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  #1  
Old 05-19-2012
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removing deck skin

Hello All

For a variety of seasons my boat(a contessa 26) is out of the water for the season and I have decided to tackle a couple of major projects, including deck rot.
I have some water damage in the deck core around the life line stanchions and hoped it was isolated, but it is not. I drilled a couple of test holes into the core and it appears I have water for a section of about 5-6 feet. Starboard side only, I have not checked the port side.
Any recommendations on how to remove the deck skin so I can replace the balsa core?
Should I try and save the deck skin that is removed and re-use it? I don't like the idea but am not sure why.

The side decks on my boat are very narrow, about 8-10 inches, less in some places. Given this I am not sure what power tool I can use to make the cut? I was thinking a dremel tool with a cutting type bit.

Any thoughts/advice on the job would be welcome. My goal is to fix it once and not have to fix it again.

On the plus side I started to remove hardware on the coach roof and the forward deck. The core appears to be dry everywhere(life line stanchions being the exception) The aft deck is solid glass so no worries there(still to be confirmed)

Thanks,
John
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Old 05-19-2012
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Think multi tool like Fien or Rigid.
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Old 05-19-2012
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Re: removing deck skin

Well I'll certainly be following this closely. I found out my Contessa 26 has side deck rot (both side decks and the aft deck) as well however a re-core just isn't happening anytime soon. But someday. For now I'm re-bedding the hardware to help stem off any further damage and I let it sit with open holes all winter to hopefully get a bit of drying.

What year is is? How do you think the water is getting in there, I had thought I had read that the stanchion bases themselves are solid fiberglass. On my boat I had a cleat on port and a cleat and the whisker pole mounts starboard that likely caused some leaking. My aft deck is not solid so I'd be very surprised if yours is (even the hinged cockpit seats are cored). Also I don't think any Contessa Decks were balsa, I think they're all plywood. So I'll be very curious if you can provide more details on the construction.

As for your questions the common tool for this would be a circular saw but yes, our side-decks are very narrow. But I still think you could do it for most of the cuts. I imagine the dremel is necessary for the tighter areas. The right angle add-on with a cutting blade, perhaps in combination with the 561 Multipurpose Cutting Bit. The cutting blades go through fiberglass like it's nothing and I can attest to the usefulness of the 561. Although it didn't exactly have an easy time I made a roughly 8" cut in the cabin to widen out the electrical panel hole through two layers of fiberglass and core.

A quick plug for Milwaukee tools - I've been loving the M12 right angle drill and a week ago decided to trade my cordless dremel 8200 for the milwaukee version so I'd have compatible batteries. Consider that if you're thinking about cordless.

Anyway, good luck, I'll be following this thread very closely. Please update it.

Take a look at this if you haven't seen it. Similar repair.
Pearson Triton #381 Glissando | Deck Recore Project

Also Lackey Sailing has done a lot of work on a couple Contessas although no deck re-core:
Northern Yacht Restoration | 1986 Contessa 26 Equinox
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Old 05-19-2012
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Re: removing deck skin

I have used an angle grinder with a thin cut off type disk.
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Old 05-20-2012
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Re: removing deck skin

Use a skill saw with a fine kerf carbide blade. Make sure you leave yourself space for your 12:1 bevel. Set it to just over depth of cut. Pop the piece off using a long flat bladed screwdriver or a prybar. Then use an angle grinder with a 36 grit flap wheel to bevel the edge. I use a sharp 1" chisel to make short work of the old balsa and adhesive. Clean the lower skin with the angle grinder with the flapwheel. Vacuum clean, wipe with acetone. Ready to measure new core.
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Old 05-20-2012
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Re: removing deck skin

I haven't used this but it might be perfect for the job of the side decks:
Amazon.com: Dremel SM20-02 120V Saw-Max Tool Kit: Home Improvement Amazon.com: Dremel SM20-02 120V Saw-Max Tool Kit: Home Improvement


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Old 05-20-2012
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Re: removing deck skin

Hello all,
Thanks for the replies.

Before I respond, a question. Do I need to re-core with wood? I ask because I drilled test holes on the port side and the water damage is much less. About 2 feet, as far as I can tell. Could I fill with fiberglass mat, rather than wood?


I think the angle grinder will be the way to go.

The multi tool looks great but would prefer not to spend the money if my angle grinder will do the job, we will see.

I thought about using a skil saw but the side decks are too narrow for this to work well. I would love to be able to get 12:1 ratio on the joint(bevel) but not a chance, again decks too narrow. With that said it is a good reminder to me to bevel the joints out as much as I can.

I youtube'd the dremil 561 bit. Regardless of whither I need it for this job or not I will pick one up, it looks like a handy bit to have on a fiberglass boat.

asdF38
- The boat was built in 1979(JJ Taylor not the original builder)
- I believe the water is/was getting in thru both the stanchion bases and the chain plates.
- I can not confirm that the core in the decks is balsa, I should not have assumed so.
- The core under my life line stanchions is not solid fiberglass, definitely a wood core there. With that said it is solid under the rear pulpit(correct terminology?) bases.
- I removed the rear hardware today and the rear deck is solid fiberglass. In fact, on my boat, it is solid from the winch bases back.

I have read over at co26.com that the deck core on the co 26 changes from year to year and builder to builder. If I recall correctly, early models were solid fiberglass, where as later models used both balsa and plywood.

Re-coring the deck will take several weeks to a month min, with that said I will definitely followup with pics and commentary as I have some.

Thanks,
John
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Old 05-21-2012
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Re: removing deck skin

I have done this on a few boats. Used a skill saw where I could and the Angle Grinder on the rest worked great. As far as using fiberglass people will argue the point. Personally I believe the arguement for using Balsa is to save weight and money. Personally I chose to use solid glass and it worked great. I wouldn't use the old skin as there could be adhesion problems and all sorts of issues. For the small saving I just don't think it is worth the risk.
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Old 05-21-2012
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Re: removing deck skin

I would use fiberglass roving or biax and epoxy if it is a small area. Do use epoxy as it bonds better to cured fiberglass - your fiberglass boat, like mine, cured decades ago. Do not use mat as most is not compatible with epoxy. Without the styrene in polyester the fibers float as the binder doesn't dissolve. I like biaxial 1708 which has epoxy compatible mat on one side of heavy stitched roving. Not only is it strong but it builds thickness faster.

It it is a large area I would use end grain balsa. Plywood is not a good core material as if water gets in it travels long distances easily - end grain balsa properly installed prevents this. On a large area solid epoxy/roving gets very expensive.
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Old 05-21-2012
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Re: removing deck skin

Definitely use Epoxy (I use West System). Stay far away from Polyester.
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