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Old 03-08-2016, 20:41   #1
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Pinhole leak in timber boat

I have discovered a tiny little leak in my new to me boat.

The leak is in the most inaccessible part of the boat and was only discovered by sticking a camera about a metre under some cabinets taped to a stick.

The leak is below the waterline and so it needs to be resolved. It is small but SUPREMELY annoying.

Because of the issue of working out where it is coming from (as opposed to where it is coming out) the preference is to fix it from the inside. the leak is on the surface of the hull and is about 1 metre below the waterline.

So what products would you use to achieve a satisfactory result?

Is there a spray product that might be more useful in the confined space?

In an ideal world I would do the repair in water although it could be slipped I guess.

I am conscious that it would be best to repair externally but after looking fairly hard at it all, I am not convinced that is at all practical.

As always, thanks in advance.
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Old 03-08-2016, 20:59   #2
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

Ok, some questions.
What is the construction of the boat, cold molded, epoxy, or planked, Carvel planked? Is there caulking?

I used to fix small leaks in the planking , while waiting for the planks to finish swelling, by rubbing a bar of soap on the exterior seam, you could also try rubbing fine sawdust on the seams while the boat is in the water. As the planks swell the soap will be pushed out. I would use the sawdust as a last resort.
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Old 03-08-2016, 21:05   #3
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

I would also encourage you to check the area where the leak is very carefully, maybe bring in someone skilled in wooden boat construction. The leak may be an indication of a bigger problem like a loose plank or failed fastenings.
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Old 03-08-2016, 21:32   #4
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

A friend of mine had a summer job in high school keeping a houseboat afloat. It was a wooden hull barge with a house on it. The hull was worm eaten and rotten. Once a day he would go into the bilge and look for streams of water coming in. When he found one, which was often, he would shove a wire out through the hull so he could find the leak from the outside. Then he would dive over the side, find the wire, pull it out and slap a handful of cement that would set under water over the hole. I think today he would use Zspar Splash Zone epoxy instead of the cement.

I'm not recommending this as a permanent fix, but it might buy you some time until you can do a proper fix.

There used to be a lot of wooden Haitian freighters on the Miami River. Those guys would buy Splash Zone many gallons at a time.
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Old 03-08-2016, 22:37   #5
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

Thanks

My shipwright (who helped build her as an apprentice) has had a look. He doesn't think it is a big deal. I believe he called it "an annoying dribble".

The boat is planked (not Carvel) and has been in the water for about 6 months since she was relaunched and since 1966 originally.

That green stuff looks pretty good, I will have to see if it is available in Australia??

As always

Thanks
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Old 04-08-2016, 09:21   #6
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

Sound that area with a pick from the outside if you can to determine the size of your problem. Butter up a suitably sized patch plank with SikaFlex and screw the patch plank over the problem area. SikaFlex will cure under water and buy you safe time until you can haul out.
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Old 04-08-2016, 10:30   #7
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

A traditional trick is to get a wet mop and a bucket of sawdust. Sawdust on the mop then plunge it underwater around the leak. The sawdust gets drawn into the leak where it swells and stops it. Commonly done when re-launching but may work for this one.
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Old 04-08-2016, 10:33   #8
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

I hope your shipwright is right. Pun not intended. I would bug the hell out of me. I hope she hasn't been in waters with Teredos. Hopcar mentioned them. A pin hole sounds suspect.

Again best of luck.
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Old 04-08-2016, 10:41   #9
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

The challenge with wood is that there appears to be a small hole that might be the indication there is a larger dry rot issue so poking around with ice picks and such should be done with a well thought out plan B. If and when you pull the boat and can let it dry out, you might want to see if it is a bigger issue. There are a couple of companies that make CPES, Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer that can be worked into the wood to stop the spread of the rot. Then repairs can be done from there.

I have a 1965 Century Resorter that is a 17' long mahogany boat that my wife and I have owned for about 30 years. I am over half way done with the second restoration, so I have seen a little bit of dry rot. Places that looked sound before disassembly were eye openers. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
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Old 04-08-2016, 10:51   #10
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

Fix from the outside. Haul the boat. Be prepare for a big problem, hopefully not.
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Old 04-08-2016, 11:30   #11
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

I wouldnt mess it by the inside...
Better haul the boat. If theres a pinhole leak, maybe there's more, hope not.

best regards,
Carlo
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Old 04-08-2016, 11:46   #12
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

If you can only find the leak internally with a camera on a stick, it seems it will be impossible to repair from the inside without some major disassembly.
I had the same problem on my boat ,in the 2 inch thick strip planking,caused by creatures called kupang in Malaysia. They look like small snails, about 1/2 inch diameter with a single crab like claw that digs a hole in the hull to make a nest, from which they feed off the passing nutrients. When they dig in to the hull they don't ingest the wood and bottom paint so it does not kill them. I developed four leaks on my way to a ship yard in Thailand from near Singapore,and I used underwater epoxy on the inside together with a number of pre prepared patches for a temporary fix. The patches were six inch square 1/4 inch plywood with roofing nails protruding through each corner. When a leak occurred,I buttered bitchumen on to the plywood; then a covering of cheese cloth to stop the bitchumen from squeezing out; followed by another layer of bitchumen . I was then able to dive on the leak and attach the patch with only a snorkel.
My leak also started out as a small weep, but when I poked at it with my finger it became a finger sized hole with only the paint on the inside of the hull to stop a torrent.
I also tried the quick fix cement trick, but I found that if there was too much water flow, or trying it on the outside of the hull under water,then the cement would wash away before it could set up.
What I did to repair the damage in Thailand is a another saga.
Good luck and don't ignore the small stuff.


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Old 04-08-2016, 12:41   #13
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

If its leaking, it can allow teredo worms access to the hull. They can eat up a hull literally in a matter of several months, making the hull useless. I would haul and fix asap. Shipworms can get into the tiniest of holes in the hull.
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:59   #14
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwells79 View Post
The challenge with wood is that there appears to be a small hole that might be the indication there is a larger dry rot issue so poking around with ice picks and such should be done with a well thought out plan B. If and when you pull the boat and can let it dry out, you might want to see if it is a bigger issue. There are a couple of companies that make CPES, Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer that can be worked into the wood to stop the spread of the rot. Then repairs can be done from there.
CPES is a hoax.. be warned
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Old 04-08-2016, 13:30   #15
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Re: Pinhole leak in timber boat

As Hopcar wrote, Slash Zone is the best temp cure. I seldom leave shore without a quart or two aboard. Just bite the bullet and take the plunge. Splash Zone is mixed and cures under water. If you can't make yourself dive in the water run her up on a beach at half tide (if you have a tide) careen her over and apply Slash Zone from the skiff.

Don't waste your time trying to stop it from the inside.

Splash Zone is just buying you some time before you haul and probably re-
calk.
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