Ocean City Today

Ding guys: Why don’t more surfers fix their own boards?

Surf Report
By Dave Dalkiewicz | Feb 08, 2018

(Feb. 9, 2018) Surfboard repair can be regarded as a specific trade.

From small dings and broken fins to boards completely severed in two, the ding guy will fall in at various levels.

I’ve done plenty of repairs over the years and in talking to other like-minded ding guys, all seem to agree that we can’t understand why more surfers do not or will not fix their own boards.

Guess it’s like most anything else. Some people are do-it-yourselfers, and those that pursue it and are interested in it may become proficient enough to be paid and become professionals.

It’s foam and fiberglass. The foam can be styrene based or the more common urethane base. The resin – epoxy or polyester. The reinforcement – glass cloth of a four-, six-, or eight-ounce per square yard variety.

Lots of things are made from fiberglass – shower stalls, bathtubs, truck caps, boats and the like. Surfboards are a relatively small sub-category but all are related and have lots of commonality.

Simply put, a repair is a build-up of new material and then cutting and sanding back to flush. Preparation is most important.

Sanding away a damaged part of a crack or fissure will result in a cleaner looking finished job and provide a good base for the new material to adhere to.

Matching color is another phase of the process that will greatly improve the appearance of the finished product. Shades and variety of color are many and varied and can be particularly challenging to match.

At times, a cover-up color or multitude of coloration can be employed to enhance a repaired area.

Needed tools and equipment are pretty basic and don’t require much financial outlay. An electric sander can be quite handy to hasten the process and lessen the labor though it’s not something the budding repair person is apt to use.

A certain touch is needed that can only be learned over time. Yes, it can go a long way to quicken the work, but a lot of damage can be done in a short amount of time if not properly used.

Resin comes in a liquid state, like the consistency of paint, and needs an added chemical to become hard as in a solid state. This chemical is known as a catalyst with varying amounts needed depending on quantities of resin used and temperature of surroundings in which the work will be done.

Another resin can be used that becomes hardened by the sun or more specifically, ultra-violet rays.

This type of resin won’t need the chemical catalyst and must be applied in a shaded or darkened area. Once applied, exposure to the sun will cause the resin to harden rather quickly.

A sanding step can be started in as little as three to five minutes. This will dramatically lessen the time needed for a repair. Plus, the hardening process for this type of resin is not affected by temperature. It will set up in the coldest surroundings. It’s even available with mixed chopped fibers, in more of a putty state.

As a putty, it can frequently eliminate the need for a fiberglass cloth reinforcement working best in small damaged areas.

Having a good place to work is always a bonus and oft times half the battle. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why more surfers don’t fix their own. Living with family, roommates, or neighbors of close proximity is an important consideration.

Resin fumes can be quite heavy and even alarming to some. Sanding dust is equally offensive.

Damaged or broken board? Might be a good idea to consult your local surf shop and a knowledgeable ding guy.

— Dave Dalkiewicz is the owner of Ocean Atlantic Surf Shop in Ocean City.

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