Best method for bow/top deck collision repair

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by douglee25, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. douglee25
    Joined: Jun 2011
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    douglee25 Junior Member

    A buddy of mine had a collision on the water with his 27' bow rider. The major damage occured approximately 3 feet from the very front of the boat where the top deck joins the lower. The profile of the top deck at this portion has a compound curve.... it not only curves toward the front of the boat to form the 'Vee' but also has a somewhat rounded curve as you proceed towards the center line of the boat. See the attached picture for reference. It's probably hard to tell from the picture, but from the deck joint towards the center line of the boat, the deck has about 1" steps in it in two places. I am looking for the best way to fix this. I have been kicking around different options but I would like some input. This repair has to be done from the outside unless we were to literally rip out the entire interior of the bow. I don't see this as feasible. I thought about laminating several layers of foam on the horizontal, gluing the pieces from the back side of the hull, and cuting/sanding in order to obtain the original hull curvature. Then fiberglassing over the foam. I also thought about making a mold of the deck further back, but the only issue with that is that the stepped areas are larger towards the stern of the boat vs. the bow of the boat. It may take quite a bit of work to go this route.

    There is also damage from the deck joint that goes down toward the keel of the boat. This repair seems more straight forward to me (feather joint with grinder at 12:1, fiberglass joint, smooth, sand, gelcoat, etc).

    Thoughts? Any recommendations for a layup schedule? The original layup appears to be biax.

    Thanks again.

    Doug
     

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  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Can someone resize the above picture to make the page width reasonable?

    You can make this repair from the outside, but it's a difficult set of tasks, compared to prying up the deck cap/liner and working both sides of the area.

    The laminate looks to be mat and likely some roving tossed in for good measure, not biax.

    Popping up the forward portion of the deck cap is easier then removing it and also means you don't have to remove everything, though you'll have to remove darn near everything. You'll have to crawl inside the hull shell to work, under the propped up deck cap, which is a pain in the butt, but I've done this on occasion when the situation warranted it. In this case, I think you should remove the cap and liner. You appear to have a huge crack and delamination on the hull shell as well as broken the flange and portions of the deck cap. You pretty much have to have good access to the inside of the boat in this area, because of slamming loads, to insure a solid job of it. An all out side repair will probably continuously cause issues (reappearing cracks, leaks, etc.). Most insurance companies would total out this boat (if it has any real age), so this should give you an idea of how much damage has occurred. The one strake clearly shows a discontinuity, meaning the hull is stoved in pretty good (deformed) and total laminate failure in this area can be expected when you open her up. The flange and deck cap damage just add to the difficulties.

    Has the insurance company sent someone to look her over? If no insurance, have you had it surveyed?
     
  3. douglee25
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    douglee25 Junior Member

    I apologize for not resizing the picture. I thought if I left it larger that it may help with diagnosing the best way for repair.

    Nevertheless, the owner does not have insurance on the boat. I would expect the boat not to be worth more than $5k max. I looked over the boat myself and the damage appears to be localized to just the bow. The strake that you mentioned has a bulkhead where the top of the crack begins. The crack begins just forward of this bulkhead. If that bulkhead was not there, I would imagine the boat would have totally cracked and started taking on water. On the opposite side I saw no shifting or gelcoat cracking. Furthermore, I did not see any shifting in any other bulkheads, stringers, etc that are in plain sight. Obviously it's possible that upon tear down, we could find more.

    Back to the repair, because this boat is a bow rider, the whole inner liner is actually part of the top cap which contains the seats/storage compartments, etc. The seats/storage area goes to the very front of the bow. If I were to gain access to this area, I think the entire cap would have to be removed (front to back). I'm assuming that the entire cap/sole are all one piece from bow to stern? This doesn't sound like a feasible way to repair. I guess we could cut out a whole section of the seating area and reglass it in afterwards? At least the carpet and the seats may provide and easy way to cover the fiberglass joints afterwards. What do you suggest is the best way to reform the curvature of the bow at this point?

    Thoughts? Thanks again.

    Doug
     
  4. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Yep Doug, your description of the deck cap/liner seems right on and yes, it generally has to come off. 'Glass flexes quite a bit, so it'll rebound after an impact, often hiding broken out tabbing and other things. The only real way to handle this is to remove the cap. Yea, I know it sucks, but I've removed enough now that It's not such a big deal.

    Alternatively you could cut the cap/liner well aft of the suspected area (just in cause you find more), then patch it back in. This means more work and paint matching, etc., so most just yank the cap so the repairs are hidden below.

    Everything has to come off, the engine, controls, steering, equipment, etc. This is tedious, but fairly mindless work. Bag and tag everything so you know what it is. Also take lots of pictures so you can remember how it's supposed to look when reassembling.

    Once the rub rail has it's 10,000 screws removed, you need to pry the flange apart. A propane torch and a putty knife work well for this. Heat the putty knife until it's glowing then slide it along, slicing the bedding compound at the flange. With a chain fall, fork lift, engine hoist, whatever you have, pull the cap off. It'll fight you at first, but then the weight of the boat will over come the sealant on the flange and it'll just pop right off.

    Now with the parts separated you can isolate the cap and hull repairs. Both would be best is repaired from the inside with cosmetic finishing on the exterior.
     
  5. douglee25
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    douglee25 Junior Member

    I appreciate your response.

    It looks like we're in for an uphill battle. I'll have to see how this one goes....

