Starting Ches 17 build - questions

Longtime lurker - I'm finally starting my Chesapeake 17 build after having the kit sit in the garage for an embarassing amount of time, measured in years.

After doing a lot of reading on the forums, I have some questions about some of my construction plans (not the literal boat plans, just steps I'm taking).

When I bought the kit, I decided that I wanted to have a rudder system and got the Toe Pilot foot braces with the Feathercraft K1 rudder. Despite that choice (or to counter it), I'd like to try to do reasonable things to keep the boat lightweight.

Here's what I'm planning on doing:

  • Generally try to work cleanly, masking off fillets and potential epoxy runs/drips
  • Tabbing joints, removing stitches, and keeping fillets small
  • Using small glued wood blocks instead of end-pours of epoxy
  • Skim coating/precoating bare wood with unthickened epoxy prior to gluing/glassing on it - my understanding is that this promotes stronger joints and helps avoid excess epoxy during glass wet-out
  • Squeegee excess epoxy from glass
  • Round-over routing of the shear clamp (was going to want to do this near knee area, might as well go the length of them minus spots where they mate with things like bulkheads, deck beams
  • Flush mount hatches, reducing the decking hardware (and I like the look) - I plan on keeping bungees, may have perimeter line
  • Temporary screws or other approaches instead of the deck ring nails
  • Using the cockpit glass with taped chines, but limiting epoxy in the cockpit to bonding the glass
  • Since it's my first time, practice wetting-out, squeegeeing, etc on some scrap material

My questions:

  1. After removing the stitches, do you do a separate pass of filling the holes or do you just let the fillet fill them?
  2. Do you fill the exterior of the chines with fillet material then sand the edge round or just sand the edge down without filling the gap?
  3. For the skim coat, my understanding is that it's just enough epoxy to fill pores, scraping/squeegeeing excess. Can I do this to hull panels before stitching them together, or will it make them too stiff to shape into the hull? It seems easier to do a skim coat when the panels are flat on a table, but I won't want to be forced to assemble the hull and get the shaping right prior to a skim coat cure.
  4. Regarding fillet sizing, I planned on masking 3/8" up each side from the chine, would reducing to 1/4" still be reasonable? Is the answer dependent on how the exterior of the chines are done? (1/4" is ok if filling the exterior?)
  5. Since I'm going to have wood blocks at the bow and stern up to the deck level, can I leave out the small deckbrace without any loss of strength / attachment surface?
  6. I assume the larger deckbrace(s) provide strength in addition to helping shape the deck. After the deck is installed, is it reasonable to replace the deckbraces with a strip of carbon, or is the strength of that member tied to transferring load to the shear clamps instead of simply being a stiffener?
  7. Would using plastic sheet (e.g. 4 mil poly) be useful for all squeegeeing, or just the final weave fill? It seems its main benefit over squeegeeing alone would be making the cured epoxy fairer and thus requiring less sanding.
  8. Do I need more than one application of epoxy for the cockpit glass? If more than one, do I have to completely fill the weave or just more full than a single squeegeed pass would do?
  9. I'm loosely entertaining trying to form a carbon only cockpit combing. I plan on using a skirt, so I can't simply go with no combing and I'd like to be sure it's still as strong if not stronger than the stacked ply. Any advice on tape thickness / number of layers for this and whether the end product will be of similar strength for lighter weight?
  10. I bought the Footbrace Mounting Kit because I like not having the external screw heads. Its description says that the Smart Track Vertical Adjustment Kit is also required, so I ordered it too. I didn't realize how big and heavy the vertical adjustment kit is at around 0.6 lb. Is there a reason I can't just mount the Footbrace Mounting Kit lower on the hull? If not, going through-hull would seem to save just under 1 lb.

Thanks in advance for your feedback, thinking about these details is part of what I enjoy about building things :)


4 replies:

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RE: Starting Ches 17 build - questions

The wire holes and the seams will fill themselves automagically.

Skim coat goes on after sheathing; thus cannot be done flat.

Use a tongue depressor to form the fillets. Masking dimension not important.

This boat will be heavier than some of the newer designs, no matter what you do.

Plastic sheeting won't work; just get auto body paste spreaders.

Find an on-line tutorial on making carbon fiber combing at

Skip the vertical adjustment kit. Just glue the mounts in place.

For a minimal weight end pour system, see my Shearwater page at

Best way to reduce kayak weight is by cutting back on your intake of sugar and starch.

Have fun with your build - Wes

RE: Starting Ches 17 build - questions

After looking at the Toe Pilots a little more closely, I see why the vertical adjustment kit is required, so I can answer #10 for anyone wondering the same.

The mounting screws that come with the toe pilot screw directly into fixed positions on its frame (as opposed to passing through the frame and being secured by a nut. The footbrace mounting kit, once epoxied in place wouldn't be able to screw into the Toe Pilot frame.

Thus, the vertical adjustment kit attaches to the footbrace mounting kit and the toe pilot attaches to the vertical adjustment kit.

Needless to say, I'm going to take a different approach to save the weight (maybe just going through the side after all).

RE: Starting Ches 17 build - questions

You can also make your own adapters out of okoume. I used 6mm and it works great. Though I realize it doesn't solve your added weight concern, the added ounces of weight are in the noise IMO. 

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