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Old 11-06-2012, 23:22   #1
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question for the teak and deck gurus

Hi I have seen so many great bits of information on so many different subjects- so I am hoping that I can get some good advice on this. I am considering buying a 1981 Taiwan sailboat with teak decks. The decks seem in good shape but here is my question. Lets assume I need to at some point replace a single deck stirp and it happens to be a curved peice? How do you find a match for the specific curvature? Many of the planks of course are straight and I could see how you could maybe manufacture a replacement piece from solid stock with the correct thickness and the rabbit points(is this how you would do it or is there a source to buy indiviual pieces?) - but how to curve a piece and then have the square ends at the correct angle? Do you use the old borken piece for a template and cut the curved piece from a wide sollid stock plank? The broker says these planks have the cotton bedding in between each course but I have inspected the areas where the caulking is missing and I see only rabbited joinery resulting in the ~1/8 gap to be caulked. There are currently no broken or missing pieces but what if you had to remove some of the planks at some point to repair a spongy or rotted area of the deck and broke a curved piece?
I assume that someone has had this kind of experience and can provide some good advice thanks RandyL
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Old 12-06-2012, 00:36   #2
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

One would normally remove the old plank or planks, then use the removed piece as a template for the new one. You can cut it yourself or have a wood shop with marine application experience do if for you. You would then re-caulk the seams.
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:08   #3
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

Depends on the amount of "curve". If it is slight, then you just use a straight piece and spring into the curve you need; however, if the curve is too tight for that, the best way is to use a straight piece and steam it to shape.

Steaming takes a bit of setting up and is somewhat of an art but reasonably easily mastered if you get serious about it. The first few attempts can be frustrating!

Cutting from a wide plank is not so good as you loose the grain and there is also a lot of wastage but it is easy compared to springing or steaming to shape.

Or pay someone else to do it .
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:34   #4
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

Most teak decks with the planks curved, usually parallel to the bulwarks, are actually made from straight teak planks, bent to shape in place. Teak can bend if done carefully, but may take some force to accomplish. On occasion a plank may split in the process - normal wastage I'm afraid.

I have not seen teak steamed; it is not porous like the oak used for steam-bent frames so I have my doubts.

If you have rot in the deck then removing a single plank will almost certainly not be enough; you will be removing a number of planks and this will not be a simple/easy job. If careful, the planks can be pried out and reused. Usually the ends are cut square so that is the least of your problems; otherwise use the old ends as a pattern.

I think you should probably ignore this detail and take a look at the bigger picture. What is the structure of the deck? Teak over fiberglass or teak over plywood? Is it cored? Given the vintage I would assume that the teak was held down with screws - so probably 1000 or more little holes. In non-cored fiberglass this is only a potential for small leaks; if cored with balsa this is a recipe for disaster if the teak is not maintained. If over plywood then there is also a (lesser) risk of rot, assuming a quality marine plywood. The screw heads need to be counter-bored and plugged; as the teak wears and glue fails the plugs tend to loosen and come out. Aside from being unsightly, this increases the chance for leaking. So when plugs fail they must be replaced, resetting the screws lower if needed. In fact, it is easy to detect failing glue as the plug doesn't dry out as fast as the rest of the deck after a sail or rain; it should be replaced at that time.

Besides knowing the structure, you really want to know the thickness of the teak - particularly in the high wear areas. On my Carina that is below the shrouds where the rainwater streams off (Oregon). With time teak decks wear and weather, losing the soft grain, becoming rough; great for non-skid but at some point too uneven (and ugly). So after 20 years or so the deck will likely need to be sanded. Also, every 10 years or so the caulking will have to be removed and replaced in the rabbeted seams to maintain the seal. When I did both a few years ago in Turkey I also replaced all of the plugs, resetting the screws as needed. I also had a section or two of planking replaced as it was too thin to work with. Carina has been outside since February of 1979, about as long as the boat you are looking at. I figure I have another 20 years or so and then the teak will need replacing, possibly with fiberglass. I started with 5/8" teak over 3/8" Sapele plywood.

