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Discussion Starter #1
Odd, I've just spent an hour googling this simple question and I still don't have a definitive answer. A hammer of some kind, I assume, but WHAT kind?

I know I have an upcoming repair to do, and I want to try to determine the extent of the rot before I start cutting things open.
 

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A moisture meter might help. That's what we had to find the soft spot on our deck.
 

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your foot
 

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Every survey I've ever witnessed used a rubber mallet to tap suspicious decking. There is a definite change in pitch when it hits a soft spot. Your foot, as mentioned, works pretty well too.
 

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I use a steel hammer normally used for straightenning crashed car bodies. This gives a much better sound than plastic or rubber hammers. All you have to do is apply minimium hitting force.
 

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Surveyors use a hard plastic hammer. A metal hammer may damage the gel coat. A rubber mallet is too soft. Surveyors are picky about their hammers and each one is a personal choice. I use the handle of a screw driver as I can tap rapidly with it finding smaller voids.
Amen.. I use a small shoe makers brass hammer with finely radiused edges for doing below waterline soundings. Above deck I use a phenolic hammer, or brass one side / plastic other side so as not to damage cosmetic gelcoat or LPU paints... Once you find a hammer you like you stick with it....

That said a moisture meter can be used to identify areas that need more sounding, if you know how to use one, and can also track changes/migration in core moisture over time....
 

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for the hull its different the end of a screw driver has always been my fave...just tap tap tap and loo(smooth) over with your hand

on the decks honestly I dont get it...its called a soft spot for a reason....you walk around the decks moving and putting more weight on one leg then the other, move around if you see or feel any movement mark the spot

then go below decks and look at cabinetry, and bulkheads or hardware if you have any indication of a leak...mark spot, go up again on deck and dance around...

if you have delamination you will hear cabinetry and bulkheads squeak when walking directly over it...if you have detabbed bulkheads youll feel movement like the deck hitting the top of the bulkheads, etc...

if all you have is a soft spot mid deck where no hardware or bulkheads or cabinetry is under or around it then its an easy real easy fix... if there is stuff under a simple task can become quite major

Im doing this as we speak on my islander 36

there is a forward bulkhead that rotted, so every time I walk over it it reminds me FIX ME!

new ply, re tab, glass and some varnish and thats that

the deck is solid it whats under that failed

on small places where its soft and you know its a cored deck and hopefully ply there are many ways simple and detailed on how to fix it

cheers and good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #9
FWIW, this is the cockpit floor (sole?) of my brand-new-to-me Catalina 22. Port stern corner. It's been cracked since owner-before-last, probably three years at the very least, PO thought it was no big deal and never touched it. Incredibly, it does not flex or sound rotten at all, to my untrained ear. It is wood cored though, and about an ounce of coffee-colored liquid oozed from it after a freeze last week.



 

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FREEZE

thats whats important

this is what happened:

gelocoat cracked, water intrusion...freeze that freeze thaw(notice BULGE) water expands, crack gets bigger...eventually all along the length of the sole

then you step on it(or po) and it make things worse

basically temps have a lot to do with what happens on top and below decks

I would grind the gelcoat off, make sure moisture is gone and re gecloat andpaint over or do a nice non skids surface...that or grind and just paint a thinn coat of paint and use a nice teak cover...

gelcoat once cracked has a tendency to keep cracking and crazing

kid of like a glass window in your car unless you drill it to stop it expanding...
 

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You can have a wet core and it still sound solid, in fact it can be wet for years with no rot. Rot happens when micro organisms begin to feed on the wood and they need some oxygen for this. Often the water can get in but not enough air to allow growth of the bacteria that feed on the wood. That is likely the case with the cockpit floor above. The freezing of course will cause damage and that is why you are seeing some moisture seep out. I would bet if you put a moisture meter on that floor it would peg the meter. The crack is likely due to freezing. Sooner or later that deck will get soft. Core issues can be complicated and like most things on a boat every situation is a bit different. Nothing is ever as simple as it sounds when it comes to boats but that is part of the fun!
 
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