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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright, so I was Im restoring a Bristol 24 (sailstar model), and have got to that lovely stage where one rips up the deck to replace the core. Sounded easy enough. Today I cut my first square panel into the deck, I chose a rotted area under the cleat on my cabin top to start. Seemed like a good easy spot. But heres the thing, I can't get the fiberglass peeled up. I spent three hours today cursing, prying and pulling at the damn thing with a heat gun, two screwdrivers, a putty knife and my poor marlin spike too no avail. Clearly Im doing something wrong.

Anybody done this before and could give me some advice? Ive got till tuesday morning to get in under control, otherwise Ill have to leave it exposed for a week and well... thats just bad news bears.
 

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Living the dream
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Sounds like you may have cut a bit too far back over the good core! Anyway, forget heat unless you have an epoxy boat. Heat does nothing for polyester. Stout paint scrapers (at least two to work in unison with each other) tapped in with a hammer between the core and f/glass, whilst progressively jamming in wood wedges to hold the gap open wider as you move further under worked for me on a similar job a little while back. another tool that works like magic is a multi-tool with a scraper blade attachment. These things have a somewhat limited access but require little effort to separate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sounds like you may have cut a bit too far back over the good core! Anyway, forget heat unless you have an epoxy boat. Heat does nothing for polyester. Stout paint scrapers (at least two to work in unison with each other) tapped in with a hammer between the core and f/glass, whilst progressively jamming in wood wedges to hold the gap open wider as you move further under worked for me on a similar job a little while back. another tool that works like magic is a multi-tool with a scraper blade attachment. These things have a somewhat limited access but require little effort to separate.
:eek: **** why didnt think of that, I use wedges to jury rig everything. THANK YOU SO MUCH! I am off and away to the yard, let ya know how it goes tonight after (hopefully) less agony.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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As mentioned above, you are into core that is still adhered and probably does not need to be torn out. Using a sharp chisel will work somewhat but if the core is still attached strongly, you may rip right through the underlying headliner layer trying to chisel it out. The lower layer is usually not very thick and easily damaged. The area where good meets bad is a challenge so you just have to go slowly to determine where to stop. Take small bites:) A long recip saw blade works well to dig out under the top layer once you get to the point where the top does not want to come up and there is still material underneath to remove. I slid in wet-out balsa and poked wet glass well under some sections. You can actually wet out glass, jam it in tightly with a long blade and make the deck completely solid under stanchion bases and hardware close to the edge where you can't cut back the top layer. A heavy duty circular grinder with a 60 grit disc can remove a lot of material quickly and can be controlled quite well to clean the core out down to the lower level. I also found it a perfect tool to bevel back the top layer 12:1 along the edges.
 
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One of None
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You should hole saw a core to see how thick the top middle and bottom skins are. carbide rotozip cutter bits work but won't last long Rotozip
 

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Barquito
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If the area is near a cleat, is it possible a previous owner put epoxy into the holes to keep them water tight? If that is the case, then the two layers would be epoxied together.
 

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I used a hammer and these pry bars from home depot:

Search Results forÂ*pry barÂ*at The Home Depot

I replaced a couple square feet of core that hadn't delaminated yet, although it was visibly wet. It was very difficult to separate, and destroyed the top skin in the process. I probably could have waited, but I didn't want it to spread.
 

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Tartan 27' owner
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You started with the cabin top? Remember, water is still susceptible to gravity and will likely find it's way to the lowest point: your decks.
I feel your pain though. I have done this on the decks of my 1967 Tartan 27' and the outer skin that is still firmly attached to non-rotted Balsa core is tough to remove. I'm hoping that my cabin top is not cored like the decks are. I used every tool mentioned above to do mine.
I'm not sure if Bristol used core on their cabin tops but I assume your cabin top was a bit soft, otherwise why would you have chosen that spot? It is possible that your cabin top is not cored but has delaminated anyway, creating some voids in the laminate and weakening it. If this is the case I'd try to locate any voids using a hammer with a light touch then opening up from the inside or outside and inject epoxy into the voids. You could make several small penetrations with say a 1/2" drill bit or a small hole saw as deniseo30 suggested to access the laminate.
I am all for removing soaked, rotten Balsa core from older boats but I am not a fan of using plywood, or any wood for that matter to replace the core. This is the core material I have been using that I am quite happy with and it costs about as much as a good plywood.
honeycomb at Express Composites, Inc.
 

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"otherwise Ill have to leave it exposed for a week "
Mwahhahaha...I've cornered the market on duct tape, I own it ALL! Now, make me an offer and I might sell you a roll so you can cover that up and not leave it exposed all week.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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Just my opinion and I'm sure others will disagree, but when I did my decks I did a lot of research into the best core material to use. I used original balsa core. The reason it rots is because the manufacturers did not properly saturate all the end grain and voids. The fact that it survives intact and perfectly good after 50 years where it has been properly saturated proves its durability. This topic has been covered almost as much as (shhhhhhh a-n-c-h-o-r-s) so a bit of searching the database might prove helpful.
 
