Rotten core around Mast Step-repair - SailNet Community

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Old 11-01-2009
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Rotten core around Mast Step-repair

When I bought my 32'Voyager 4 years ago it had a slight leak at the Mast step. I caulked the Bolts and it seemed to fix the problem but it turns out all it did was keep the water from coming through the bolt holes in the inner skin and the water just pooled inside and rotted out all around the Mast step causing the step to start depressing the deck. I took the mast down this fall with the intention of doing repair in the spring but discovered that the core had totally rotted out for a good foot around the step (maybe more as I haven't opened it up yet but the Fiberglass skin at the front of the step had cracked and you can see in and there is no wood left there. I've read lots of posts here about replacing the core but have had a number of people including one boatyard suggest instead of replacing the Balsa Core with the same to remove the old core and make that area solid fiberglass/West System. My father had a boat repair place repair the deck on his old boat a number of years ago and this is how they did it and it did seem to hold up well. Obviously the weight would be greater but what other disadvantages would there be? Has anyone done this?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superiorvoyager View Post
When I bought my 32'Voyager 4 years ago it had a slight leak at the Mast step. I caulked the Bolts and it seemed to fix the problem but it turns out all it did was keep the water from coming through the bolt holes in the inner skin and the water just pooled inside and rotted out all around the Mast step causing the step to start depressing the deck. I took the mast down this fall with the intention of doing repair in the spring but discovered that the core had totally rotted out for a good foot around the step (maybe more as I haven't opened it up yet but the Fiberglass skin at the front of the step had cracked and you can see in and there is no wood left there. I've read lots of posts here about replacing the core but have had a number of people including one boatyard suggest instead of replacing the Balsa Core with the same to remove the old core and make that area solid fiberglass/West System. My father had a boat repair place repair the deck on his old boat a number of years ago and this is how they did it and it did seem to hold up well. Obviously the weight would be greater but what other disadvantages would there be? Has anyone done this?
I can't think of any disadvantages, other than the one you mentioned, to making the area solid and eliminating the rot problem completely.
You could even lay up a 1/4" plate of aluminum to make it easier to attach deck hardware in the future.

I've had a couple of customers that have had this problem. One, whose boat was quite old and well used and who wasn't really concerned about trying to make the area look perfect, I was able to help.
The other one, I just referred to a good fiberglass guy. He had major problems all over his deck and was way beyond what I wanted to tackle. .
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Old 11-02-2009
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I must have read the OP wrong, but it sounded like there's balsa core between the mast step and the compression post ?

Balsa core is awful for compression loading. The only production sailboats I've done have been either ply(partners for keel stepped) or solid wood core (deck stepped).

Is this standard practice in production sailboats ?
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Old 11-02-2009
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Just did it...soild is the way to go.
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It is Deck Stepped and as Far as I know it is Balsa. There is nothing left in that area to be able to tell but the report that I had from the Yard that Built it said the Deck is Balsa Core and didn't indicate that there was a different core in the area of the Step. Either way it has to be replaced as it has totally roted out. Don't know yet how far I will have to cut it back though.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillraining View Post
Just did it...soild is the way to go.
Any tips or suggestions for me in doing this.
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Old 11-02-2009
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Though solid glass will fix problem,it's probably not best choice unless you have fiberglass experience.Check West System tech site for detailed help.I like Coosa structural foam as core material....1/4 aluminum plate for additional stiffness and thru-fastening is also a great idea. Try to make repair area symetrical,with rounded edges and at least several inches into sound existing core.Don't forget to shim deck to proper position before layup!
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Tip #1
If your deck surface is not damaged do all your work from underneath...that way your head liner covers your work and you don't have to have a perfect finish.

Tip #2
Use the tacky resin that they use for hull overhang repairs..for all your overhead glass work...I forget what its called.

Tip #3
Use a chunk of 1" or 3/4" iron pipe with a threaded collar as your jacking system..simple, cheap, cant move...get real fancy and have the coupler in the middel of two pieces.

Tip #4
Beg, barrow or rent a good respirator, buy a pair or two of those white throw away coveralls and a whole box of single use latex gloves...you will want a good small shop vac and a ton of cardboard and a big roll of that 2' wide blue painters tape to protect your boats interior...borrow or buy a cheap 500 watt halogen work lamp.

Fiberglass is an art but its not rocket science..experiment with two or three different ratios of catalyst to see what work time and heat you get..also pay attention to the kick so you learn when to stop messing with it and avoid ruining your cloth layup. Don't go for anymore then 3 layers in one day...it could overheat and turn black on you.

Tip #5
Stop in at some boat yard/ glass shop and see if you and chum up to a glass guy with an offer of rum and beer to help you out.

Good luck.
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Old 11-03-2009
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to answers, "SOlid is the way to go" and "it's probably not the best choice" what are your reasons. As far as experience I have a lot of experience with fiberglass (west system) over the years (boat and car repair, canoe construction built a 16' glass over wood boat years ago etc.) I also have a lot of experience with wood (finishing carpenter, fine furniture and Luthier). one problem with wood is If I am going to use Balsa or Coosa I'll have to order it in where as I have everything I need for west system
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Old 11-03-2009
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Take a look at this article for some good ideas:

WEST SYSTEM | Projects | Fiberglass Boat Repair and Restoration - Fiberglass deck repair-Part 1, Replacing damaged balsa core
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