the deck on my Pearson Ensign

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by LeRi222, Apr 2, 2010.

  1. LeRi222
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    LeRi222 Junior Member

    Hi, I have recently been given a 1962 Pearson Ensign and I need to replace the deck and benches. There are ribs under the deck, and I need to know the best wood to use for them. I also need to know the best wood to use for the deck planking. I am only 14, and therefore have a limited price range. This means teak is definately out of the question. I need to know the best wood for the money. The old benches were made out of a brand of mahogony. Would this be a good wood to use again?
    Also, if you have any general information on the Ensign, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.​
     
  2. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Hi,

    Nice boat. The deck would be fine just reframed. Laying a wood deck will bankrupt you, nevermind keeping you out of the water.
    Use fir under the deck, or almost anything if you are tabbing it in with epoxy. For the seats (originally mahogany) a good substitute is spanish cedar or port orford cedar (sold for house decking).
    The ensign is a classic Carl Alberg design. You can look up the Ensign online where I believe there's an owners website.
    One problem with old ones is the ribs rot out. Not the end of the world, but expensive unless you do the work They rot at the ends within the fiberglass that tabs them to the hull. Check them carefully.
     
  3. LeRi222
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    LeRi222 Junior Member

    Alan,
    All the deck planks currently in my boat are either broken or water logged. Therefore, just reframing the deck would be out of the question. If you know any materials that I could use for the planks, please tell me. Thanks again.
     
  4. BobBill
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    BobBill Senior Member

    Pearson Ensign Deck Material

    Alan has a point. Big boat for young sailor, but you will love it for the sailing and the learning, not for the refurbish cost.

    My Ensign had teak decking and benches and rested on teak rails below. I stored the long shaft outboard and anchor in that hold. The doors were louvered mahogany.

    If the supports have gone soft, and the deck might be salvageable, why not manufacture Kevlar/carbon supports and repair deck as needed, using scraps and some epoxy Git-Rot for soft parts?

    If the deck needs to be replaced, seems easy enough to do in teak later, you have a factory template.

    Still, to save money until you have a steady income, maybe best to do only the supports and inject the soft portions of the benches with Git-Rot or other epoxy or add wood and mold to shape, until you can replace them properly.
     
  5. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    I'm surprised I missed the follow-up here. Nor has the young man returned to comment, though I hope he will.
    The wood to use isn't as important as the method of encapsulating each piece with three coats of epoxy. I've used various woods including well-dried pressure-treated (most available everywhere), oak, spruce, and frir.
    The ones on an Ensign only contact the hull at the sides, so an approximate 2 x 4 on edge is about the right dimension for the "floors" or cockpit sole frames.
    The originals rotted because they disdn't get compl;etely sealed, and polyester resin was used, which is not waterproof like today's epoxies.
    I wouldn't be so worried about rotton floors on an Ensign because the job, while not a small one, isn't monumental by any means. It's easy for an amateur to do with about $200 in materials.
    If the original poster returns, I could walk him through it.
     
  6. BobBill
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    BobBill Senior Member

    Ensign

    Yes, Alan, you have it down. There is a guy in CA who sells a thin penetrating epoxy I use on the house that might work also. If the lad is not overwhelmed by the boat and project, he will do well by following your sage advice.
     
  7. LeRi222
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    LeRi222 Junior Member

    Alan
    I have the money for the materials, and would greatly appreciate if you could walk me through the process like you said.

    Thanks.
     
  8. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Sure. The steps involved are as follows:

    1) Level the boat. This allows you to use a level if you need to to locate the floors. Use a level on the old floors to do the levelling.

    2) Remove most but not all "floors" (the boat name for crossing frames). Leave enough floors to use as a guide for the new ones (so a straightedge can sit on them to locate the tops of the new floors), and then once new ones are in, reverse the procedure to locate the last floors.
    Use sawzall or what you've got to remove the floors and a grinder with coarse grit to prep surfaces, grinding past gelcoat to green fiberglass to prepare for the new floors including an area about six inches around the ends where they tab in.

    3) Fit new floors. Use whatever method allows each new floor to nest in to the original location, coming exactly up to the straighjtedges (a pair of straight 2 x 4s would be fine). Space them as originally spaced. Use lines drawn on the 2 x 4s to locate fore and aft. Within 1" fore and aft of original for most of them is accurate enough spacing since it would help to fit them better if you can move them forward or aft a bit.

    4) Mix epoxy with Microfibers or suggested filler to a frosting consistancy and bed the ends to the hull. Scrape excess but use a 1" dowel or similar to cove in all inside edges so that glass tape can curve nicely into the joining corners. Clean all extra junk that would otherwise later have to be in the way of the glass tape, leaving just the coving behind. I suggest 4" tape, three layers, staggered so all three are over coving but fewer layers tapering further out. Go 1" offset and that should make the whole tabbing about 8" wide. Make sure to sand or grind the coved joint before laying tape. Use pure epoxy to tape. Add two layers of epoxy after taping.

    5) paint three coats of epoxy on the floors. Come to think of it, coat them first on horses before installing them. It's a lot neater.

    You'll find your cuddy bulkhead is rotton at the bottom. Try to describe what you find.
    buy one gallon of West System epoxy and a quart of hardener, and a roll of tape and a gallon size container or so of recommended filler (Microfibers will work fine). The exact hardener formula will depend on working temerature in your area when you do the work Ask the salesman and also go the the Gougeon Bros. site.
     
  9. LeRi222
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    LeRi222 Junior Member

    Alan

    You were right, the bottom of the bulkhead was all rotted. It looked as if the wood was peeling out and up. If this information is not enough, I may be able to post pictures of it.

