Anchor, Chain Locker, and Anchor Roller, Part 5, Deck, Filling Holes with Epoxy

The oval chain pipe cutout with cured epoxy protecting its balsa core
Having made good progress toward the creation of the mahogany anchor platform, it was now time for me to accomplish some epoxy work on the bow of the boat. First, I needed to protect the balsa core in the oval cutout for the chain pipe. Secondly, I needed to fill the old ventilation cowl hole that was forward of the chain pipe. Finally, I needed to fill the holes where the old navigation lights had been located on the port and starboard sides of the bow. How I carried out these tasks on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, is the subject of this posting.
The first thing I needed to do in the protection of the balsa core for the oval chain pipe was to drill the holes for the installation of the screws.
A month had passed since I had been working on the mahogany anchor platform, and now I was not as focused as I had been at that time.
There was really no reason at all why I needed to drill holes for the installation of this chain pipe.
I would, after all, be installing the chain pipe not directly on top of the deck, but on top of the mahogany anchor platform.
This work that I did on these holes, therefore, was a complete waste of time.
I routed them out with a 115 Dremel bit in order make it easier to seal the holes with thickened epoxy and thus protect the balsa core from water intrusion.
I have included these pictures of my mistakes, all for the purpose of reminding myself and others that time-wasting mistakes sometimes do happen in the lengthy refitting of sailboat. There are so many side projects and side projects to those side projects that it's easy to go off track.
Fortunately, these mistakes were ones that would soon be concealed. What was important in all of this was that I had used the Dremel bit to rout out the balsa core around the perimeter of the oval cutout. This was the area that really needed the protection from the elements. Now that I had drilled these holes, however, they too needed it.
Now that I had completed my work on the oval cutout, I could focus on the old ventilation cowl hole. If you read the second part of this multi-part article on my new anchoring system, then you'll remember that by necessity I had replaced the rotten core in this forward area of the foredeck with plywood. This plywood, of course, had filled the old circular hole to some degree, but it had not filled it completely. There was approximately 3/16 inch worth of fiberglass decking that was absent from this circular hole. To initiate my work on the filling of this hole, I attached a 50 grit sanding drum to my Dremel and cleaned up the excess cured epoxy in and around it. If you look about 6 inches forward of the circular hole, you'll notice a small hole now filled with epoxy. This was the old DC receptacle hole - the hole where the water had entered the deck and created all the balsa core rot in this area. I had earlier filled this hole when I installed the plywood replacement for the balsa core.
We see below a close-up shot of my work with the Dremel.
The Shop-Vac got rid of most of the dust.
The acetone got rid of all that remained. I also used the acetone to clean out the two holes for the old nav lights on the port and starboard sides of the bow.
With everything laid out and ready to go, I began my work by mixing up some neat epoxy and injecting it into the two holes for the old nav lights. You can see the syringe in the picture below. The wooden core in these holes greedily absorbed the epoxy.
I then used a small chip brush to wet out the circular hole and the oval hole with neat epoxy.
Now the old nav light holes and the circular hole were ready for some thickened epoxy.
I thickened the epoxy with colloidal silica. To this I added milled fiberglass fibers to increase the strength of this repair. I had gotten both the epoxy and the milled fibers from RAKA in Ft. Pierce, Florida. The colloidal silica was not from MAS Epoxy as the container indicates. I had gotten this silica from a boatyard-owning friend, who gave me the equivalent of two five gallon containers of it. If I ever need to buy colloidal silica, I'll buy it from RAKA. Their prices are so much lower than anything that the big name companies, West System or MAS, have on the market.
I intentionally over-filled the old nav light holes and the circular hole with this thickened mixture. That way, I could sand away the imperfections on the surface and end up with a smooth, consistent patch.
I then mixed up another small batch of epoxy, thickened it with colloidal silica, and filled the perimeter of the oval cutout.
After I had finished all this epoxy work, I cleaned up the excess with acetone.
About three weeks later, I returned with an angle grinder. This enabled me to smooth everything out quickly and consistently. In the three week interim, I had been busy filling many other holes in the deck of this boat. Notice the blue tape around the stemhead and the holes for the port and starboard cleats.

I used the angle grinder on the nav light hole patches and was somehow able to accomplish this task without damaging the gelcoat.
I used the Dremel with a 50 grit sanding drum to smooth out the edges of the perimeter of the oval chain pipe hole.
Now that I had completed this epoxy work I could continue with my work on the anchor platform. That is the subject of my next posting in this multi-part article on my creation of a new anchoring system for Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

No comments:

Post a Comment