the deck on my Pearson Ensign

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

  1. BobBill
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    BobBill Senior Member

    Ensign Refurbish

    Yes, Par. Good point and thanks.

    I was over indulgent, intending to offer avenues to ease the rebuild and match other boats. I had forgotten that the boat has been around for decades and that it might have a number of variations in general construction, as builders change and the money grows or declines. Should have known better, pics or not, and not been so full of it and prefaced my remarks.

    We are cool.
     
  2. seasailor55
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    seasailor55 Senior Member

    Well said. My particular boat, based on the sail number, was produced in 1963, making it a first generation boat. The Pearsons, from what I've read were pioneers in balsa cored fiberglass decks, and since polyester resin was the material of choice back then, they used it. Unfortunately, the poor sealing properties of polyester resin with balsa cores, combined with leakage around the through deck fittings, port windows, etc. caused deck core saturation, and faced with the task of recoring the deck, some previous owner apparently chose to remove the deck at the hull flange.

    I've toyed with the idea of recreating a cored figerglass deck, and done a good bit of research on fiberglass sheeting, extrusions, etc. But short of buliding a female mold, (lots of time and expense, mess, and questionable results?) and laying layers of cloth and resin (epoxy?) which will need a wood core for strength anyway if there is no interior framing, one of the best options appears to be replacing the deck and cabin with epoxy sealed and glass covered wood. So technically, I'm not planning on "restoring" the deck and cabin as much as "replicating" them.

    I recently got some leads on some possible Ensign donor boats, but I'm afraid I'll still face a deck recoring if these boats have been campaigned hard or had maintenance issues. Does anyone know of a reasonably simple way to build a one-off cored fiberglass deck? I'm still exploring options here and I don't want to overlook what may be obvious solutions.
     
  3. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    A cored deck is a pain in the *** to build from scratch and it doesn't need to be. If it was me, I'd just do the best I could with some thin plywood and maybe a few stringers. I wouldn't bother with deck beams, I'd use a 1x4 or 1x6 king plank and 1x2 stringers. The foredeck stringers would land on the cabin frame carlin. Keeping it simple and easy would be my goals.

    It would be nice if she had a little cabin, but ask yourself how much do you really need a cabin for. A small, enclosed space under the foredeck where sails and gear can be stored dry is just fine for 90% of your needs. A cabin is for camping and frankly in boats this size a boom tent is a more functional sleeping space.

    You have an open book here. It's doesn't have to have the same "text" as it once did.
     
  4. seasailor55
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    seasailor55 Senior Member

    "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. 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."

    PAR,

    Excellent advice and sort of what I was looking for in my original post (above). I certainly don't mind building frames as there needs to be framing for the cockpit carlins, if nothing else. I envisioned that the three 3/4" full width hull to deck bulkheads (forward of the v-berth under the foredeck, aft end of the cabin/forward end of the cockpit, aft end of the cockpit/forward end of the rear deck) and the transom would bear a substantial portion of the deck loads. I'm trying to keep an open mind, here. What I've got can be be tailored to my needs.

    Thanks
     
  5. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The bulkheads seems a bit of over kill, maybe some ring frames instead, which is easy and very strong. Do you have pictures of what the boat is like now?

    You can build one of three ways. The first is a full load bearing laminate, probably over plywood. Second would be a more traditional wooden build with beams, stringers and a light weight 'glass sheathing to seal things up. The wood bears the load in this method. Lastly would be a composite, where both the laminate and wood bear the loads. This would entail a plywood structure with filleted seams, maybe a stringer or beam, but not many. The sheathing would be thicker and the interface between wooden and laminate beefier. This would be the lightest of the three, which is a good thing for an Ensign, but you'd have a fair bit of both wood working and goo smearing.

    Pictures of what the boat currently looks like would be very helpful in further direction.
     
  6. seasailor55
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    seasailor55 Senior Member

    I have several pictures of the boat as is, (it's a mess right now) as I want to keep a record of the "before" and "after" condition and hopefully the progress as it goes along. I'll get some more shots and post a link to them. The three bulkheads that I referred to were original build. Sadly, like everything else that was wood in early Ensigns they were tabbed to the hull with polyester resin and glass, were essentially unsealed except for some paint or varnish, and would have to be replaced.

