I was bidding on a Gast vacuum pump on EBAY but I lost that bid on sunday night. However I was lucky and found another pump for sale close to where I live! I got it yesterday for 75 $ canadian. It is old but it pulls 29"HG with no problems. It is a Speedivac from Edwards with a separate motor. It is very quiet and pulls a vacuum without any pulses. It need oil to operate but the pump revs at only 700rpm so no oil mist is emitted. I will use an oil catch at the exhaust anyway just in case. I'm ready to start working seriously at last!
I opened the bag of the first panel and I encountered no problems at all. All the layers pulled-out easily, even the epoxy soaked bleeder. I tried to peel away the peel ply and it is was easy, leaving a nice even texture. (small) SUCCESS!