Why Use Cartridges?

September 5th, 2013

The most common errors using two-part resin systems packaged in cans or bottles involve measuring and mixing mistakes.  Over the years we’ve seen just about every conceivable way to make these errors.  These include everything from forgetting to include either the resin or hardener by grabbing the wrong bottle, reversing the ratio, or simply getting the ratio wrong when measuring.  Mixing errors include inadequate mixing, not scraping the sides and bottom of the container and not wiping the stir stick during mixing.

Air is always introduced when mixing any two-part system in an open container.  The air escapes when a coating or laminating epoxy resin like Clear Coat or SilverTip is applied in a thin film.  It will not escape from a thickened epoxy adhesive like GelMagic, a fast curing epoxy like Quick Cure, a honey-like material like T-88 Structural Epoxy Adhesive or a urethane like SilverThane SA-2100.  Air is prevented from escaping both because of the viscosity of these materials and the fact that they are used for bonding in a closed joint.  Air entrapment results in a weaker joint – the joint may be adequate for the intended purpose but it is still weaker than it would be without the entrapped air.  With some non-porous materials like aluminum, steel, plastics and certain hardwoods the dispersed air may weaken the joint enough to cause failure under high loads.

Then there is the “countdown” factor:  The true viscosity of two-part systems begins rising the moment the parts are mixed and continues to do so until the material has solidified:  Time is not the friend of epoxy or urethanes sitting in a mixing pot!  Material removed from the pot ten minutes after mixing is not the same as that removed right after mixing.  As these systems cure they are less able to wet out substrates and increasingly poorer bonding can result.

The repetitive nature of measuring and mixing two-part systems is, frankly, boring.  Once you’ve done it a dozen times you’ve got it mastered.  You get complacent and make errors.  It is much more fun to apply the material, close the joint, clamp it and stand back and admire your work.  If the job is small you can spend twice the time measuring and mixing than doing all the fun stuff like applying the material and closing the joint.

Then there is waste:  One almost always measures and mixes more than they actually need to do a given job for the simple reason that the clock is ticking on closing a joint and one does not want to pause and have to go through the process of measuring and mixing a smaller second batch with another set of possible errors.  With smaller jobs the waste can be three to five times the amount of adhesive actually necessary to make the joint simply because it is impossible to thoroughly measure and mix material from bottles and tubs in amounts much smaller than a fluid ounce.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to eliminate the chance of measuring and mixing errors, maximize the resin strength by eliminating air, always use freshly mixed material, enjoy top of the line products, save time, eliminate waste and have more fun?  There is such a way.  It’s called using dual cartridges.  To use one you simply drop it into a caulking gun, prime it and screw on the tip to dispense thoroughly mixed and precisely measured material free of air.  You put the mixed material right where it is needed with little waste.  Using dual cartridges is fun and is the quick, confident way to kick back and watch things cure!

“All this but for what cost’, you wonder.  A half-pint kit (8 fluid ounces) of T-88 Structural Epoxy Adhesive sells for about $21.  It consists of two 4-ounce bottles with Yorker spouts with caps enclosed in a light cardboard box.  The comparable cartridge contains 8.34 fluid ounces and sells with a mixing tip for about $22 – about 4.8% more.  But, you get about 4.3% more material in the cartridge AND a mixing tip.  It’s a six of one and half-dozen of the other comparison.

“But, the tip can’t be cleaned.  What if I need another tip?”  Tips are available separately.  They cost $1.75 each in a six-pack.  One fluid ounce of T-88 in the half-pint kit costs about $2.60.  Waste 2/3 of a fluid ounce doing a larger job and you’ve paid for the tip.

“Aw, but you can’t use the material left in the tip!”  True, but the square turbo tip retains only about one-quarter fluid ounce that you can’t squeeze out.  But, if you mix a couple of fluid ounces in one of our four ounce plastic cups you’re going to leave this much clinging to the sides and bottoms. So it’s a wash either way.

“But, a half-pint kit is more than I need anyway.  Why don’t you package kits in smaller bottles?”  You’ve got us there!  We don’t do this for the simple reason that we’d still need two bottles, the Yorker tips and box to package them in.  The price would not go down by much.  (Check out things in your local grocery store to see what we mean!)  But, we do package most of our larger “cartridged” products in 50ml dual cartridges and these are really cool!  You need a special gun for these cartridges but we sell it for $21 – much less than you can find it elsewhere.  The idea is to get the gun in your hands so that you can use current and future 50ml cartridge packaged products.

