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Cmessa 10-09-2019 08:59 AM

Helms 24 core repair under mast, need advice
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I have a 1982 Helms 24 that I am working on and trying to get in the water next year. My next task is to replace the core on the cabin top under the mast. Water was leaking into the boat through some holes drilled for cables and under the mast step. Since the mast is off, now is a good time to fix all of this. I drilled some test holes to try to determine how far the wet core went and how thick the core is. I found a few things that lead to some questions that I am hoping someone here can help with.

First, the core thickness does not seem to be uniform across the cabin top. Mainly the area under the mast step. When I drilled here, I found the fiberglass to be thin and the core to be thinner than other places that I drilled. I tried to take some pictures, not sure how good of a job I did though. I do have one picture of the difference in fiberglass thickness and the coring is probably half as thick in this area. I also noticed, and you can tell from the pictures, that the piece that the mast attaches too has fiberglass stuck to the bottom of it and it was formed to make the mast level, but it did not really attached itself well to the cabin top. When I unbolted everything, it just came apart. So maybe this is why the fiberglass and the core that is left on the cabin top is thinner than the rest? They expected to put more fiberglass on top and did not need as much coring? Is this normal to have less wood coring and build up the step with fiberglass like this? Is it factory of did someone attempt a repair?

Not sure if you can see from the pictures, but there is a slight crack running in a U shape about 1.5 feet on either side of the mast and about the same distance towards the front. It looks like simple cracks in the gel-coat, but I am assuming this is stress from the whole roof being soft and the core being bad. I plan to cut about two inches past this and try to reuse the top piece of fiberglass. I will cut this out, remove the core, replace the core, then put it back and fiberglass the edges. Does anyone have any other different ways that they would approach this repair?

What about under the mast, should I go with the thinner coring like it has or would it be good to go all fiberglass in this area or maybe G10? I am not a fan of having any coring in a place that I know is going to have bolts through it and cables, but wood coring is what the manufacture put there and it has lasted this long, so maybe it is ok? Any suggestions?


Cmessa 10-09-2019 09:01 AM

Re: Helms 24 core repair under mast, need advice
5 Attachment(s)
Here are some additional photos.

PhilCarlson 10-09-2019 09:23 AM

Re: Helms 24 core repair under mast, need advice
The crazing running around the mast step could be from compression stress. Inspect the load bearing structures under the mast step. All that load transfers to the hull through a compression post or bulkhead, probably to a stringer, frame or foot in the bilge. If that structure is compromised, when you tighten or load the rig, the mast will sink and deform the deck.

Cmessa 10-09-2019 01:22 PM

Re: Helms 24 core repair under mast, need advice
That makes sense and the wet core is not helping at all. The compression post seems to be fine, I have been working around it a lot when replacing the bulkheads in the boat. But I will investigate the connection to the keel better.

I have found it really hard to find information about the Helms 24. I will post directly in the Helms forum to see if I can find out more about this connection to the keel. Understanding that would help me with one of my issues.


PhilCarlson 10-09-2019 01:50 PM

Re: Helms 24 core repair under mast, need advice
On my boat the compression post is supported by a stringer. No idea what type of wood was used for it, but it was tabbed, not encased and the wood had rotted away so completely that it took me a while to realize it had been there. Repair was time consuming but not overly complicated. Would have been easier with the mast down though.

Symptoms were the depression around the mast step and associated crazing, and ripples in the bulkhead.

Looking at pics and the schematic on, it looks like your compression post may go all the way to the keel, so the base could have rotted and compressed.

Good luck.

Cmessa 10-11-2019 12:27 PM

Re: Helms 24 core repair under mast, need advice
1 Attachment(s)
I took a look at the compression post in my Helms. There are two parts to it. There is a part under the cabin floor that is fiber-glassed to the keel. It looks like crap, but feels solid and I was not able to push a screw driver into it. Above that part is the cabin sole, then there is the main post that goes all the way up to the cabin top. I know that when I removed the bulkheads and had no mast on the boat, the main compression post was slightly loose, which is not surprising since there was no load on it. I was able to move it around some, but I never tried to take it out. I am not sure how it is attached to the lower post, maybe the bulk head that it is attached too holds it in the right place? Regardless, I think that this part is good. No obvious signs of rot. Does anyone know how it should be connected to the lower post? There is definitely not a hole large enough for the post to go through. Maybe I will remove one bulkhead and see if I can move the post enough to see more.... There is a grounding wire coming up from the keel, so that has to be at least one hole.

The next thing that I looked at was the three holes I drilled in the cabin top. I attempted to measure the thickness of the core. I used a decent ruler, but I am sure the measurements are off a little. In two places, I measured a core of .3 inches. This was the coring under the mast and to the left of it, closer to where the cabin starts to curve. This part was the driest too. The third hole measured .5 of an inch of coring!! This hole is behind the mast and has no load on it. I am making a guess here, but maybe the thickness was really caused by delamination and a wet core? Could it have separated enough to give me a false measurement? My cabin top is uniform in shape, so I can't explain the difference in thickness any other way...


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