oct 17 2006

I've got to make a decision on this: Do I fill the joint with 2-part polysulfide sealant, as recommended in almost all references? Or do I use fiberglass and resin and make the joint solid?

Bud Taplin, the Westsail Guru of Record, says polysulfide.

Two Westsail owners have gone the FRP route. But they have not put many miles/years on that repair and the longevity of the joint is not known.

I have about 20-feet of the teak caprail off. Under the rail was a disgusting pile of crumbling, wet caulk and sealant. This is what it looked like before I started scraping it out:

After removing teak caprail

Scraping the gunk out of the hull-deck joint

After I'd cleaned that out I found a deep groove that should really be filled with poly. But it will take about 1.5 gal to do the whole joint.

After cleaning the joint, measuring

The Engineering Drawings of the hull-deck joint look like this:


On the left is "as designed" and on the right is my alteration showing "as built." Note the void under the caprail?

The forward end of the caprail, as it drops off the high bulwarks down to the bow, was glued to the chine rub rail and the two came off as a unit (for the first 3-feet or so).

The teak rail at the bow
Seen here on my dockbox with the bow end toward the left. More holes to seal.

I've found that 2-part concrete expansion joint compound is the exact same stuff that is sold in marine chandleries but it's less expensive when purchased at a hardware store. And I'm going to need a lot of the goo to fill this gap properly. I'm leaning toward the poly. Faster, easier to work with, more forgiving, proven track record, highly recommended..... Yeah, I'll probably go that route. But then again....

Nov 5 I had already removed 10-ft of caprail on each bow and cleaned out the old caulk/sealant. I had been waiting for the polysulfide. Since I'm too cheap to buy a bunch of Boatlife Polysulfide, and since I really wanted to use a 2-part poly, I bought the stuff they use to seal highway expansion joints. I used Pecora's Synthacalk GC-2+ which is a "2-part, chemical resistant polysulfide sealant."

The first problem was that this is a "professional use only" product where they apparently assume you know what your doing. So the instructions are very sparse. And they expect the user to use the entire 1.5-gal of sealant at one time. But I'm using about 1-pint at a time. So I carefully measure each of Tub-A and Tub-B and find that they are 20 cubic inches and 320 cubic inches respectively. So I figured that was a 1-to-16 ratio. Or about 1-ounce of hardener to 1-pint of base.

This is a heavy, "non-sag" formula that is harder than hell to mix by hand. But I get the black hardener mixed into the white base until I had a mass of gray goo. And this is gooey goo. I scooped it out with my plastic putty knife and smeared it all over the hull-deck joint (this is a story about the hull-deck, remember?). Then I went over it with a 4" plastic putty knife to smooth it out and fill in all the voids.

It ended up looking like this:

(Don't you just love that blue painter's tape?)

Once it fully cures (5 days) I can replace the first couple pieces of teak caprail and then I'll be ready to put the new bowsprit in place as soon as it is completed. I've only sealed the forward 10-ft on each side and have 25-ft on each side to go. I still plan to complete it all by spring.

nov 11

Yesterday and today I sealed more of the hull-deck joint. I removed another section of teak toe-rail, about 6-ft on each side. That exposed the joint back from the bow to about 2-ft astern of the chainplates. Conveniently, there was a toe-rail joint just forward of the genoa track. That will have to removed before I can do more. And that's the hardest part of this little project. The tracks are through-bolted and I need someone on top with a screwdriver and someone inside with a socket on a very long extension to reach the nuts. Also, I have to disassemble more of the furniture inside Galena to get at the inside of the bulwarks.

This is a before and after shot of the forward edge of the hull-deck joint. I keep looking at this thinking "This has to stop the leaks."

The new polysulphide cures soft and rubbery and is stuck like hell to the fiberglass.

I also have to remove all the radios that I have hanging over the nav station to get up behind there and into the bulwarks. That's OK because I'd like to build something nicer looking to hold the comm equipment. I have VHF and HF radios, along with PACTOR modem and manual antenna tuner and the obligatory car CD player. All of that is just hanging from the rail and should be somehow 'cabinetted' into the top of the nav station.

The teak toe-rail started out 1-inch thick. In the past 30 years it's been sanded so much it's now only about 1/2-inch thick. But I can't afford new teak. So I'll clean it up and put it back in place. The only problem is that now the screws bungs don't have much purchase.

I read on s/v Fluid Motion's site about how he laminated old teak together to create new pieces. Maybe I'll look into some form of lamination to use the teak I have with new teak that's only 1/2-inch thick to make 'new' 1-inch thick toe-rails? Maybe...

Back at the house, I sanded and epoxy-coated the new bowsprit one more (last?) time. This makes 6 coats. When that kicks off, then I will paint it green (to match the hull) and start to assemble it.

cap rail damage In taking off the cap rail and sealing the hull deck joint (no leaks yet, knock on polysulfide) I found the teak rails to be badly rotted.

Here's a picture of the underside of the cap rail board.

The large holes are for the genoa track. The cracks are completely through the board.

This is where most of the leakage was taking place. Water was running down along the genoa track bolts and into the cabin. Since the hull deck joint was just an open trough, water accumulated there and the wood, sitting in that pool of water, rotted and cracked.

I have taped the edges in preparation for the next step. I am trying to salvage this board by applying a coating of thickened epoxy to fill in all the cracks and try to hold the board together for another ten years or so.

I priced replacement teak and it was close to a thousand dollars. We'll see how and/or if this fix holds up.

reinstall track

Genoa track reinstalled. I finally put Galena's genoa track back on the caprail.

I had been putting it off for a month because it was going to be hard. And, yes, it was hard. Even with the removal the last 12 inches of rail, it was a bitch to get the nuts back on the bolts.

I had tried for a long time to get to the bolts that were now behind the fuel tanks. Finally, I just gave up. In the years I've owned Galena, I've never pulled the car that far back on the track. So I just cut off the bolts and the track. Now a little sanding and replacement of the teak bungs and everything will look just fine.

Again, my buddy Capt Ron helped by holding the screwdriver on the bolt head while I struggled below to get the nuts and washers tightened down.

We did this over two sessions on two consecutive days. The biggest casualty was the backs of my hands.

I had to repeated reach into very tight places. That was how I scraped my hands.