“So, all the products available in cartridges are also available in bottles or tubs, right?”  Wrong.  Our SilverThane urethane product line is not available in either bottles or tubs.  Currently our only SilverThane product is SA-2100, our UV resistant marine sealant/adhesive.  We’ve got two new exciting SilverThane products waiting in the wings.  In addition, we’ve been working on several metal bonding epoxy adhesives that are unique.  These products will only be available in cartridges:  we don’t want their performance compromised by the introduction of air; and, in the case of urethanes, by moisture in the air.

“It sounds like I ought to get with it and give cartridges a try”, you exclaim.  Right on, bro!  Check it out.

System Three & Seaview Boatyard: River Boat Restoration Project

November 29th, 2012
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Boat Restoration gives new life to the last active Cataract river boat in the Grand Canyon.

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Greg Reiff and the Sandra.
Photo: Stephen J. Krieg

Greg Reiff, grandson of Sandra’s designer and builder Norm Nevills, reports on the boat restoration project:

It is with extreme gratitude and pleasure that I offer my huge thanks to Phil Riise of Seaview Boatyard and the staff of System Three Resins, Inc. for their assistance in helping to repair my 1947 Cataract boat.

My grandfather, Norm Nevills, was the first commercial river outfitter in the Grand Canyon, guiding river trips down the Colorado River as early as 1936. He built six different Cataract boats in the course his career. The now restored Sandra was the last Cataract boat he built (1947) before being killed in a plane crash in 1949. Three of the original six Cataract boats currently sit in museums around the southwestern United States with the Sandra being the only one that has been restored and is in active use. For the past seven seasons our river company Canyoneers Inc. used the Sandra on 14-day trips along the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

The Sandra was the last boat built by legendary river runner Norman Nevills of Mexican Hat, Utah. Nevills was the first commercial river runner in Grand Canyon, and he called his design a cataract boat, built to be quick in the whitewater rapids. The Sandra was built in 1947 and named after his younger daughter, Sandy.

In 2000 the Sandra was restored by Colorado River dory boat builder Andy Hutchison. And After 500 plus loving hours the Sandra as brought back to her original 1947 beauty, design, and style.

Currently, I row the Sandra on the three Grand Canyon trips each summer – June, July , and August. Sandra is the only remaining wooden Cataract boat still in use in the Grand Canyon from the 1930’s – 1940’s wooden boat era. Canyoneers Inc. passengers and fellow Grand Canyon Colorado River boatmen often seem intrigued by the Sandra’s classic boat design, her exhilarating ride, and her historic place in Grand Canyon history – that of being one of the first commercial river boats used in the Grand Canyon during the 1930’s – 40’s.

The river wear and tear on the Sandra since her original boat restoration in 2000 has been significant. Sandra had seen the effects of her rigorous river schedule as the 65 year old wood in the boat started leaking along her chine and stern areas and she was in bad need of a major overhaul.

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Photo: Stephen J. Krieg – www.naturalmoment.com

As a passenger on my July 20112 canyon trip, Phil Riise was immediately intrigued by Sandra’s unique hull design, the exciting ride that she offers, and her historical significance. Being a water person through and through, Phil Riise helped me make some minor repairs on Sandra during our river trip. After the trip he mentioned that he wanted to help repair her further and mentor me on the boat repair during the upcoming off season. Phil mentioned that he knew of the finest epoxy and repair products available to do the needed repairs. Phil spoke confidently and firmly about System three’s products and how they could fully help restore Sandra’s old and punky wood without losing her historical significance and hull lines.  Phil is not only an interesting, fun, and great man; he also has become a mentor in historic boat repair – all the while teaching me how to use the quality products of System Three Silver Tip Epoxy, GelMagic, QuikFair and pigments, etc.

Phil Riise was 100% correct about System Three’s quality products and ease of use for historic boat repair and restoration. Thank you very much for developing such fine, user-friendly, and handsome products. These products certainly will help to keep the Sandra beautiful, functional and ready for the 2012 Grand Canyon boating season.

I look forward to sharing with fellow river men about System Three’s quality epoxies, resins, hardeners, gels and simply overall top notch wood boat restoration products.


Greg Reiff

Sandra Cataract boatman

Canyoneers Inc. river guide


SilverThane SA-2100: What is it and Why did we develop it?

September 18th, 2012

With new SA-2100 as your designated urethane sealant/adhesive every drop is usable. No half-used tubes in the trash like you might get with other moisture cure urethane products.

With new SA-2100 as your designated urethane sealant/adhesive every drop is usable. No half-used tubes in the trash like you might get with other moisture cure urethane products.

