Is the west systems epoxy, cloth and hardener better than raka systems epoxy ,cloth and hardner????? There is a large price differance. Just spent alot of time and love striping my canoe hull and want to make sure that I have asked all the right questions
I made a kayak using the west system and then the rest of the boats using the epoxy from Raka.
Honestly I could not tell any difference except that Raka got the stuff to me the next day. I also like calling there and talking to Larry ( the Boss ) when I had a order to place or a question.
Most of the time he had or was in the process of building the same type of boat that I was starting so he knew exactly what I would need when I explained how I was going to do it.
The rest of the boats are , Pirogues , Kayaks , Canoes , Bayou Skiff ( Only one of them) and some storage boxes.
I like the "pump" style epoxies best - I have less problems measuring and mixing, and can mix relatively small amounts precisely. That's important when it's as hot as it often is when I'm working, and since I have to work outside. As long as I count carefully, I've never messed up a West mix. I've messed up other brands because of poor measuring.
Just got ~2.6 gals from US Composites (http://www.uscomposites.com)the place recommended on the boards here . I'll let you know what I think of it in a couple of weeks - plan on using it to coat and glass the pirogue I've got glued up (with Raka), then start on another stitch n glue kayak if the weather holds.
I've ordered directly from West System, and bought their product from Aircraft Spruce in ATL (I drive up to get it rather than ship). In either case, West was helpful when I had questions. I picked up the Raka and other brands I've used at various shops, and haven't had to ask questions, so can't comment on their customer service.
I made about five or six batches of my own micarta for knife handles and such, and the West polishes up smoother and seems harder than Raka - that's purely subjective, and again, coulda been the precision or lack thereof in mixing.
The link opens on a fabric page. (That was what first interested me.) You will have to navigate the site to find his UV resistance tests of different epoxies and other delights. Send him some business if he's offering craft you admire.
I have only used West epoxy, never for building a boat, but for patching or for some projects such as resurfacing fuzzy boats, building a more capacious cockpit rim, strengthening a hull under the seat, etc.
In whitewater circles, the news is West's G-flex epoxy. Used as directed, it does have stronger adhesion, even on hard-to-stick surfaces such as polyethylene. I have only started using it. G-flex is a bit more flexible after hardening than regular West 105/205. G-flex mixes 1:1 and the measurements are not as critical as with 105/205. G-flex is more viscous than 105/205, but will soak into glass cloth with normal procedures. I don't see any reason to use G-flex on glass cloth and wood, but anytime you have a situation where adhesion to the surface under repair is doubtful, G-flex will end the uncertainty. West have lots of illustrations of how G-flex can be used on their website.
West sure has a loyal and knowledgeable customer base and granted that counts for something but I'll go on record as not being in the group. I used it for one build and wasn't impressed enough to justify the cost. I'm not bashing it - it's good stuff, just not that good.
I'm surprised that Clarkcraft 50/50 gets little or no reference in epoxy discussions these days. I believe it's the oldest brand out there and I have had good results with it. I love the mix ratio, and good support when the guys in the back get around to cleaning their hands and answering the phone. No blush issues and very reasonably priced. The bond is more flexible than most other brands and honestly I don't know the advantages or problems with that but no issues here.
When we (Robin and I) built our yaks we did hers first with Clarkcraft and mine second (I got manners) with the west system. Side by side there is no noticeable difference, one just cost a lot more. With two years and somewhere around 400 miles the boats are showing no difference in wear.
I've also had good results with the US Composite epoxy. There was an issue with clouding in one build that went unresolved and honestly I would have to say chances are good it was related to the Florida humidity more than the product but I just don't know for sure. Tons of good information on the website though.
The most recent product I've used and I'm pretty excited with it is epoxy by Huntsman called Ardelite. Very cost effective and a pleasure to work with. The distributor is close by and they have good prices on supplies too. Here's a link: http://www.carbonfiberglass.com/
Two boats with the Huntsman system from Illstreet and I think I've found a favorite. Hope that helps.
BTW, thanks for posting that link ezwater, very informative.
Techniques for using the various epoxy brands are similar. Mixing ratios are different for different brands, but how they are used is not. I started with West because it comes out of my hometown and my neighbor at the time was one of the founders of the company. After joining this forum I ordered from Raka because of the huge price difference. I prefer the West user manual with is illustrations (I cipher pichers more better than I cipher ritin'.) to Raka's online instructions, but Larry's service and prices can't be beaten. And if you need a particular filler it is not illegal to mix brands. Unless you are building a spaceship like the Rutans did with West System, Raka is the way I would go for materials. You can download a copy of the West System manual. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: But don't tell Sparkey I recommended Raka. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
My loyalty to West Epoxy is because of their innovation, their extensive technical support, and the consistent performance of their products. I can afford some extra cost to support people who "improve the breed."
But if I were hard pressed for cash on a big project, I would cheerfully and confidently contact Raka or one of the other suppliers and try them out. And if I knew that another brand would perform significantly better, then I would buy it. It's great that we have some healthy competition in our resin suppliers.