in, then a couple flow coats over the whole shebang. That being said I will let you guys know how it looks in 10 years! haha. So in 2020 I will report on whether is is still looking ok. ; )

The only variable that may not translate real well is that we don't take lots of rock hits here is in the sleepy waters of the so called mid-west. The only white water we get is from splashing fish on the end of the line! Although I have hit a few things with the chine - mostly wood though, and the trailer a couple of times loading her. But nothing that made me look twice.

First of all, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to proffer some excellent, and perhaps more importantly, heartfelt and passionate advice.

The rivers I fish on (The upper Mississippi in MN and the Chippewa, Flambeau and St. Croix in WI) for the most part have moderate gradient and even long flat water stretches, but the are all packed with rock gardens and, due to droughty conditions the past few years, skinny, skinny riffles. Couple those factors with my beginner's rowing and navigating skills, and my poor boat bottom is in for a rough go of it.

I'm going to be thinking over everyone's input and formulating a plan over the winter. I'm actually kind of looking forward to the project because I like doing things better a second time and because it's time to freshen up the overall appearance of the boat anyway. In addition to the bottom work she's going to get fresh paint on the exterior of the hull, which is another reason I don't mind getting the chine caps off.

You have a beautiful boat and you did a great job putting it together. I'm sure your bottom will work for many, many years given the waters you float. That's really what it's all about, building a boat that works for your water. That's what we do. If it doesn't work we change it so that it does. Every one has different needs so there really is no right or wrong way as long as it works for you. Thanks for you always interesting posts.
Thanks AJ! That means a lot coming from such an experienced builder as yourself. I am just trying to learn from you guys so I become a better builder.
Permanent means it will adhere and not let go. It is easy to back out screws, saw, chisel, or sand. Don't try to pry a chine off of the boat because the adhesive bond might be stronger that the veneer of the plywood and will pull the surface ply away. We unscrew then carefully pry and run a sharp chisel between the chine and side panel to cut the 3M5200. This isn't necessary if you use a poly sulfide bedding like 3M101. 3M 101 is a bedding compound made to bed removable part which officially the chine batten is.

If the chine has been nailed in with copper ring nails as I recommend then you will need to set a reciprocating saw to an appropriate angle and saw off the chine leaving about 1/8 of an inch of the chine material. Then belt sand the remaining chine material and 5200 to a clean surface.


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