System Three epoxy - rant

Discussion in 'Boat and Accessory Building' started by IanC, Mar 20, 2015.

  1. IanC

    IanC Paddler

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    I have a new cedar strip build in progress - its an SUP, not a kayak. It's hollow, and requires the interior surfaces to be sealed, but not glassed. Although I have only ever used West System products before, I decided to try System Three S-1 sealer for this, as it is very low viscosity, which would make it much easier to brush on and absorb into the dry wood. So I read all the instructions and product info carefully, got set up with my ordinary plastic disposable containers, measured out one cup each of parts A and B, and then combined them into a third container, and then left it to stand for the prescribed 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, just as I was picking up the 2 cup mixture, I noticed that the bottom of the container seemed to be deformed, then the bottom of the container suddenly dissolved and fell away, and two cups of fresh epoxy spilled everywhere it shouldn't, leaving a huge mess on me, my project, some tools, and my workspace. In other words, a minor disaster.

    I subsequently contacted System Three customer/technical support, and have been having a very frustrating time with their support person. I suggested that the product instructions should include any cautions or restrictions on the use of plastic containers. (I also pointed out that the usage instructions as printed on the product differ significantly (temperature range) from the instructions on their web-site, but that's another story) I was pleased to get a quick response, and the explanation was that this was clearly an "exothermic" reaction, ie. that the mixed product was creating its own heat build-up, and simply melted the plastic container. Hmmm - that was unexpected. I am aware of exothermic reactions, and have noticed West epoxies do that in some situations, but not to this extreme. I then pointed out to him that I also noticed that one of the individual containers that I measured the separate parts into (the B part) also dissolved, even though it was not a mixture of the two parts. He responded again, and apologized for his earlier explanation, which was completely incorrect: S-1 sealer does not create an exothermic reaction at all, so it was simply that I was using "inappropriate" containers. He went on to say that if I want to use plastic containers, they must be PE (polyethylene) or PP (polypropylene). Of course, I don't really know what kind of plastic my disposable cups are made of, nor do any of these products generally say what they are, so that's not a great help. System Three sells its own plastic and paper mixing cups, but does not identify what they are made of. Again, I pointed out to him that it would be useful if this was mentioned on any of their product literature, but his response was that they "can't be exhaustive" with their label information, and that they provide "ample information" and that using this product requires a learning curve. I had also asked him some specific questions regarding cure time and re-coat time, as they may be affected by ambient temperatures, and he acknowledged that they are indeed affected by temperature, but simply refused to provide any further information, basically recommending trial and error.

    So my foray into using System Three has been less than wonderful. End of rant.
     
  2. tiagosantos

    tiagosantos Paddler

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    This sucks, but I have to admit I chuckled a little bit :D That must have been quite the sight. And the clean up! Oh boy...
     
  3. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Really aggravating situation - I sympathize. Resin is expensive and messy.

    What containers were you using? I've found that WEST will dissolve some plastics - the clear plastic 'party glasses' that I once tried started to dissolve - and turn the resin cloudy.

    I've had good luck with yogurt containers (white plastic).
    The other containers that are absolutely reliable, but a bit 'expensive' (aka not free :D ), are the 'Xtreme' paint mixing containers with the graduated markings. Acetone, styrene, paints and primers etc. don't seem to affect them.


    http://www.woodessence.com/Mixing-Prep-Cups-P120.aspx
    Industrial Plastics and most autobody paint places seem to sell these.
    I'm 'thrifty' :mrgreen: , but when there's $10 worth of epoxy, or $30 worth of paint being mixed I can rationalize paying for containers.
     
  4. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Karma will get you for this! :mrgreen:
     
  5. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Sympathy extended. And one piece of advice: always run a small scale test before committing to the main event.

    FWIW, the responses you got from S3 support are atypical of the many responses I have received, going on 20 years working with their products. Likewise, WEST System support has been good.
     
  6. IanC

    IanC Paddler

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    Thanks all, for your advice and understanding. This was really only a minor, albeit messy and frustrating setback. Live and learn (and then forget, and repeat the same mistakes...)
     
  7. OrcaBoats

    OrcaBoats Paddler

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    I checked out the MSDS for the S1 and it contains a high degree of Xylene which of course is a solvent, so that is probably what dissolved the cups. I believe those plastic drinking cups that we tend to use have the bottom glued on in the making process. Pour some solvent into a cup and watch the bottom fall right off, not dissolve the whole cup.

    System three wants you to use their gradient measuring containers as an upsell. Had a good conversation with a sales rep one day about pumps and measuring cups. They don't recommend pumps so that you buy the cups, which over time will cost you much more than a set of pumps.
     
  8. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Been using polyethylene cups from the local marine store, and reusing them, multiple batches of resin, probably up to 50 before retiring the cup. Cleanup before the resin goes off, using papee towel and some acetone is pretty cheap.

    Agree the cups with volume markings are a ripoff. Been weighing out resin for over 15 years for all but huge jobs. Quicker, no waste. Scavenged an old triple beam balance from a school as they were tossing it. Much better than digital because you can preset a target weight and watch the beams come up, regulating resin input as you reach the target.

    Must be schools everywhere with triple beam balances stuffed in storage.
     
  9. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Stories from the Chalkboard Jungle:
    "Back in the day" we had to keep an eagle eye on the triple-beams, as aspiring drug-dealers liked to make off with them in their gym bags.

    The digital world has changed everything, huh?
    :D
     
  10. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    And, a triple-beam will never power down halfway through a measurement sequence. :evil:
     
  11. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    The triple beam balances come in two principal varieties, one herkier with 0.1 gram accuracy and a large platform on top of one end That's the one you want. The less useful one for epoxy work has a hanging platform, 0.01 gram accuracy, and is easily damaged. The latter is the one the druggies wanted. We had trouble with theft on those, but not the sturdier ones.

    This is a knockoff of the Ohaus version. I never do batches exceeding 600 grams by weighing. If they get that large, a graduated mixing container and the pumps work fine.

    http://www.oldwillknottscales.com/my-we ... lance.html
     
  12. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Thanks for the warning, Ian. I woulda had a messy floor for sure with this.
    and show us some pics of your build. How are you sealing the interior surfaces around all the interior forms these usually have: as you are building or like 2 halves of a clamshell like a typical kayak?
     
  13. Sliver

    Sliver New Member

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    I seal the inside of my paddleboards with heated epoxy thinned with denatured alcohol. It works well and you can use the same epoxy you use on the outside of the board.

    You can reuse the graduated mixing cups by leaving a stir stick in the empty cup when you are finished. Sit the cup on an angle with the stir stick in the bottom. When the epoxy has fully cured, break the stick free and the epoxy residue will pull out with the stick.