To Foam or Not to Foam?

Discussion in 'Materials' started by 4winns, Jun 10, 2009.

  1. 4winns
    Joined: Apr 2009
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Arizona

    4winns Junior Member

    I am in the process of repairing my 1989 Four Winns Horizon 200. I am almost to the point where I need to foam. I stopped by a boat shop today to get more glass for the deck and was talking to the owner about foam products to use. The guy at the boat shop informed me that he hates foam and does not put foam back into any boats he repairs as foam will absorb water and is not needed. It never even crossed my mind not to foam, which has raised some questions. Do I foam or not? What is the general census? Thank you.
     
  2. CTMD
    Joined: Dec 2007
    Posts: 198
    Likes: 9, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 117
    Location: Melbourne, Aus

    CTMD Naval Architect

    The guy at the boat shop is obviously looking to spend a long period in jail. The foam is fitted to save your life in the event of damage.

    I can guarantee based upon recent cases in Australia that if you were to remove the floatation foam out of a boat here and it sunk with loss off life you'd get a lot more than just a fine. I can't imagine the US would be any softer.

    If you value your life and that of the friends and family you take out on your boat you'll replace the foam.
     
  3. 4winns
    Joined: Apr 2009
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Arizona

    4winns Junior Member

    Thanks for the reply
     
  4. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
    Likes: 490, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 3967
    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Technically speaking, you're correct Chris, but from a practical stand point the guy at the boat yard is also correct.

    A very small percentage of manufactures are actually installing foam correctly enough to insure it actually works. The type of foam, the environment it's installed in (the big culprit) and the level of expertise used, means the foam will absorb moisture, causing whole delamination and rot within a measurable time frame. You show me any 15 year old production boat and I'll show you rotten underpinnings. In the worst cases hundreds of pounds worth of water being along for the ride too.

    You can be sued for just about anything currently, but letting this insure an inferior method is placed within a structure seems folly to me. I've been telling folks to not place the foam back in their water soaked production rebuilds for years. I too, will only be client forced to install foam and then will insist on the good block stuff, no the pourable, two part stuff that has been the rage for a couple of decades now.

    Does this make me vulnerable to a negligence suit, yep, it sure does, but fortunately none have sunk as a result of not having foam. A couple have sunk (well swamped really, the transom plug has to be used), but trapped air in the enclosed chambers permitted a pump out and easy salvage. The foam wouldn't have prevented these boats from swamping, nor would they have floated any higher.

    I suppose, if one was badly holed, I might be in trouble, but if compartmentalized as I do it, not such a big issue, as the remaining compartments preform their function.
     
  5. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Paul, is it better to be blind, or better to be deaf, if advice is not conveniant?
     
  6. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
    Posts: 2,574
    Likes: 407, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1669
    Location: Washington

    Ike Senior Member

    Having spent many years testing boats for flotation and advising manufacturers on flotation, I think I have a little insight here. In fact I just finished up a research project on why some foam absorbs water and some doesn't.

    Par is right. By the way, in the U. S. It is not illegal for a boat owner to remove the foam. Foolish perhaps, but not illegal. It could get you sued in the event of an accident though. Flotation is a manufacturer requirement, that is the manufacturer of the boat is required to provide flotation on monohull boat under 20 feet in length. Your Four Winns may actually be longer than that so if it has flotation it is because Four Winns follows ABYC standards which recommends flotation in boats larger than 20 feet but it is not required.

    Foam is not required either. Flotation can be acheived in many ways and foam is only one of them. However it is probably the most convenient for manufacturers. Unfortunately they mostly use 2 part blown polyurethane foam, and there lies the problem. If done right, strictly according to the foam manufacturer's instructions the foam will not absorb water and will last the life of the boat. But most don't follow the instructions and so you get some boats that have water soaked foam. The point is the foam isn't supposed to absorb water at all. So why does it? that's another question all together.

    Should You replace the foam? Yes. But use block foam if at all possible. Machine made block foam does not have this problem. Remember the incident in Florida with the NFL players who were killed off shore? Well, the one who survived was sitting on his boat. It floated nicely, upside down, but nicely. That boat saved his life.

    Absolutely do not use that blown foam that comes in spray cans. That stuff is good for insulation in houses but doesn't last very long in boats. As before use block polyurethane foam. You can get it from industrial supply companies that supply insulation for building construction, or you may be able to get it through some marine repairers.
     
  7. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
    Posts: 2,574
    Likes: 407, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1669
    Location: Washington

    Ike Senior Member

    By the way, from another post I made on this subject;

     
  8. 4winns
    Joined: Apr 2009
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Arizona

    4winns Junior Member

    I have decided to go with the block foam for several reasons pointed out to me but mostly piece of mind. Great forum and I appreciate all the helpfull replies. Just for the heck of it, i've attempted to attache a couple of pics of some of the earlier work.
     
  9. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
    Posts: 5,880
    Likes: 312, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1749
    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    Must be a different type of styrofoam. The white stuff I bought dissolved when I tried to put Polyester resin on it.

    I havent tried epoxy.
     

  10. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
    Posts: 2,574
    Likes: 407, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1669
    Location: Washington

    Ike Senior Member

    Polyester resin will dissolve polystyrene foam. That is why I said use epoxy resin.
     
Loading...
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.