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  #1  
Old 03-23-2009
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Closing up holes in the cockpit

Hi All...

This is hard to describe and I don't have a pic yet but I am guessing its a common problem.

In my cockpit, someone mounted winch handle pockets by screwing through the cockpit wall with wood screws. The wall of the cockpit is thin and there does not seem to be anything behind it. The hole enlarged and the screw is falling out, which is probably because the screw had very little to grab on to.

So after all the reading I have been doing, I see that if this was in the deck it would be easy to fix. I would open the hole, remove a little of the core and then fill with epoxy.

But in this case, there seems to be no core behind it. It seems the cockpit wall is just a thin piece of fiberglass with some gel coat. I don't think I have access to the other side, but even if I did, how could I close this hole up?

Also, what is the proper way to mount something here, assuming I wanted to? If I had access to the other side is it just a matter of adding a backing material to screw into? What if I don't have access to the back?

Thanks...
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Old 03-23-2009
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If you truly do not have access to the back, then don't mount anything that can take a high load there.

To fill the hole, you can probably get away with just mixing up some very thick epoxy and carefully laying it in without pressing too much out the back. Alternatively, you can cut a disc from cardboard that is a bit larger than the hole. Make a very small hole in the center of the discs and run a piece of string through it. Tie a large enough knot in the string to prevent it from being pulled back out through the hole in the cardboard disc. Fold the cardboard neatly in a way that will allow you to insert it through the hole. When you pull back on the string, It should expand the cardboard and prevent run off through the back off the hole. Tie the string off tightly and fill the hole with thickened epoxy (peanut butter consistency).
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Old 03-23-2009
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I had this same problem.

I removed the pocket and cut a 1/16" thick by 2"alum. backing plate,drilled and tapped it. Inserted from the front and glued it in place with some glue I get from a friend that installs windshields. I used some 1X2" wood strips and those squeese clamps to hold it all in place untill the glue was dried then just remove the wood and reinstall the pocket.

I was going to just use the wood but thought of all the work just to prep it for moisture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jarcher View Post
Hi All...


In my cockpit, someone mounted winch handle pockets by screwing through the cockpit wall with wood screws. The wall of the cockpit is thin and there does not seem to be anything behind it. The hole enlarged and the screw is falling out, which is probably because the screw had very little to grab on to.


Thanks...
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Old 03-23-2009
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Good ideas, thanks!
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Old 06-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NOLAsailing View Post
To fill the hole, you can probably get away with just mixing up some very thick epoxy and carefully laying it in without pressing too much out the back.

.
.
.

Tie the string off tightly and fill the hole with thickened epoxy (peanut butter consistency).
I'm finally getting to this job. I was reading about West epoxy, and it's clear I'm not going to be able to match the color. Is there a way I can do this so that I can apply gel coat on top of it?
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Old 06-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NOLAsailing View Post
Alternatively, you can cut a disc from cardboard that is a bit larger than the hole. Make a very small hole in the center of the discs and run a piece of string through it. Tie a large enough knot in the string to prevent it from being pulled back out through the hole in the cardboard disc. Fold the cardboard neatly in a way that will allow you to insert it through the hole. When you pull back on the string, It should expand the cardboard and prevent run off through the back off the hole. Tie the string off tightly and fill the hole with thickened epoxy (peanut butter consistency).
Another approach is one suggested by the West Systems Epoxy manual: saturate a squishy ear plug with epoxy and then push it into the hole. After the epoxy kicks, cut it flush with a razor or diagonal cutters.
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Old 06-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jarcher View Post
I'm finally getting to this job. I was reading about West epoxy, and it's clear I'm not going to be able to match the color. Is there a way I can do this so that I can apply gel coat on top of it?
If the epoxy was properly mixed (correct hardener ratio) and cured, and if you're careful to remove the amine blush (soap and water followed by 100 grit sandpaper), gelcoat will stick just fine to it.

