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Wednesday, 09 December 2009 01:01

DIY Fiberglass Hatches

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I like the Rod Pod, but there have been a few reports of them leaking in the surf.  While I think the reported problems were impropper securing of the plastic RodPod lid, this should take care of things.  The leaking wasn't a concern of mine, though, and wasn't the point of this project

I felt the Rod Pod lid could be made much more useful.  There's a lot of space there, and the plastic the lid is made out of is just, well, too flimsy to do much with.  Sitting side-saddle caused it to cave in a bit, and i was more afraid of causing permanant warping.

So out came the tape:

and then the epoxy resin and glass

and then more epoxy and glass

and then the test fit came

I didn't bother taking any pics while joining the two pieces. But I ran strips from the top piece to the bottom on the outside, then some matting on the inside....

The final layer went on with black dye. Was gonna rattle can it, but this will be scratch resistant...

Heres the final test fit

The all important water test!

and this should give you an idea of how much space i've gained between the knees!

in use at a tournament last month. 

you'll notice the center tray is sticking up. I dropped a small LED light down there to illuminate the trays to make it easier to find whatever gear i was looking for. FWIW, I did win the tournament and have a new Trident coming soon! Will have to work on the new lid next!

Since the last pics, I've put a RAM Mount on the front of the rod pod, and a bungie over the trays.  I'm thinking of installing a small 4" or 6" hatch at the seat end.  There's just enough room for the 6... The lid is sealed using inexpensive sealing tape - same type of foam rubber, self-adheasive tape as you can find at any auto parts store to seal your canopy to the truck bed (labelled "Camper Top Weather-strip").

The lid is STRONG.  I've stood on it a few times just to test things out, and have lifted my kayak by it as well. Not had any problems sitting sidesaddle, but it would be easier to scoot to the front of the yak with some 5" wide trays instead of my 8" trays... I had to keep things shallow enough that I can still get rods and such stored under the lid, and so far so good.


Believe it or not, this was the FIRST time I've ever worked with fiberglass.  Let me share some of what I learned.

1- Its not cheap. Fiberglass cloth isn't all that expensive. I paid about $5-6 a yard, and used a couple yards of fabric. The Epoxy Resin is what gets expensive. I used a full quart of resin, plus hardener, which ran me $60.  I used ALL of it.  Don't try to cheap out with Polyester Resin. It won't work. I tried it the first time and gave up after the first attempt.  I got all my material from West Marine.

2- It really is that easy. If you ever made collages in grade school, you want work with fiberglass. Its all just cutting and pasting, but much more permanant and stronger.

3- Work in small, shallow batches.  After i mixed up my first 8oz batch, I learned that resin will get HOT as it cures, and it will cure faster, and therefore hotter, if its in a narrow container.  I was using a small plastic container that the epoxy actually managed to melt through and mildly burn my hand.  Ouch.  I ended up moving to a wide aluminum pan.  Because of the expanded surface area, the resin kept cool and didn't cure as quickly.  This gave me much more time to get all my pieces layed out just right, airbubbles worked out, and matting well saturated

4- Measure Twice and Cut Once.  I test fitted every piece of cloth before I even mixed up the resin.  I wanted to make sure how I was going to lay out all the pieces, where two piece might meat, potential trouble spots and more.  You don't have but 5-10 minutes of working time once you mix your resin.  You need to maximize that time glassing down the cloth.  You don't have time to be cutting will the resin your container is curing.

5- Fiberglass is sharp. VERY sharp. You'll need a die grinder, Dremel tool, files, whatever, to take down sharp points and edges after each glassing session has hardened. Its amazing how many punctures and cuts you'll get otherwise.  Wear gloves!

That's about it!  I'm looking forward to building a front hatch for my kayak next.  At this point I think I'll be building in a place for a 6" screw in hatch to go into it, as well as a good camera mount.

Read 17627 times Last modified on Wednesday, 28 July 2010 20:01
Isaac Miller

About the Author: Isaac Miller considers himself an "equal opportunity angler" and will fish anything that will take a hook. Isaac often makes live internet video broadcasts when fishing from his kayaks, giving up-to-the-second reports on conditions and tackle choices. He also blogs at www.isaac-online.com and is a YakAngler.com Pro Staffer as well as Co-Host for Kayak Fishing Radio's Wild West show, PR Director for Recycled Fish, and co-owner of Green Tackle.

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