Pearson Cored Decks & Teak Toe-Rails - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 10 Old 10-10-2019 Thread Starter
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Pearson Cored Decks & Teak Toe-Rails

So, after introducing myself, and getting a ton of feedback/advice on boat options, I started looking at a few in earnest. I've been looking at Pearson 31-2, 33-2 and 36-2. For interior layout and berth count reasons, the 33 & 36 are most appealing.

In reading various threads, it is pretty clear the teak toe-rails, lovely though they are, are a weak spot/significant source of water intrusion in the cored decks. Any boat we look at will get a thorough survey, and I'd likely buy myself a moisture-meter to keep doing my own periodic inspection, but, having said that:

How hard, in general, is it to refit a new rub-strip and aluminum or stainless toe-rail on these? I have plenty of experience with epoxy, glass and putty servicing my catamaran hulls, and I'm not particularly daunted by these kinds of repairs. Being able to DIY this kind of thing makes all the difference between the boat being totaled or not.

The other boat I keep coming back to for our needs|desires is the Catalina 30 tall rig, but I've read a number of stories about moisture intrusion in those (cored) decks as well, and while their deck::hull joint strikes me as superior (and what I'm contemplating for a Pearson), this is, evidently, an issue for a lot of boats.

I'm thinking about getting a meter myself, and inspecting boats myself for moisture, before paying for a survey. Any boat that passed and was otherwise of interest for us, would get a survey, and then, if we purchased, be a candidate for remediation of this kind. I'd definitely be rebedding all the deck surface hardware regardless, just as part of preventative maintenance.
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post #2 of 10 Old 10-10-2019
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Re: Pearson Cored Decks & Teak Toe-Rails

I much prefer a perforated Aluminum toe rail to Catalina's typical shoe box joint with the rubber insert. I think you are (stuck) with the original construction of hull/deck joint, you are not going to change the method of construction there if that's what you mean. Search "Boat Poker" in this forum he is a surveyor and offers a great tutorial on self surveys as a pre-qualification to a professional survey, he will not recommend away from a pro before you buy but its good information to start with. ANY boat can get wet decks a soft hammer sounding will tell a lot, in extreme cases the deck will be spongy. You better like a Boat a lot and get a steal to take on that much work.
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post #3 of 10 Old 10-10-2019
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Re: Pearson Cored Decks & Teak Toe-Rails

Do you want a boat to sail or a hobby to consume your time with repairs? From my experience with owning an old 40 foot boat with cored decks of balsa, this is a great way to spend weeks and weeks of cutting and grinding and ripping out soggy balsa and laying up fiberglass. Never again will I own a boat with balsa, that has a hint of water intrusion. I'd very much would rather be sailing.
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Re: Pearson Cored Decks & Teak Toe-Rails

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I'd likely buy myself a moisture-meter to keep doing my own periodic inspection, but, having said that:
A few tips on the failings and sucessful use of a meter and the best and cheapest meter on the market.

Moisture Meter Mythology and Flir thermal imager
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post #5 of 10 Old 10-11-2019
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Re: Pearson Cored Decks & Teak Toe-Rails

The toe rails on my Pearson 35 are bolted/screwed through solid fiberglass. There were a few leaks around fasteners but they didn't affect the core. Almost all the fittings close to the edge of the deck were also in solid glass so no possibility of leaks into core from the stanchions which are the usual problem for deck leaks.. The only place i had any core issues was around/under the pedestal and the emergenncy tiller access plate. Neither was well sealed and pedestal was probably regularly torqued by crew hanging on to it
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post #6 of 10 Old 10-11-2019
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Re: Pearson Cored Decks & Teak Toe-Rails

I doubt there is a cored deck ever made that doesn't have some penetration. Even on those produced with well potted penetrations, some even have solid laminate around standard accessory mounting locations, there will still be a screw or void or something that lets water in.

