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Old 27-08-2020, 03:44   #1
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Carbon fiber and lightning

Good Morning All,
I was in the process of making an offer on an epoxy composite, carbon fiber covered, cedar cored catamaran, but she has just been struck by lightning. Obviously, the current owner’s insurance will cover the damage. My question is will the full extent of the damage be known? Will Infra red tell us everything, or will there be unanswered questions?
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Old 27-08-2020, 04:20   #2
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

Not sure how an IR scan could show any latent damage. It should, however, be easy to see on the carbon mast - look at the ground wire.
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Old 27-08-2020, 04:43   #3
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

The lightning may have taken a bunch of different routes at the same time to the water, including through the electrical system. Make sure that everything works and look for burn marks, particularly at junctions. The same goes for the mechanical side, where it can weld parts together. That the hull is floating without any big holes is a good sign.

The problem is that a lightning strike is so unpredictable. Some forum mambers have reported very little damage, while others have seen catastrophic flying fiberglass.

Infra-red just measures the presence of radiated heat. The boat has cooled down, so it won't help. It's going to take lots of inspection to put your mind at ease. Sorry it happened. Can you arrange insurnce continuation in case there is concealed damage?
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Old 27-08-2020, 04:45   #4
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

Well they are building aircraft out of it and they are prone to lightening strikes so my guess would be probably not.

Ultrasonic may be more effective at location resulting defects.
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Old 27-08-2020, 04:55   #5
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

They used thermal imaging on our boat after a lightning strike
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Old 27-08-2020, 05:21   #6
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

Hi. There is a good review by Eric Greene at Shipstructure.org on this subject. The title was something like composites and non destructive testing.
I think there was an article in Professional Boatbuilder as well.
Happy trails to you.
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Old 27-08-2020, 05:28   #7
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

Hi. The Pro Boat article is listed in the references of the Greene report.
ProBoat feb/mar 2010 by G.Gardiner.
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Old 27-08-2020, 05:30   #8
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manateeman View Post
Hi. There is a good review by Eric Greene at Shipstructure.org on this subject. The title was something like composites and non destructive testing.
I think there was an article in Professional Boatbuilder as well.
Happy trails to you.
Mark, an aluminum beer can hull manatee

Good article.


http://www.shipstructure.org/Greene_...nstruction.pdf
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Old 27-08-2020, 08:05   #9
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

Thanks
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Old 27-08-2020, 08:15   #10
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

Don't complete the deal until the current owner removes the mast, shrouds and stays for inspection to identify the damage. Also have ALL the electrical wiring, grounding and electronics inspected and fully tested and run at least over night by a knowledgeable person. He will also figure out the path(s) the lighting took. Any hull damage will need to be fully ground out to repair.
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Old 27-08-2020, 08:30   #11
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

I would avoid it as there will probably be too many "unknowns"
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Old 27-08-2020, 09:44   #12
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

friends on trimaran sunday a few years ago was hit by lightning in south america.. carbon fibre mast. arrived in zihuatenejo with no mast. none.gone.. he said his mast was lightning struck before departure. disintegrated off nicaraugua.. could have been worse. he still had engine power....
might want to price out a new mast....
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Old 27-08-2020, 09:51   #13
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

From my own experience, every time you think you know the full extent of the damage something new will pop up that in retrospect becomes pretty clear. Had major lightning strike in 2005 that fried most electronics. Insurance surveyor found tons of items and the my yard found more items during repairs, all of which were covered. Month or 2 after final settlement the radar died, then more LEDs on AC & DC panels died. Later found few items probably related to the strike. Last item found was after about 12 years when tracking down a very intermittent starting problem that I thought I had fixed several times by changing key ignition, starter, solenoid, then 2 nd solenoid. When I removed plastic covering from the Yanmar wiring harness to find power line to starter had fried insulation about every 18" for 24 feet apparently related to lightning strike. New wire run and 12 year old problem has never recurred in past 5 years. Moral: stay away from recently damaged lightning strike boats unless dirt cheap & you love tracking down intermittent weird problems.
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Old 27-08-2020, 10:11   #14
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

Quote:
Originally Posted by smj View Post
They used thermal imaging on our boat after a lightning strike
I am a level III (highest level) IR thermographier. Unfortunately, IR is often used as a smoke and mirrors sales technique.

There are ways to find cracks (surface and internally) with IR, but I guarantee you they didn't do it. It wouldn't be practical for a boat, outside of the hull, and would require a crazy expensive set up and camera. For the hull you could do pulse or flash IR. I have never done a boat but it seems like just getting it wet would make more sense in finding voids or water intrusion. Remember, IR requires line of site and the surface should be uniform on both sides as anything touching it on either side will change the heat signature. I think maybe IR might be good for an initial water intrusion scan then back up the findings with a moisture meter and/or core samples (not sure if core sampling is a thing on a boat or not).

If you have any IR questions let me know and I can answer them and if I can't I know people who can. I am in the industrial sector of thermography.
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Old 27-08-2020, 11:09   #15
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Re: Carbon fiber and lightning

Quote:
Originally Posted by ewishki View Post
I am a level III (highest level) IR thermographier. Unfortunately, IR is often used as a smoke and mirrors sales technique.

There are ways to find cracks (surface and internally) with IR, but I guarantee you they didn't do it. It wouldn't be practical for a boat, outside of the hull, and would require a crazy expensive set up and camera. For the hull you could do pulse or flash IR. I have never done a boat but it seems like just getting it wet would make more sense in finding voids or water intrusion. Remember, IR requires line of site and the surface should be uniform on both sides as anything touching it on either side will change the heat signature. I think maybe IR might be good for an initial water intrusion scan then back up the findings with a moisture meter and/or core samples (not sure if core sampling is a thing on a boat or not).

If you have any IR questions let me know and I can answer them and if I can't I know people who can. I am in the industrial sector of thermography.


The previous owners insurance company flew what they considered an expert in to image the hulls and mast.
I was given a copy of the imaging and was either present or doing the repairs. The thermal imaging report on this boat was dead on.
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