And so it begins…

This is a project that I’ve had on my mind for a long time: re-coring the deck where the balsa has been exposed to water and the fiberglass has delaminated.   I’ve been waiting for the temperatures to cool down so that we can put the boat under a cover and not have it be too hot.  So today is the day that the process has begun!

I started out with the area I knew to be one of the worst: the foredeck.  At some point and time someone drilled a hole in the foredeck, I have no clue why, maybe they were trying to solve some other delamination long ago.  What I do know is all around this hole in about a foot radius the core is rotten.  I was able to determine this pretty easily just by tapping with a ball pein hammer.  This area made a lifeless dud of a sound, no ring, no echo, just a nasty thud.  Fiberglass usually has a sort of “ping” to it with a bit of an echo.

I tapped all around and marked in pencil where the sounds changed on the whole deck.  Then i drew big circles and shapes with X’s through them where I knew we would have to open up the deck.

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Today I got out the angle grinder and cut along the lines of one of the biggest circles.  I then used a painters multi-tool to carefully pry up the edges and lift the fiberglass:

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I chiseled out all of the rotten core with the multi-tool and hammer.  The balsa core is 3/8 inch thick and sandwiched in between two layers of fiberglass.  I bought a new 2 foot by 4 foot section of end grain balsa from Jamestown Distributors for $31.  After we clean up the fiberglass and let all of the wood dry out properly the new core will be epoxied in place and the fiberglass skin that I took off will be re attached.

That’s the short version, I will make sure to outline the details of the process in upcoming posts 🙂   For now everything is under a gigantic tarp to dry.

2 thoughts on “And so it begins…

  1. This seems to be a common repair for A37s. Its inevitable at some points. I have had good luck with penetrating epoxy for small areas. It has cured the rot from creeping like a cancer.


    1. Yeah, its really pretty common in any boat of our vintage that was constructed with core. There are some places on our A37 where the balsa was exposed against deck hardware. Once the bedding degraded it meant serious trouble for the balsa. Ive seen this on several A37s and other older boats. Ours has had a long time to sit like this and since we are in no rush I am just replacing all the core instead of using the penetrating epoxy. I have heard good things about results obtained with penetrating epoxy though! If we had an isolated problem I would consider it but I’m really going to replace 50% or more of the deck.


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