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chainplate/bulkhead issues


sodani

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I know that this is one of the less desirable issues that a boat owner can face, but it's what I'm confronted with, so I figure I should do the best I can.

 

I have a 1986 J-22 and I had a local fiberglass repair guy take a look at my boat and he said that there was water in the deck around the chainplates (his moisture meter read 100) and said it would cost $2,000 to fix (just the fiberglass of course - he didn't mention anything about the bulkheads). I examined the bulkheads myself and saw that there was some rot - towards the top, they were soft and black.

 

I don't have a lot of experience with maintenance and I have started to do some research in the hopes of fixing this myself and have a few questions.

- Is the deck material around the chainplates cored? If there's water in there, what do I have to do? Dry it out? Will I have to lay up new fiberglass?

- I read this posting by Vic: http://www.geocities.com/j22canada/j22faqCDN.htm#bulkheadrot where he describes how he dealt with a soft bulkhead. Vic - if you're reading this, I'd be interested in a photo or a sketch. How does one make new chainplate clamp plates?

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sodani,

If the rotted deck is just the area around the chainplates you may be able to DIY a repair that will be fine. First do some bouncing steps around on the deck and make certain there's no really soft spots. If the deck is not soft you can dig out the old core and refill the void with epoxy.

 

This is what I'd do for the chainplate areas:

* First check with West Systems literature or do searches to see if someone has a better idea.

* Remove the chainplates.

* Use whatever curved tools you have to dig out all the rotted core you can reach through the chainplate holes. I find small brake adjusting tools, Allen wrenches, bent awls, etc. will do the job. Some people claim an Allen wrench or bent nail chucked into a in a drill motor to be effective. I find that only works for me for final scarfing after the big chunks have been removed.

* After you get all the rotted core removed that you can and cleaned out, you are ready to refill, but it will help if you can leave things open to dry in the sun for quite a while if that is possible.

* Using a good quality tape (I like aluminum foil type duct tape) tape off the deck closely following the chainplate holes. After you have the area taped off add plastic or heavy paper taped around the work area to protect things. It will be messy working with the epoxy.

* Inside the cabin clean the underside of the area around the chainplate holes really well. You then want to use layers of aluminum tape to seal the hole underneath because you will be pouring epoxy into the top hole. Tape a formed aluminum foil catch basin onto the bulkhead so it can contain the resin in case the tape lets go. You need to minimize the disaster if the tape lets go. Once the epoxy runs out and wets the area there is no chance of resealing to the wet surface that I know of.

* You now have a decision point. I think wetting out pieces of fiberglass mat or chopped strand and stuffing them into the hole is best, but it is messy. I really think you could stuff the holes full of glass mat pieces and then just pour in epoxy to wet it out and be fine. Anyway, you need to use fiberglass with the epoxy or it will not have strength. Fill the voids you created by removing the core earlier with as much glass stuffed in as you can. Pour the holes until they come up level with the top.

* After the epoxy has set you can use the old hole areas to figure out where to cut out. Carefully drill out enough places that you can then use a saw blade or dremel tool tool to make new slots for the chainplates.

 

I feel the above method will create a doughnut of strength around the chainplate area. It will also seal off the balsa core so if the chainplates leak in the future the water will run through and not soak the core again. I'm certain some people would not recommend this as the solution. It is not a complete repair, but it doesn't require fancy glass work or finishing.

 

Here's a couple pictures of what I did to add surface and clamping to strengthen the chainplate mountings. Adding plates is legal by the rules as long as they don't go out to the hull and add stiffness there.

 

post-41-1240836706_thumb.jpg

 

post-41-1240836715_thumb.jpg

 

post-41-1240837248_thumb.jpg

 

As I'm too lazy to rewrite it, here's some stuff I discussed with Brian:

*****

Brian,

My bulkheads were bad when I bought my boat, but not rotted out by any means. I dug out some of the areas and then drilled some holes at a steep angle and used Git Rot (or check the RotDoctor) before installing the plates. It's been awhile so maybe I posted other info some place.

 

I do remember that while the chainplates were out I cleaned up the top area of the bulkhead hole to the deck and sealed it very well with epoxy. I also dug out the deck core as I could to seal it while in there. I figured that would help prevent any further water problems if there were more leaks.

 

The longer plate is for the opposite side of the bulkhead. The shorter plate just grabs the lower bolts on the chainplate, which is plenty for holding. That sets the chainplate top back in it's same place where it goes through the deck. The two plates will clamp the bulkhead. It is very strong. I still used fairly large pattern washers on the two new wide bolts.

 

I've always thought that it would work to cut out a section of the bulkhead that would be behind the plates in a keystone shape and fit new wood in with epoxy and glass fiber fill. It is probably not something a pro would do because it would be fairly time consuming to do the steps. I haven't actually tried it, it's just a thought. It'd be a smaller project than bulkhead replacement.

 

You can align the chainplates and drill the upper holes needed as you feel proper.

 

Check the bulkhead lower down near mast support brackets. If it's rotted all the way down there you may need to replace your bulkhead.

 

There's two docs attached. The diagram is on an 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Maybe you can print it and use it directly? Hope this does some good. vic

********

I think this will help me immensely. Right now, I have some soft wood down to the middle bolt of the five on the chainplate. The bottom two are in rock solid wood. My plan was to dig out as much rot around the top three bolts and fill with the Git-Rot. Then make the extensions to guarantee a solid base. I like your suggestion to fill the deck area up top with epoxy as well. One quick question: With the chainplate extender grabbing the lower two bolts on the existing chainplate, does the extender bolt under or over the existing chainplate? I would think over, as under would cause the existing chainplate to pivot a slight bit to compensate for the extender being between it and the bulkhead.