    Doug
     
  6. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    There are a lot of derelict boats available now. Some are free, others, just a few hundred bucks. This is an option, as the work you're looking at, is a daunting set of tasks if you're not setup for it. If your hardware, engine and controls are in good shape, consider just swapping them to a hull someone has lost interest in. There are hundreds of these in my area, hulls less then 20 years old with shot engines that haven't been in the water for years. You can get these things cheap and it'll save lots of itching, scratching and cussing over the repairs of your current boat.
     
  7. douglee25
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    douglee25 Junior Member

    That's a good point as well. The drivetrain in the boat is in very good condition. In fact, prior to my buddy purchasing the boat, the previous owner installed an 8.1L Merc engine in it. I doubt it has 50 hours on it. I'll send my buddy a link to this thread and see what he wants to do.

    Doug
     
  8. douglee25
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    douglee25 Junior Member

    OK back to this mess. The owner has decided to repair himself. We are not going to separate the top deck but rather cut out some of the front seating for access.

    I need some advice for the repair....

    1. What do some feel is the best way for reforming the top deck? Initially I felt that gluing up several 2" pieces of foam, securing it inside the hole, then shaping it with a knife and sanding to provide a good base for laying a few layers of glass would be a good method. Do you all agree or should I tackle it some other way? I also thought about using the old piece to help make a mold, but it's pretty trashed and doesn't look like it would provide a good base. Any advice?

    2. The bottom portion of the hull repair seems more straightforward. As of today that area is already ground down on the outside. I still need to gain access on the inside after we cut out some seating to finish grinding that portion. I will then glass both sides, fair the outside, and finally gelcoat. Does this sound good?


    Any other words of wisdom would be appreciated.

    Thanks again.

    Doug
     
  9. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    Doug,

    I am going to let someone else chime in here about the best method to repair this damage, but I am going to have chime in here with Par. This is a major undertaking! The repair isn't just cosmetic, or even lightly loaded structural, it looks like the keel of the boat has cracked, and the damage through and around bulkheads is a major indicator that the boat is beyond reasonable repair.

    In addition without an experienced yard to do the work you become liable In the event the boat later has a failure and sinks, or someone gets hurt or killed. Add to that the fact this is a high powered, high speed boat I just can't imagine that there is any justification for repairing it. Particularly if you have a low hour drive train that could be swapped to another boat.

    The other issue is that even once it is repaired the boat will have a close to zero value. This type of repair is very hard to disguise (and you really shouldn't fail to disclose it). So the next owner will have to be told of the extensive repair work, often meaning they are willing to pay much less than market for the boat. Add in the material cost to repIr it, the time, and the risk of catastrophic failure the next time it is running in big seas I can see the justification. Particularly on a boat that can be replaced for about the same as the repair cost.
     
  10. douglee25
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    douglee25 Junior Member

    I appreciate your concern and I see where you're coming from.

    I do have experience with fiberglass and structural repairs. I am confident that the repair will be sound. What I'm lacking is some direction on the top deck reconstruction and thus why I posted.

    Can anyone comment on the top deck reconstruction and how it could be tackled?

    Doug
     
  11. douglee25
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    douglee25 Junior Member

    Update -

    Today I dove into this project. We began forming the foam to make a mold on the top side of the boat. We then glassed over it with two layers. What we plan to do is glass that from behind the hole and continually build up layers until we get close to the surface. Then we will fair and finally gelcoat.

    Onto the bottom damage.... We decided to tackle the majority of the repairs on the outside of the boat due to access. I ground out the cracks to a 12:1 ratio. There were a couple small cracks to the gelcoat near the light and towards the rubrail. We lightly ground those and probably will just fair and gelcoat them again. After we were done grinding, we went inside the boat to inspect the bulkhead. After we pulled back the carpet we could clearly see the bulkhead was cracked in several places. I'm fairly certain that if the impact was forward or aft of the bulkhead, the boat would probably have sunk. Because the bulkhead was cracked, we had to cut it out. 15 minutes later and we had it out. Now with that piece removed, we have great access to the backside on the lower side of the hull. I think we will rough up the surface just behind the cracks and lay a few layers of glass for additional support. Everything else looks good in the front of the boat. We could not see any further damage then what I just explained. I think the bulkhead will be the last thing to go back into the boat once we finish up the rest of the repairs.

    Doug
     
  12. rasorinc
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    rasorinc Senior Member

    Use bi ax cloth not regular stuff.
     
  13. douglee25
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    douglee25 Junior Member

    That's exactly what I ordered. I ordered 12 oz and 17 oz.

    Doug
     
  14. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The 17 ounce stuff you ordered, is it straight biax or does it have a mat attached? The order number is typically DB1700 for the straight biax.

    As far as shaping and molding your repair, you can do it one of several different ways and none have a clear advantage. In short what ever works for the area you're in. I wouldn't bother with foam. I'd probably just block it up with thin plywood and build the laminate over this. As to the complexity of the shapes, well this is just part of the fun, so your jig or mold can help in this regard. The more time you put into the jig, the less time you'll have making the shapes look right.
     

  15. douglee25
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    douglee25 Junior Member

    It is not straight biax. It has a layer of 3/4 oz of mat with it. Is that ok?

    I basically came to the same conclusion regarding the jig. I just needed to get to the boat and start doing something vs. thinking about it for too long. It seems as though it came together but I will know more once we go to glass it in.

    Doug
     
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