Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Oar Fixin'.

I have long been a firm believer in you get what you pay for. You can skimp on things like a clamps, small drill bits and varnish. When it comes to important stuff like dry bags, climbing rope and oars.... Well you get the idea.

When it came time to build a set of oars for the IRH i was seriously sick of building oars. I had been working on the Powell boat project and during that time i built something like ten oars. On top of that i didn't really know how long i wanted them or what the final design should be. I admit i was still surprised when my inexpensive oars cracked along the lamination with only two uses.

Now that i have em i may as well fix em. So here is one way to fix an oar blade that has been cracked or damaged. If you break a shaft you also have options but i am not covering that in this post.

Start off by sanding or scraping the finish off the blade or blades to be fixed. I really prefer a good scraper, sanding makes a dusty mess and will take two or three times longer.
Once you have the oar scraped clean you need to make a decision about how to fill the crack dent or damage.

The oars i am fixing only had small cracks running vertically up the blades along the laminations. If you have broken chipped or rotty oars begin by picking out all the loose material. Next if there are whole sections of the blade missing build replacement sections and glue them on using epoxy. Mix some thickened epoxy. I like to mix West Systems 406 and 407 50/50 for this task. The consistency your going for is thick peanut butter.

Using an chemical brush apply un-thickened epoxy to the blade then spread the thickened into all those dents, dings, and cracks. Let dry. Try to get this layer as smooth as possible it will save you a lot of sanding later.

Now sand that surface until it is satisfactorily smooth.

For the next step i decided to apply two layers of 6oz fiberglass cloth. Start by trimming four pieces to fit.

Next brush on un-thickened epoxy to the area of the oar to be covered and place the first layer of cloth on top. Now saturate the first layer. Place the second layer of cloth over the first and saturate it. The goal here is to use enough epoxy to thoroughly saturate both layers but not to much where the cloth floats on the resin.

When dry use a utility knife to trim the edges. Flip the blades and repeat the cloth application.

Once top and bottom are covered you can do the edges with cloth if you wish. Getting cloth to bend and stick over an edge can be finicky so take your time.

Once there all finished i used black spray paint then a light blue house paint followed by varnish to finish off the fix.

Now that there fixed up i hope to get a year or two or use out of them. Maybe then ill be ready to make my own oars.

While all of this was drying i used SeamGrip to glue on tie off points to my seat cushion. The Velcro i had been using failed and it was sliding around.

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