Epoxy or replace bulkheads? - SailNet Community

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Old 10-10-2009
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Epoxy or replace bulkheads?

I'm looking at an '85 O'day 23, which is a very nice boat. Unfortunately, the current owner never did anything to seal the chain plates and there is some rot at the top of the bulkheads. One O'day owner I know has recommended drilling and filling the soft spots with epoxy and I'm wondering if that's all right. We sail at an inland lake; we're not adventurous, but are just interested in puttering up and down the lake with our kids in light winds.

I imagine that IF I do buy the boat, I would eventually replace the bulkheads and repair any core damage that may have occurred. I'm just trying to figure out if this guy's suggestion will get me through a couple of seasons until I can muster the time or money to do that repair.

Also, I'm not rushing into this- I'll either have it surveyed or have an expert or two from my local sailing club help me out by looking at the boat too.
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Old 10-11-2009
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One problem with the drill and fill method is that it does nothing to prevent rot from continuing down into the bulkhead from the "repair".Copper napthenate, found at Home Depot as fencepost and deck preservative ,will kill the rot and deter future rot spores from growing there. The fungus that causes rot retains moisture, so unless you remove all the bad wood, epoxy will not adhere to all of the repair area. It would be better, if you are not going to replace the bulkhead, to cut out the bad area back into good wood on all sides and glue in a piece of similar wood. Then you can "sister" another piece along side of it that overlaps the glue joints of the patch by several times the thickness of the wood used. This is only a bandaid repair, but it will be a lot more substantial than a drill and fill and can more easily be concealed if you bring the edges of the "bandaid" out to the boundries of the existing structure.
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If you use epoxy, use a penetrating epoxy (CPES, clear penetrating epoxy sealer). There are several brands on the market. This is a very thin epoxy formulated to seep into rotting wood. Get the wood as dry as possible first. After the penetrating epoxy hardens, you can fill the rest of the way with regular thickened epoxy. This might be acceptable as a temporary repair.
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Old 10-11-2009
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I'd point out that a penetrating epoxy will only work if the area is DRY. Chances are more than likely that it is not, nor will be anytime soon. Cutting the rotted area out and replacing it by scarfing in a new piece of marine plywood with epoxy is probably going to result in a better and stronger, if more laborious, repair. Also, properly rebedding the chainplates is a MUST.
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Old 10-11-2009
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I agree with sailing dog. But some smaller boats don't have glassed bulkheads. On the Columbia 22 I had they were just bolt in. If this is so, replacement of the complete bulkhead is very easy.
Brian
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Agree, drill and fill isn't as good as it sounds.

If I wanted a quick fix to get sailing, I would cut out the damaged sections, replace them with good plywood, then secure a larger plate of ply behind it.

Fasten your chainplates through both peices of ply using longer bolts/screws, the 'patch' will keep everything aligned correctly, and the plate will spread the load throughout the bulkhead.

Advantage is that it's fast and easy to do, and will be fairly easy to remove later on when you decide to rebuild it correctly.
Disadvantage is that you will see the larger plate, but depending on it's location you can build a shelf or cabinet around it and hide it that way. Or simply cut it in a decorative pattern and make it look like an accent peice.

On one boat I had I needed a re-enforcement plate that was in plain sight, ended up cutting it to a decorative shape, and mounting a light on it. I figure if you can't hide it at least make it look good.

Ken.
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I did a bit of research and it looks like the bulkheads are bolted in not glassed in as they don't appear to go past the liner top and bottom as was common with smaller boats from Oday and others of that era.
Brian
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Thanks for the responses!

Hey everyone,
Thanks a lot for all the responses. I actually went to the dock with the owner this morning and helped her haul the boat out. She was concerned about the bulkheads and we had a good discussion about it. With three other boat owners we talked about the possibilities and we came up with about the same solution as merc2dogs- cut out the bad wood and replace, sister in more marine plywood and get larger chain plates to attach through everything with longer bolts. As it turns out, the owner's partner is a woodworker and he seemed interested in helping to get this situation rectified.

Now that the boat's in storage, they said they will pull the chain plates and inspect the bulkheads. I'll hear more after they do that, but I do feel a lot better about knowing what I'd be up against if I do purchase the boat. Other than having an ancient Mariner motor, she is a solid boat, something that all the other boat owners agreed with. They all praised her handling and construction.

Thanks again!
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Old 10-12-2009
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I'm glad that you're not going with the epoxy route. However, you may very well find that by the time that you cut away all the bad wood, there isn't much left. I had exactly the same idea as you - sister in new plywood on my bulkhead. By the time that I cut away the bad stuff, I had only a foot of good wood. In order to cut away the rot, I had to remove so much cabinetry, I just decided to do the job right.

Check out the following link. The whole job took 20 hours and about $200 in materials.

S/V Victoria Head Reconstruction
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