Laser Cockpit deck repair...soft areas and cracks - Anybody done this?

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by Mike Watterson, Mar 16, 2017.

  1. Mike Watterson

    Mike Watterson New Member

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    I recently purchased what I believe is an 89' Laser (SN PSBD7062F989). Other than the usual nicks and spider cracks here and there, it seems to be in good shape except for the cockpit deck. The previous owner attempted a repair with one layer of fiberglass and what appears to be red epoxy. Cracks have reappeared through the semi finished fiberglass repair and there are soft areas in the center that have up to a 1/4" give while other area appear solid. The cockpit deck area is 3' long, it is the 1' in the center that is the weak area. I am not opposed to major surgery if necessary but would like to hear from anyone who might have experience or advice with this type of repair. Please weigh in. Thanks much. 89 Laser cockpit 20170316_094403.jpg
     
  2. LaLi

    LaLi Active Member

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    Take it to a professional repairer. What you have is a warning example of what may happen when you don't do that. In addition to solving the original problem, now you have to undo the useless and ugly work by the previous owner.

    I had a partially delaminated cockpit floor (no cracks though), and a pro fibreglass working friend of mine fixed it by drilling small holes in the affected areas and injecting a mix of resin, foam and very short fibres. It made the floor feel like new again, and it still does, some ten years later.
     
  3. Mike Watterson

    Mike Watterson New Member

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    Thanks LaLi for you advice. By discussing this issue with folks that have had boat repair experience, the suggestion of injecting foam/resin and fibers is similar to simply injecting foam, but probably a better mix. This was also mentioned as a possible fix. Since I am a professional remodeller/carpenter by trade and have limited funds, I'm going to have to do the work myself. In other words I have experience solving difficult construction issues and don't have a lot of discretionary funds left over after the bills are paid. Anyway, I'm looking at 2 options: A. the one you suggest only doing myself or B. Cutting out the cockpit deck and rebuilding it.

    I have inspection ports at either end of the cockpit and have deduced that part of the problem is the plywood stringer that runs down the center of the cockpit is rotted in the center of its ~3' span so if I were to cut the deck out in pieces I could replace the rotted stringer and install a new fiberglass in 2 sections.

    Anyway, I am still evaluating pros and cons of each approach because I can't work on the boat til weather cooperates. Still have about a foot of snow and cold temps in central Mass. Thanks again for weighing in with a great suggestion. I'm really reaching, but any chance the guy who repaired your cockpit would be willing to talk, I would love to call him? If anyone else has any thoughts please weigh in as advice most appreciated until I actually commit to the repair.
     
  4. LaLi

    LaLi Active Member

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    I'm not totally sure if he can explain these things in your language :D But I will be in touch with him again in the near future (I want him to repair my leaking Lightning bailer), so I'll ask him if he remembers.

    To be more specific, my problem was that the foam core around the front corners of the floor had broken down, and the fix was to make the skins stick together again. I am/was not aware of a plywood piece underneath; how thick and wide is it? I find it a bit far-fetched that it would rot so badly that it would flex like that, especially if/when it's glassed in place.
     
  5. Mike Watterson

    Mike Watterson New Member

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    Thanks again for your reply. I knew the question of talking to your glass guy was a long shot, but didn't realize we'd have a language barrier as well. That is funny[​IMG]. Good luck getting your bailer repaired and anything he possibly remembers about the cockpit repair would be very welcome info. The stringer support is a piece of half inch plywood (I assume it is marine grade) on edge. It starts just aft of the centerboard slot and runs directly down the center to support the bottom of the cockpit deck. You can see there is about a 2" gap between the bottom of the cockpit and inside bottom of the hull. My guess is the wood rotted in the middle which is why there is lots of give in that area. Laser Stringer.jpg
     
  6. LaLi

    LaLi Active Member

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    That amount of wood can't just disappear, can it?