I guess the bottom line is that teak decks require significant maintenance, and don't last forever. They can also be the source of water intrusion, leading to rot in coring or plywood underdecking, if not well maintained. Such rot can be very difficult/expensive to repair so the maintenance is critical. Figuring out how to fit a replacement plank is pretty small by comparison.

I certainly don't mean to discourage you - just education as to what you are about to get into. I love my teak decks. BTW get a thorough survey before buying...
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Old 12-06-2012, 17:26   #5
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

Astrid, Wotname and CarinaPDX- thanks for the great and immediate feedback.
Wotname- the curve is slight and I have read about steaming- seems logical although I have heard that you have to be very quick from the steamer to the deck as it cools quickly and flexibility diminishes fast. I would really like to see the tools used to sping a plank in place- in my mind I see clamps bringing it to an already secured plank/course and once alinged then securing with the screws.

CarinaPDX- lots of info - appreciat it! To be more specific - I used the language of removing a single plank/couse very generically- certainly there would be numerous courses removed if there were to be rot- which leads me to continue my question with you.
The decks seem to be on the fat side of 3/8" at the bullwarks near the chain plates and does not show any extreme areas of wear and hence a thinner deck surface area- although I do not have a trained eye so we need to not assume I am 100% correct. The individual teak planks are ~1 1/2" in width and maybe 6' in lenght with staggered seams. The curvature is most prominent from amidships forward. The caulking has some cracking and has pulled away from the sides of the courses in several areas. Some of the caulking is missing, but in very few areas and in total I could only find less than 2 lineal feet in overall missing caulk.
And I saw no signs of any cotton bedding in between the courses of planking
The construction is (according to the broker) Teak/ resting on a gel coat (maybe just glass or epoxy?/then a layer of fiberglass/ under which is plywood core/ followed by another skin of fiberglass eventually ending in the underside of the deck and in the cabin areas there is a vinyl and lightly padded/insulated layer which is the headliner of the cabin. and of course (according to the broker) there are ribs running side to side which support the deck in general. I hope I am using the correct terminology - I getting the feeling that core and plywood are not neccessarily the same- and at this time I can only go on what the broker is telling me- that it is fiberglass with plywood inbetween.
Yes the teak is screwed down. There are relatively few bungs that are missing and I really only found ~6 exposed screw heads.

So here is my next and maybe more important issue/question.
While spending time on board I looked in every locker and nook and cranny. On the port side in a cabinet above the stove I was looking with a flashlight and saw some flaking of a layer of paint. Upon feeling this area I found very wet and mushy core material (maybe this is just the plywood? and not "a true core?" - . Guaging from the port light in this area I was able to determine that this rot is directly below and about 6 inches forward from a side cleat on the port side. Also nearby is a stanchion. The cleat rests on a teak pad and I can find a little movement in the cleat itself. the stantion which is about a foot to aft seems solid. The area I could feel and see is about 6" in diameter and of course I have no way of telling how far it may go. So- yes I realize that the teak decks will leak - proof exists- my question is can this type of rot be cut out and repaired from below? Does this mean that one should count on removing the teak altogether and paying to have a nice glass deck with non skid? Could the teak deck be removed in this area and the rot repaired from above?(it is close to the outer edge of the deck) if so- and IF it is small and contianed - can this be a DIY project? I am handy as a builder/framer and a bit of plumbing and electric etc.
Would you simply walk from the boat? (I know this is very open for different opinions)
And of course a VERY thorough survey would be done- but I am just at the point of considering an offer. The rest of the boat seems in good shape but I am staying unemotional at this point.
Any follow up thoughts/ideas/ suggestions are vey much appreciated.

