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Old 25-10-2014, 07:17   #1
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Filler over steel

Hi there,

The toerail on our steel boat seems to be welded on and the welding edge covered with a several mm thick white, chalkish filler material. On some spots, the filler had cracks and lifted up the surface and we checked what's underneath those cracks (screwdriver, angle grinder with steel brush) - that's how we discovered that the toerail is a separate piece welded on. Some areas had rust under, not too bad, and some didn't. In some areas, the filler lifted up, but left the primer on the steel.

Now we are stuck with primed spots which are a few mm deeper than the surroundings. That's ugly, but I suppose not bad for the steel per se? As an amateur I am wondering about the function of such a filler other than aesthetics. It feels like it would be better for us and the boat if it was not filled up and smoothed out, such that everything is visible and no crevasses collecting water can occur. A similar thing goes for teak cockpits and ornaments. Any opinions on that?

Cheers,
Phil
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Old 25-10-2014, 07:54   #2
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Re: Filler over steel

I agree that fillers can be problematic if not done 100% and maybe trouble even then. If the hull is fair then live with imperfection. For detailing then can manage without.


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Old 25-10-2014, 08:30   #3
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Re: Filler over steel

Forget the fillers. Our Tahitiana has many weld lines, battle scars, and repairs visible but so do we. I have tried all sorts of fillers over the years and have regretted every attempt. As a steel boat owner you know her magic is much more than skin deep. Paint her up and let her sail.
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Old 25-10-2014, 11:38   #4
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Re: Filler over steel

Use Rage Gold for filler on steel boats.
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Old 25-10-2014, 11:48   #5
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Re: Filler over steel

Fillers are very common on metal boats. Just depends on how fair you want it I guess....
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Old 27-10-2014, 01:40   #6
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Re: Filler over steel

Hi Steel Members

I have just joined forum after buying my 2nd steel boat after a 10 year break from sailing.....

I tried not to buy another steel boat but was magnetically drawn on yachtworld.com and after looking for 6 months and have just sailed from Terneuzen in Holland back to Brighton Marina with my drug fix boat.(Pionier)

My last boat, a copy of a Nauticat 42, faired 4mm with glassed ply teak covered deck on steel frames gave me no end of problems with seepage through toerail joins to then rust and lift deck from the 200mm flange off the topsides. I had to re deck it before selling it.

I swore this time I would buy a steel decked but have again bought a (much better built) glassed ply decked but built as one piece.

Good Filler and paints is the key to these boats, keeping the acid (seawater) off the steel is your number one job. But steel boats rust from the inside, most outside rust is cosmetic, annoying but not nearly as important as keeping the bilges paint finished or preferably dry.

2 pack epoxy fillers all work outside as long as mixed and applied correctly

The toe rail is important but its the inside deck side you really need to keep sorted out..

Anyway, I have to go check out Awlgrip's current prices and also wade through heaps of wiring diagrams as the shakedown delivery head on into a force 8 produced a few things the sea trial didn't!!!

I have enclosed (I hope) pictures on faired hull below water line plus an interesting bowthruster arrangement, electric up/down with 2 separate motors driving 2 props...., sort fo thing you can do with steel hulls hard to do with GRP.
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Old 27-10-2014, 05:47   #7
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Re: Filler over steel

Just check that the toe rail is continuously welded, otherwise there will be problems.
My personal opinion is that filler has no place on a steel boat. If it needs filler, then is poorly built in the first place!

Regards,
Richard.
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Old 27-10-2014, 07:45   #8
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Re: Filler over steel

Thats because you have a multi chine and not a faired hull.

All faired hulls have ground down welds lines with some sort of filler, the filler is another impervious skin, take a knock on a jetty and lose some paint, never mind, paint it next year when out next if no steel showing.
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Old 27-10-2014, 09:06   #9
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Re: Filler over steel

I like where your head is at and, personally, I would grind out all the filling, treat the rust where necessary and paint.

White and silver will best hide 'imperfections' so if you are concerned about ascetics you might consider shooting the toerail and top few inches of your hull with white or silver.

I admit I fuss over my toerail because it is very visible from the dock and... well it is important that she looooooooooks gooooooooooooood.

gl.

-steve
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Old 28-10-2014, 02:06   #10
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Re: Filler over steel

Quote:
Originally Posted by boden36 View Post
Just check that the toe rail is continuously welded, otherwise there will be problems.
My personal opinion is that filler has no place on a steel boat. If it needs filler, then is poorly built in the first place!

Regards,
Richard.
Hi Richard,

It does seem the toerail is continuously welded, even though hard to see since it's all covered up with that stupid filler. We found a drilled hole in the rail which looked like meant to be bolted on, but no bolt inside, which makes me hope that the builder did the right thing throughout.

I might be totally wrong, but I don't think it's so much of a poor built, it feels more like a decision made to make it look "nice", which I suppose means to imitate a glass fiber look. I would also prefer no filler and seeing everything.

In fact, there is a warped plate near the bow filled up smoothly. Apparently too much tension during the fitting in and welding process. Anyway, the filler there - supposedly quite thick - starts cracking now, too. I'll keep an eye on it and might remove it next haul out.

Cheers,
Phil
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Old 28-10-2014, 02:08   #11
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Re: Filler over steel

Quote:
Originally Posted by brightontrader View Post
Thats because you have a multi chine and not a faired hull.

All faired hulls have ground down welds lines with some sort of filler, the filler is another impervious skin, take a knock on a jetty and lose some paint, never mind, paint it next year when out next if no steel showing.
I see your point there. But not knowing what's going on under a failing filler layer is just too unsettling!