The issue is how much and for how long. If the hull is well known to have a problem in this regard, I'd avoid the guaranteed headache. Otherwise, you just get on a program to rebed penetrations, a few a year, every year. I've not done a toe rail, but just about anything else. A toe rail is awkward to access, by either kneeling down on the edge of the deck or needing to build scaffolding when on the hard. If it's through bolted, it will require disassembly down below and two people.

At most, I would rebed it, not re-engineer it. Still, I would avoid a boat where I really thought this was going to be in my future. For the past 10 years, I've simply wanted to unscrew the SS cap on my rub rail, because it slightly overlaps in a couple of places. I want to sand beneath it, trim a couple of ends down about a 16th inch and reinstall. Every time I look at the job, I realize I need a second set of hands and it will be a ***** on my back and knees. Not happening any time soon.


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post #7 of 10 Old 10-11-2019
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Re: Pearson Cored Decks & Teak Toe-Rails

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The toe rails on my Pearson 35 are bolted/screwed through solid fiberglass. There were a few leaks around fasteners but they didn't affect the core. Almost all the fittings close to the edge of the deck were also in solid glass so no possibility of leaks into core from the stanchions which are the usual problem for deck leaks.. The only place i had any core issues was around/under the pedestal and the emergenncy tiller access plate. Neither was well sealed and pedestal was probably regularly torqued by crew hanging on to it
Same here, CS30 even my chainplates are bolted through a solid FG pad.
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post #8 of 10 Old 10-11-2019
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Re: Pearson Cored Decks & Teak Toe-Rails

It will be basically impossible to find a boat without cored decks. One issue with the Pearsons the OP mentioned is that Pearson used gaskets rather than properly bedding stanchions and other fittings. One of those boats that hasn't had the gaskets removed and things bedded properly could potentially be a major project

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post #9 of 10 Old 10-11-2019
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Re: Pearson Cored Decks & Teak Toe-Rails

I owned a boat with deck delamination for almost twenty years. Like most older boats, the cost of having someone else fix the deck greatly exceeded the value of the boat. Tearing up the deck, replacing the core, rebuilding and repainting; not a lot of money for the material, but waaaaaay too much in labor time and cost to make it worthwhile for the yard to do it. And while I think I have the necessary skills, I had neither the time nor the place (it really should be done indoors) to do the work myself.

I researched alternate methods of dealing with the problem, including injecting thinned epoxy into a series of drilled holes in the affected area (lots of wildly varying opinions on that one!). Ultimately, I decided to do nothing. The small area of delamination (about 1-2 square feet smack in the middle of the foredeck) didn't impact the boat's structural integrity, at least not how I used the boat. I decided I'd rather go sailing. So I did. For 19 years. I was in some kind of rough weather during that time; nothing really serious, but some uncomfortable seas. Nothing bad ever happened (at least that had anything to do with the deck).

So while I generally agree that you shouldn't buy a boat with serious delamination, I wouldn't automatically reject a boat you otherwise love because of it. That boat doesn't have to be a project boat. If the delamination is known, controllable (i.e., you "know" where the leak is and can fix it so the problem won't get worse), and isn't widespread, then you can decide if the use you will make of the boat will be impacted by the delamination. Limited delamination and you're going to be daysailing? Don't worry too much. Six feet of delamination along the hull deck joint and you intend to sail to Bermuda? Uh, that needs to be fixed or you need a different boat.

YMMV.

Good luck!
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post #10 of 10 Old 10-17-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Pearson Cored Decks & Teak Toe-Rails

Thanks everyone for the feed back - I think a moisture meter is the answer here, then finding a boat that doesn't have too much of a problem, and then rebedding things properly. I certainly have no intent of rebuilding a deck - I do not have the spare time, nor is it cost effective.

I think I can likely replace the teak toe rail with an aluminum one while I'm doing that - the toe rail is a surface mount, and I do not have to re-engineer the deck::hull joint.

Cheers!
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