Armor Amour – chapter 3 (bloody hell)

There’s a terrible tragedy at this end of this post, so if you’re the weepy type close your browser and check back tomorrow.

How to glue pennies to the bottom of a Hobie Cat, the completion of Hello World’s armor deployment.

Including the 8 layers of powdered aluminum running along the entire keel, I wanted plate metal to protect the hulls where they would start to run aground. Matching hull curvature with a single sheet of metal seemed daunting. I imagined a corner or an edge of a single sheet being peeled back in an impact – nearly impossible to fix in the wilds.  In contrast, if the metal sheath consisted of many small plates or tiles then an impact might tear away one or two tiles and leave the surrounding tiles intact. The tile approach was inspired by the space shuttle’s thermal protection system. I had sheets of scrap copper laying around, but I didn’t really like the idea of cutting them into little squares. Pennies are just about the right size, and they are readily available everywhere I’ll be.

The copper in US pennies comes from the Keweenaw Peninsula, which is the thumb of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. US pennies minted on or after 1982 have a zinc core coated in a thin condom of copper. Before 1982, pennies were about 95% copper. A roll of pre 1982 pennies is worth $.50 cents as coin, but the value of the copper is $1.00. In doing this project I found that about 10-30% of pennies in circulation are  pre 1982. That means that if you had $1000 worth of pennies, you’d actually have about $1100-$1300 dollars. Of course you’d have to melt and sell the older ones, which would probably get the Secret Service on your ass. It might not be a bad idea to sort and stash your pre 1982 pennies in a safe place until such time as the federal government collapses and you can melt them without fear of arrest.

A preliminary cleaning – bathing the pennies in dilute muriatic acid Rinse
Dry Remove all oxidation to attach
In formation with attach side down – these need to be flipped Tape fixes the pennies in formation. Slicing along the edge of the rows so they’ll articulate and follow the curvature of the hulls
ready for pennies West Systems 404, resin and fast hardner


The rentry system is complete. The tiles on the starboard hull had drifted off the edge slightly,  but otherwise looking good!  Hello World’s hulls were almost ready – all that remained to do on Sunday was hatch installation and caulking the pylons.

I use plywood props to support the hulls to keep them upright during hatch work. A couple of nails where the plywood meets the picnic table keep them from slipping. I had the plywood in place to support the port hull and was about to tack the last sheet down when the hull rolled away and almost fell off the table onto the concrete. Though I was able to catch it, I didn’t save the day.  It had rolled right over the claw hammer and broken the fiberglass in two spots. Fahgk!

Quel damage! The broken fiberglass removed.
The pressure from the claw almost busted the inner skin, note the slight shattering in the center At least the hatches are in


I could have fixed the holes right then and there if I had more of the magic West Systems 404 powder but West Marine had already closed. So I am off to Traverse City this morning and will walk in just as they open the doors.

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2 Responses to Armor Amour – chapter 3 (bloody hell)

  1. The pennies. Noncents! Nonsense!
    The pennies of the Keweenaw – that alone is worthy of this journey, and perhaps another reason to realize that Michigan is indeed this “underdog” little spot on our pale blue dot.

  2. heikilee says:

    That looks really tedious but beautiful! Nice energetic component added to the vessel, may the copper protect you from the electro-magnetic currents you may be exposed to. I have been advised to wrap copper wire around my bedframe, for the same reason. Hugs!

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