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post #1 of 16 Old 01-29-2016 Thread Starter
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water in the wood

Ok, so when I got my boat,(its a homebuild from 67, fiberglass on top of plywood) the frame bays were filled with wax, and they had painted it to seal it, apparently. Of course the paint was worn and now the wax was somewhat trapping moisture against the wood underneath. So I got it all out. I also opened up two spots on the keel and water came out, so i treated the wood (with copper green) on the inside along the spine,(the long beam at the base of cabin above the keel?) let it sit in the california summer and it dried out. this was almost a year and a half ago. anyways, since then, I patched up the bottom last winter, and now its time to fill those spaces again, and I am wondering if anyone has any tips for seeping water out from these frame bays. It is still moist, and I am just wanting to speed up the process. I have a heater down in the bays that i have been rotating, but doesn't seem to be doing a whole lot in terms of drying or pulling moisture out. I'm starting to think I might not have it as dry as I want before I fill the bays.

If there is a previous thread about wicking moisture, I would appreciate a link. I searched some and didn't find anything but also didn't really know what to type in for the search.

I was thinking some kind of material that would suck up water that i could put in the deepest part of the frame bays, my friend thought of rice but we thought that would be too messy. Any ideas?


Thanks everybody!
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post #2 of 16 Old 01-29-2016
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Re: water in the wood

Ah, you are going to be fun; I like the way that you put things...

"...on the inside along the spine,(the long beam at the base of cabin above the keel?..."
That would be the Keelson. A Keelson is one of the older Nautical words of uncertain derivation; Spine is a much better term, since that is _exactly_ what it is.

For wicking water out of Wood, paper towels work surprisingly well, but changing them out on a frequent basis is boring. Heat doesn't help much; one just gets warm soggy wood, which is _not_ good. Ventilation is the key; a couple of cheap Box Fans to push air in, and draw air out elsewhere, works.
The Hi-Tech solution is a Vacuum Pump; bag the area of concern and suck on it. I've used this technique before on soggy Fiberglass. I use an ancient Sargent-Welch, but Harbor Freight has new ones starting at ~$100:
2.5 CFM Vacuum Pump

Another really good technique is "Indicating Drierite" granules- ~$225 for a 25 pound drum; but the stuff can be recycled indefinitely. When it turns from Blue to Pink, scoop it into an oven at over ~300F, and bake it until Blue again.
https://secure.drierite.com/catalog3/prices.cfm
The non-indicating stuff is much cheaper, but, well, it's non-indicating.

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post #3 of 16 Old 01-29-2016
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Re: water in the wood

A side note: if you want to apply solvent or oil based wood treatment/preservative like copper green, moisture is your worst enemy. Wet wood just will not allow it to penetrate deeper. Air circulation and heat are the key to drying. Strip as much of the paint as possible as it will help the drying process.

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post #4 of 16 Old 01-30-2016
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Re: water in the wood

$225 buys a LOT of kitty litter !! Same as Flor-Dry. Will also soak up nasty bilge oil/s; but not really use able after that. only wet? dry out and use again!
+1 on this ventilation and box fans

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post #5 of 16 Old 01-30-2016
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Re: water in the wood

California humidity during summer should be low enough to dry it out in a heartbeat with a couple of fans moving air through cabin. Probably tougher with this El Ni˝o winter though.


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post #6 of 16 Old 01-30-2016
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Re: water in the wood

Quote:
Originally Posted by deltaten View Post
$225 buys a LOT of kitty litter !! Same as Flor-Dry. Will also soak up nasty bilge oil/s; but not really use able after that. only wet? dry out and use again!
You misunderstand the application- Kitty Litter and variants are Absorbents; Drierite is a Desiccant. The request was how to wick moisture out, and Kitty Litter just doesn't work that way, not even if you are a Cat.

There are cheaper ways of going the Desiccant route; mix 1 Pound of Indicating Drierite with 50 pounds of Industrial Grade of the same Mesh, for a total ~$46. Again, both kinds can be regenerated together; bake out any traces of Pink.

If one wants to play Boy Chemist; they can buy a Metric Ton of Anhydrous Calcium Sulfate from China for a few hundred dollars, which should be good for desiccating 50-75Kg of Water on first pass.
(Check the MSDS; Anhydrous Calcium Sulfate is generally considered Safe, it's basically Sheetrock, but the Indicating Cobalt(II) Chloride is a suspected Carcinogen.)

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Re: water in the wood

Have used this with good results..

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post #8 of 16 Old 02-13-2016 Thread Starter
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Re: water in the wood

Hey guys! Sorry I didn't get back to you all, I definitely read all your advice some time ago and had the classic, wrote a long reply to everyone and my phone glitched and deleted in senario. Then I had to leave for a doc appointment and had a little trip out of it. I just got back yeaterday.

Its funny you mentioned paper towels because that's what I had going when I originally posted. They did work pretty well while I was around! So when I left for my trip, I just sprinkled some quality absorbent similar to stuff you use in a shop for oil. I also was given some little dehumidifiers by a friend so I just bought crystals for them and had 4 going while I was gone. It's pretty damn dry now!! I don't think I'm going to get much better than this, and I know water will get in there later anyways... and I did run a free box fan I got for a few days before I left. I think that helped a bit.

