What is the best way to replace a large area of rotted deck core on stern deck?

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by SouthCoastT, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. SouthCoastT
    Joined: Sep 2013
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    SouthCoastT Junior Member

    I own a Southcoast 23' and when we took the traveler off, which was mounted on top of the stern deck behind the cockpit, we found some rot near the holes that the hardware was running through.

    Upon further inspection, I realized that there was a lot of rot in the stern deck - meaning, basically the entire thing.

    I have construction experience and am very handy, but I'm also new to boat repairs, with this easily being the largest repair that I've ever taken on. I'd like to know a few basics:

    I'm planning on working from underneath, because otherwise I'll have to simply replace the entire stern deck since it was rotted out underneath and I've already (perhaps foolishly) removed a lot of the epoxy that was on the under-side of the deck, which was what was holding the core in previously.

    Should I continue to remove the deck core from underneath even though it's 10x harder to work from the underside? Or should I just replace the deck entirely, removing the skin from on top and building it from scratch essentially.

    I'm trying to do this within 3 weeks, while working a full-time job. Is that possible?

    Thanks so much for any advice you can provide. It would be amazing to at least know I'm going about the project in the right way.
    -Thomas
     
  2. Landlubber
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Brisbane

    Landlubber Senior Member

    Do it once, do it right

    Hey mate,
    Remove the deck, replace the deck.....simple.

    Yes you have to remove all the fittings etc, but then at least you can epoxy coat all the plywood easily and , more important, thoroughly.

    I assume the construction is glass hull with plywood decking and wooden beams. I looked up some pics of these boats and they appear that way.

    A pic would help us greatly to assist you.

    All the best, John
     
  3. SouthCoastT
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    SouthCoastT Junior Member

    Photo - and Thanks!

    I'm glad to hear you say the word "simple" - because I was worried that I had begun tearing apart my boat, opening a can of worms I wouldn't be able to shut again...

    Here's a picture of the underside of the deck. You can see two small "beams" - which were really just a 1x2 that were epoxied to the underside for support. They weren't even connected to either side of the boat - the freeboard or rails. You can also see the rot that I initially found in the center. The majority of the deck core is like that in a variety of places which is when I decided to replace the whole thing, since the traveler is bolted there. I figured I'd rather replace the deck than have it rip open during a sail across the lake.

    I'll put up another photo in a minute of the boat in it's entirety so you can get an idea of the top-side of the stern deck as well.

    Thanks so much for the help, it's tremendously...well, tremendously helpful.
     

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  4. SouthCoastT
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    SouthCoastT Junior Member

    Here are two more photos. The first is a photo of me, in the hole that I have to go into in order to work from underneath. I'm crunched up inside there, as that's just an anchor box really. I'm not standing up or anything even though it looks like it.

    The second photo is of the whole boat, but you can sort of see the stern deck that I'm referring to.

    The traveler that is in the photo is what, I believe, caused the rot within the core.
     
  5. SouthCoastT
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    SouthCoastT Junior Member

    Here is the first. The second one refuses to upload but I'll get it on here soon.
     

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  6. SouthCoastT
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    SouthCoastT Junior Member

    And number 2. I can go take more photos of the boat this week if needed.
     

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  7. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Removing the deck on that boat doesn't appear "simple", nor do I think it's absolutely necessary.

    How wet is the existing wood and how extensive is the rot? You have a standard stringer and plywood deck, likely with a very heavy sheathing. It's probable you can remove the rotten portions and scab/scarf/Payson butt joint repair(s) as required to restore the deck back to it's original state, if not a bit stronger.

    It failed, because the bedding under the traveler and it's fastener holes weren't renewed in a timely fashion (very common). To prevent these issues in the future, the fastener holes should be "bonded".

    Log onto systemthree.com and download their free "Epoxy Book". Also westsystem.com and download their free "User's Guide". These will explain the materials, techniques and processes we use for these types of repairs.

    In a nut shell, you hack out what's bad, grind down to good material (wood and/or 'glass) then bond in new, good stuff to replace what you've whacked out of the puppy. This is easier said than done in a lot of situations, with limitations of where you can physically reach comfortably, being a big problem.

    What a pro would do is cut the deck from above, if access is a pain in the butt from below. The 'glass portion of the deck would be cut in logical locations, such as down the center of molded in water ways, if only to preserve the textured areas. The removed deck would get it's rotten substrate (plywood, stringers, etc.) removed and new stringers/decking installed. Then the whole shooting match would get the old deck skin rebonded down and faired into a seamless repair. This is difficult for the novice to do well (patching the torn up deck skin), so working from below if possible will preserve the deck skin, so you don't have to patch it.
     

  8. Landlubber
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Landlubber Senior Member

    It is only a tiny boat, not worth buggering about with patches, just redo the rear deck, and all is well. It is only a few feet of decking to do.
    In future when you drill holes for deck fittings, drill them oversize first, fill the hole in with epoxy, then drill out again the correct sizes required. That way, there will be no rotting holes thru the deck again.
     
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