2 new cushions made by the crew to join the new upholstery.
There is only so much time you can spend in a transom locker, so Friday was declared day off. Back to work today making a template for the larger area, starting off with paper on a roll and then making a cardboard version as shown in the photograph. Making the template highlighted the challenge ahead with fibreglass cloth, more on that later. Soon be time to order some material ….. the big question polyester or epoxy, not that I have had weeks to think about this. Currently the plan is epoxy and vacuum bag to counter gravity – the theory is good !
Another day in the hole, working on the port side, this was harder to cut out than the starboard side, and to be honest whilst the balsa had gone under one bolt of the wind generator pole, the balsa under the back stay fitting seemed quite good, anyway, dont want to be here again so it was cut out
So what has life in the transom been like, well to start with the balsa on the starboard side under the leg of the wind generator was cut out and it felt like some progress was being made. Though thoughts turned to, should we start trying to put some balsa back as proof of concept.
Well the next day brought good news and bad ……
The moisture meter was not happy about the space between the two cutouts, and there was some worrying discolouration on the recent cutout on the starboard side which can be seen above. I now have several books on fibre glassing and have watched more Youtube videos on the topic that I care to think about. One thing that stuck from one book was the fact that DIY boat owners go to extreme measures to save small areas rather that cut out the rot – so both the book and meter said more cutting was required:
So you might ask what was the good news, erm, we could have put balsa back on port side, and glassed it in only to find new material would have to be cut out … you see our glass was half full.
End result one big cutout shown below, oh and the chisel slipped and nearly went through the outer layer – but lady luck was still with us and it was between two pieces of Treadmaster so a minor repair can be facilitated.
Now the moisture meter was still showing some moisture in the outer layer, so a decision was taken to press on with cutting and give opportunity for material to dry – the good news was there was no ‘wet’ readings over the cutout :).
At the start of today, morale was very low, my god what have we started, even worse what will be found at the next stage as the moisture meter was not a happy bunny over where the back stay fitting lay. Deep breath, get the marker pen, and the oscillating saw and cut:
First thoughts were why the hell did I not take some samples as the damage did not appear to be so bad, but the meter that has not been wrong did say wet. As the balsa was chiseled away damp material was found … not black, but probably better out than in.
At the end of today it looked like :
At the end of the day feeling a little more optomistic about the opportunity to put marine ply in some parts to add reinforcement along side the balsa, but being careful not to give hard edges that could cause stress points. Just have the port side to do tomorrow if the weather holds. Then the really hard work of preparation starts …. just have to resist the temptation to start putting stuff back to quickly.
The season starts ….. or not, depending on how you look at it. What work has been done over the winter, new raymarine auto helm, new wireless radar, new wind generator with mppt controller, various re-wiring and new switch panels – notably a switch on each usb socket as the 12v to 5 v converters draw power even if nothing is plugged in.
You would think we were all set to sail … alas not just yet. When the pole mounts for the old radar and wind generator were removed there were signs of trouble ….
Investigation of the bolt holes on the deck side revealed there was ‘balsa rot’, initial thoughts of pouring epoxy into the holes to fill the void were soon dispelled after reading arround and finding the options were to remove the upper deck or the underside to replace the balsa. In a nutshell the advantage of removing te upper deck is ease of working particularly in re laminating. The drawback being you have to re-gelcoat and replace whatever anti slip surface you have. The advantage of removing the underside is you don’t have to worry about the cosmetic appearance of the deck, the major drawback is having to work and laminate upside down.
A Tramex moisture meter was purchased and it seemed to indicate extensive damp or wet readings. Every effort was made to consider how such readings could be false, e.g. from metal plates etc. Sadly as these were removed the meter almost joyfully and certainly beeped to reaffirm its initial view.
So what do you do with a big problem, break it down into a smaller one ….. lets start with the pads under the legs.
A hole saw was used to explore, yep that definitely rotten balsa 🙁 . The interesting thing was the amount of effort required to separate the laminate from the wet balsa …. not easy. All the you tube videos and text books appear to make light of that step.
The next step was to cut back to dry, well relatively dry balsa. The first image below shows the partial removal of the balsa from the starboard side. The second image shows the work so far on the port side.
So if anyone thinks we are sat with a G and T, you might be right but not in the setting you might imagine …. I have spent several days in my new home below and expect that will extend to weeks … if not months 🙂