Also I must add, the filler is no evenly over the whole hull, but as far as I could locate it, only in places to cover up unevenness. So no bumper car here!
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Old 28-10-2014, 02:14   #12
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Re: Filler over steel

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssanzone View Post
I like where your head is at and, personally, I would grind out all the filling, treat the rust where necessary and paint.

White and silver will best hide 'imperfections' so if you are concerned about ascetics you might consider shooting the toerail and top few inches of your hull with white or silver.

I admit I fuss over my toerail because it is very visible from the dock and... well it is important that she looooooooooks gooooooooooooood.

gl.

-steve
Yo Steve,

Thanks for your support. I won't grind out all the filler now, first, it's too much fork for now, second, it's really hard to impossible to see which areas are filled until it fails. I think I will just remove it where it fails and live with the holes created such until sometime in the future we let the whole thing sand down and made fresh.

It's funny that you mention the colors. Our hull is bright red, but where the edges between the plates are, there is a white stripe, and in fact it's hard to see the edge, it does look very round (and I don't think its filled up around the edges - that would be a few cm of filler around the edge!).

Anyway, yes, it's nice that she looks good, but nicer that she doesn't break...

Cheers,
Phil
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Old 28-10-2014, 02:26   #13
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Re: Filler over steel

Quote:
Originally Posted by brightontrader View Post

I swore this time I would buy a steel decked but have again bought a (much better built) glassed ply decked but built as one piece.
Hi there,

Shall I say congratulations or send you my condolences? Just kidding, the pictures are very nice and you will surely have some nice adventures with her.

We luckily have steel deck, although covered with stupid glued on anti slip mats which also start to fail and collect water under and hence rust. The rust spots are easily spotted, though, and we can cut the mats away where needed and fix as usual. The cockpit is solid teak, about 3cm thick, and no clue what's going on under it. One day...

Our bilge is very dry and clean, and no rust there. The only wet spot is under the engine compartment - yes, stuffing box, which I suppose is a topic in itself, but maybe OK to mention in this context: what do you do about these damn things? The girl we bought the boat from this summer just screwed it tight when not motoring, but I would think that deteriorates the stuffing although it seems to work fine so far. I was thinking about some sort of funnel - hose - container setup to collect the water coming in and such prevent it from touching the actual bilge.

The bilge is fine to inspect for rust, but what about the above water line parts, which at least in our case are pretty much all covered up with wooden constructions and insulation of various kinds (cold climates and so on)? My logic here is that water collecting behind insulation will (a) find a way down into the bilge and not leave much damage, (b) if not flowing down and collecting somewhere, will be much likely condensation and hence fresh water and not so bad either. Any opinions on that?

So much writing again, but I fell this is an important topic not only for me.

Cheers,
Phil
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Old 28-10-2014, 03:33   #14
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Re: Filler over steel

The 14 years I owned my last steel boat, also faired, the rust was as I said around the deck join and engine bilge area and where frames with holes for water to drain through collected.

There were no problems behind insulated areas on top sides as you point out, water does not collect there, sprayed on insulation also keeps the water away anyway.

I had a rope and grease stern gland and always water there and rust. I never got it dry.

On the plus side, when I sold the boat the surveyor for the buyer said there was 4mm of steel all around which was a surprise to me as I had 2 polish guys for 2 weeks chipping and and painting and they must have taken out a ton of rust at least!!!! So you can see a lot of rust but that doesn't mean you have a hole.

I met a cruiser on the other bayclass 41 steel boat in the Carib, he was Gen Patton's grandson and the boat was called Patton, his boat was kept completely dry and had absolutely no rust in side. He had his daughter every day sponge out the bilge....

My new boat is rust free down below but the previous owner was fastidious, yesterday I sponged out a few spots I found didn't drain perfectly and am going to try to keep up this practice. The boat has an amazing good stern gland, 2 in fact with hardly a drip coming through, the water that came in was from driving into a gale for 24 hours that came through the anchor sperling pipe.

I would be there today on the new boat but I have to do some home administration....sadly........

My wife wanted me to charter instead of buy another set of problems but its the problems that are the fun......isn't it...
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Old 28-10-2014, 08:39   #15
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Re: Filler over steel

Thanks for the detailed info. Is a rope and grease stern gland the regular type where you fill up the space around the prop shaft with a wick kind of material and adjust the drip by tightening a set screw? That's what we have, anyway. When you mention that in the new boat you hardly get any water through the gland - aren't you supposed to get water through it to cool down the shaft rubbing on the stuffing? That's why we release the set screw a bit for motoring until a drop per 10 sec while the shaft turns (or a rough approximation of that), and close it again when we're done for the day/ week. There is pretty much nothing coming through when tightened, and I wish we could just leave it that way while motoring.

Anyway, we live in the boat and have quite a good routine of sponging the bilge out every other day. And in fact there isn't much to sponge out except after motoring, or when my partner forgot to close the stuffing box (would never happen to me, of course...yeah right), or after we filled up the fresh water tank which has a secret crack somewhere all the way on top. There are two areas in the bilge where everything drains into, and the drainage system works really well, luckily.

It's interesting that you mention the Polish workers removing lots of rust while the steel was hardly affected. We noticed the same at the chain plates: big, ugly looking rust bubbles, but after removing all the plates looked very nice again. I guess some experience like that and one can start to relax a bit a worry less about every single rusty spot.

I was considering chartering, too, probably cheaper in the long run if you sail 2 weeks a year. But problems can also be fun, sometimes...

Cheers,
Phil
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