Also- out of curiosity- what kind of boat do you have? You say you are in PDX I am just north of you in Seattle so yes I get your mention of Oregon rain !! thanks all Randy
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Old 12-06-2012, 17:38   #6
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

Quote:
Originally Posted by RLewis View Post
Astrid, Wotname and CarinaPDX- thanks for the great and immediate feedback.
Wotname- the curve is slight and I have read about steaming- seems logical although I have heard that you have to be very quick from the steamer to the deck as it cools quickly and flexibility diminishes fast. ...........
Yes, it does diminish fast, like really fast. If necessary you can make up a jig right next to the steamer and bend it on the jig. Slow but accurate!

Sorry I can't help with your other questions.
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Old 12-06-2012, 18:06   #7
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

Yep, usually bent , not sawn to shape. I tried to steam bend teak when I built my first boat... didnt work. Oak worked fine with the same setup. Has anyone here actually steam bent teak?
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Old 12-06-2012, 20:45   #8
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

Lots of questions there. I'll give it a go...

"Cored" simply means that there is some other material sandwiched between layers of fiberglass. Go-fast boats were made with balsa or foam for the core to reduce weight; separating the fiberglass adds strength in the same way that the central plate in an I-beam increases the strength of the top & bottom plates. Unfortunately, while balsa has a great strength/weight, it is horribly prone to rot. Foam won't rot but it can break down. Hence the bad rep for older cored hulls/decks. These days there are some modern materials available that are pretty amazing. Anyway, plywood is not a lightweight solution (who cares?) but it is fairly durable; it is certainly more rot-resistant than balsa. Still, if water gets into the core it will stay there and eventually rot the plywood, as you have found. Hence the need to keep up the deck maintenance. BTW one reason to core is so that deck screws can penetrate the fiberglass for holding, without coming out on the inside. As for repairing the core, I don't have any experience doing that, but I guess that it is best done from the top. Remember, the points of all of those screws are sticking down into the plywood so would interfere with the new plywood fitting from the bottom. Besides, glassing overhead is a first class mess.

Generally speaking when caulking gets old it hardens and shrinks, pulling away from the sides of the seam. I say 'generally' because there are a variety of chemistries used for caulking. Given the vintage I would guess that your deck was laid with two-part polysulphide caulk, which was really good stuff for the time (my decks were laid and caulked with that - an awful mess to mix up and pour into cartridges). Your description fits the description of failing caulking, which will allow water to get below the rabbet and possibly under the planks; from there it can move through the screw holes and into the core. (BTW, I would be shocked to find cotton in the seams - that is a technique that was given up long before this boat was built.) I think you should count on having to recaulk, the sooner the better. This entails using a utility knife and cutting the caulk away from each side of the seam, then reefing it out with a seam tool you can either buy or make from a cheap screwdriver. This is a big job. Some pros use a router with a guide strip to remove the caulk - this is tricky and prone to going walkabout through the teak - I haven't/wouldn't try this. The seam needs to be scraped or sanded clean of the old caulking. The seams should be wiped down with alcohol or acetone before priming with a special epoxy and then caulked, probably with Sikaflex deck caulk or similar. Once set for a few days the excess caulking is cut off with a chisel run along the top of the seam. If the seams weren't masked off the decks will have to be sanded to remove the caulking in the teak grain. If this sounds like a lot of work, well it is.

While there may be only a few plugs missing, you won't know the real story until the deck gets wet and then you watch it dry - you could have quite a few plugs that need replacing. This is not a big deal. However, you may have difficulty doing this because of the worn deck. You say that the teak appears to be a bit more than 3/8" thick - pretty thin for a screwed-down deck. Consider that you need about 3/16" of thickness for the plug, almost as much again for the head of the screw, plus some more thickness of teak under the screw head. From your description it sounds like the deck can be brought up to snuff for now, but replacement may be coming up in another 10-20 years.

