Lordy Lordy look who’s Forty – Gougeon
On Saturday, August 22nd, about 350 Colleagues, Friends and Family of Gougeon Brother’s WEST SYSTEM / PRO SET Epoxy gathered on the grounds of the original boat shop to celebrate the 40 year anniversary of the company’s inception. In the story below Meade reflects back on history of WEST SYSTEM Epoxy:
Our early years of trial and error in boat construction planted the seeds for the eventual development of WEST SYSTEM Epoxy products and the knowledge base for using them properly.
It began after World War II when boats were hard to come by. My brothers and I were growing up on Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, and took to building our own boats. Our first attempts were crude and leaky but we progressed to better fitting parts held together with bronze Anchorfast™ nails and Weldwood™ glue. Later, some of the newer resorcinol adhesives offered better gap filling properties that improved overall bonding capability, but we still had to rely on fasteners to hold together our structural components.
A new epoxy technology came to our attention in the late Fifties to early Sixties. Detroit’s automotive patternmakers were switching from resorcinol glues to epoxy adhesives to laminate pattern stock because the epoxy required less clamping pressure. One pattern maker, Victor Carpenter, became enamored with this new bonding potential and used it to build a small sailboat. His project turned out so well that he gave up patternmaking and became the first professional boat builder to use epoxy, along with traditional fasteners, to assemble wooden boats. In 1959 at the age of 14, my youngest brother, Jan, began working for Vic after school and on weekends. He helped Vic build several boats including an S&S 37 keelboat. The things Jan learned from Vic at an early age provided a significant boost to our later work in boat construction and epoxy development.