As Practical Sailorcarries out a series of structural and cosmetic repairs on our various test boats, well have the opportunity to test several different brands of epoxy products in real-world situations ranging from bonding to laminating and sealing. Recently, a couple of small bonding projects allowed us try a relatively new product from West System, G/flex. The two-part epoxy system comes two ways: pre-thickened in squeeze-tubes or bottled in a liquid form that can be used for laminating or thickened to a desired consistency for bonding.
According to West System, G/flex is particularly suited for tough bonding situations, where the substrate-fiberglass, ceramics, metals, plastics, and woods-is in less than ideal condition (even wet woods) and subject to expansion, contraction, or vibration. We used the pre-thickened G/flex to bond a corroded aluminum mast step to the damp fiberglass keel step of our 1972 ODay Javelin with good results. (We didn't bother to etch the metal, although this is recommended.) One of the chief advantages of West System epoxy is the excellent customer support. West publishes a number of technical manuals, and technical advice is readily available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time) during the week.