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Old 13-02-2012, 15:07   #1
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Epoxy Sheath for an Old Wooden Sailboat

i am looking at options to improve the watertightness of an old wooden hull, especially under the stresses imposed by the rig in decent winds.

i have found that if it is blowing hardish then she leaks and pumping out is annoying.

a reputable boatyard suggested removing all the old fashioned caulking and filling with epoxy. am not too sure how that would work as the wood expands and contracts with temperature, etc.

so i was wondering about laying an epoxy/fibreglass skin over the whole hull.

does anybody have any experience doing this?
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Old 13-02-2012, 15:15   #2
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Re: Epoxy sheath for an old wooden sailboat

Is it clinker built or lapstrake?
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Old 13-02-2012, 15:21   #3
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My previous boat was a wooden 1937 gaff rigged ketch. I had her in Malaysia for many years and many times contemplated sheathing the hull to protect from toredos.

If you sheath the hull you will accelerate the destruction of the boat. You may get ten years out of the hull, maybe more, but even if they do a stellar job with Monel staples and perfect glass work what you are doing is adding a rigid shell to a non rigid material. The hull will not flex the way it was designed to and generally the points the planks are scarfed into the rabbit joint along the keel, stem and stern will wear. The frames as they enter the keel will wear as well. It is also a one way trip. It is usually done when one decides that they are not going to do a restore on a boat that may need something time consuming and expensive and have made the decision that all they want is a couple more good years. If that is where you are with the boat then by all means do so.

Regarding putting epoxy in the seams, there is no faster way to destroy a carvel planked boat besides leaving it on the hard and in the rain. The seams are designed to be compressed when the wood swells if you put a rigid material like epoxy in here the wood attempts to swell and ends up doing terrible things like loosing fasteners, breaking frames, and just generally screwing up the place.

The only way to have long term success is to "pay you dues" and re pay and caulk the seams. Some other bad advice that can go around is to use 5200 or other "glue like" substance. This will work but then it is there for good and will tear the wood out in the future when you try to replace it.

The wood boat forum would be a better places for this question...
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Old 13-02-2012, 15:25   #4
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pirate Re: Epoxy sheath for an old wooden sailboat

I went this route on an old pitch pine and oak framed Magyar 7 way back... my 1st boat...
She was planked hard chine.. I just sanded of the old paint to clean wood and left the exterior to dry out while I refitted the interior... about 7mths..
Then gave her a light sanding after cleaning out the butts then rollered on epoxy... filled and faired after 1st coat then applied 2 more with black dye...
When all was done pickled the bilges with seawater for 6 weeks... draining and refilling regularly... sounder hole was perfect..
Needed no attention during the 3 years I owned her.. biggest danger is fresh water starting rot..
Should add... considered the cloth approach but figured the flex would start seperating the bond... one thing from new but old wood... to many variables.. seen some bad examples...
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Old 13-02-2012, 15:26   #5
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Re: Epoxy sheath for an old wooden sailboat

I have done this before , it's a good idea if you are only trying to get a few more years out of an old boat. I did the work my self and only had the cost of materials. It did stop the leaks but it is only a band-aid.
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Old 13-02-2012, 15:49   #6
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Re: Epoxy sheath for an old wooden sailboat

Foolish Sailor said it all - if your boat is a given up you could do but it is a waste of money and time.
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Old 13-02-2012, 20:18   #7
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Re: Epoxy sheath for an old wooden sailboat

Agree with Foolish. The Vaitses method has killed more boats than it has saved over the years. Don't drink the Kool-Aid. Also, if Vaitses method is done properly, it is shockingly expensive. You are essentially using the original hull as a plug for a new one off fiberglass hull which is fastened to the old hull. I believe 3/8" is the average thickness needed for this method, not just a skin. That's a lot of glass and resin, all applied overhead. I think a proper sistering of frames and replanking is cheaper and much better, it's not a death sentence for the boat like glass is.
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Old 13-02-2012, 21:21   #8
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Re: Epoxy sheath for an old wooden sailboat

Killed an old Chris Craft cruiser of ours in 4 or 5 years...
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Old 13-02-2012, 23:46   #9
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Re: Epoxy sheath for an old wooden sailboat

Glassing over wood of any kind is not recommended unless it's totally incapsulated and with epoxy resin. But even a simple screw hole can foul that up. Above deck structures seem to survive fairly well providing they have breathing room inside.

