Wednesday, August 27, 2014

To Bow Or Not to Bow?

After I cleared all of the leaves and leaking water jugs (buoyancy bags) out of the bow, and gave it a good scrubbing it became quickly apparent to me that someone had done some major fiberglass work in there at some point. I suspect it was replacing core, as little else would really justify the scope of their repair.

The glass work on the prior  repair was very poor.  It was not done with epoxy, or if it was, it sure isn't the epoxy I work with.  The cloth had wrinkles all over, showing either a lack of preparation in properly trimming the patch, or a lack of care in installing it.  These wrinkles trap air, dirt, and become weak points.  With that in mind, I decided that I would hit them with an aggressive grinder to knock down the high spots and open any air pockets in the laminate.  I could then either fill them or lay in some patches depending on the size and depth.  I could then throw a quick and dirty fairing job at it to clean up the worst cases prior to painting.

As I crawled into the bow, prepared to work in a small encapsulated swirling fiberglass dust tornado, I noticed something that made me cringe a bit.  Visible, although subtle, flexing in the bilge.  It's an area about 12 inches wide and 16 inches long, tapering near the bow on the starboard side.  I can flex it about 1/8", which is 1/8" more than I'd like.

Since it's an area that's never visible, it's pretty easy to do some exploratory probing and clean it up without cosmetic impact, so I cut out a section of the bilge, thinking it would come right up.  It did not.  Even after prying on it.  Giving it a bit more thought, I decided that a small area with a narrow span at the bow is probably going to be fine, at least for a year or two.  I ground a quick 2" bevel into the cuts I'd made, filled the bottom of the cut with colloidal silica, and then laid in glass strips to repair the cuts.

With the cuts repaired, I threw a sheet of cloth over the entire area to give it a bit more rigidity, and to help fair the awful surface left by the prior glass work.  It made a big difference, and once painted it will look great.

I have so many projects to do right now that I just don't need to work on anything that's not necessary.  After everything else is done and I've had some sailing time I can make a Spring or Fall project out of laying in new core in the bow bilge.  For now, it's back to the critical path and my tight grip on scope creep.

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