Carbon windsurf booms nowadays are standard for race sails, but can often cost more than 1000 euro. Therefore I decided to try to make one myself for my Aerotech VMG 6.0 sail, using aerospace materials.
The result is a boom which is lighter and at least equally stiff compared to an industrially manufactured boom. Combined with one of the best boom heads available (Streamlined), it makes an incredibly stiff combination and a pleasure to sail.
Step 1: Chipboard & Nails
I thought a bit about a foam core, but that would require a lot of shaping and sanding and eventually might be very fragile in the layup process.
To avoid this I developed a new method using glass fiber fabric, RT cure epoxy resin and a garden water pump hose...
The contours of the boom core are drawn onto a chipwood plate (or any kind of other scrap wood) Nails are hammered down into these lines with a spacing of about 2 inches. This "mould" and a tube which will fit between the nails is all that is needed to give the boom its shape.
Step 2: Tubes
Also needed is a 12 mm silicone inner tube which is provided with fittings at both ends. This inner tube will be pressurized.
Both tubes are treated with release wax.
All the mould parts are now ready. The next step is to make the glass pre-preg for the core.
Step 3: Glass Fabric & Epoxy Resin
Step 4: "Sticky Sausage"
Step 5: Stuffing
Just continue (it will work) and take care that the glass remains properly wrapped around the silicone tube while stuffing.
Step 6: Tape Wrap the Outer Tube
Note that the epoxy resin is curing during all the previous steps, so quickly transfer the sealed tube to the nail mould.
Step 7: Form, Pressurize & Cure
Now the glass pre-preg (which, if you were fast enough, is still not cured), is forced to the inside of the outer tube and will remain in this shape once the resin is cured.
Use something sharp to puncture the tape wrap here and there to allow excess resin to squeeze out.
Now let the epoxy resin cure overnight.
Step 8: 18 Hours Later...
After removing the tape and peeling away the outer tube, a nice glass preform appears.
Step 9: The Finished Glass Core
Step 10: Carbon Fibre Pre-preg Lay-up
The big advantage of this material compared to a wet lay up (as used for the glass core) is the tackiness of the material and its open time. This makes the lay-up far more easy and less stressful as the pre-preg only starts to cure when it is heated to 130C.
I cut 11 cm x 120 cm strips of pre-preg (0/90) and laminated three full layers onto the glass core.
Step 11: Butt Joints
Step 12: Get Rid of Wrinkles
During cure, the prepreg has to shrink in thickness direction To prevent wrinkles due to excess material I tightly wrapped the lay-up in tape with the sticky side to the outside.
Step 13: High Temperature Cure of the First 3 Layers
Since I work in an aerospace R&D; department this equipment was readily available and I used it to cure the first three layers.
During cure pressure was applied to the internal tube to prevent collapse of the glass core.
Step 14: The End Piece
To keep things simple I decided to make the boom at a fixed length and only suitable for my 6 m2 VMG. Adding an adjustable end piece would take to much time at the moment and would result in some loss of stiffness.
To close the boom I shaped a 4 mm carbon laminate and bonded this between the boom tubes at the end, using two component epoxy resin thickened with micro balloons.
Step 15: Lay Up and Cure of the Remaining Carbon Layers
The total amount of basic layers is 7 (including the first 3). At the end piece there are 3 additional layers and at the boom head 6 additional layers, starting at the beginning of the bend and gradually building up to the boom head. The orientation of the layers is 0-90. Only at the end piece there is one layer at +/- 45 to counter shear forces. A cured layer is 0.3 mm thick with a fiber volume fraction of 50%.
Step 16: Sanding
Step 17: Coating
Step 18: The Boom Head
I prepared two local areas of the correct thickness (34 mm) at the boom head location. The streamlined boom head can then be easily mounted with a hex wrench.
Step 19: Grip
I choose white to nicely go with my white VMG sail.
Step 20: Pullies
Step 21: Evaluation
I realize the manufacture of this boom is quit complex and requires a good workshop to complete (vacuum equipment, large oven, per-peg stored in a refrigerator, bagging materials etc.). It took about 50 (work) hours to make the moulds and the first boom. The total time from first intent to sailing on the water was about 2 months.
If the carbon pre-preg and oven are not available, the carbon might also be applied using a wet lay-up method as described in the instructable about making a carbon bicycle: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-I-built-a-carbon-bike-frame-at-home-and-a-bam/
This would however take a lot more building time, because then each separate layer is wrapped with tape and then cured.
Thanks for reading.