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Repair of Rotted Deck Core

Parallax

Member
Hey everyone. I have a 51 year old Charley Morgan 38. There are significant leaks coming through the deck. Began cutting open sections of the deck and it seems that the deck appears to have a balsa core which is, in places, wet and probably rotting. Other than the leaks, it's not necessarily an issue. The are no places where the fiberglass appears to be weak and everything bolted down runs through the deck to places inside the boat where it's well secured. The stays for the mast are attached to virtually brand new powder coated steel I-Beams that were installed by the last owner.

Initially, I figured I'd hunt down every leak and fix the deck core but now that I've opened the deck in a couple of places, I can see that it would be a never-ending job. I'm thinking it might be best to handle this in some other way. Perhaps just reseal every place where there's a screw, bolt or other opening in the deck and see if that causes the leaks to disappear. If so, I'm thinking it would be adequate to ignore the fact that the deck core remains wet in some places. Short of buying a new boat or spending (in time and money) more than this boat is worth, I see no way to repair this 100%.

Obviously this is a compromise which recognizes 1) the boat isn't going to last forever and 2) it's not brand new. I'm thinking it's better to manage an issue like this, enjoy the boat and deal with more significant issues as they arise. What do others think?
 

Warren Holybee

Active Member
To reseal (rebed) all the old screws etc. use a hole saw to cut a hole substantially larger then the screw hole. At least through the top layer and the core, but not necessarily the bottom layer of glass. Fill it with thickened epoxy, and when hard, drill the correct sized hole through that. Had this been done when everything was first installed, the core would not be damaged.

Considering the age etc as you are, one way to repair is to drill a million holes on the inside. Let the core dry out for 6 months (obviously while preventing any further water ingress). Then drill a few holes on the top, and inject a very thin epoxy to solidify and stabilize the core. They make a special rot repair epoxy for this. This will give you back some strength and structure since the core as probably delaminated from the skins.
 

Parallax

Member
To reseal (rebed) all the old screws etc. use a hole saw to cut a hole substantially larger then the screw hole. At least through the top layer and the core, but not necessarily the bottom layer of glass. Fill it with thickened epoxy, and when hard, drill the correct sized hole through that. Had this been done when everything was first installed, the core would not be damaged.

Considering the age etc as you are, one way to repair is to drill a million holes on the inside. Let the core dry out for 6 months (obviously while preventing any further water ingress). Then drill a few holes on the top, and inject a very thin epoxy to solidify and stabilize the core. They make a special rot repair epoxy for this. This will give you back some strength and structure since the core as probably delaminated from the skins.
Thanks Warren. Was thinking that if it had been done right to begin with, it would have been fine. Not likely the fiberglass itself would crack.

I'd hate to ruin the inside of the cabin with a bunch of holes, plus it seems like a huge and risky job. I'm guessing one that's not necessary, at least at this point. I suppose eventually everything on a boat needs to be repaired or replaced. If one can't deal with that, one shouldn't own a boat.
 
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