As with the deck screws, any fitting that bolts through the deck needs to be resealed occasionally. If the cleat is moving at all that is a big problem - water IS leaking there, and recaulking will not be a permanent fix. Basically, placing a cleat on a teak pad is a bad idea: teak is a fairly soft wood (even though it is abrasive to tools). By raising the cleat up with the teak this allows the high side loads on the cleat to pull the bolts into the teak and enlarge the hole. New caulk may stop the leak for a while, but it will come back in time. I would prefer that the base be made of something with less yield than teak. But be warned: I am pretty fussy. YMMV

Does the teak deck extend from the cabin sides to the bulwarks? Or is it a sort of an island, ending a couple of inches before reaching the bulwarks, creating a water channel on the fiberglass? If the former, then recaulking the seams (plus the plugs) should fix things. If the latter, then if there is not a seam along the bottom edge of the teak where it meets the glass deck, then one would need to be made if possible. It might require lifting the outside planks and rebedding them. Otherwise water might get under the teak along this edge.

Unless you see them, I doubt that there are deck beams in the deck. This sort of fiberglass construction generally doesn't need them. Combined with the comments about cotton caulk in the deck, I think you should take anything this broker has to say with a grain of salt - trust no one but an experienced surveyor with a good reputation (meaning the one the broker won't recommend).

As for bending the teak, sometimes it is done with clamps to other planks as described. Often a screw is put in the deck and a wedge hammered in between the teak and the screw to hold it bent while fastening. Every boatwright has his own techniques for solving problems.

Now, back to the big picture. This boat clearly has serious rot in part of the deck. There is no way to know how far it extends until the deck is ripped up, which is to say this is a big job that could get a lot bigger. It will be very expensive. You might be able to do it yourself, given your skills, but it would be better to at least get an experienced boatwright involved for guidance. And there is no way of knowing if rot has started elsewhere, or at least water trapped in the core, so even if the deck was perfectly sealed there may be trouble down the road. Some cruisers have removed teak decks and repaired the glass underneath plus paint/gelcoat. It also leads to a cooler boat in the tropics (teak decks absorb a lot of solar radiation). That is certainly an improvement to a boat already owned. My question is why do you want to own this boat? Clearly there is a lot of work to be done. There are a lot of boats for sale, so I would recommend finding one that doesn't need this much work or carry this much risk. If you really like this boat, then before you make an offer hire that surveyor to look her over quickly and give you some advice. The really good surveyors will often cut a survey short when they see big problems, and instead of writing up a report just explain the hard facts over a cup of coffee for a lot smaller fee. This is looking like one of those cases. Good luck.

Greg
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Old 12-06-2012, 20:55   #9
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

I have never steamed teak, just oak. I have heard that it can be done, as that is what some makers of teak furniture use to achieve highly curved shapes. The wood is steamed and a mold of some sort is used.
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Old 12-06-2012, 21:47   #10
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

