Posted by: supthecoast | February 21, 2011

the burning inside

We are itching to go.  Some days fly by, others stand still.  Just a couple days ago it seemed as though we had so much to do but as we get closer and closer the stress levels drop and we feel more and more confident with what we have and how we have prepared to this point.  A couple of weeks ago a man by the name of Larry Allison contacted us.  He is a fin maker from California who made the 8 1/2″ fin that was in the board when we got it.  He informed us that there was fin technology out there that was much more advanced out there and that we needed it and that he would provide it.  Deal.  Let’s do it.

Larry sent us the fin boxes to install in the boards and while we were doing that he would be shaping up the new fins to change the entire performance and efficiency of the board.  Sunday the 20th was the day of the install.   Another of our sponsors, fellow paddler, competitor, and enthusiast, Mike Nunnery had also been in touch with Larry and was going to be doing the same installation to his own board.  As some may know, Mike makes prosthetic limbs for amputees.  So on Sunday morning we met him at his shop in North Kingstown, RI with fin boxes in hand.

Mike Nunnery had already created a template to use to router the slot where the fin box would be set into.  First we marked a center line in each board and then measured where we would be placing the box.  That way we would know where to place the template to make the cut.  From there we moved on to making the cut in each board.

With the slots cut, we prepped to begin glassing the fin boxes in.  We cut our mat, taped our edges, got our resin and hardener ready and went over the process just to be sure that everyone knew what to do and where to be.  With everything mixed and ready for placement we got going because it doesn’t take long for the resin and hardener to start reacting.  We poured a layer into the slot then layered in the glass and then the box.  Then we started to fill in the gaps with the rest of the mix and excess mat.  In minutes the resin and hardener kicked off and heated up.  It was too much too fast and it was so hot that the foam began to smoke, melt and the fin box began to sink into the board.  Reacting quickly Mike Nunnery and I scrambled to get the fin box out of the, now cave of a hole in my board.  After some swearing and struggling we got the box out of the board which continued to melt slightly with the little remaining residue.

After making some emergency phone calls we weighed our options and what to do next.  After all we still had two more boards to do the install on.  Luckily we were at the Nunnery Lab where Mike had a variety of different composites, mixtures, epoxies, sealants, and adhesives.  Having already cut up an old surfboard to test the router template, we knew we had extra foam to work with.  We also still had a few good sized chunks of foam from my board when we routered the slot.  We decided that we would use a tube of two part epoxy that had a really fast cure time.  After testing the reaction it would have with the foam from my board and the foam from the cut up surfboard, we cut cross sections from the old board to use as filler for my board so we could basically start from scratch.  Using that old foam and the epoxy we did indeed fill the hole that had, when all the melting was done, become almost three times the size of the original slot cut.  We let it set up completely, which took about 5 minutes, and then started the process over again.  This time when we dropped the box in, we would use that same two part epoxy for the bonding as we knew now that it would not heat to a point of melting an enormous crater in the center of my board.  Mike Nunnery from the start had wanted to use this two part epoxy but he just did what he was told by the people on the other coast.

Luckily having a excess of materials to use at our disposal we were able to get the box installed and the integrity of the board seemed to be fine after all was done.  Seeing as though we worked out the kinks with my board, the install was so quick and easy on Mike’s board, it took minutes.   The boards all look great and we cannot to get those new fins in there and see how they perform.  Lesson of the day, listen to yourself, go with your instinct.  Sometimes you need to go a take the path less traveled.  Thank you Mike Nunnery for everything you have done for us.  We look forward to paddling with you again as soon as possible.

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