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Old 04-08-2017, 09:36 PM   #1
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Default How to open a can of worms, boat edition

My boat has a soft spot on the bow on the starboard side. This usually means one of two things: the fiberglass is delaminated from the coring or the core is wet and rotted as well which causes delamination. It's basically, good news all around. Boat topsides are always constructed with coring which is a layer of fiberglass, a layer of end grain balsa or synthetic product and another layer of fiberglass. This saves a lot of weight in areas where the boat doesnt need to be extremely strong.

Looking at the spot last weekend, it seemed to be smaller than I had remembered it, which i was thrilled about. You could push in or hear the difference in sound with a hammer in a roughly 24x18 section of the bow and there is spiderweb cracking of the gel coat in the area. I knew it would be wet a bit outside the obvious area so I marked a section initially about 24x24 and started cutting with my bosch oscillating tool. I wrested with the skin for a bit to get it pried up, dry areas are still bonded to it, and found the wood was wet further outside the area.

Before cutting more i drilled holes until i found what i thought was dry wood. Another 24x24" ish section cut out and skin peeled off. Wood still wet further up and below. Fuck. All said and done i have a section just over 7' long and 3' wide cut off.

Heres the fun stuff so far:

After the first two cuts. The final cut goes to within 8-10" of the windshield and another foot or so toward the bow. the skin is flipped upside down to the right of the hole there.


got rot? You can see how wet the wood is, the dry stuff is really light colored.


and this is what im dealing with even after i got done cutting. Luckily there are some fiberglass ribs in the structure tying the inner and outer pieces together when they were molded. I dug out the wet stuff about an inch back from where its being poked and got to solid glass.
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Old 04-08-2017, 09:39 PM   #2
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I'll take pictures of the repair process as much as I can. It's a dirty, messy job and im not going to yank off my gloves every three minutes to snap pics. Came home covered in fiberglass and gelcoat dust. My whole body itches. Bringing out a tyvek suit when i get to grinding and sanding. I got by on a dust mask and safety glasses for today.
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Old 04-08-2017, 09:46 PM   #3
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Fiberglass work kind of sucks. Good looking out though. I do not envy you right now.
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Old 04-08-2017, 09:55 PM   #4
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Good Lord. Fuck all of that. Nope nope nope!
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Old 04-08-2017, 09:55 PM   #5
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So, how does this happen? Crack or bad seam seal?
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Old 04-08-2017, 10:02 PM   #6
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usually its from deck fittings. There are literally hundreds of holes drilled through the deck and they all have to be sealed perfect or this will happen over time. The rot is in an odd spot though. its tough to explain how the construction of this area of the deck is but its isolated from any holes except for the bow hatch window and maybe the windshield mounts. The damage is kind of at the low spot which is where i assume the water settled after time.
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Old 04-08-2017, 11:01 PM   #7
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What's better than having a boat?

Having friends who have boats!

Seriously, good luck. I hope it works out well.
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Old 04-08-2017, 11:34 PM   #8
 
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I would have cut that biotch loose a long time ago. Time, aggravation and loss of use is off the chart on that boat..
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Old 04-09-2017, 04:07 AM   #9
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BUILT NOT BOUGHT! new sub name for the boat.
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Old 04-09-2017, 07:38 AM   #10
 
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that boat is lucky to have you as an owner, vs everyone else who would have junked'r
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Old 04-09-2017, 08:05 AM   #11
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that boat is lucky to have you as an owner, vs everyone else who would have junked'r
i think most people just ignore shit until it becomes an "actual" problem. like, someone put their foot all the way through the glass into the cabin.

Material costs haven't been TERRIBLE so far, about $280. Its the labor thats a son of a bitch when getting things fixed.
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Old 04-09-2017, 08:06 AM   #12
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BUILT NOT BOUGHT! new sub name for the boat.
bought, broken, rebuilt, re broken, rebuilt is more like it.
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Old 04-09-2017, 08:08 AM   #13
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I bought new end grain balsa last night. I was going to go with foam but the cost just isn't worth while. The balsa survived 23 years until i cut it open. it'll last longer than i own it after i repair it.
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Old 04-09-2017, 09:23 AM   #14
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Wow, that looks like one hell of a project. Props to you man. Once fixed do you lay new glass, sand, and gel coat? Lots of work.
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Old 04-09-2017, 09:38 AM   #15
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Wow, that looks like one hell of a project. Props to you man. Once fixed do you lay new glass, sand, and gel coat? Lots of work.
thanks hah. I have to say theres very few things any more, if any, that im afraid to tackle on my own as long as i have the tools.

The process goes like this, generally:
-drill exploratory holes through the skin to determine what condition the core is in as far as wetness and the area it extends
-cut skin off (can be done from underside as well but its way too hard working overhead)
-get out all the rotten and wet wood, dry out the acceptable areas. Im leaving the shrink wrap on the front of the boat to shield it from the elements and bake it out like an oven.
-sand inner skin and outer skin
-put a skim coat of epoxy on the inner skin much like laying tile
-set new coring material over the skim coat
-fill gaps in coring material with thickened epoxy. The balsa comes cut in 1x1 squares attached to a thin fabric to hold it together to allow it to contour over shapes. all the gaps left open need to be filled.
-skim coat of epoxy over the top of the coring
-apply top skin
-clamp or weights on top of the skin to hold it together until epoxy cures
-grind all the seams at a 10:1 slope
-build up fiberglass tape and resin in all the ground seams until its flush with the top of the skin
-sand sand sand sand sand to make everything level
-prime all the bare fiberglass
-apply non-skid over all the seams. im just going to do the whole panel so it looks more uniform.


thats all.

its going to be a 4 separate day project. get the coring in and skins on 1 day, glass all the seams day 2 , sand that shit and prime day 3, non-skid day 4
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Old 04-09-2017, 12:08 PM   #16
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Jesus, yep nope! And this is why I don't own a boat.
Good luck with the repairs Jared
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Old 04-09-2017, 09:26 PM   #17
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More fun today. Cut back EVEN MORE fiberglass. Its to within an inch of the windshield now.

I also found the source of water intrusion. One itty bitty screw hole for the windshield. It looks like they missed lining up the windshield and put a screw in, took it back out and moved it back 1/2 and inch but never fixed the hole.

ONE SCREW HOLE

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Old 04-09-2017, 09:27 PM   #18
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i also broke the windshield wiper trying to get the arm off to work around it.


no more work on this for a couple weeks, out of town this weekend.
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Old 04-10-2017, 07:36 AM   #19
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deargod.
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Old 04-10-2017, 07:38 AM   #20
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Yep.


Woulda drove it out to the middle and sunk it
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Old 04-10-2017, 07:43 AM   #21
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I'm balls deep in her now, no sense in getting rid of it at this point. New boat equals new problems. This thing is going to be brand new when I'm done with it all.
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Old 04-10-2017, 07:57 AM   #22
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Rather I should say I don't want to spend the money on a boat that would be problem and upgrade free from day 1
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Old 04-10-2017, 12:36 PM   #23
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this is why i own a jet ski. i woulda burned that down long ago
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Old 04-10-2017, 01:53 PM   #24
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What year is this boat? It's like the never ending project...
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Old 04-10-2017, 01:56 PM   #25
 
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Boats are a lot of work.

If you want brand new boat similar to this you are probably going to pay $120K with no options added.
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