Like mentioned above planking moves around, causing de-lamination, allowing moisture to get in.
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Old 14-02-2012, 06:35   #10
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Re: Epoxy Sheath for an Old Wooden Sailboat

thanks for your advice...it confirmed what i have read elsewhere.

am really surprised by the advice i got from the boatyard...maybe they just wanted the work.

looks like doing it the right way is the only way.
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Old 14-02-2012, 08:12   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honey Ryder

am really surprised by the advice i got from the boatyard...maybe they just wanted the work.
Rarely is advice from a boat yard usually your best option for a number of reasons including what you mention above. Not to say there aren't good boat yards. Always best to speak with tradesmen who deal specifically with your given issue on a day to day basis. In your case a wooden boat builder who has the depth of knowledge necessary to tackle what could be a deeply complicated issue.

The yard could have been acting in good faith having done epoxy jobs on dozens of boats and to their minds successful, ie the boats never came back "broken". Years later there are too many variables for an owner of a boat that has been destroyed by this method to even attempt recompense.

Acting in good faith does not equal acting in good knowledge.

Good luck with your boat and best wishes. Woodies are fantastic, I miss my wood boat more than any other I have owned, but they can be a lot of work at times.
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Old 14-02-2012, 08:15   #12
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Re: Epoxy Sheath for an Old Wooden Sailboat

Acting in good faith does not equal acting in good knowledge.

I will remember that one. And so right.
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Old 14-02-2012, 08:20   #13
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Re: Epoxy Sheath for an Old Wooden Sailboat

Absolutely right - do it the right way AND you dont have to do it all at once.
You can systematically rebuild your boat over a period of years - sections at a time. I've done this a few times and the pros are that you dont go broke all at once the cons are that your boat is torn up - just dont tear out to much at a time or you wont be able to use it.
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Old 14-02-2012, 11:53   #14
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Re: Epoxy Sheath for an Old Wooden Sailboat

The C-flex method has been quite successful in my experience, Google sintesfiberglass. C-flex was originally designed as a quick fix for commercial vessels, quick so they could get back to work. The main differences from the Vaitses method are bonding the fiberglass chemically by applying it over a bed of 5200 (or similar) in addition to stapling. Also, the fiberglass used comes in a long narrow roll with fiberglass rods running continuously through it. This is applied vertically on the hull. The object of the elastomeric bed is to allow the wooden hull to expand/contract without damaging the wood or the bond.
The only pain for yachts is that fairing can be a tedious process.
I saw this done on a 35' single planked mahogany yawl I used to sail on. It worked as designed, and held up perfectly during the 1-2 years I was on the boat afterwards. I believe one of the subsequent owners discovered some wood problems but I believe that was due to things that had happened prior to the C-flex job.
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Old 14-02-2012, 12:08   #15
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Re: Epoxy Sheath for an Old Wooden Sailboat

I would never have used epoxy on my old wooden DeFever 54 as she was an offshore cruising liveaboard and was concerned about the mahogany planks working in a heavy seaway and cracking the epoxy sheath.
However I did use penetrating epoxy below the waterline on a 1956 18 foot Chris Craft woody that came out of fresh water after every ride. Never had a problem even after several years. The internal of the planking was left untouched except for the Chris Craft recommended paint that allowed air to circulate around planks and ribs. I think it all depends on what you plan to use the boat for. Capt Phil
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