Hope your project turns out well.
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Old 06-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomKeffer View Post
Another approach is one suggested by the West Systems Epoxy manual: saturate a squishy ear plug with epoxy and then push it into the hole. After the epoxy kicks, cut it flush with a razor or diagonal cutters.
That's interesting, which manual is that in? All the ear plugs I have are orange or yellow (made for shooting). I wonder if the color will bleed through. I guess it does not matter if it is being painted or gel coated.
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Old 06-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomKeffer View Post
If the epoxy was properly mixed (correct hardener ratio) and cured, and if you're careful to remove the amine blush (soap and water followed by 100 grit sandpaper), gelcoat will stick just fine to it.
Thanks. Once the epoxy hardens, it is likely to be flush with the gel coat, so I guess then the thing to do is sand it down to make room for the gel coat?

Today I went to West marine and they had an epoxy repair pack, or something with a similar name. It came with 4 plastic cups, stiring sticks, a brush, gloves, a syringe, 4 alcohol wipes, some matte, two different thickeners and some packets of resin and hardener, already measured out. This was about $35.00.

I grabbed one, and I also got a set of plastic putty knives for another $9.00. I decided to try on the holes that are on the under side of the cockpit and above the quarter birth. These holes allow water that somehow leaks through the cockpit to drip onto the quarter birth cushion. Since the cushions are only a few weeks old I wanted to fix this soon.

When I got to the boat, I realized that I forgot to get the white coloring agent they sell, but I decided to do the project anyhow, since no one can really see these holes unless they are lying on the bunk.

I carefully cleaned around the holes with soft scrub, then sanded them down. I then used a countersink bit, in reverse, figuring this would give the epoxy something to grab. Its not a 12:1 bevel, but creating that bevel with such small holes didn't seem feasible. Then I cleaned again to remove the dust and any loose material.

What the kit didn't come with were instructions. Fortunately I had just read the West epoxy users guide this morning. I mixed the resin and hardener in one of the plastic cups, for a solid minute until it was consistently clear. I then mixed in some thickener, and kept adding it until it was uniform and the epoxy was like peanut butter.

I used the stirring stick to apply it to the holes and a plastic putty knife to smooth it. I was able to get all the holes done before the pot time was exceeded, probably 15 minutes (it was cool today). This did result in a lot of epoxy smeared around the holes. I was trying to make it thin to minimize the sanding later.

Looking back, I wish I had gone back for the white coloring agent, so I could see how it would look when cured. Also, it occurs to me that I could use painters tape around the holes, to prevent the putty knife from smearing epoxy where I don't want it or need it.

I left after about 4 hours, and it was starting to rain. The epoxy seemed to have hardened, although I know it didn't cure fully by then. I'll go back tomorrow to sand it.

I don't need to gel coat this set of holes, but I might as a test. Last time I gel coated a vertical surface, I didn't thicken the gel coat and had a miserable time. Now I know better.

I am also going to look into the ear plug idea.
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Old 06-22-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jarcher View Post
Thanks. Once the epoxy hardens, it is likely to be flush with the gel coat, so I guess then the thing to do is sand it down to make room for the gel coat?
You're on the right track.

It's easier to get a smooth surface if you pile the epoxy on a little proud, then sand down so it's slightly (very slightly) concave. Masking the surrounding area helps avoid scarring it, but usually any blemishes will get buffed out by the final sanding job. Specialized sanding tools can help (I use a Fein Multimaster).

Gel coat paste is easier to use, especially on vertical surfaces: it's not as runny, so it won't form drips. Also, make sure you don't get the air-inhibited kind. If you have to cover it, it's just about impossible to get a smooth initial surface.

As for the ear plug 'trick', it's in the West System's "Fiberglass Boat Repair & Maintenance" booklet, section 7.1.1 in my copy. I suppose one should first make sure that the plug you use is not made of closed foam!

I am by no means an expert! Just a weekend hack. But, you should be able to get something that looks acceptable.

Good luck

-tk
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