Abaris helps Boy Scouts earn Composite Materials Merit Badges

May 8th, 2014 by

Over 65 scouts, along with the assistance of scout leaders, parents, and other volunteers from the Cascade Pacific Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) attended a composite manufacturing workshop hosted atMiles Fiberglass & Composites (MFC) in Clackamas, OR on Saturday and Sunday, May 3rd and 4th, 2014, in an effort to earn their composite materials merit badges.

During the event the scouts built two fiberglass canoes (17 and 21 foot canoes), in two different molds, along with 10 sets of paddles over two half-day sessions. Miles Fiberglass staff members, along with volunteers from local ACMA, SME, and SAMPE organizations lent guidance to the mostly middle and high school level scouts in this effort.

The event was organized by Lou Dorworth, Manager of Abaris’ Direct Services Division, Bruce MacKender with SME, and Lori Luchak, President of Miles Fiberglass, along with Jeff Aradine, STEM Education Director with the Cascade Pacific Chapter of BSA. Materials were donated by Airtech International, Composite Fabrics of America (CFA) and by MFC.

The canoe molds were prepared Friday prior to the event, a gel coat resin was applied to the upper and lower mold halves of each canoe before the scouts arrived on Saturday, and the scouts proceeded to cut and fit both non-woven glass mat and heavy glass roving in between layers of polyester resin sprayed onto the molds (by MFC staff supervisors) during the process.

Ten pre-fabricated wooden paddle blanks were used and the paddle ends were covered with glass fabric wet-out with the same resin used to make the canoes. One paddle was made with carbon fabric to demonstrate the difference in the materials.

After allowing the upper and lower canoe halves to partially cure overnight in the molds, the pieces were mated using the molds as fixtures and the two halves were tied together with glass strips from the inside, buoyancy bulkheads were installed forward and aft, and the ties were allowed to cure. After an hour of shop clean-up and much excitement, the canoes were de-molded and signed by the scouts and volunteers.

On Monday, May 5th, one of the canoes was displayed at a local BSA fund raising luncheon held at the Portland Art Museum and attended by many supporters of the Cascade Pacific Chapter. A short presentation of the composite merit badge project was given by Lou Dorworth and Lowell Miles, the founder of MFC.

Three of the scouts that participated were asked to weigh-in on the project. One of the boys stated that ‘it all started with molds and laying up fiberglass and KABOOM!, the next thing we know we had canoes.’ I don’t think anybody else could have described the event any better!