Worth replacing rotten plywood deck inserts?

Thread starter #1
I recently got a free mid-70's Laser that had been stored outside, upside-down with the hull plug out for 20 years in Pennsylvania.

My plan was to: remove the fittings, drill the holes out a little, fill the holes in with epoxy and filler, then redrill the holes and through bolt the fittings back on.

The interesting part was when I started drilling the holes out a little. On every hole except for one, the bit came out with what looked and felt like dirt in the flutes, not wood chips like one would expect. The inserts that I could see from the inspection ports were all black. I also noticed that the deck under both the traveler fairleads is slightly raised in a rectangular pattern too.

I'm looking for recommendations on what to do next: scrap the hull / replace the plywood inserts / drill out much larger holes & fill them in with marine ply plugs glassed in on top and bottom / option-d: something else entirely.

Please let me know what you think.
How good are your DIY skills?

There are people on here who will basically say that if you want a laser then buy a new one. I am NOT one of those people.

My idea is that if it can be done, do it! I dont claim to be an expert on boat repairs, but heres a thought...

I think the best idea would be to cut a fairly large area of the top laminate, maybe 2" all around the insert, remove the foam core, replace the insert, then build up the space around it with solid epoxy/glass, so it has a larger area to bond to. you may even be able to place the old top laminate back over the repair so at least it still matches the boat.

Patch it up, go sailing, have fun! Thats what really counts anyway, and I dont think anyone at club level racing is going to worry about a few 2" patches of high-tech repair, even if you have to throw the rule book away and use carbon/kevlar/whatever. They'll be pleased to have your company.

And if you get really hooked on racing, buy a newer one!


Another method:

Don't get too concerned about replacing the plywood inserts - if the holes are way oversized, fill and re-drill.

If the deck doesn't already have them, install a couple of inspection ports, one in the aft deck, the other on the deck in an location where you can reach the cunningham cleat and the mainsheet /hiking strap attachment

Working thru the ports, you should be able to thru bolt:
Trav fairleads
Trav cleat
Hiking strap attachements front and aft
Rudder gudgeons
Cunningham cleat

If you are creative, you can even reach the cunningham fairlead and thru bolt that, otherwise, given the age of the boat, consider a third inspection port that allows you to check/fix the mast step area and thru bolt the cunningham fairlead

Use the largest dia washers you can fit.

Use a good caulk or 3M 5200 liberally when re-installing the fittings.

There are other threads here detailing placement of the inspection ports if you need that.
Thread starter #4
Thanks for the advice.

My DYI skill are pretty good so I'm going to try to fix it with glassed in 2" inserts and through bolts with the biggest washers that I can find.

After that I'll see if anything lets go when the first big puff hit.
Just an idea - instead of using washers, get some thin aluminium (aluminum if you're american) plate and make backing plates to spread the load further.

Maybe you could epoxy the backing plates to the underside of the deck ;)