Fiberglass Bathtub Boat

In 2008, a friend and I thought it would be a good idea to build a boat for Nanaimo's Bathtub Race. We alienated some family with our odorous project but got it done in a few months. 



Prepping the Mold

Only in Nanaimo can you find a friend of a friend who is willing to lend you their mold of a roll-edge bathtub so that you can build an ocean-worthy vessel. Of course one could use an actual bathtub but one definitely shouldn't do it in one's own bathroom! For such an undertaking, we required a good amount of stuff too :

  • 5 Gallons of General Purpose Polyester Resin (Fiberglass Goo)
  • Many Square Feet of Fiberglass Cloth, Roving & Mat.
  • GP Resin Hardener, Mixing Tubs, Syringes, Tongue Depressers (stir sticks)
  • Rubber Gloves, Respirator with Organic Vapour Cartridges
  • Most importantly : A space to work on the project that is free of complainants, this stuff is nasty!
Our first choice for a project space for building the vessel was the garage at the house I share with my girlfriend and daughter. Here's some shots of us cleaning out the mold and applying the first few layers of fiberglass cloth and mat. What you don't see is us applying many layers of special form release wax and then two coats of a special water-based paint-on film called PVA.



Releasing the Tub

So doing any kind of fiberglass work in any room attached to a living space is something one should really know the consequences of before proceeding with. No, I'm not talking about health consequences, I'm talking about 'sleeping on the couch' consequences. ; )

At any rate, the project itself has been a great success so far. We applied the final layer of roving in a special climate-controlled tent we developed (which still didn't contain the odor) and a few days later the bathtub popped right out of it's mold without problem.

Here's some photos of my buddy pulling the PVA film off the released tub, demonstrating the translucence of the tub and a shot of the trimmed tub.



First Layer on the Hull

Tonight my buddy and I put the first layer of fiberglass matt and roving on the hull mold. It was a slightly stressful procedure as there was only two of us to to pour, mix, apply, smooth, etc.

I think we did fine though, the end result was two layers on the mold with only slight bubbles. There's four more layers to go so we'll have plenty of strength.

Below are picture (1) The new bathtub boat laboratory we built in the barn at my buddy's place, (2) The super sturdy sling with built for the slightly flimsy hull mold and (3) The mold with the first two layers saturated in resin, smoothed out and ready for curing.