Greg-I was hoping you would and glad that you did reply- I'll answer your last question first. The boat is a Young Sun 35, 1981. I like the style and classic look of this canoe stern and the layout in general. I like the look of teak deck- but agree that they can become a liability and would require a lot of maintenance This vintage supposedly has a much thicker and supposedly denser material used in the hull and, again, suppopsedly less prone to blistering- only what I have heard - no facts on this. And yes- I got a good laugh and I do hear you about taking what the broker says with a grain of salt. He's been around a while- I guess long enough to have used the old style cotton packing on teak planking. My goal of having a boat goes like this- one in the 32-35' range. Have it in the San Juans for the next few years and become more of an accomplished sailor with my ultimate goal of in retirement to sail the west coast (either on our own or hire an off shore capt'n- I'm not proud- just practical and safety minded) of the states onto the Sea of Cortez. Hang out in that locale for the best months- lets say Nov -May, put on the hard during the off/hurricane season and return to the states- then repeat for a few years. I have a better understanding of "core" with your definition. And I agree- I believe there are no beams. Good point about attempting a repari from the underside with the screws from the deck being in the way.
The teak deck comes within about a 2-3" reveal of the bulwarks and I dont know if there is a seal under the exposed edge of the outer course. It does however rest against the cabin sides and is sealed there. I believe that the caulking is of aploysulfied material but dont know if it is the original- I am thinking that it may be. I could easily be off on the thickness of the planking- in hindsight I should have estimate more like 5/8"- seems like it was about as thick as my index finger at the forward end of my finger. As for more plugs likely being in need of replacement- no doubt you are correct- I have only been on board twice and each time no rain- imagine that- and the deck was already dry.
Ceertainly I will take your suggestion of a "modified" survey to hit the high points into consideration. If there were not alot of other severe issues- and if one could determine with fair certainty that the rot was localized and able to be repaired I could see still purchasing a boast like this - if the price were right and then self removing the teak and haviong a professional fill the screw holes, glass and gel coat it with a patterened non skid. Now I have heard with doing the demo my self a professional glass job would run $5-7k (guess who quoted it) But I would have a estimate from a pro shop before proceeding with any offer or a full survey. As for the rot and the moving cleat- if the deck were to be removed then if the rot was localized- maybe then a solid and effcient repair could be undertaken prior to a new glass deck. Also- I was so interested in reading the replies I failed to notice that your boat brand is clearly listed in the margin- duh.
Thanks Greg for all your advice and any more you may have to offer. There ceertainly are many boats for sale - I guess I was a bit smitten with this ones style.
Randy
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Old 12-06-2012, 22:38   #11
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

Randy,

$5-7k sounds too low. The actual removal of old material is pretty fast if done by a pro: they don't waste time or attempt to salvage things. They just tear into the damage and keep removing until they find good material. Then repair everything with new. Even on big jobs the tearing out is usually only a day or two. But building things up properly with new materials can get quite expensive. A surprisingly large number of $5k jobs become $25k jobs. Just saying...

Thinking more about your cleat, I am guessing that the bolts extend through the deck and the nuts are on the underside? In that case it will be impossible to keep from leaking until the plywood in the sandwich is replaced, as the wood is now mush and the bolts will not hold the cleat rigidly.

I wouldn't worry too much about blistering; I have never heard of a boat sinking from its blisters. It is usually a minor cosmetic thing unless they show up in the topsides - then a major cosmetic thing. If there are many large blisters then you might not want to get into it - mostly because others will be reluctant to buy it from you. A blister job on a boat like that would run something like $10k. You could easily blow through twice that much money having a pro repair the damage you already know exists with this deck.

Many people have fallen in love with "Leaky Teakies" through the years. They can be quite beautiful, and the feel of teak under bare feet is something special. That said, a plain fiberglass boat is both low maintenance and durable. And some are quite attractive as well, if in a different way. The truth is, as much as I love my little Carina (I have to given the time and money it cost to build her) I would be reluctant to buy another. Better to spend more time in the hammock sampling rum than working on a hot deck (or repainting the house sides, or varnishing yet again the bowsprit - you get the idea). As for this boat, I fear you could spend too much money, as well as have to delay cruising plans, if it turns into a big project. Life is finite, and sometimes things happen that shorten the time available for cruising. It is better I think to get a boat without the problems and increase the chances of cruising sooner.

Greg
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Old 13-06-2012, 01:35   #12
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

Randy

I am in the final stages of getting a teak foredeck repaired, about 60 sq ft in all. Yes it will cost, but the price of the boat was dropped by a lot more than the repairs. I'm still a couple of weeks away from the final invoice, but if the thread stays alive I'll post a sq ft price when all done. Its being done in a Puget Sound yard.

In a different context I was advised that new teak decking applied in a major commercial yard runs to about $130/sq ft. Apart from the cost, in the tropics unshaded teak decks get too hot to walk on without shoes, so I'm going with non-slip surface for my repaired foredeck. I have more teak - side decks and in the cockpit. These areas are partly shaded and seem to be OK (caulking survived better?) and I'm keeping those.

