Plastic Boat Wet Foam

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by SGT Rud, May 5, 2016.

  1. SGT Rud
    Joined: May 2016
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    SGT Rud Junior Member

    I need help. My father gave me an old 2 person plastic Bass Tracker. It has a live well between the two sliding seats. I am pretty sure that the foam inside is saturated and soaking wet. Two people should be able to pick it up, but the thing weights about 900 pounds. Dad had the battery slide in the boat and cracked a section behind the live well. He filled it in with epoxy, but I think a ton of water got in. He drilled some holes in the top and flipped it to drain the water, but I don't think it did. The boat seems to be two shells. A top and a bottom. He said that it is glued together, and what I can do is use a heat gun to melt the glue and seperate the two sections and gain access to the inside of the boat.

    I have no experience in boat repair. I assume that this is a way to seperate the two sections. What kind of foam is in there, and how do I replace it. I also assume I would scrape out the old foam, put the two shells back together, and then fill it with a liquid foam. What kind of glue is this to glue it back together?
     
  2. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Welcome to the forum.

    It depends on the year of your boat, as to what type of foam they used, but it sounds old enough that they used an open cell. No amount of turning it upside down will drain out all the water.

    Yep, you can separate the liner from the hull shell, but it's not a job for the timid and wouldn't be recommended for the novice - it's just too big and complicated a deal to get through without knowing what you're in for. There are several areas between the liner and hull shell that will have foam and it's likely all of them are wet.

    An easier way for the novice is to cut sections out, which keeps the project manageable. This might mean cutting around the live well and yanking the well out, to gain access to the foam. Once you've scooped out the bad stuff, you taper the edges of the cut areas and bond the well back into place. You can even play with matching gel coat to increase your fun, once you have everything smoothed up after filling the cut line seams. With this approuch under your belt, you can decide if you want to continue in other areas that might be soaked. You might find it wasn't so bad or you might find (as many do) that it's an itchy, dirty, messy job, that you'd prefer to never have to do again.

    Post the year, make and model of the boat and any pictures you might have, so we can narrow down the possible issues.
     
  3. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Water saturated foam is not unusual in an older boat. Many a boat has been consigned to the bone yard because of that problem. Many boats also have wooden stringers between the inner and out shell. The wood also becomes saturated and often succumbs to rot.

    The fix is possible but it is a monumental job. The inner shell may be riveted at the sheer line and also have adhesive at the joints. A heat gun is not likely to loosen the adhesive sufficiently to get the two shells separated. The parts can be gotten apart, usually with a lot of judicious work with a saw, accompanied by sweat, blood, and a generous application of words not fit for Sunday school.

    Explore the forum and you will find that this is a problem that has been attacked by quite a few boat people. You can find some instructional descriptions of the job in numerous threads here on the forum.

    It would be well for you to explore the condition of the transom. Transoms that hold outboards, most often have plywood cores. The ply is subject to the same kind of saturation and/or rot as the stringers. If that is the case, then rebuilding the transom is definitely necessary. Drill some large exploratory holes in the transom to investigate this possibility. You can close the holes with glass and epoxy if no trouble is found.
     
  4. SGT Rud
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    SGT Rud Junior Member

    I want to say it's a '92 or a '95. The tag is really worn and I can't see a model. But searching on Google, looks like a bantam bass tracker. I tried to upload an image below, but it's not showing up and won't let me delete that post. I talked to a guy at a boat shop today, and he said it would cost $900+ to repair. I figured doing it myself would just be the cost of materials. I wouldn't think new foam would cost over $150.
     
  5. SGT Rud
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    SGT Rud Junior Member

  6. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    I am not at all experienced in this type of repair but if I had this boat I would probably use something like a multi tool to cut off the top of the boat just above the joint to gain access to the inside.

    After removing the old foam and cleaning it up and replacing any wood strengtheners glue the top back on.

    Poida
     
  7. SukiSolo
    Joined: Dec 2012
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    SukiSolo Senior Member

    Chopped up something along those lines last year.... ;)

    Though a slight variant, I say it was two vacuum formings stuck together, with some internal foam blocks for stiffness and buoyancy. I'm sure some makers post filled with foam but it can distort the shape. Good test for the jigsaw blade though....
     
  8. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Cut half a dozen hand size holes and get it out that way, possibly. When done fit some screw-down ports.
     
  9. portacruise
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    portacruise Senior Member

    If the foam/wood is not bad, maybe use a wet vaccum through a small hole at the lower end of a tilted boat? Then run a blower nozzle at low speed from a hole at the other end for several weeks until dry.... That would save a lot of work.

    PC
     
  10. 1blueheron
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    1blueheron New Member

    If I'm not mistaken those boats are not wood or FRP construction.

    They are just two molded PE plastic peices filled with foam and fused together. You will need to separate the top from the bottom. Really doesn't matter how you separate them as long as you have a working plan on how to put the two halves back together. I don't think you will have much success any other way.
    Once you get them apart and remove the waterlogged foam, you will need to get some pour in place foam to fill it back up. They depend on the foam as a structural component to keep the plastic from folding or collapsing.

    The real problem you will face is how to keep the same thing from happening again after you fix it. Not many things like to stick or bond to this type of plastic. Not sure if 5200 would stick to it or not.
     
  11. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Agreed, these are not typically 'glass boats, but injection molded plastic and most adhesives don't bond well to these. You will likely have best success with epoxy after "caramelizing" the surface with a torch, which doesn't do as it sounds. You're not trying to burn the surface, just break up the polymer chains, so the epoxy has a better grip. You can do the same thing with a strong UV lamp, but it takes a lot longer. These types of boats are considered disposable and no provision was made for repairs.
     
  12. portacruise
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    portacruise Senior Member

    *Shoe goo*, Aqua Seal and other contact cement types will stick to anything and are pretty strong. I've used them for vinyl and urethane bladders and they hold despite all the flexing. Maybe SS staples or screws can be added if you need even more strength for a boat seam.

    PC
     
  13. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The product you're recommending is one of the modified urethanes available and though a reasonable bond, it's can't be considered structural, nor suitable in this application. These low elastic modulus adhesives will stick, but aren't especially tough. It's much better to more closely match the modulus. West System G-Flex after caramelization is my recommendation, because both materials will have a similar stiffness.
     
  14. SukiSolo
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    SukiSolo Senior Member

    / \ agreed PAR. Mind you if the hull is, er, er, a bit fragile, I'd still chop it up....;)
     

  15. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Yeah, most of these can't tolerate a lot of UV, before the polymers start breaking down. If caught early enough the plastic can be rejuvenated to a degree with deoxidizers, but if the flange sees too much damage they get brittle and start cracking and breaking. It's hard to tell from the image, but a couple of shots with a rubber mallet will reveal a lot.
     
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