14 REFIT STAGE 3 – Filling and Fairing

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Filling and fairing

Fill and sand, fill and sand, hunt down and fill all those pin holes, repeat!

Having sanded the paint off, it is now time to fill and fair the hull, time and age has meant that the hull has dents and dings which need to be filled and the hollow in the transom padded back out.


  • Fair hull;
    • Fill dents and cracks
    • build up and fair ‘dent’ in transom
  • Fill pin holes
  • Fair in Centreboard capping

Tools used:

  • Epoxy Filler/Fairing Compound – AWL Fair
  • Mixing sticks
  • Weighing scales
  • Plastic spreaders
  • Metal spreading knives
  • 120 Grit Sandpaper
  • Flexible Sanding Board

AWL Fair is a two part epoxy filler product, mixed in a 50:50 ratio. It mixes to a toothpaste like consistency, and is easy to spread and work into crevices etc. With care it can also be worked into pin holes.

The centreboard capping is one of the key areas to get faired in properly. As it is always in the water (Ok it’s usually in the water) and any disturbance in the water flow will impact the centreboard itself.

The photo on the right shows the finished work. When the Caping was sanded there was a lot of voids in the surface so it provided a good opportunity to ‘perfect’ the technique to fill voids and pinholes.

The trick is to be apply a first skim of filler and then go over the coverage at a different angle approximately 45 degrees to the original skim and again at another 45 degree angle. The hard bit is making the filling layer as thin as possible, but still get the penetration into the pinholes and dents.

Hull filled and faired, easy to see where we had to do the fairing.

The end result looks like a rash, keeping the filler to a minimum has two benefits;

  • Minimise weight increase
  • We have less to sand off…

Sanding used the flexible sanding board and the same technique as for the paint removal so a long X movement. The filler is soft and so it is best to sand gently working the high spots down. As you can see from the photo above, this process was repeated multiple times layering up the filler where we had flat spots and filling pin holes as we found them.

For the deck as with the sanding we did the minimum of work required to fair the deck up. The extensive modifications around the centreboard case, meant that the effort required to make the deck look 100% out weighed the benefits. The main areas we focused on where old drill holes, screw holes chips out of the edges etc.

By layering the filler we got good coverage, but it takes time. The cure time for AWL Fair is long, it is designed primarily for fairing large racing yachts where you don’t want the product going off to quickly.

The end result is a very fair hull with the number of pin holes reduced quite significantly. But not completely eradicated. There is a very noticeable difference between the bow which was primarily the original hull finish and the heavily modified centreboard & transom areas.

Working our way down the port side of the boat, you can see the heavy focus on the centreboard case area, where the board was moved and the low density filler was used.

Very little filler was required in the bow areas, mainly being used to fill in dents and bings in the bow area and rebuilding the bow.

At this point it is probably worth touching on how this boat has been modified. As once the paint was off you can see where the work was done very easily.

With this boat the hull had the following changes:

  • Transom widened
  • Bow narrowed
  • Centreboard moved aft in the boat

We reached a point where we felt that further filling was going to have minimal benefits, the hull was very fair, with all the existing dents and low points filled out, and the overall finish was such that we could chase the remaining pin holes etc down when we did the fairing/primer spray.

Next stage: Primer spraying!

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