Saturday, March 29, 2008

March 14 pt. 2 and A List For Fixing A Fiberglass Boat

(peices of carpet, sports boat interiors, car radio, and other stuff)
The weather in this part of the country is warming up. Pretty soon it will be the right temperature for properly setting fiberglass epoxy. Until then, here is more on Friday, March 14th and what is needed to repair the boat.

There are enherant problems with any old fiberglass boat you'll come across.

After tearing up most of the floor carpet, I unscrewed and set aside the original Glastron Boat Co. sports boat stylings from the the inside hull to make room for the future work of removing of the plywood floor and fiberglass deck.

Despite the tarping and good care it had since turned into a Anti Crime Water Craft, the rotted floor and carpet were so damp, moisture soaked though my clothes as I was laying down working in the confined area under the Batboat's fin deck.

Things like the old car radio, speakers and parts of the damp, mildewed carpet were thrown out. I made the mistake of putting them in the garbage inside the house because I woke up the next day with a upper respiratory infection from mold spores. Be very careful with this stuff and keep it outside.

When someone buys an old fiberglass boat assume it will be a project boat. This is definitely one of those. The early 1970s solid fiberglass hull, deck and vinyl stylings can withstand all sorts of weather and neglect, however, the structural wood and under floor foam flotation will not.

When the hulls of these now classic boats were on the production line, untreated wood floor supports called "stringers" were fiberglassed in along the bottom, lengthwise. Chunks of foam were then laid in between these stringers to keep the boat floating in case it takes on water. On top, a plywood floor was mounted on these stringers and fiberglassed in.

Carpeting is not good for these kind of boats. When wet it holds water to the plywood and if not dried the slow process of rot and mold begins. Even humidity is a factor.

Smelling the rank of all this damp rot got me very worried and I quickly squirmed further into the confined space to the back of the boat to check the Sealed Atomic Batteries. I found them in the rear port and aft side compartments. What a relief that those were still intact with no leaks or corrosion. If they had it I'd have an enormous problem on my hands. ;)

(the rotten transom of the Batboat as seen from under the fin.)

At the stern, or rear of the boat, another sheet of plywood called the transom is laminated and fiberglassed in. This is one of the most important structural parts of the hull because the engine is mounted to it and weights over a couple hundred pounds. If this transom wood is rotten or cracked, instead of the motor pushing the boat through the water with hundreds of pounds of force it will actually push through the boat.

That is what I suppose happened to this Batboat. The motor either went through the fiberglass while out on the water or punctured it just by its own weight.

(a kind of hard caulk was used to fill the damaged fiberglass, inside and out, and to stick the bat symbol to the stern)

I first presumed that the white outlined red Bat symbol on the stern covered a large hole but was lucky to find it was only puncture damage to the fiberglass hull from the engine.

I had a hard time getting the plywood red Bat off. At first it looked like it was screwed and bolted but then found it was also glued on with some sort of hardened caulk. It finally came off with a crowbar and a lot of annoyance, time and effort. A small chunk of the fiberglass hull came off it, too.

(transom from inside the Batboat)

It's going to be a pain getting the rest of this caulk off. Its like soft concrete.

All of this rot and damage is no big deal because the wood has to be replaced anyway. I found that these are standard repairs for any restoration of an old fiberglass boat.

Plywood made today is superior and if finished properly these boats are more sea worthy than when they left the factory. They'll last longer,too.

Here is the list of what needs to be done to this Batboat before creating the new fins and other details.
  1. Disassemble the Batboat by removing the aluminum rubrail and lifting off the deck. Store the deck on saw horses to have complete access to the hull. It will be in two halves; deck and hull.
  2. Take out the rotten wood floor, soaked foam flotation, stringers, and transom. Make templates of it all.
  3. Grind all the old fiberglass down to the hull and clean up.
  4. Repair the fiberglass damage to the stern.
  5. Fiberglass in the new stringers, place new flotation foam in between them, glass in the new floor and transom. Do it right the first time or $$ and time will be wasted.
Basically, the entire boat has to be disassembled and repaired. What fun this is going to be. Never done anything like this before so I bet I'll learn a few new lessons but with tips from the helpful people at the and Classic Glastron forums it should go more smoothly. :)

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