The Mega Proton High Performance Surf Kayak
I thought I would share some photos of the molding process that produces composite kayaks, and highlight the need for extremely high quality patterns to produce the molds that result in the beautiful quality craft that Mega Kayaks International are renowned for.
We begin with a high quality pattern that is air freighted to us from Malcolm Pearcey of Mega International in the UK. Malcolm's attention to detail is impeccable and provides an insight into the Designer who has since 1991, lead the world in Surf Kayak Design and Innovation.
The Prototype undergoes extensive testing by Reputable Kayakers in Europe and the UK prior to us making the decision to introduce to Australia. We are looking for Surf Kayaks that suit the Developing Paddler Scene in Australia and well suited to our typical wave types and experience levels.
Upon it's arrival, the plug is prepared with a flange on it's seam to enable future vacuum infusion molding and to add additional strength and durability to the Mold. The Flange is fashioned from layers of Fibreglass that is held in place on the Pattern and a radius of Molding Clay neatly fills the small gap and is meticulously prepared to ensure a slightly rounded edge. The Plug is then given a series of polishes to produce a perfect gloss finish that will reflect the quality of the mold.
It is essential that a clean environment be kept at all stages of the process to ensure the Pattern is dust free and that no imperfections are introduced, including dust, lint and insects that may be attracted to the highly lit work area.
After five coats of High Temperature Release Wax the pattern is now ready to be coated in a layer of Tooling Gel Coat that will form the surface of the mold. The Gel Coat is catalysed with a Hardener that sets the Resin to a tacky layer in about 4 hours and is then ready to accept multiple layers of Fibreglass Matting and extra composite reinforcement to form a Mold about 4 to 5 times the thickness of the product to be produced.
The series of photos shows a process that is completed over several days as subsequent layers are applied 2 at a time to avoid high exothermic heat and damage to the plug or mold surface.
Mega Proton Hull from initial Preparation to final Mold.
The same process is applied to the deck pattern as it is matched on the hull mould to enable a perfect seperating edge and ease of joining. The Patterns are retained in the mold for a week or so to enable proper curing.
The Deck Pattern is matched to the hull and the process repeated to produce the deck mold. Upon release of the pattern the Mold is polished to a high finish to produce a superb finish.
The final process involves removing the pattern from the mold and this is done by separating the pattern with wedges and gentle and sometimes quite physical persuasion, ultimately the pattern is removed undamaged resulting in a perfect female replica of the pattern. Final preparation before the the first kayak is laid into the mold requires a series of polishes to increase the luster and maintain a perfect surface for the finished product.
I hope this has provided some insight into the Manufacture of the Mega Product Range, and the same process is used to form the Molds for all Kayaks that are constructed of Composite Materials.