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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.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Last of the LED lighting...

I know, I keep talking about LED lighting (seems lots of boaters are doing LED light projects these days!). But this is the last string of "planned" LED lighting.

Recall a string was installed in the aft bilge/steering compartment here:

Well, this string is under the floor of the forward salon. The lighting provides easy views into the mechanical and storage underneath.

Forward Salon sub-floor compartments

In the above picture, compartments are from bottom to top:

  • fresh water pump and filter, tank valves, raw water pump, distribution manifolds
  • bilge pump, dry and crash. small storage available above the pumps
  • main mast compression post with electrical conduit exit port for the mast.
  • as-of-yet-determined storage

Sunday, March 06, 2016

More LED Lighting...

This time its the aft cabin. This replaces three annoying temporary under-deck cheap fluorescent fixtures along with the cords strung about to power them. As with the main cabin, lights are controlled with a wireless remote (on shelf in last picture).

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Stripping Deck Gelcoat Non-Skid with the PaintShaver Pro (Video)

So here it is. The fastest and easiest method to remove the thick gelcoat non-skid from the deck.

The tools is the "PaintShaver Pro" ( Originally designed to strip paint from home siding, sold in two versions: original and marine. The difference between the two being the marine version has diamond tipped teeth instead of carbide.

The features:

  • dust attachment and hose. Connect it to your shop-vac and there is absolutely zero loose dust generated by the tool.
  • the diamond teeth cuts through the gelcoat quite easily.
  • no pressure applied, just the weight of the tool is resting on the deck. If anything, a little lift is required to keep the surface smooth
  • adjustable cutting depth

For this application, after using the Paint Shaver, I "finished" the deck with an angle grinder and 5 inch 36 grit discs. Just light pressure to help level the surface.

The tool does leaves small circular marks in the surface. If one were to paint the decks, further prep such as epoxy coating/filler and/or high build primer followed by finish sanding would be required. We are considering one of the fake teak deck products so a simple strip of the gelcoat should be enough.

Bought new the PaintShaver runs about $1000USD, but used ones appear on eBay regularly for around $600USD.

Total time: less then two hours for the top of the main cabin trunk. And I was taking my time.
Stripped Main Cabin Trunk. Right has been 'finished' with the grinder.
Short video of the process