    My interpretation of that is that the plywood is there mainly to stiffen the flat bottom of the hull, and to support only the front edge of the cockpit. I suspect that your problem is fundamentally the same as mine was, simply partial delamination.
     
  7. Mike Watterson

    Mike Watterson New Member

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    After further investigation with a lighted telescoping mirror I felt my way along the side of the plywood stringer and it feels like (I could not see at that angle) the wood extends all the way across the center of the cockpit and tapers down near the drain hole end, but I could not feel a gap or something akin to rotted wood so I agree that the fiberglass must be delaminated. Additionally, I have deduced that it would take quite a lot of foam/epoxy/fiber to fill the space and that approach would seem to create a water catch for any water that found its way in forward of the cockpit. So at this stage, I am leaning towards option B repair which is to replace the cockpit deck in sections. Do you or possibly anyone viewing this seemingly unique and boring issue, see any flaws with my logic? Comments or suggestions welcome as I'm literally feeling my way around trying to piece together the best solution like a detective. Thanks!!
     
  8. LaLi

    LaLi Active Member

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    Why? What's wrong with that outer/upper skin besides a few cracks? Is the fibreglass itself cracked or is it just the gelcoat? Even that isn't clear until you've gotten rid of all the red stuff. (First thing I would do. Lots of red glass dust expected.)
    Well, the space is there, so you have to fill it with something anyway. What do you mean with a "water catch"? I mean, if you do it the way I see it, you'd end up with the original outer surface in place, except for a few re-repaired cracks and a few filled injection holes. (And ok, maybe some red on the non-skid.)
     
  9. Mike Watterson

    Mike Watterson New Member

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    To answer your question the fiberglass itself does appear to be cracked as well as just gelcoat on the non-skid. What I mean by a water catch is that filling the area under the cockpit with a solid material would prevent any easy escape of water entering the inside of the hull from flowing to the drain bung hole located at the bottom of the transom. I have included one more photo that better illustrates the view under the cockpit which will show that it will take a fairly large amount of material to fill that space. Not saying your wrong its just that as a carpenter who does remodeling for a living, I come across these decision points often and have been burned a few times when I didn't think everything through. One common enemy of boats and houses is water in the wrong places. Since I have a little time before starting the repair I want to make sure I have chosen the best path for the longevity of the boat. I am also considering re-enforcing the mast step since this is an older boat '89. Therefore I want to get the most repair for the materials chosen because of how much epoxy or polyester resin, hardeners, chop strand and woven etc. cost. Unbelievable! I can make a mold of the non-skid from my deck or just use the Awlgrip non-skid for the gelcoat layer. 20170318_Laser hull beneath cockpit.jpg
     
  10. LaLi

    LaLi Active Member

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    Oh no, you're talking about filling between the cockpit and the bottom :eek: That would be crazy... I'm sorry if I haven't made myself clear: the space I'm talking about is the one between the two skins of fibreglass of the cockpit itself. The distance between them is maybe 10 - 15 millimetres and it's filled with a sheet of core foam during building. (Actually it's that piece of foam that creates that space.) You can see the core as a horizontal orangey layer on the bottom of the cockpit in the picture in post #5. And that's the space that needs to be filled with something rigid to stop the floor from flexing.
     
  11. Mike Watterson

    Mike Watterson New Member

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    Are you saying the fiberglass has delaminated from the foam core or that possibly the foam core has deteriorated for whatever reasons and is the reason for the gap? Also, the core is not plywood it is foam? I was assuming it was plywood. In either case a gap exists so your solution is to drill enough holes to the correct depth (how do you know how deep to drill?) to inject an epoxy/filler mix that will fill that gap then just deal with the cosmetic gelcoat non-skid layer. Could a similar solution be to strip back the delaminated glass and then add in new glass to match the existing level and then gelcoat with a non skid product? The concern with the injection approach is that all of the voids are filled completely or at least enough to prevent movement, which causes cracks, which allows water entry.
     

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