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Old 08-01-2019, 18:51   #1
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Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

Looking at a boat that I was given a 5 year old Inspection report for that stated there was a minor leak into the balsa core from deck hardware.


The current owner confirmed that this issue was never addressed.


The boat is a flight away, so I have not seen it - Is it worth pursuing and maybe paying for a surveyor to give it a look (not a full survey at this stage) or just walk away?


From my limited knowledge a leak into the balsa core that has been occurring for at least 5 years - Probably much longer, is a pretty big issue or am I wrong?
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Old 08-01-2019, 19:02   #2
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

Could be a very big issue. You need to have a look. If you are paying more than say $5k for the boat, and it looks good to you, it is worthwhile to have a surveyor's expert opinion. If you have experience working with fiberglass and don't mind taking on what could be a very big project, then it might not be a dealbreaker. But for sure the defect should be reflected in the offered price. Me, I would walk away unless the boat has some redeeming features that really make it stand out, and the price is right. Reallly right. If you do not have a proven track record of DIY learning, doing, and repairing, walk away. After 5 years the core rot could be very substantial and a yard repair very expensive. Or maybe not.
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Old 08-01-2019, 20:03   #3
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

Or, it could just as easily be minor. Too many variables to guess. Was the minor intrusion from just ONE fitting, or minor but at every fitting? What sort of climate is the boat in...dry or humid? You just can't guess.



What you could say to the owner is that you need to look, and if there is much of a problem, it will seriously affect your offer. Does he (or she) still want you to come and look, or not?


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Old 08-01-2019, 20:05   #4
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

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Originally Posted by GrowleyMonster View Post
Could be a very big issue. ................................. Or maybe not.
I agree with GrowleyMonster,- you don't have enough information. It could be a big problem or confined to a small area with a minor repair. It would be to your advantage to have an advocate take a look,-' maybe just tap around the area for an indication by sound if not a moisture meter. ...and what's the fitting? 'just a fastener on a hinge at a hatch or a chain plate problem?
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Old 08-01-2019, 20:09   #5
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

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I agree with GrowleyMonster,- you don't have enough information. It could be a big problem or confined to a small area with a minor repair. It would be to your advantage to have an advocate take a look,-' maybe just tap around the area for an indication by sound if not a moisture meter. ...and what's the fitting? 'just a fastener on a hinge at a hatch or a chain plate problem?



I'm leaning towards getting a surveyor out there to do a quick walk over and check out the core issue before flying over and seeing myself.
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Old 08-01-2019, 23:45   #6
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

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I'm leaning towards getting a surveyor out there to do a quick walk over and check out the core issue before flying over and seeing myself.

Probably a good thing to get a quick survey done before flying but if it was me I would keep in mind the airfare is only around $300 to the ES (return) these days.

Good luck.

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Old 09-01-2019, 09:05   #7
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

Try to arrive to the following agreement with the seller:
1. Professional survey.
2. Cost assessment of repair needed.
3. Deduction of repair cost from selling proce.
4. Option to break deal if survey finds major issue in the balsa core.
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Old 09-01-2019, 09:09   #8
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

A five year old inspection report is absolutely worthless, IMO.
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Old 09-01-2019, 14:43   #9
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

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Originally Posted by UFO View Post
The current owner confirmed that this issue was never addressed.
In 2002 I bought a fiberglass DeFever trawler that the survey revealed no rot issues. However, the previous owner had screwed the nameboard on the balsa cored transom without any bedding compound. Over time the transom's balsa core rotted from rainwater getting in (this is the PNW) and when I discovered this I began to make plans and save money to address the issue. BTW The transom was the only part with a core. I was at the very edge of my financial limit because I was dealing with a leaking diesel tank as well.

Before I could attack the problem, it was discovered the rot had migrated into both engine stringers! The cost of the problem zoomed astronomically. I eventually sold the vessel for a $18,000 loss, and in fact, had to take out a bank loan to satisfy the mortgage.

Caveat Emptor.
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Old 09-01-2019, 15:40   #10
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

Balsa core is not like plywood. A leak in plywood tends to migrate continually year after year with twist and vibration. Most balsa cored decks (including mine) is made from 1-1/2 inch square end grain balsa 1/2 inch thick. Resin permeates much of the surface and it runs in between each square. If applied correctly the water will disintegrate the balsa and stop at the dam the resin has created. No matter what you decide buy an ultrasonic moisture meter. Around $300 and well worth the investment.
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Old 09-01-2019, 23:06   #11
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

Raggedy Man not sure how you can believe that rot does expand beyond one or two cubes of balsa. Plenty of boats I have surveyed have had major balsa core deck rot all starting from just one or two deck fittings.
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Old 10-01-2019, 22:07   #12
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

Balsa core doesn't wick water as readily as plywood. Balsa will tend to trap water in a cell slowing the spread of rot. If water influx is contiuous and there are no resin dams the rot will spread, however. Plywood is continuous sheets of wood in layers so water wicks it way throughout the sheets from the endgrain if water ingress is constant.
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Old 19-01-2019, 15:57   #13
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

Confining the spread of water damage with the resin dams around each balsa core tile is critical to prevent future damage after a repair. Whenever I replace a damaged deck with new sheets of balsa tiles, I remove the tiles from the base webbing matrix and hand set the new tiles on a layer of tacky resin with a little more space than the original. I accept the small weight increase for the assurance of preventing water spread in the future. This is more labor intensive, but it's the kind of attention one would give with DIY work on your own boat.
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Old 19-01-2019, 16:19   #14
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

Most boats seem to have some wet deck core. How much and how wet is the question.
Many boats do not have any adequate damming between balsa squares, if they had any at all.
Balsa wicks water super fast.
Indentification of the actual zones is an art at best.
All you can do is investigate further if it's worth it to you. At least you know they admit they have some.
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Old 19-01-2019, 16:57   #15
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Re: Leak into Balsa Core from Deck Hardware

I've had many moisture meters over the years from $300 to over $700. A few years ago I discovered the most reliable meter I had ever played with.... A $40 Ryobi from Home Depot.

Moisture Meter Mythology

Balsa = Compost
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