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Old 16-03-2016, 15:09   #1
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Glass over steel?

We have a beautiful old 29ft steel keeler, which started leaking. We hauled her out, and a welder tried patching, but it has rusted away internally, from being damp. He says it's too far gone to repair, and we need to scrap her.

I asked about putting a layer of fibreglass over the outside, but several people have said it won't work. Why is that? I thought epoxy mix integrated with whatever it was put on.
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Old 16-03-2016, 15:23   #2
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Re: Glass over steel?

unfortunately your welder is probably right,you could epoxy and glass coat it in a heated shed but it would not last long as the steel carried on rusting underneath and would push its way through the sheathing over time and be expensive to apply.
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Old 16-03-2016, 16:01   #3
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Re: Glass over steel?

It doesn't work. The epoxy and glass will fail in short order due to the reasons Atoll has described. Get a second opinion re repair or junk the boat.

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Old 16-03-2016, 21:11   #4
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Re: Glass over steel?

It wouldn't pay. The steel would have to be sand blasted on both sides and the fiberglass would have to go on both sides or the steel will continue to go. It would have to be epoxy resin depending on cloth used. You'd get about 20 sq. ft. per gallon of resin and you'd need more than one layer per side. You looking at thousands in resin alone. Also, you have a weakened hull that could fail. It would be easier to build a new hull.
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Old 17-03-2016, 03:28   #5
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Re: Glass over steel?

Rust often looks a lot worse than it actually is. You will find that some places will be far more corroded than others. Some times you need to completely remove hull plating and replace it and at others, where the plating is only thinned, you may be able to patch internally. As long as you remove all the rust and weld seal all around the patch it will not rust any more. You can check the thickness from the outside using an ultrasonic thickness tester.


I would not scrap the boat on the opinion of a single welder, get a steel boat builder to have a look at it.
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Old 17-03-2016, 05:21   #6
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Re: Glass over steel?

I bet she can be saved, but I believe the issue is it will cost more to save her, than she is worth, and that is sort of a boat isn't it? I'm putting in way more money into my boat than I will ever get back, but it will keep me safe and comfortable and I accept I'm throwing away that money.
You have to ask can you afford it, and is it worth it to you? I'm afraid there is no quick fix.
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Old 17-03-2016, 06:37   #7
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Re: Glass over steel?

Guessing the welder said a bit more than, "Too far gone, scrap it."
More information would help.
If frames & stringers need sections welding in that makes it a massively bigger job.
If a lot of hull plating also needs patching it might genuinely be too far gone for all but the most dedicated.

Rusting from inside is common but the plating won't be evenly thinned.
Often it's a lot of little triangular pieces on the high side of frames, or strips along stringers - where condensation has collected and not drained - that need cutting out and plating.

Hull plating should almost always be patched outside, not inside. Welded both sides.

Was your welder working from inside? Was he using a stick or a mig set? Asking because you said he'd "tried patching." If he's cut a patch and then found the hull too thin to weld - it may be that he's not really experienced enough to condemn your boat.

Takes skill to weld much thinner than 2mm with stick. 0.5 mm can be done carefully with mig, 1mm is easy-peasy. Your boat's hull plating may have been only 3mm when built.
2mm would have been strong enough - thicker plate is used mostly because of distortion and allowance for rust.

Hull needs marking outside with bright aerosol paint everywhere it's thin. Then you can work out the most efficient plate sizes for speed, draw them on in chalk - it'd be dumb to weld in a lot of little patches when a single bigger plate would take a tenth of the time.

Your hull needs a thorough examination with a calibrated thickness tester by somebody experienced. Drill & physically measure thickness in a few spots to confirm tester's accuracy & operator's skill.
I'd personally find the thin by tapping but not too many these days do that.

Sounds like a lot of work but learning to cut, shape & weld doesn't take very long if you're that kind of person. Steel is cheap. If you do a welding course at your local college you'll get more offers of help than you can handle

Berthing costs ashore often kill these projects though.

Unfortunately a 29 footer is too small for a quick doubling job on the hull plating except if it were just a few small patches.
Small steel boats also need more care taken with welding because the plate is thinner than on bigger boats and buckling is more of a problem.
OTOH you can bend longish plates without rolling.
Mig reduces buckling compared to stick welding but needs to be done out of the wind & rain. Back-step welding minimises distortion, peening welds can correct it.