SilverThane SA-2100 is a new two-part urethane sealant/adhesive. 
You can read all about the specifications and product usage here.

SilverThane SA-2100 Adhesive/Sealant
We developed SA-2100 simply because we recognized that our mainstay epoxy resin products had limitations that made them impossible to use effectively as sealants and because they are poor bonders to many different types of plastics.  Furthermore, there is no way to make an epoxy resistant to UV (ultraviolet) degradation. 

To create SA-2100 we had to become knowledgeable in the art and science of formulating urethanes.  SA-2100 was designed to be superior to the one part moisture cured urethanes commonly used by boat owners and builders.  We spent almost four years acquiring the knowledge and overcoming the hurdles before SA-2100 became a viable product.  There was no roadmap and most urethane chemistry knowledge is closely held by those who possess it.     

What makes SilverThane SA-2100 unique is its ability to cure without the presence of moisture.  This two-part technology enables it to act as a sealant of any thickness and to cure uniformly across a glue joint film of any size.  This combined with its superior UV resistance and ability to stretch and rebound under load, makes it ideal for bonding dissimilar materials in outdoor, sun-drenched applications.

Unlike moisture-cured urethanes (3M 5200/4200, Sika 291 and West Marine 8200), SA-2100 does not cure in the cartridge after opening.  Users of these products appreciate the fact that a $14 tube of sealant becomes a $28 tube when you have to throw half of it away.

Finally, when formulating SilverThane SA-2100 we had the choice of using either petroleum or naturally derived (sustainable) products for some of the raw materials.  We chose to use natural products wherever possible so that about 20% of the mass of SA-2100 is made from bio-sourced materials.


3M is a trademark of 3M Company. Sikaflex is a registered trademark of Sika AG.


2011 Wooden Boat Festival

August 25th, 2011

Home to the first and largest Wooden Boat Festival in North America.

Photo by: woodenboatPT

The 2011 Wooden Boat Festival is September 9-11 in Port Townsend, WA. Stop by our booth! Hope to see you there. For more information, go to: www.woodenboat.org/festival

Epoxy Paste Pigments

July 7th, 2011

Epoxy Paste Pigments will allow you to put colored stripes on your boat, colored inlays in your woodworking project. Any epoxy application where you want to spice up your look.

Epoxy Paste Pigments will allow you to put colored stripes on your boat, colored inlays in your woodworking project. Any epoxy application where you want to spice up your look.

Epoxy Paste Pigments will allow you to put colored stripes on your boat, colored inlays in your woodworking project. Any epoxy application where you want to spice up your lookOur Epoxy Paste Pigments are pure, dry, colored, pigments dispersed in in an epoxy resin blend.  They are pourable, easily measured, and contain no solvents, and may be blended with one another to produce additional colors.  Since they are dispersed in an epoxy resin blend, they react into the system and do not change its cured properties.  The proper way to use these pigments is to add them to the resin (Part A) side and then add the hardener(Part B)  at the correct ratio for the epoxy system being used.

The pigments will make a clear epoxy base resin translucent or opaque depending on a number of factors, including amount added, substrate color, pigment used, film thickness and the presence of any other fillers. Paste colors are very concentrated and may be blended with one another in any proportion, keeping in mind to add a maximum of approximately 10% pigment paste by volume of combined resin and hardener.

When adding two or more pigment pastes together,  it is easiest to make a “master batch” of the combined colorss and clear base, and mix with hardener as needed.  The master colored Part A batch will allow you to avoid having to match a particular color combination each time you mix some clear product to tint.  This batch can be stored for later use since this tinted Part A resin base is stable in any proportion.  If the tinted resin has sat for more than a couple of days though, it can settle upon standing so re-mix it prior to the next use.

Although these pigments will make an epoxy coating colored and opaque they will not improve the cured system’s  resistance to UV degradation.  Protect the cured epoxy with a clear coating containing UV absorbers if it will be exposed to sunlight for long periods of time.  System Three’s WR-LPU Clear Topcoat or Urethane Spar Varnish are excellent choices for UV protection. All epoxy systems yellow slightly over time,  but it is usually apparent only for white
pigmented systems.Epoxy Paste Pigments will allow you to put colored stripes on your boat, colored inlays in your woodworking project. Any epoxy application where you want to spice up your look.

Using System Three pigment paste concentrates is an easy way to expand the possibilites of liquid epoxy resin use for decoration of many projects.