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Alright, so I was Im restoring a Bristol 24 (sailstar model), and have got to that lovely stage where one rips up the deck to replace the core. Sounded easy enough. Today I cut my first square panel into the deck, I chose a rotted area under the cleat on my cabin top to start. .........
Sounds like you're starting at the deck. When I've seen this done they were coming up from below. I think most boats have a good deal of glass and resin on the outside, built right up to the gel coat that was sprayed into the mold. Then they add the balsa, finally they add a skim coat of glass and resin. That final layer is the inside of the boat and has a lot less strength than the top side. Have you tried attacking it from below, from inside the boat?

GTJ
 

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baDumbumbum
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It's possible -- tho unlikely -- that Bristol used a deck construction method called 'eye loop.' In which loops of roving are picked out and run thru the core, connecting the inner and outer skins. Albin Marine was fond of this technique, in conjunction with pour-in-place Divynicell foam. It is very strong. And you cannot believe how much fun it is to remove one skin for recoring.
hatch1
hatch2
 

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Bob-
FWIW, I've never heard of a US mfr using that technique. It was one of those "odd rocket science from Scandinavia" things back then. Good--but outside of the pale for US mfrs.
 

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Alright, so I was Im restoring a Bristol 24 (sailstar model)...Anybody done this before and could give me some advice? .
Yep... and on a Bristol vessel too! A 19 foot Corinthian model. Deck was a spongey trampoline almost. Core was rotten from a previous owner installing a bow pulpit without sealant. Water came in everywhere. I used a masonry blade on a 5" grinder to cut through the glass. Did this to get a clean cut since I used the piece later on the make a swing open lid for an anchor locker. Have lots of photos, just dont remember how to post them here.

Your problem could be that you only cut through the top layer. Your foredeck is most likely a sandwich of glass-balsa-glass. When they lay the balsa core it is saturated in resin on both sides and the balsa that is not rotten is still hanging on tenaciously on both sides above and below. I had a few spots that were not rotten and had to rip the fiberglass a bit to pull off the whole piece I had just cut.

I used 3/8 inch ply (non-marine grade) soaked in epoxy as a replacement core. I Sawed Kerfs in it where i needed it to follow the curvature of the original deck profile. Important step for me. My deck is solid as a rock now and I am so glad I did the extra work to make the anchor locker conversion happen. Use slow cure epoxy for the job to give yourself time to adjust fit. I did not try to salvage the original molded in non-skid texture as it was already worn thin and this gave me a lot of freedom to cut where i needed since I would cover everything up later with a coat of new non-skid deck paint anyhow. Its a do-able project, pace yourself and you were smart to work in small sections at a time. I love the itch of fiberglass in the morning !!! LOL
 

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btw- i used a circular type blade to allow me to control the depth of my cut... couldnt do that with a jig saw blade as easy... masonry blade was also very thin, ate up very little of the fiberglass deck when making the cut while maintaining a straight cut too...

anyhow, you may want to make a smaller cut , its a timely process...
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I love the itch of fiberglass in the morning !!! LOL
But ya know whats even better! The fresh tingly itch of fiberglass in the morning, and the rewarding burn of fiberglass and sunburn in the evening.

In all seriousness though, I took ReefMagnets advice and finally got the thing pried up. It took a combination of wood wedges and a tool specifically used for opening fire hydrants of all things that my boyfriend left on the boat at some point. It also required some PBR, but we won't get into that. Many people were right, the balsa was not actually rotted. There are two dark spots where I suspected rot, but they are completely firm. I probably would have been more frustrated over this if it wasn't for the fact that A) I had to pry it up anyway since I damaged it so badly cutting, and that B) (to answer CalebD) I started with the cabin top for practice. Eventually, most of the deck needs to be recored but Im working up to it. I taught myself everything this winter using an assortment of old fiberglassing books I found in the library, but this is the first time Ive got up to the step of putting it to practice. So basically, at least I now know what not to do....

As for my plan for actual core material, I believe I have invented a new method. I ruined an area of the balsa in the whole process of today (and yesterdays) disaster and replaced it with the construction styrofoam i mentioned earlier. Hopefully this won't spark world war sailnet, but I think it kinda rocks.
I call it the po' gal method. I traced out the area that was being replaced (kind of a jagged circle for today) and mirrored it onto my styrofoam that I snapped off from the sheet. (They come in about 12ftx4 Btw.) Then I mixed epoxy with West system filleting blend to a peanut butter consistency. I'd suggest go for a little more viscous though it didn't fill the gaps as easily as I wanted it to. Anyway. Then took a piece of scrap wood, set it onto and weighted it down with my angle grinder until was firm enough the the piece wouldn't pull up easily. Next took the angle grinder and shaved it down CAREFULLY till it was flush with the balsa. I don't have any other grit besides 24, so if your a lunatic like me watch out, the grinder gets away from you pretty fast since it digs into the foam so easily. That made me a nice, even little blue pug that fit in perfectly. Next, chop up some fiberglass cloth and mix it with more filleting blend thickened epoxy and spread that over with a generous overlap. Finally, spread your first laminate layer of epoxy over the entire thing and start glassing it back up.

And presto! We have a new thing to argue over, yayyyy!!! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
btw- i used a circular type blade to allow me to control the depth of my cut... couldnt do that with a jig saw blade as easy... masonry blade was also very thin, ate up very little of the fiberglass deck when making the cut while maintaining a straight cut too...

anyhow, you may want to make a smaller cut , its a timely process...
Ah this is my method too. Drives me nuts I can't get in close to certain areas though, but thats a problem with everything isn't it :(
 
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