A big section over a number of frames is quicker to remove using a plasma cutter to chop out panels between the frames. That gives good access to use a cutting disc on a grinder to remove the welds holding the remaining plating to the frames.
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Old 17-03-2016, 06:44   #8
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Re: Glass over steel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by unclemack View Post
Guessing the welder said a bit more than, "Too far gone, scrap it."
More information would help.
If frames & stringers need sections welding in that makes it a massively bigger job.
If a lot of hull plating also needs patching it might genuinely be too far gone for all but the most dedicated.

Rusting from inside is common but the plating won't be evenly thinned.
Often it's a lot of little triangular pieces on the high side of frames, or strips along stringers - where condensation has collected and not drained - that need cutting out and plating.

Hull plating should almost always be patched outside, not inside. Welded both sides.

Was your welder working from inside? Was he using a stick or a mig set? Asking because you said he'd "tried patching." If he's cut a patch and then found the hull too thin to weld - it may be that he's not really experienced enough to condemn your boat.

Takes skill to weld much thinner than 2mm with stick. 0.5 mm can be done carefully with mig, 1mm is easy-peasy. Your boat's hull plating may have been only 3mm when built.
2mm would have been strong enough - thicker plate is used mostly because of distortion and allowance for rust.

Hull needs marking outside with bright aerosol paint everywhere it's thin. Then you can work out the most efficient plate sizes for speed, draw them on in chalk - it'd be dumb to weld in a lot of little patches when a single bigger plate would take a tenth of the time.

Your hull needs a thorough examination with a calibrated thickness tester by somebody experienced. Drill & physically measure thickness in a few spots to confirm tester's accuracy & operator's skill.
I'd personally find the thin by tapping but not too many these days do that.

Sounds like a lot of work but learning to cut, shape & weld doesn't take very long if you're that kind of person. Steel is cheap.
Berthing costs ashore often kill these projects though.

Unfortunately a 29 footer is too small for a quick doubling job on the hull plating except if it were just a few small patches.
Small steel boats also need more care taken with welding because the plate is thinner than on bigger boats and buckling is more of a problem.
OTOH you can bend longish plates without rolling.
Mig reduces buckling compared to stick welding but needs to be done out of the wind & rain. Back-step welding minimises distortion, peening welds can correct it.

A big section over a number of frames is quicker to remove using a plasma cutter to chop out panels between the frames. That gives good access to use a cutting disc on a grinder to remove the welds holding the remaining plating to the frames.
any of this work would require removing ALL the interior wood work,and any other combustible materials,plus tanks etc

so at the end of the day you are probably better off building a new hull,sand blasting and painting then cannabalise the old hull for parts,mast, rigging,ballast, steering etc
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Old 17-03-2016, 07:11   #9
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Re: Glass over steel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by atoll View Post
any of this work would require removing ALL the interior wood work,and any other combustible materials,plus tanks etc
Not at all.

Obviously remove what's easily removable and what's absolutely necessary for access.
Thought the post was already long so didn't want to state the obvious.

A good helper firewatching with a water sprayer & extinguisher - fire blankets to cover vulnerable parts works fine, no need to remove everything.

All welding stops at least an hour before leaving the site, scan with infrared thermometer very last thing.

Been doing this for nearly 50 years, only fire ever was started by a mechanic who didn't know enough to take basic precautions.
Never needed the fire brigade, never made a single insurance claim.

Don't yet know how much is involved in this project but unless it turns into a pile of rust when kicked I guarantee repair will be quicker - and vastly cheaper - than a scratch build.

What made you remove the sentence about learning to weld? Not that I object or anything, just seems strange Ha Ha, you quoted from before my later edit wasn't it? Duh, getting slow...
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Old 17-03-2016, 08:02   #10
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Re: Glass over steel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattz View Post
We have a beautiful old 29ft steel keeler, which started leaking. We hauled her out, and a welder tried patching, but it has rusted away internally, from being damp. He says it's too far gone to repair, and we need to scrap her.

I asked about putting a layer of fibreglass over the outside, but several people have said it won't work. Why is that? I thought epoxy mix integrated with whatever it was put on.
The first thing I would do is get a second and third opinion from other welders familiar with steel boat hull. That should be free or cheep and give you peace of mind when making your decision.

