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Old 09-11-2012, 23:17   #16
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

I suggest that you give removing the top of the deck rather than the underside. Doing fiberglass work and properly installing a core from below decks would be a horrible experience, IMHO. I believe there is some good info on this subject on the West System web site.
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Old 09-11-2012, 23:43   #17
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

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If cosmetics can be downplayed, doing the repair from the upper side is much easier, for there is no overhead work with glass and resin involved.


Finally, there need be no "drying out" involved. You remove the skin from one side or the other, you dig out the rotted core, you replace it with timber or new balsa or foam and a bunch of epoxy and then you replace the skin. Oh... you find the source of the ingress and fix that, too.



Excellent points. I require a very good reason before doing a deck core replacement from underneath, it's a nightmare. Gravity can be your friend or your enemy, you decide. It's much easier not to fight it in most cases.
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Old 10-11-2012, 06:49   #18
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

Don't do it from below. Just don't. Trust those of us saying it on this point.

If cosmetics are a concern, do the core replacement from above yourself, do as good of a job fairing the repair as you can, then hire a professional to do finish fairing and shoot the gelcoat or paint. This advice assumes you have some skills and experience doing fiberglass repair, can get the repair to a point where a professional will not have problems with it, but you lack the ability, equipment or skill to do the final finishing work.

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Old 10-11-2012, 08:33   #19
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

I have never figured out why people do it from below.
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Old 10-11-2012, 11:05   #20
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

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I have never figured out why people do it from below.
Because they are trying to avoid doing finish work on the exterior, which is of course a huge time saver. The problem is that the time saved is more than made up in time lost due to taking twice as long to install new core and laminate overhead. Also time lost with extreme interior masking (we always mask the entire interior off, both for grinding dust and so no sticky resin hands touch anything). It can also result in inferior quality work, any voids will now be between the outer skin and the core instead of the inner skin, you have to work around bulkheads, headliner, etc etc etc. Having done many repairs both ways I'm quite certain that exterior is faster and easier in most cases. I will only do interior if we are trying to save a complicated molded in skid pattern or for similar reasons. When you get your first spilled bucket of resin in someones new yacht interior you start to really see the drawbacks of this method.
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Old 10-11-2012, 11:18   #21
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

What do you plan to do with your boat? Offshore cruising? When you have the time to do it, do it right. Plan on plenty of time.... it aint easy. The world wont end if it isnt done immediately in most cases. I would guess many of the sailors out there have wet deck core and dont know it yet!
it's a tough question, how well is the boat built? How big is the area? is it near critical areas like chainplates? I've seen Taiwan decks with layup as thick as old US boats that had no core... are they compromised by wet core...? not sure, but doubt it.
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Old 10-11-2012, 11:25   #22
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

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Because they are trying to avoid doing finish work on the exterior, which is of course a huge time saver. The problem is that the time saved is more than made up in time lost due to taking twice as long to install new core and laminate overhead. Also time lost with extreme interior masking (we always mask the entire interior off, both for grinding dust and so no sticky resin hands touch anything). It can also result in inferior quality work, any voids will now be between the outer skin and the core instead of the inner skin, you have to work around bulkheads, headliner, etc etc etc. Having done many repairs both ways I'm quite certain that exterior is faster and easier in most cases. I will only do interior if we are trying to save a complicated molded in skid pattern or for similar reasons. When you get your first spilled bucket of resin in someones new yacht interior you start to really see the drawbacks of this method.
All good points. With the boats I have seen and bought, they all have the same in common. By the time the decks have soft areas, it's usually time for a non-skid job anyways.
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Old 10-11-2012, 11:26   #23
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

My friend and I did it below to prevent the mismatching of the hull color. Even if you do everything correct, the new gel coat doesn't always match the older gel coat.

We did vacuum resin infusion, and it worked beautifully. The interior was finished off with carpet accent, with the opposing side getting the same treatment.

But the area was not huge, about a 2 square foot area.

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Old 10-11-2012, 11:28   #24
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

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My friend and I did it below to prevent the mismatching of the hull color. Even if you do everything correct, the new gel coat doesn't always match the older gel coat.

We did vacuum resin infusion, and it worked beautifully. The interior was finished off with carpet accent, with the opposing side getting the same treatment.

But the area was not huge, about a 2 square foot area.

James L

Can you explain step by step how you did infusion over head?


Good color matching is a learned proffesional skill. I hear all the time that it's not possible, but we do it on a daily basis and with a ten year warranty. Loads of happy customers.
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Old 10-11-2012, 11:37   #25
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

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Can you explain step by step how you did infusion over head?


Good color matching is a learned proffesional skill. I hear all the time that it's not possible, but we do it on a daily basis and with a ten year warranty. Loads of happy customers.
Quite easy. We used a hole on the exterior of the boat, with a separation chamber. After we were done. it was a simple gel coat touch up for the hole.

Over head infusion is a little more complicated, due to the infusion process.

The shape and where you let the resin in, is very important. We chose a corner for the vacuum (the highest point), and had several different points to infuse from.

It does work pretty well due to the space around the new core. But that is also one of the drawbacks. The resin tends to channel around the core. This is the major reason for the need of multiple infusion points. You may not use them all, but make sure you have plenty, in case you have a spot that doesn't wet out. If the resin starts to channel around the core. you will need to move your infusion point. We only infused with one point at a time, using hemostats to seal the ones not being used.

