TexasKayakFisherman.com est. 2000

Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...

By TXJon
I'm at the point where I am looking to source epoxy and glass. Years back I used Raka, and was reasonably satisfied. I see a lot of people here talking about US Composites. The prices seem a little lower, is that the only difference?

Can I believe a 30 minute pot life at 80*?

What's the shelf life of resin/hardener. I have a small amount left from a build 7 years ago, will it be good to use for fillets and such?

Any other suppliers out there that I should be aware of?
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By gerald
I've used many different formulations (brands) of epoxy over the years and I'm very happy with the USComposites stuff. Yes...price is the primary factor for me using USComposites. And yes--you can believe the 30 minute pot life if you are using the 635/556 combo of blushless, slow epoxy.
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By Pogo
I used Raka for my first nine projects, then tried US Composites on my canoe, and still working with that 3-gallon "kit" on my second Outer Island.

Canoe: http://mysite.verizon.net/ngc704/merlin/
OI #2: http://mysite.verizon.net/NGC704/newOI/

Raka products and Larry Steeves have always provided complete satisfation. I only tried US Composites because it's a little cheaper, because Gerald seems to find it so reliable, and because it was just plain time to try something different I guess.

I got the slow cure, of course, and at first I didn't like it. It seemed to not want to set up as hard and/or reliably as the Raka I was so used to. But it finally came across that it was only a little bit slower in reaching a good first cure, and nothing more. In a word, Raka is hard as stone next morning every time, pretty impressive for a first cure, whereas USC is still a little green, and just barely sandable if it had been applied late afternoon the previous day. When I use the term 'first cure', it is acknowledgement that although epoxy cures in 24 hours more or less, it actually takes three weeks more or less to reach full hardness to what I call its final cure.

USC Pot life may be slightly longer than Raka, but not by enough to matter. Neither have ever showed any signs of amine blush.

The acid test for satisfaction is, as always, will I replace it when the time comes? Well, the jury's still out on that one; there are some things I like about USC and some things I prefer with Raka. And last time I talked to Larry, I mentioned that I had tried another brand of epoxy and without hesitating an instant he said "oh, that was a mistake". I'm still laughing at that, and believe I like the way he thinks about his business and products. :D

I'd have to say the chances are at least excellent that I'll go back to Raka. Very probable that I will, even.

One thing's for sure: it's a neck-and-neck horse race.

On shelf life: Easy 100% accurate answer -- do a small test sample. I'm betting it's okay.
By TXJon
I use some of the old epoxy from time to time and it has always been fine. I was not sure it would be reliable enough for a large project. I won't worry about it.

The only thing I did not like about the Raka epoxy was the pot life seemed short. I was working in a 95* garage at the time, and was lucky to get 5 minutes out of it, and it was the slow set stuff. I have AC now, so maybe it's not such a problem.

Larry at Raka sold me on the 5 oz tight weave glass, and I didn't like how that turned out. Combined with the short pot life it wouldn't wet completely out before the resin started to kick. This was a long time ago. I noticed today they have a disclaimer on the tight weave glass warning about this issue.

This time I am going to go with the 6 oz e glass.

How does the US Composites glass compare with Raka? I did notice the Raka glass is 2" wider, and Raka is a little more expensive.
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By Pogo
To date I haven't bought anything from USC 'cept one 3-gallon epoxy kit. So far have gotten all my e-glass from Raka, and s-glass from Sweet. No real rhyme or reason to it, just seemed like the way to go at the time. I just make sure my glass comes on a roll since I prefer UPS gorilla-toss damage to fold-crease damage. :?

I hear ya on pot life, I'm still in the 95-degree carport . . . and for that reason, plus price, may go ahead and stay with USC goo, that's a good point. But then, I try to limit my building life to mostly cooler months of the year, so who knows. Maybe therapy would help?

Larry sold me the tight weave cloths for my first projects too, and yeah, it was a struggle. But I'm all obsessed with getting lightest weight boats out of the deal and will do whatever it takes to get 'em; and tight, or satin weave, cloth (as opposed to plain weave, folks), takes a whole lot less epoxy (which is where most yer weight comes from) to complete the fill coat phase. So I keep using tight weaves when available, and have learned to mix very small amounts of goo so I'll never have half a pot kicking on me. Takes a lot of stirring, but I likes dem 35-lb boats. 8)
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By gerald
Pogo is right in that USComposites slow cure take a lot longer to cure to good hardness. With USComposites epoxy I don't expect to do much sanding even the next day unless it's really hot outeside. I will scrape when it's green if necessary. The USComposites seems to get harder for weeks afterwards, but I can usually sand on the second day for sure. I like the slow working time. Raka and Mas have also performed will for me.
I'm going to try the 3 to 1 USComposites mix this winter. I also say that even though many epoxies are called blushless that one still should treat it as though it CAN blush. The difference between blushing and non blushing epoxy is usually the hardener.
By TXJon
Pogo wrote: But then, I try to limit my building life to mostly cooler months of the year, so who knows. Maybe therapy would help?

Cooler months are deer season, then getting reacquainted with my family after deer season, then catching up on a 5 month backlog of honey-do's. I'm pretty well booked October to June. :wink:

Now I have AC in the shop, so the possibilities are endless. I may go with the Raka because of the shorter pot life this time, now that I think of it.
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By Pogo
I'm never as enthusiastic about paddling and/or fishing in chilly weather, or when the water's cold, roughly from late November 'til about April, so I try to get into a groove of building during that time and paddling the rest of the year. But I mess up here and there and do what most builders seem to do: get them projects underway during the hot months. And man oh man, do I ever envy you guys who have real shops, AC or no AC. :(

In any case, I'm a big believer in mixing small batches of goo, since there's never a lot of relaxation to be had when you've got a couple ounces of hot epoxy kicking in your cup, and it just isn't wetting out the cloth worth a flip . . . and you know the situation's only getting worse by the minute. The wisest thing to do when that starts up is dump the goop, but throwing that stuff away is like tossing a steak in the garbage - it kinda hurts.
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By DarrellS
I used West System Epoxy on my first boat and was very happy with it except for the price. :shock:

On this boat I bought everything from US Composites: Glass, Tape, and Epoxy. It is alittle slower to cure but I will stick with them for all of my epoxy and glass needs. They are alittle cheaper than other brands but the main reason is that I had a question about using up the rest of the West on Fillets and such and then going into the USC and the Technical Support person took plenty of time to talk with me. I am in buisness and I will pay more for a product that has good customer service behind it rather than buying cheap and being on my on. If it is a good price and good Custumer Service that is even better, so far that is my experience with USC.

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