For the very latest activity, click here: From a Bare Hull

Monday, August 01, 2016

Prepping for Paint: Various Tasks

The big task this summer will be hull paint, if everything goes smoothly and weather cooperates. Numerous tasks for preparation:

Sacrificial Coat of Paint for the Deck

The original cracking gelcoat nonskid has been stripped off. This leaves the underlying laminate exposed to the sun/UV. One doesn't want to leave this exposed for long periods as the UV will breakdown and weaken the laminate. Probably not an issue on this boat given the thick laminate schedule, but I just assume avoid it. The solution is a single sacrificial coat of white paint. Just a basic exterior enamel. This will provide protection from UV until we are ready to finish the deck (maybe next spring). Then the paint will be sanded off as part of preparation. The white color also makes for a cooler deck in the summer, yet makes for slippery conditions when wet. Ultimate care is required when moving around on deck.

Caprail Material Failure Removal

A couple years ago, I installed a plastic teak substitute (PlasTeak) for the caprail. Now, it is an ultimate failure. While it installed easily and looked great, after a year of hot/cold cycles, the edges began to split where there was more than a slight bend. I had originally intended to paint around it, but the failure requires removal entirely. This will make painting all that much easier as I don't have to worry about taping the caprail.

As a result I have decided to glass over the hull/deck joint for strength and maximize resistance to water intrusion.

New Boarding Stairs

The original, narrow, weakening boarding stairs when up along the port side right against the hull blocking access to a large area. A new set of boarding stairs have been built at the stern, starboard side, with a landing where the upper section of the stairs can be pulled away from the boat to provide access to the hull surface. The new stairs are wider and sturdier and should well serve the remainder of this project. Removal of the old stairs will finally give me access to finish the port side deck drain which is still in a temporary state.

Removal of the old stairs will allow completion of the perimeter scaffold that gives easy access to the hull side during painting.

More later...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Deck Grinding, Repair, and Prep for Hull Paint

The thick old waffle pattern non-skid that was molded into the original gelcoat from the factory, has all been ground off. The vacuum attachment of the PaintShaver Pro tool, that was used for the grinding, collected %99 of the material. When emptying the shop-vac, I estimate twenty to thirty pounds of ground up gelcoat/fiberglass. That should make the boat faster, right?

Exposed laminate from non-skid removal

With the old white gelcoat removed, the fiberglass laminate was exposed to reveal numerous areas delamination from the plywood core. Some areas were quite large. Who knows how long these existed. But since the boat has been sitting for thirty years, the delmination is certainly not from stresses and strains on the boat. If anything the cause originates from the factory where the plywood core was not primed/prepped properly (to be fair, way back then in the 70s, boat builders just did not think, or even know of delamination problems).

The internal voids, created by the delamination, were repaired by strategically drilling holes in the deck down to the plywood core, at the site. Epoxy was then injected with a plastic syringe. In total about one to two quarts of epoxy was injected, which seems like a lot. The worst section was the cockpit floor where top of the entire removable rectangular section had separated from the core.
Clean(er) after thorough pressure wash.

Logistical conditions this summer are such that now is an ideal time to paint the hull. This will require a perimeter scaffold to quickly and easily move around the boat during the application process. It will also require removal and relocation of the original boarding stairs, which will finally give me access to properly finish the port side deck drain.
Beginnings of perimeter scaffold

...that is somewhat hacked, but should suffice.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Goodbye Nonskid

Finished grinding off the thick "waffle pattern" nonskid from the deck. Much of the delamination on the cabin top has been repaired. There are a few silver dollar size spots but I am not sure it is worth the work to fill those.

But with the non skid now stripped from the side decks, larger areas of delamination have appeared. I will be spending the next week filling in those 'new' areas.

The plan is to install one of the fake teak decking material. With the non skid removed, the revealed darkened laminate sorta gives an idea of what that deck material would look like.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Delamination Repair Recipe

Ingredients and Utensils

  • epoxy with slow catalyst
  • plastic mix cups
  • mixing sticks
  • syringes
  • plenty of rags
  • cheap masking tape
  • cordless drill with bit slightly bigger than syringe tip
  • torpedo level
  • small ballpeen hammer
  • black sharpie
  1. Take the hammer and tap the deck to identify the extent of the delaminated area. Try and find the center and move out in various directions. Mark the edges with the sharpie.
  2. Using the torpedo level, identify the 'low' and the 'high' side of the delaminated area. Two holes must be drilled. One to inject the syringe, one to let the air escape (displaced by the epoxy). The epoxy will flow to the low side due to gravity. 
  3. Mix up some epoxy and inject in the hole on the low side. Once epoxy exits from the high side, the void should be pretty much filled.
  4. When confident the void has been filled, wipe off excess epoxy and tape the holes with masking tape to keep epoxy from oozing out.
Epoxy injection
Light "splotches" within the dark areas of the cabin top are delaminated areas.
The areas near the port side turn of the cabin top (lower "strip" in the picture) were quite large. The aft part of the area took about 600cc of epoxy.

Friday, April 01, 2016


No foolin. Stripping away the thick gelcoat non-skid from the top of the cabin trunk has revealed large spots of delamination.

Delamination is something no (fiberglass) boat owner wants to discover. It is a condition where the fiberglass laminate has separated from the core material to produce small voids in between. When a professional marine surveyor taps on your boat's deck with a small plastic ballpeen hammer, delmination is what they are looking for. The impact results in a long 'thud' instead of a sharp 'tap' indicating a void in the laminate.

In this case, no tapping with a hammer was required as the voids can clearly bee seen manifesting as lighter color "splotches" instead of a dark consistent color. Modern sandwich boat construction use special composite cores designed to maximize adhesion. The Westsail factory, back in the day, used plywood as a core material, not unlike CDX grade plywood. The problem with plywood is that there is no end-grain on the face thus minimizing absorption of resin by the wood during the layup, creating a weak bond between the plywood core and fiberglass. The bond could have been improved by cutting numerous grooves in the plywood and priming it with resin before layup. But, if the replaced core at the main mast step is any indication, it appears this preparation was not done at the factory.

This is not as big of a deal as it sounds. With this boat, the fiberglass is too thick to present any structural problems. The main concern is keeping the core dry to avoid any 'soft deck' disease, as once the core is wet, it will never dry. The risk of water intrusion happens when deck hardware is mounted.

Fortunately, the fix for this is simple, if not tedious. Simply drill a couple small holes in the delaminated areas and displace the air in the void by injecting epoxy.

You cant see the delamination in the pictures below, but it is there, in many places.