Hot Tubbing with SilverTip Epoxy

February 11th, 2011

Super "R" Hot Tub

This is the Super “R”  hot tub from Maine Cedar Hot Tubs, Inc. The outer shell of these tubs is constructed from an oil finished Western Red Cedar and accented with brushed stainless steel bands to mirror the appearance of the traditional cedar or redwood tub.

Maine Cedar Hot Tubs, Inc. use System Three Silvertip Epoxy to cold-mould and overlay the cap rail, base rail, and inner shell of the tub. This process yields an extremely durable and waterproof vessel with a character and appearance that is more like a piece of fine furniture than a hot tub.

The void between the inner and outer shells contains the jet piping and four inches of closed-cell foam insulation; the “R” factor, as built, is 25 making these tubs very economical to operate. The cold-moulded portion of the tub that is pictured is done with cedar facing, however, any wood that the customer desires can be used. Previous materials used include teak, cherry and various figured hardwoods all with stunning results. The tubs are available in nominal diameters of 5 through 8 ft. and to any depth the customer desires.


Samantha Malay Uses MirrorCoat for Metal Tiles

February 11th, 2011

I like to make durable surfaces using resin and small pieces of salvaged metal.  I learned about MirrorCoat™ from Darin Montgomery, furniture designer-builder and owner of Urbancase.  Nick Gucker at System Three Resins was very helpful, by phone and email, when I had technical questions about its use.

Poolside #6

Poolside #6

I start with an image on paper, often a detail from my collection of vintage travel postcards, which I glue to the clean and sanded metal.  I may drill holes in the upper corners of the metal at this point, if it’s to be a hanging piece.

I use discarded cookie sheets to place my metal pieces on.  These are handy for several reasons:  the lip on the sheet prevents over poured MirrorCoat from oozing everywhere, and when they’re done curing, a quick twist of the tray releases them. 

Poolside #9

Poolside #9

I wear thick rubber gloves (latex ones can stick and pieces may remain on the working surface) and tie my hair back.  I mix MirrorCoat according to the instructions and pour it over my metal pieces.

 Unless I have a fairly dust-free workspace, I find a cardboard box large enough to fit over the tray, which allows good airflow while keeping debris off the resin.

After they’ve cured thoroughly, I pry the metal pieces off the tray, use a rasp to get the big over pour chunks off, and sand the surfaces, being careful not to over-sand the sides (this can create thin spots that could let moisture in, undesirable if I’m planning to use them outdoors.  Also, if the MirrorCoat does not entirely encase the metal piece, it may not be suitable for wet environments, as the metal will begin to rust, and the resin will begin to resist, rather than seal, the metal.)

 I sometimes pour a second coat of resin at this point, allow it to cure, then re-sand.  I like to apply a UV-resistant spray as a last step.  MirrorCoat creates a translucent finish that adds depth and glint to the image beneath.

Poolside #13b garden tile + plants

Poolside #13b garden tile + plants

You can see Samantha’s work at Twilight Artist Collective in West Seattle, twilightart.ning.com/profile/SamanthaMalay

See Urbancase at http://www.urbancase.com/.

Photos by Benjamin Malay, http://www.benjaminmalay.com/.

Send us your success story.

December 17th, 2010

Send us your stories of epoxy projects using System Three products. We may publish them in this area. (please attach photos to your e-mail – rgb jpeg format no larger than 500k) Be sure to come back as we will continuously update this area with stories from around the world!

Custom 10′ skiff

December 7th, 2010

My latest project, a ten-foot, flat bottom skiff. Designed and built by yours truly. The boat was built with 1/4″ meranti plywood from Edensaw, and of course, System Three general purpose resin and T-88, (purchased from Revchem in Tacoma).

10' Custom Plywood Flat-Bottom Skiff

This is actually my fourth boat in the past five years or so.  A picture of my kayak is still on your web site. I have to confess, that I have tried a few other epoxies over the past years, and I keep coming back to System Three!

To me, the acid test for an epoxy is it’s resistance to cratering when applied over a sanded, epoxy coating, compared to other brands, System Three does every time. I hope you continue selling the general purpose resin, because I’m afraid to try any other resins! 

I want to include your new SilverTip stuff! I may have to break down and try some EZ-Fillet, and Gel-Magic on my next project,  though.

Yours Truly,
George Burns

Scribner’s Skiff

December 7th, 2010

Stitch & Glue Montana Boatbuilders Skiff

I built a stitch and glue Montana Boatbuilders  Skiff from a kit using Silvertip Epoxy with slow hardener. It was a great project and continues to be great fun.

 Bill Scribner

Cheyenne, WY