    As far as what the boat is like now: There is nothing there above the hull flange. The rear cabin bulkhead was sawn off at deck level, the bottom is rotted and delaminating from the hull, and the doors are gone. The forward bulkhead of the v-berth was sawn off at the v-berth level (apparently to open up the forepeak for storage). The v-berth is gone (apparently the plywood rotted and was ripped out). The rear cockpit bulkhead was sawn off 3 inches from the hull, leaving what looks like a ring frame. There is no cabin sole, there are no cockpit seats, cockpit floor or cross members. Someone glassed in 1x2 wooden stringers to the hull at the sheer.The cockpit seat supports glassed to the the hull are okay, the silicon bronze rudder post is there, and the chain plate attachments are intact and soild. To all intents and purposes, it's a bare hull. (Sounds pretty discouraging, doesn't it?) However, there are other boats that we can use while this one's being rebuilt, I'm not under any pressure to complete this to any rigid time schedule, I have the time and tools to get it done, and I'm determined to see this through, for the experience, if nothing else. My intention is to eat the proverbial elephant one bite at a time, and just consider it as a contribution to the sailing program.

    The last option that you mentioned (composite) is what I hoped was feasible. I understand that one layer of cloth and epoxy would be fine for sealing and abrasion resistance, but wouldn't be adequate for load bearing, and was hoping that I could get some details regarding what would be sufficient thickness for the wood and the laminate. I don't mind the wood working or the goo smearing, as all of the methods mentioned involve a certain amount of this. If it's not too much trouble, could you walk me through how I should go about constructing a light, strong deck sufficient for an Ensign that won't be sailed too hard, (no full race Ensign Nationals campaign here!) but would meet the needs of a junior sailing program? A general step by step outline including weights and layers of cloth, and wood thickness/reinforcement, etc. would sure help. I really appreciate all the feedback and advice.
     
  7. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The first thing I would do is block up and level the boat to the LWL, as best as you can, then remove the remaining wooden elements, like the bulkheads. I'd also bond a 1x2 completely around the perimeter of the sheer to establish a new sheer carlin and have something to tack wooden pieces too as the goo cures.

    Next using a laser level (you leveled the hull remember) strike a vertical line around the bulkhead locations, so you know where to pick up dimensions. I've attached a drawing included in many of my plans for the use of a goggle stick. This simple tool can pick up an odd shape and permit it to be transferred to a different location, such as where you keep the replacement stock. While you have the laser out, strike a horizontal line where the cockpit seats might live.

    Naturally, you'll want to have an idea of the cabin height and roof crown for the cabin and deck before you cut the top of the bulkhead stock. This could be as light as 1/4" plywood (Okoume or meranti preferred), but 3/8" would be more practical for the cabin bulkhead at least. Or if you expect monsters to be jumping up and down on the cabin top and fore deck, 3/8" for the forward and aft bulkheads, with 1/2" at the cabin wall. This is way over kill by strong.

    A blow by blow would be exhaustive and this isn't the best venue for that, but a good over view as you work through the issues may be helpful.

    I still think the deck and cabin roof should be 1/4", glued with epoxy to the stringers and cabin side walls. With tight stringer spacing this is light and strong.

    Personally, I might be considering making a new "statement with the cabin profile, maybe a blister deck to bring her into the modern age. This could be strip planked with very light stock, say 1/4" by 1" on edge over a temporary mold, then 'glassed on both sides for a stringer/beam free cabin/roof/fore deck structure. Light, composite, modern and fairly easy.

    The cockpit seats could be simply 1/4" plywood boxes, tabbed to the hull shell, just like the bulkheads. A locker lid or two in these boxes will help storage issues.

    In the end some pictures would be helpful and to further the detail aspect, possibly best to take this to a private discussion through email. In fact, a telephone call could solve a dozen issues in a few minutes. This is where you'll learn of my address so the beer can be delivered correctly . . .
     

