Deck cracking, Fill and repair, advice - SailNet Community

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Old 08-30-2006
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Deck cracking, Fill and repair, advice

I have just purchased a 1965 Columbia 26, Its in good condition and ready to sail. The problem I have and need some advice in repairing is some wide spread hairline cracking in the gel coating on the deck surface and sitting area in the rear of the boat. Some of the cracking is causing small leaks into the cabin area. My first thought is to sand down the surface and then use a resent type of filler to resurface the areas. How would you guys recommend taking care of this issue?

Second what is the best way to paint a refinished area, Spray, Brush, Pad?

I am excited about the project and I don't mind the sweat equity. I grew up sailing off of Long Island and its been over 15 years since I have. I can wait until next spring to drop the new boat in the water.

Again thanks for any advice you guys can give.
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Old 08-30-2006
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There sohould be no relationship between gelcoat crazing and leaks. Crazing should be largely superficial, and not have much affect on the glass substrate. If the leaks represent water passing through the glass you have much more than a gelcoat repair. So first clarify the source of your leaks.

For what your facing, you should find a good book on fiberglass repair. You will want to remove the crazed gelcoat and apply a new coart of gelcoat. You may or may not be able to develop a reasonable match to the old. If the match is poor, you will need to paint the entire deck so the repaired areas don't stand out.

You may be facing a big job. Maybe you should fix the leaks and live with the crazing..."Good condition" is certainly a relative term.
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Old 08-30-2006
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Did Columbia use a balsa core in their deck shells back in 1965? If so, your repair job may be an even greater challenge than sailingdog has implied.

edit - I meant sailingfool . . . too many "sailing" names to keep track of.
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Last edited by TrueBlue; 08-30-2006 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 08-30-2006
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True Blue,

I think there has been a recent thread on deck issues with a Columbia this age that referenced plywood core construction.
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TB- HUH! I haven't replied yet.

Where is the cabin actually leaking from? Have you traced the source of the water, which can travel a long way from where it actually enters the cabin. It is probably not due to the cracks in the gel coat, because those are generally superficial and cosmetic...and the laminate beneath would have to also be cracked for them to lead to water leaking. Most likely, the water is making its way into the cabin via a piece of deck hardware, like winches or handrails, which are through-bolted through the cabin top and the caulking is too old and has given way. The two other major sources of leaks are ports and chainplates.

Before doing anything about the gelcoat cracks, find the real source of the leak. If it is the cracks in the gelcoat...you've probably got bigger worries than a bit of water, as that means the cabin top is fractured through in some areas—really not good.
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Old 10-23-2006
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My information is that Columbia decks have Balsa wood cores.
The surveyors use a moisture meter to measure any moisture trapped in
the core. They tell me that the deck will be soft and mushy if there is
moisture trapped in the balsa wood. There are other threads that suggest drilling small diameter holes from the cabin side into any supspect places.

You can go to " Columbia yacht owners association " for other advice.

Fair winds.
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