    You other information was very helpful by the way.
     
  10. seasailor55
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    seasailor55 Senior Member

    Hello all,
    My Ensign needs a little more help! It was donated to our youth sailing program and has a good rig, a complete set of sails, rigging, winches, outboard motor, trailer, etc. However, it is missing the deck, cabin, floors, and benches. The floors and benches seem pretty straight forward, (I have been doing woodwork for years and I've gotten some good advice from this forum), but the deck is another thing. At some point in the past, someone apparently removed the original fiberglass deck and cabin and replaced it with a wooden deck. Unfortunately, the deck was not properly sealed, rot set in, and the whole thing had to be removed and scrapped. Anybody know where I might locate a Pearson Ensign deck? I could possibly build one given the Ensign design (straight sheer, minimal deck crown, small cuddy cabin, open cockpit) but I'd like to do it with minimal framing using laminations, (fiberglass covered laminated wood with epoxy?) if possible. If anyone has some suggestions or experience regarding this kind of project, please jump in. Thanks.
     
  11. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    I'm going to suggest a simpler deck, one without a house. Instead, about 4-5" of camber ought to allow reasonable crawl room.

    I think unless you have a spare Ensign just sitting there in your shop, creating a new deck mold from a spare boat will be a real pain.
    Luckily, the Ensign, due to its slight reverse sheer, is unusual in that the fore deck is likely not curved much fore and aft, which would require cold molding from two thin ply layers. Instead, my guess is you could screw down large 1/2" sheets and what little compound curvature you have can be tortured down. Especially where you'll have a joint running right down the centerline.
    I'd say the transverse frames should be oak, about 1" x 2"-2 1/2" and 12" o.c. (on edge) with solid blocking at the sheers and 1/2" x 6" wide plywood "king plank" pieces underneath to back the two large plywood sheets from bulkhead to stem. The king plank joiner pieces can be temporarily machine-screwed (with big washers) thru and set in epoxy to eliminate a longitudinal hard spot or ridge, and remove the screws after cure (add these blocks one by one after both sheets have been installed. Any remaining slight ridge can be sanded fair easily after that).
    After that, 10 oz cloth set in epoxy and three coats min. neat epoxy over the deck and a couple of interior coats of the same. Screw the ply down onto the frames with #10 x 1 1/2" stainless flat head wood screws.
    Where there are blocks/travellers, mast partners, cleats, etc., block generously with at least 1" thickness of plywood or solid wood (white oak or mahogany).
    Use epoxy for all laminating but 3m 5200 is fine for bedding the plywood decking to the frames. Otherwise it could get messy, and besides, the screws are doing the holding anyway.
    By sealing the plywood in epoxy inside and out, you will never have rot appearing in the new deck.
    While the ceiling height will be lower this way, you might consider the complication of adding a hatch to gain head room. The hatch can be forward of the mast and be about 24" square.
     
  12. seasailor55
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    seasailor55 Senior Member

    Pearson Ensign deck replacement

    Thanks, Alan

    Wonderful advice and excellent technical details! I've also considered a flush deck with a crown for, if nothing else, the simpler construction and the "race boat" look and functionality, considering the Ensign's racing record over the years. However, I would like to replicate, in wood, the small cuddy cabin with doors if feasible, mainly to provide additional head room for the original v-berth, privacy for a portable toilet (a necessity for some young sailors), and a lockable space to put the outboard, sails, gear, etc. Any ideas on how to incorporate this into the deck build without getting too complicated. I was considering using the same method that you suggested for the deck (epoxy and glass coated plywood, no compound curves). Since the mast would be keel stepped through the cabin roof (no mast or rigging loads on the cabin roof) and the mast and rigging are pretty robust, what in your opinion, would be a sufficient arrangement for adding a small trunk cabin (roughly 4'-6" long by 5' wide by 12" high) tapering slightly in width and height toward the bow? A floor to ceiling bulkhead as in the original Ensign could support the after end of the cabin. Would plywood panels sufficiently bent and secured to cabin beams with screws and covered with glass and epoxy be strong and rugged enough for lake and inshore sailing, or is there a better way? How would you envision making the cabin roof/side joints, the cabin side/front/rear joints, and especially the cabin to deck joint? What would be the best way to go about it? Your thoughts, please.
     
  13. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    You can find good info on the cabin construction detail and other framing in The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction. I'm attaching the relevant page with cabin sketch as an example.

    I don't know if you have found the Ensign class site, but there is good info there that you can take dimensions from: http://www.ensignclass.com/content/view/2/4/
     

    Attached Files:

  14. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Yeah, time to get a book and see how the details come together. Basically, the advice is the same except you'll begin by framing around a squared off hole in the deck, adding cabin sides (solid wood could be used or plywood and paint), and treating the cabin top the same as my description of the flush deck construction.
    If the forward end of the house can land exactly on a forward bulkhead (chain locker, etc.,) the cabin sides will carry the whole load from bulkhead to bulkhead. This allows some lightening of the framing members both on the side decks and the cabin top, maybe 1 1/4" square.
    I suggest you use the cabin sides to carry the side decks by having the cabin sides drop below the side decks an inch and a half or so.
    This setup should be able to take any abuse you can throw at it.
     

  15. seasailor55
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    seasailor55 Senior Member

    You guys are incredible!

    I've gotten more help for my Ensign restoration on this forum than I imagined. I'll get a copy of the Gougeon Brothers book.
    Your suggestions are good and will, I'm sure, result in a strong structure. I appreciate your willingness to share deck and cabin construction techniques, as I believe it will give me a better all around boat in the end.

    Thanks,

    seasailor55
     
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