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  8. BobBill
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    BobBill Senior Member

    Ensign Refurbish

    Par has an excellent point. Why be old-hat and rebuild the cuddy?

    Open boat with added mast support where it was supported by cabin roof sounds simple, strong and slick. All other things being equal, the boat is still an Ensign, so why not? And way less moola.
     
  9. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Since the mast is keel stepped, the partners could be simply a curved thwart like thing. There's lot of possibilities here. Seasailor, where you able to save the "Ensign" builders plate from the cabin bulkhead?
     
  10. seasailor55
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    seasailor55 Senior Member

    Ensign Refurbish

    I find the cabin on the Ensign relatively modern even by today's standards (low, with swept back dummy windshield front, tapering angled sides). With no sliding hatch or slides and the complications involved in building them, and a full width floor to ceiling rear bulkhead with cabinet doors, it should be fairly straight-forward to replicate, I would think. However, I agree that it would be a much simpler build without it especially if the crowned foredeck ended at the mast partners and the cockpit coaming was continued forward, possibly at an angle similar to a Lightning deck and coaming. This would still provide 8' of room under the foredeck for storage, possibly a v-berth, and a locking door (or doors) would provide access and security. One of the chief advantages to deleting the cabin and ending the foredeck at the mast partners would be much simpler mast ******** for trailering as it would eliminate the need to raise a heavy 30 foot+ mast up high enough to stab down through the cabin roof. I have kicked around the idea of a cuddy cabin roof or a flush deck with a slot that could somehow be closed up after the mast was stepped and in position, but haven't quite figured out how that could be done. By the way, what's a "blister" deck? I'm assuming it refers to a raised, contoured deck incorporating the cabin instead of a deck with a distinct cabin and coachroof.
     
  11. seasailor55
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    seasailor55 Senior Member

    Unfortunately, there was no builders plate when I got the boat. It must have gotten lost in the shuffle over the years.
     
  12. BobBill
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    BobBill Senior Member

    Ensign Refurbish

    Maybe go simple, like the beautiful Shields...
     

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  13. seasailor55
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    seasailor55 Senior Member

    Ensign Refurbish

    Now that, my friend, is a beautiful boat!

    I could go with a slightly crowned foredeck ending at the mast and wider cockpit side decks to compensate for the loss of the freeboard provided by the Ensign's cabin and higher coamings. That would give me an 11' cockpit, (nice and roomy) and still allow for nearly 8' under the foredeck and nearly 3' under the aft deck. Plenty of room for storage and flotation. If I put flotation under the seats too, it would probably be nearly unsinkable, wouldn't it?
     
  14. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Though the Shields is quite a different shape, the open boat idea is a good one and solves a number of issues. You can still have a coming Seasailor, though it'll be shorter.

    If it was me, I'd be inclined to put some more sweep in the sheer, just to pretty her up some (a hard, but rewarding job) and I would make a foredeck back to include the mast partners. I'd also have a fairly tall deck crown so the under fore deck volume would be easier to access, maybe a small (18" square) hatch forward of the stick. This could be done very inexpensively and without the cabin the hull would be more rigid.

    I wouldn't worry about flotation as much as places where air might get trapped in a capsize or knock down. You see, in the event of a capsize, trapped air will exist in the forepeak, enough to keep her bow high at the very least, so if you have some lockers with latched lids aft, they might leak, but will provide enough buoyancy to permit the boat to right herself or keep her up enough so you can right her. Naturally, you probably shouldn't go out and have a few beers while deciding what to do when this is all going on, but if you act reasonably, the boat will have some down flooding, but that's what bilge pumps and buckets are for.
     

  15. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    You'll want to be careful about this. If the cockpit extends all the way to the mast then the mast will be in the way of ingress into the interior from the cockpit. It would be better to have some deck area aft of the mast so you can have an opening where you do not have to wriggle around the mast while you are getting in.

    You also might want to have a long enough interior to store the boom. There might be times you want to store the boom inside, out of the elements and away from potential sticky fingers.
     
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