While I was researching the drierite, I stumbled upon this really cool multiuse product made out of old fossilized diatoms (plankton). It's a naturally occurring sedimentary rock called diatomaceous earth. The product is called diatomite. I guess it is extremely absorbent and at a micro level the particles are sharp and it is used to stop bugs because they eat it and die. I didn't order any but just thought it was pretty cool. I might get some if I leave my boat for some time to keep those pesky do-nothing-bugs away.

Thank you for all your ideas, now my question is what should I fill the frame bays with? I want to seal it but I am pretty sure I can't because it will trap any moisture that is left and rot the wood out. I've been recommended a concrete mixed with another similar, finer material and I can't remember what it was. The guy was a retired mason worker and I figured he knew his stuff. I am going to do a search on concrete here and see what I come up with.

I also discovered a concrete mix called quickcrete and there's a water sealant kind. I'm going to test it out and see how it goes. I think maybe if I could put a more breathe able material down first and maybe the water sealant kind on top, just where the water flows through each frame bay... any suggestions or know of any threads discussing these ideas/issues?

Haha Erindipity, I am glad I am entertaining!!! I know some basic boat language from fishing but little to nothing on sailing terms! I should be in regular contact now, I got a fancy new phone that works much better than my last one.

Last edited by SVMinerva; 02-13-2016 at 09:28 PM.
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post #9 of 16 Old 02-14-2016
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Re: water in the wood

Diatomite is _very_interesting stuff. I use several pounds of it in my Hot Tub Filter, followed by an Activated Carbon canister, and a UV Sterilizing Tube. The Tube is old, but there has been good progress in LED Replacements.
I'm one of the very few that doesn't worry if somebody accidentally pees in the Hot Tub.


Woodies should pipe up here, but as I understand it, wood needs _some_ moisture, somewhere around 7%. Too much- mold and mildew. Too little, embrittlement at the cellular level; the wood cells no longer want to stick together. It's due to the binding properties of the Polar Nature of Water Molecules...

As long as one understands that wood in boats gets wet, sometimes unintentionally, a few thousand years of experience shouldn't be ignored.
The water content of the wood when the Boat was constructed, should be maintained for longest life. This is almost always an unknown quantity, and an impossible goal to preserve. So... Caulk.

At one time, Caulking was a Full-Time Job. As the Wood heated and cooled, as it soaked and dried out, as the Wood worked against itself and gasped unexpectedly during storms, the need for Caulking became important.
There were, and are, all sorts of Caulking. The Classic kind is some kind of twine or rope, jammed with wax or tar or pitch, and driven in to seams with tools developed for the purpose.
"Between the Devil and the deep blue sea, and with no pitch to pay.", isn't a Religious sentiment. It was a sound observation on being ill-prepared.

Ships were once careened for repairs or maintenance. That is to say, they were driven on to a beach, so that work could be done at Low Tide, with the the boat to one side, and impatient water to the other, and the Payer and the Devil in between.
"Devil"= The Bilge. (Ciardi once had a lot to say on this derivation, but I can't find it just now.) More specifically, the seams between the lowest planking, and the Keelson.
"To Pay"= To work in; to continue a process. Still commonly used as in "To pay it forward." Nothing to do with salaries, and the original sense may be still seen as in "To pay a line".

This isn't much of a problem with smaller wood boats; they have better intrinsic rigidity. Yet caulking can still be important.


"I also discovered a concrete mix called quickcrete and there's a water sealant kind. I'm going to test it out and see how it goes."
No! All of these mixes are caustic. Bad Chemistry!
Although I can't in good faith recommend it, because I've never actually used it, the "West System" is highly regarded among some Woodies. It's a light density Epoxy that soaks into wood, and is compatible with Fiberglass mats and rovings if added stiffening is needed. There are competitors.

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You write well, with a naturally engaging manner. I wish that I wrote as well, once...

My Best to you;

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Re: water in the wood

Beware of concrete. You may recall it is made by mixing powder and water, and then you may have seen highways where they keep sprinklers turned on for a week after it is poured, to ensure it stays damp while curing. If you let concrete dry out, it crumbles. Any concrete you put in, will hold a large amount of water and guarantee the wood stays damp and keeps rotting.

The advantage to wax (or tar or asphalt) and paint is that they are as easy to remove, as they were to apply. The problem is, unless the wood is bone dry and totally sealed, it will still be wet and rotting underneath the waterproofing.

So the best thing you can do, is make every possible effort to dry that wood out, before you seal it with anything. There are wooden boat forums and a magazine, they might have better ideas for you, but I think heat, ventilation, and vacuum, all to excess, are in your future if you want to really get the wood dry. Just putting absorbent or desiccant or paper towels on top and blowing a fan across it, isn't going to do much about the moisture that may be a foot down, below the surface.

Now if you could find a lumberyard with a nice big drying kiln...Good luck.
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