Yes, you first remove the teak strips and if you do that yourself you might be able to salvage most of it, depending on how difficult the fasteners are to remove. Bear in mind that if you re-lay it, the best thing to do is to use adhesive and avoid having any screws at all. You can use some broken pieces of the removed deck and a plug-cutter to make new bungs to seal the old screw holes, a lot cheaper than buying new pre-cut bungs.

Once the teak is off, cut out some small test areas in the top layer of fibreglass to see how far the soft areas spread, and confirm the type of core material you have. Taiwanese in the early 80's - my guess is balsa.

Remove the soft/wet/rotten areas, sand the lower fibreglass layer then start replacing core, and 'glass it in. None of this is difficult but takes time and even if you only do up to the removal and sanding smooth you will save a lot of chargeable hours.

But the teak deck repairs could still get quite expensive as Greg says. The owner probably knows this, and it will help you knock a lot off the price IF you still want to proceed. Once there is awareness of softness under teak decks, most buyers head for the hills. The owner wont let you out of sight if he thinks you are hooked, as buyers are few and far between for boats with soft decks.

A surveyor will tap the deck with a hammer to find an approximate extent of the softness. But you wont really be able to tell how far it goes until you start cutting some inspection holes. Try to get an estimate of the affected area, assume its a lot worse than that for 'budget' purposes, and offer accordingly. You either need the boat cheap, or a different boat.

Be aware that if it is balsa cored, you can expect to replace most of the core. Balsa makes a good sponge! Ply core might enable you to just do spot repairs. Water enters along the caulking, then goes down screw holes. It gets widespread fairly quickly given that boats flex. Caulking in good condition now wont tell you much - it could have been in bad shape for some time then "fixed up for sale".

If you like the boat, just factor in the repair cost and go for it. Doing at least some of the work yourself keeps things manageable. You could even get just the cleat area done, helping along the way so you learn the skills and do other areas yourself. But you wont want too many other 'projects' after purchase or you will spend way too much time n repairs and too little time boating.
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Old 13-06-2012, 02:23   #13
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

Good post. I accepted the description of a plywood core as fact, but that degree of softness is more consistent with balsa. If it is balsa, then a very large job indeed. It would have to be pretty cheap to justify taking on that job.
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Old 13-06-2012, 06:17   #14
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Yep, usually bent , not sawn to shape. I tried to steam bend teak when I built my first boat... didnt work. Oak worked fine with the same setup. Has anyone here actually steam bent teak?
I've bent a fair bit of it with steam, I read on forums often that it don't work, here's a pic of some. Jeff. The margin plank on the deck of the cabin launch got steamed & held shape well, the toe rail forward to the same pic was steamed & similar, the planks being replaced on the black vessel had plenty of bend & around 60deg of twist- the first one we added wedges to account for spring back.......... the next we didn't bother they held shape so well. Best to have really good forms or use the vessel as the form for bending- when teak is hot & wet it loves to compression shake over hard points, a place I worked at we used to do sprung overlay decking to launches 16'-20' long- at the shoulder forward where the bends/edge set was tight we'd work as a team with bar & pipe clamps to pull the decking into the shape of the cover boards, if one went too hard with his clamp thats what we got, better to bend over a form rather than into it. There's another pic that shows the bend in the 2" planking disappearing & also demonstrates the twist.
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Old 13-06-2012, 10:29   #15
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Re: question for the teak and deck gurus

"Once the teak is off, cut out some small test areas in the top layer of fibreglass to see how far the soft areas spread, and confirm the type of core material you have. Taiwanese in the early 80's - my guess is balsa."
You can just drill test holes to determine extent of wetness. Just use a 3/16 drill and squeeze the debris left in the drill flutes between your thumb and forefinger. If wet water will come out.
Many of the older Taiwanese boats have cheap chinese plywood core.
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