I soaked it all up during the time. The process works well if you pay attention. The boards are so strong and light that i only make perhaps a board a year while not wanting to impinge on those folks in my Florida county that rely on income for making surfboards, and there are many well qualified folks that do so.
I'm referring to using vac bagging with stronger fiber like Carbon, and other more exotic fabrics. Many of them come out better when they are vacuum laminated. If I wanted to vac bag regular fiberglass, I'd be looking at 3 layers of glass. Years ago a guy from Australia making windsurfboards told me he does 3 layers of glass and vacuum laminates the boards. The vacuum bag keeps the ratio of resin to glass optimum to keep weight down and strength up. The guys he was with said they are plenty strong for the pounding they get.
This is a note of encouragment for you.
Have to totally disagree with your premise that vac bagging is not flooding the market. If fact, it is so common place that it's only noted probably in the higher price of a board rather than boasting about the process. Every SUP, kiteboard,windsurfboard, foils, and many foil boards and surf boards are in fact vac bagged. Most boards in costco that are extremely inexpensive are vac bagged.The biggest brands have a vac bagged line. Many world supplied/marketed brands are all or have a vac bag line of boards. I can look, touch and pick up a board and know it is vacuum bagged and not because of a label.
So what can vac bagging do for you?
First it can totally change how you think you should shape and build a board. I have never been trained to shape a board but I understand the "standard process". How about you percisely wire cut your bottom rocker in your blank of extremly floppy or stiff foam. Vac bag straight up fiberglass or glass and wood or whatever. Throw a rocker stick in you bag with the pull and then you have a set rocker and bottom placed, you then shape the deck, vac bagg the top, add rails if you want then finish like a regular surfboard. Won't find that in the shaping 101 video. This is just one example of what you can do when using a bag to build. Could bore you with dozens of other examples
Secondly, if no one else vac bags in your locale, guess who can properly repair an expensive vac bag board that is broke?
Third, though arguably like many say, it does take longer for a build, when you become proficient you can work on many boards per day with minimal shop space and due to vac bagging many of traditional steps of borad building are eliminated with some type of builds, example no need to sand the lap on deck from bottom pull because it is flat to foam if pull is properly exicuted. Filler coats are a thing of the past with any type of fiberglass builds.
lastly vag bagging is for the determined. Hard to half ass it without proper equipment and disposables. Learnning from Bert's post is helpful. My first balsa/fiberglass/foam board was made in 1986. No outer glassing just epoxy resin outer finish. Had none of the right equipment but I got it done the hard way. Been hooked ever since. So much information on line to do it the right way you kinda have no excuse for failure. Perfecting your own techinique will come with time. If you have access to watch others do it and pay attention. Some of my most beneficial step savers and tecniques have been learned from others like Oneula and Sharkcountry. Any time I dropped off boards that I was doing for pro shops I payed attention to the traditional building that was going on. You still need to know how to fiberglass, cut fin boxes, make tail/nose blocks etc. Watching a pro can make all the difference and give you some confidence at the same time cuz they make it look easy.
If the challenge isn't interesting or enjoyable why bother?
Pics from last week. 20 plus year old unusable clark blank salvaged for use with vac bagging techniques.
I have been away a long time but this is a topic I am deeply involved in. I'm a bagger. I got hooked on the way they ride and last. Probably ten years now. Was looking for a way to make balsa short boards light enough to be comparable to standard epoxy or pu. I am a boat builder by trade so bagging, infusion, prepreg, etc were all part of my work. What I found was that many factors come into play with this type of build. And I personally feel that the compsand build is better than the alternatives in the mid length boards. Short, high performance boards require some tweaking to the formula. But in mid length the strength to weight ratio and flex characteristics shine.
Yes, they are more labor intensive. FireWire, Sunova, etc have proven that with advanced mfg techniques they can be mass produced, but they have to compromise certain aspects of the process to allow this. I don't mind the labor if it gives me the product I want. I also am only doing small batches at a time.
It is what I like to build. It is what I love to ride. Labor and materials are about double. So cost effectiveness in my small batch system is pretty sketchy. But I firmly believe in the boards I am turning out. They are beautiful and very tough. Almost the antithesis of the market board.
I really like what you had to say, in your above post.
SHAPER SINCE 1958
I agree Bill, I gave it a "like".
Honest heartfelt opinion, based on actual experience, with no financial motive... gold!!
"Everybody is ignorant only on different subjects." - Will Rogers
I've read all of Bert's posts multiple times and always wanted to put together a set up to give it a go. Space, money and time being what they are though I always kept going back to the tried and true methods. A back yarder doing compsand made a lot more sence right after the demise of Clark Foam when access to quality blanks was scarce and new methods were being explored. Now quality blanks are easily purchased on the east or west coast from multiple vendors.
Just a quick side note on the Bert Burger manifesto. The paper was intended to get more people interested and doing composite building to add more creative input so some of the tougher aspects would get a fresh perspective. I used Burt's paper simply as an outline. I had been vacuum bagging boat hulls up to 85' as well as parts and pieces. I built boards in my own way and I continue to tweak my process. Burt was quite generous in opening up the composite process but it wasn't completely altruistic. He was hoping some fresh ideas would help crack some aspects of the build he couldn't quite get. There are still parts of the process and combinations of materials that need work but the idea was to spur fresh ideas.
Hi Johny fever, what you said about the compsand method favouring mid length boards is the same conclusion I came to,
i think I made the first compsand board to post a pic on swaylocks after Burt had written his thread, I made quite a few small boards but all were too stiff ,I made a jig to measure tail deflection under a given load and the finding was what was felt while surfing , some of the compsand boards were up to twice as stiff compared to the pu boards that I had taken the templates from ,
the last board I made was the the final version of my own journey through the compsand field ,wood veneer bottom @0.6mm ,this has more flex than a thicker balsa wood just because the sandwhich is thinner yet is stronger than 0.6mm balsa ,
3mm deck sandwhich with 4 oz under and 6 oz over ,3x5mm balsa for the rails
7ft 6 x20 1/4 x 2 1/2 flat bottomed bonzer ,
because the deck is stiff and the bottom skin Is thin ,the bottom skin can flex and absorb chop giving a very smooth ride ,also at 2 1/2 ins thinkness the compsand method gives really good strength but also aids flexibility in the whole board
Some pics here Seawindsurf.blogspot.com
Hi Pete -
Nice boards are shown on your site. I was not able to discern the deck contours of those but an old Swaylocks guy, Benny1, and I came to the same conclusion regarding flex and deck structure... that the shape was as important as the build method when it came to how it flexed. We both agreed that a scooped out tail deck would still allow flex pretty much regardless of the construction. Bert's boards were often shown with deep concaves as well.
A sample I received from a composite supplier was nothing more than t-shirt material soaked in a urethane resin and wrapped around an inflated balloon. It beautifully illustrated exactly what I'm talking about. It flexed quite easily with the shell facing outward - I.E. the 'tension side' being convex. Trying to flex against the 'dome' ('tension side' being concave) was nearly impossible.
I believe the same effect takes place with the deck of a surfboard. After stripping the fiberglass off an old beater, I discovered that even plain old fiberglass/polyester is very resistent to flex against the convex structure when the shell came off a dome decked board.