*********

Brian,

I can't remember if there's 5 or 6 original bolts. My boat is at Waterline so I can't check it. Regardless, the forward plate (on the forward face of the bulkhead) should be aligned to have all original bolts going through it. The aft plate fits between the bulkhead and the chainplate. I believe that plate catches the bottom two rows of original bolts. You'll be able to tell how it lines up by the position of the two extra bolts I added on the flared out bottom.

 

The plates do not need to be heavy gauge metal. 18 gauge or even 20 ga. stainless is plenty. Aluminum maybe as much as 16 ga., but no more. 10 ga. or 1/4" plate is way overkill and will be hard to fit. My plates will deform a bit as they're pulled up tight so use fairly large pattern washers. Any real stress is going to be trying to pull up so thin metal is all that's needed.

 

I'm scheduled to pick up my boat next Friday, April 10. I can take pictures on the 12th and send them to you if you can wait that long. Hope this does some good. vic

*******

Brian,

There's two pictures attached here. I loop a ss wire between the two bottom bolts on the forward side to stow my Windex. It keeps it out of the way and safe....so far. Now that I said that I'll break it for sure. Hope these do some good. vic

********

sodani, Sorry for the long post. Hope this does some good. vic

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sodani,

 

Vic's got the quick fix, like he said "if it's not too bad". Only difference for me would be to wrap the chainplate two or three times in clear shipping tape (you'll want room for caulk) and reinstall the chainplates before putting in epoxy. Also, the West System adhesive filler is strong enough that you don't need to use fiberglass. You can mix it pretty thick (slightly less than peanut butter) and use a West System syringe to inject the mix so it's not so messy. Overfill slightly because it will "settle" some as it gets into the nooks and crannies. You'll still need to tape the underside of the deck so it doesn't leak out. After it drys, unbolt chainplate & remove (may need pliers for a good grip), level surface at deck, clean tape off, re-install chainplate add caulk.

 

Good luck,

 

Brant

USA 35

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Thank you guys, for the responses.

 

I removed the chainplate and see that there is at least 1.5" (as far as my L shaped allen wrench reaches) of rotten core around the chainplate hole. Most materials I've read say that rotten core should be replaced with core of the same material (in this case I'm guessing it's balsa). However, the idea of fitting new balsa (of the correct shape) in, and then cutting a chainplate hole in it sounds a bit daunting not to mention the fact that you are putting wood into the deck, which could rot again. Does anyone have any thoughts on replacing all the rotten core with epoxy?

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Guest Guest_Will_*

About 2 grand for the professional fix sounds like a pretty accurate guess to fix it right. The DIY options, will sorta, kinda work, but if someone is looking to buy a boat and they see a hack job bulkhead fix, they should run, not walk away from the deal.

 

The best option is to replace the whole deck. We've done about 8 22s and 24s this winter. We tear off the old roof, and replace the whole kit and kaboodle with a new one. While the lid is off, it is super easy to replace bulkheads or anything else in the interior. It actually ends up being more cost effective for most owners. If one chainplate is bad, odds are near 100% that other stuff is bad too!

 

The end result is a boat that looks brand new, and is a lot stiffer than before. We did 'Siesta' the Japanese J/24 right before the worlds... I think they ended up 5th in the pre-worlds/NOOD and are convinced that the boat is noticably faster...

 

It seems like it would be easy to just dump in a bunch of epoxy in and call it good... Don't do that. If you are going to do a DIY fix, at least try to do it right. The epoxy dump will not work, and it will be a huge pain to re-do.

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The key is the extent of the damage. If your damage is 1.5 to 2" around the chainplates, then the epoxy works just fine. If you are looking at 3" or more, you'll need a better repair (replace balsa except about 1/4" around the chainplate, just use epoxy or polyester filler to bridge that 1/4" gap). If you have large quanties of wet core, it can be repaired, but if it is extensive....a full deck replacement may be cheaper.

 

If you do this chore yourself, make sure the chainplates are even distance from the bow before any repairs are done. If square, I'd do the chainplates first, then the bulkhead. That way you can use your chainplates as a guide to getting the bulkhead square too. If the chainplates are not square now, reverse the order, do the bulkhead first, making sure it is square. If your going to work this hard and spend money, I'd replace the bulkhead instead of patching in any way - IMHO, your mileage may vary.

 

Brant

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"The DIY options, will sorta, kinda work, but if someone is looking to buy a boat and they see a hack job bulkhead fix, they should run, not walk away from the deal."

 

Jeez Will,

Trash my suggestions and my boat all in one swift pen stroke. I'll never be able to sell it now. At least this Forum is finally seeing some action. I still love you. vic

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Will - could you send me your contact info? I'd like to inquire about pricing. There are three areas (that I know of) on my deck that need core replacement and I'm thinking that a brand new skin could be a good idea.

 

I don't mind paying a fair price for repairs, but I didn't think I was going to get that from the local fiberglass repair company. They charge roughly $100/hr (while they employ laborers at near minimum wage) and when they looked at my boat, they didn't even mention the damaged bulkhead. That made me think that I was going to overpay for an incomplete repair.

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He wasn't especially verbose, but he said that the $2k didn't include anything cosmetic and I assume nothing bulkhead related since he didn't mention that. As much as I'd love to probe him further, that would just be disingenuous since I've already started the work on my own.

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