The points were a grid starting from the opposite corner, that contained about 12 different spots. As I remember we used about 4 of them.

This is aimed at a person wanting to repair the hull themselves, not at a professional.

Also, I didn't say gel coat matching was impossible. I said, at times the new gel coat doesn't match the old. Also, I'm aiming at the amateur not a professional.

I'm not a professional hull repair specialist.

If my friend could have afforded the hull to be repaired by someone else, it would have been. But the repair has lasted this long (about 10 years). The repair was also in a non-critical spot.

James L
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Old 10-11-2012, 11:56   #26
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

Soft Deck How Critical ? ........ You cannot receive good advice unless you tell us the model, year, how you intend to use the boat, and where the soft/wet/rotted core is. I know hundreds (literally) that have been sailing safely for years with wet core.

Does it affect their value ? Yes. Does it affect their structural integrity ? maybe, maybe not.

Moisture in a core is relative and it's highly unlikely that you will find a 20year old boat wihtout some moisture in the core. Go back and ask for more detailed info from your surveyor (if you resepect his judgement)
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Old 10-11-2012, 13:22   #27
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

Quote:
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Quite easy. We used a hole on the exterior of the boat, with a separation chamber. After we were done. it was a simple gel coat touch up for the hole.

Over head infusion is a little more complicated, due to the infusion process.

The shape and where you let the resin in, is very important. We chose a corner for the vacuum (the highest point), and had several different points to infuse from.

It does work pretty well due to the space around the new core. But that is also one of the drawbacks. The resin tends to channel around the core. This is the major reason for the need of multiple infusion points. You may not use them all, but make sure you have plenty, in case you have a spot that doesn't wet out. If the resin starts to channel around the core. you will need to move your infusion point. We only infused with one point at a time, using hemostats to seal the ones not being used.

The points were a grid starting from the opposite corner, that contained about 12 different spots. As I remember we used about 4 of them.

This is aimed at a person wanting to repair the hull themselves, not at a professional.

Also, I didn't say gel coat matching was impossible. I said, at times the new gel coat doesn't match the old. Also, I'm aiming at the amateur not a professional.

I'm not a professional hull repair specialist.

If my friend could have afforded the hull to be repaired by someone else, it would have been. But the repair has lasted this long (about 10 years). The repair was also in a non-critical spot.

James L


Interesting method. Did you infuse the core and laminate all in one bag, or install core from underneath first and then infuse the laminate from the top through the new core? How do you insure the resin has a clear path to the lower skin laminate? And if you had to drill a number of holes in the outer skin to infuse didn't you end up with a fair number of gelcoat repairs anyway?
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Old 10-11-2012, 14:37   #28
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

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Interesting method. Did you infuse the core and laminate all in one bag, or install core from underneath first and then infuse the laminate from the top through the new core? How do you insure the resin has a clear path to the lower skin laminate? And if you had to drill a number of holes in the outer skin to infuse didn't you end up with a fair number of gelcoat repairs anyway?
We did all of the layers in one action. Top glass layer, core, and bottom glass, peel ply breathing material.

We infused from the bottom, through the bagging.

The only concern we had was not being able to see the top glass layer wet out. We had debated to use the top layer, but in the end did use it.

We ended with only one top hole (filled with resin of course, which was dressed and filled with gel coat).

It was a challenge to get the materials to defy gravity when we did this. We used some spray adhesive to tack everything up while we bagged the spot.

I will say, it is much easier to vacuum infuse from the top. But it is possible to do it from the bottom if you don't mind spending the extra time for the different infusion spots.

We actually tested this before we did the repair. I took us some time to figure out the best way to wet out everything from the bottom.

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Old 10-11-2012, 14:46   #29
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

As with all the soft deck threads. I think we can easily say..."yes, it's a big issue for the layman". My Tartan 37 Blackwatch had both sides of the decks, 10 ft. long by approx. 2 ft. (average width of the deck) pretty mushy. I did the outer skin method with marine ply, epoxy shmoo. It probably took 100 hours from start to non-skid. It was a hell of a job. By today's boatyard labor of $100@hr., your looking at $10,000 plus material. It works out to $250 a square foot. I have learned the hard way to pass on boats offered at blue light special prices. It's not worth it.
If a $65K 35 ft. boat is being offered at $50K because the decks need "a little TLC", It's not worth it. So I say to the OP. If you don't have a boat yet and looking at one with soft decks...pass.
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Old 10-11-2012, 16:28   #30
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Re: Soft Deck: How Critical ?

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Good color matching is a learned proffesional skill. I hear all the time that it's not possible, but we do it on a daily basis and with a ten year warranty. Loads of happy customers.
I agree that color matching is possible, but am intrigued by your ten year warranty. In my experience, matching new gelcoat to older gelcoat is easily possible, but having them still match 10yrs later is almost impossible. Aging is already well along in the old and one cannot control the amount of porosity and oxidation already taken place and determining the fate of the old gelcoat.

The best way to gelcoat a repair area is to make the repair so that the new gelcoat is visually isolated from the old. That way, aging differences are not noticeable. This may mean gelcoating areas well past the repair itself to, for example, butt up against a line of non-skid or a vertical bulkhead.

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