Rotted Core: Is it safe? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 10 Old 07-01-2013 Thread Starter
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Rotted Core: Is it safe?

My question is: What are the dangers of a rotted core? I have a 34' Tiffany Jayne made by C&B Marine in CA in 1983 which only made 6 of these. It's been a fresh water boat it's whole life on Texas lakes but was used for racing and never really maintained very well. Records show it sank in a storm at one point and has signs of a lot of previous hull repairs. From what I have found, about 1/2 of the core has been wet before and in some places it barely exists. I can do some spot injections of epoxy but replacing large sections of core is not economically or practically feasible in my opinion. I picked it up cheap with a trailer and just want to fix it up and use it for a few years. Is it going to split in half on me? Would it be okay to sail it on a coastal passage in the Gulf?
I've received a lot of sound and sage advice on this forum and look forward to your replies. Thanks!
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post #2 of 10 Old 07-01-2013
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Re: Rotted Core: Is it safe?

Wont split in half- Core is only used on topsides not hull construction. Could break through if you dropped an anchor on the foredeck hard enough.

Fact is YES you CAN do the work yourself but bro its such a pain in the ass and time taking process I really think you should not waste your time. If the core is Balsa which sure as sheet it is the dampness did not stay localized- it spread. So you potentially have an entire topside rotting beneath your feet. Even a 4X5 area means cutting numerous holes into the fiberglass, filling with epoxy (making sure you leave no voides, then re fiberglassing the holes. However the balsa will continue to spread its dampness and it disintegrates when wet. I feel sorry for you-
You should always tap tap tap every part of the deck before buying for hollow sounds. My boat only had one soft spot by the starboard chainplate but luckily it was not too bad and I cut out ALL the rot and damp wood and refilled with epoxy.

Now the cabin sole? Completely rotted underneath the fiberglass. However Im not about to tear up the entire floor and replace it. So thats just going to sit like it is. Its not a big deal in the sole because my bilge is only 3" so its not like id fall through. I did do one 6" by 4" square and it was such a pain in the ass I decided the hell with the rest. I have a crack developing by the V-Berth I will have to cut out eventually and relay but im procrastinating on it. Its irking me more and more daily bc everytime I step on that spot it puts more stress fractures making it look uglier but until I bust out the dremal and have 2-3 days to spend its going to stay like it is.

Topside? Much more critical and MUCH more work.
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Re: Rotted Core: Is it safe?

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Core is only used on topsides not hull construction.
Not true. Many manufacturers including this one used coring below the WL in the hull construction. the Tiffany Jayne 34 has balsa coring throughout.

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Re: Rotted Core: Is it safe?

The tiffany Jaynes had a balsa cored hull and deck. it would depend on how much of the balsa core is wet but you could use injected epoxy in smaller sections. balsa core is strong even when wet , but over time the wood will rot and loose the compressive strength which is what makes the hull stiff. the core is installed in sections like 2' by 4' sheets and the thickened resin fills in the voids between sheets and tends to be a barrier to prevent moisture from spreading.

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Re: Rotted Core: Is it safe?

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Not true. Many manufacturers including this one used coring below the WL in the hull construction. the Tiffany Jayne 34 has balsa coring throughout.
What a stupid construction. Really- Absurd. Add that to the list of boats I will never even CONSIDER buying.

Boat makers with common sense I would think do not put balsa in the hull. wtf is even the reasoning besides being cheap?
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Re: Rotted Core: Is it safe?

To save weight. A balsa or foam cored hull can be as strong as a solid hull but considerably lighter. C&C, Tartan, Pearson, Jboat just to name a few manufacturers that produced boats with cored hulls. Boats with cored hulls have sailed around the world in the most demanding conditions.
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Re: Rotted Core: Is it safe?

A corollary of the observation that "cored hull can be as strong as a solid hull but considerably lighter' is " a cored hull can be stronger than a solid hull of the same weight". Perhaps solid FRG hulls weren't cored to save money.
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Re: Rotted Core: Is it safe?

Screw cored hulls dude. Lighter? More like cheaper. Were not power boaters. I love my 1/2" solid fiberglass hull. Yea im a heavy load at 8000 lbs and only 27 feet but i want beefy and thick when ocean sailing. I think balsa coring in hulls is stupid. But what do i know? Not much. Still think its a stupid way to build a hull. But watev.
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post #9 of 10 Old 07-01-2013
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Re: Rotted Core: Is it safe?

It costs more to build a boat with balsa core (or any other core material) than to lay up a solid glass hull. But it is stronger. stiffer, and as light or more often lighter than the solid hull. As long as the builder does a good job and any owners treat any new penetrations properly with epoxy there should not be any problem. Balsa is one of the best core materials because of its great strength in compression. Moisture does not travel far in balsa because of its grain direction - vertical - and because the squares of balsa will have resin in the channels between squares. Now if you let it get wet and ignore it for years it grows into a larger problem.

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Re: Rotted Core: Is it safe?

I would look very critically at a balsa cored hull, and would walk away from any that had significant hull damage, or one that was poorly maintained. There are lots of boats out there. No need to buy into this kind of potential problem.

That said, there is nothing inherently wrong with cored hulls. As has been said, cored hulls can easily be better, stronger (and perhaps faster ) than solid glass hulls. It does take more skill and care to do them right, compared to solid glass hulls. But this kind of quality will be reflected in the rest of the boat as well. I've never heard of a "Tiffany Jayne", so I can't comment on the quality of the build.

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