I don't think you can just put fiberglass over the steel, but your best advice would be to talk to several boatyards familiar with steel hulled boats.

I understand why you hesitate to scrap your boat but you have to look at the cost of repair vs. the cost of a new boat.
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Old 17-03-2016, 08:08   #11
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Re: Glass over steel?

You could always have a look for someone elses failed dream, that has never seen water and move all your good stuff over. Hull and deck are cheap, its the bits we put in and on them thats expensive.
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Old 17-03-2016, 09:11   #12
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Re: Glass over steel?

Swapping everything over to a brand new hull - how's that going to work unless it's an exact replica in everything but the colour?

OK, so find and pay for a set of original plans. Measure every little thing on yours in case the original builder made changes.
Or maybe plans not available so take off the lines?
Remove interior & everything else without breaking anything.
Melt the lead for re-use.
Pay berthing for two boats from now until the Sun expands and swallows the Earth.

Maybe buy a newly-built hull that's the same size?

How likely is it that mast, standing rigging & sails will suit the boat, let alone fit without massive modifications. Or maybe you prefer massive lee or weather helm?

Engine, propshaft, prop - drop right in? Not hardly. Spend a bomb making it fit, then find the prop just doesn't suit the hull.

Rudder & stock won't fit. Steering wheel & pedestal - YES! Whoopee! Good save!

If any, any, any of the cabin furniture fits I'll show my arse in Burton's window. Even if you keep hammering until it fits it'll look like salvage from the Flying Hawaiian.

Cockpit cushions? Yeah, OK, but only until the Missus wants new'uns
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Old 17-03-2016, 09:29   #13
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Re: Glass over steel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by unclemack View Post
Swapping everything over to a brand new hull - how's that going to work unless it's an exact replica in everything but the colour?

OK, so find and pay for a set of original plans. Measure every little thing on yours in case the original builder made changes.
Or maybe plans not available so take off the lines?
Remove interior & everything else without breaking anything.
Melt the lead for re-use.
Pay berthing for two boats from now until the Sun expands and swallows the Earth.

Maybe buy a newly-built hull that's the same size?

How likely is it that mast, standing rigging & sails will suit the boat, let alone fit without massive modifications. Or maybe you prefer massive lee or weather helm?

Engine, propshaft, prop - drop right in? Not hardly. Spend a bomb making it fit, then find the prop just doesn't suit the hull.

Rudder & stock won't fit. Steering wheel & pedestal - YES! Whoopee! Good save!

If any, any, any of the cabin furniture fits I'll show my arse in Burton's window. Even if you keep hammering until it fits it'll look like salvage from the Flying Hawaiian.

Cockpit cushions? Yeah, OK, but only until the Missus wants new'uns
alternatively insure it well and go sailing in some deep water

as to rebuild,people do it all the time with classic wooden boats in my neck of the woods,replacing and rebuilding everything but the wooden frames and ballast
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Old 17-03-2016, 09:31   #14
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Re: Glass over steel?

Epoxy won't work unless you strip everything out, sandblast all the rust off, repair the weak sections and then glass inside and out. Make a mistake and you accelerate the rust problem. No way this makes sense.


While it probably wouldn't hurt to get a second opinion, unless it comes back with a wildly different recommendation...


I assume that if you asked you don't have the skill set to do it yourself (even then the hours of sweat equity may not be worth it). To hire out a professional, I can guarantee a halfway decent job is going to cost more than just going out and finding another boat.


Unless you just enjoy projects and don't care about the cost, walk away. Your biggest issue then is disposal.
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Old 17-03-2016, 10:17   #15
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Re: Glass over steel?

Since it is hauled already, you probably dont have much choice on where you are going to work on it. What are the storage costs per month and unless you dont need to go to a regular job, figure on many months or even a couple of years of learning, working, redoing things that you screwed up the first time. Unless you can put it next to your house and not have any storage costs, it will eat your budget alive. Boat yards are full of lien sales when life got in the way of a rebuild and storage costs went way over the value of the boat. A rebuild is certainly doable, but does it make any sense? Being in love with a boat can ruin your bank account. Many of us have learned that the hard way. Just another opinion. _____Grant.
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