Mr WK and I have come quite a ways on the mast step repair. Here is where this tale of woe starts. We found this on May 21, the day before we were to launch.
So far we have gone from this
to sawing off the front then the top and digging down through the first layer (on May 26)
to digging it all out down to the fiberglass deck (evening of the same day)
which is were the last post on this debacle ended.
Over the next week we did a lot of research and talked to the boat manufacturer. He recommended exactly what we'd already decided we'd have to do. We made a trip to our local chanderly and came away with the much of the supplies we needed.
On June 5 we started the process of putting it all back together. We needed marine plywood but less than a square foot of it. It's sold in 4' x 8' sheets when you can find it, but in Kansas ... not so much. So we made our own.
Using a process Mr WK found on the internet we mixed fiberglass resin, slow hardener/ catalyst and acetone in a 5:1:4 ratio for the first coat. I sacrificed the final two measuring spoons of a set to the cause — the tablespoon and the ½ teaspoon. [The rest of the set, teaspoon,¼, 1/8, pinch, dash and smidgen are with the reloading press for scooping powder from the powder trickler in the gold pan hanging on one end of the beam. For this we made a double batch using the tablespoon.
Mr WK cut some pieces from a leftover sheet of regular plywood to size. We dry fit them into the mast step and then brushed the first coat onto all sides of each piece with an old toothbrush. (photo #1) The idea is that the resin / acetone mixture penetrates the plywood on all sides making it 'waterproof'. The first coating set up in several minutes (photo #2) and we put on a second coat. For the second coat the ratio changed a bit, 5:.8:3. The directions called for "a bit less hardener" for the second coat. The second coat took a few hours to set up. We put a third coat of the second ratio on and it took three days to get slightly tacky.
When they'd all kicked we took all the pieces back out to Spray and dry-fit them again.
When the boat was built they used a 1" hole saw to make a hole though the deck and mast step to run the wires from the inside of the boat thru the hole (photo at top of page). The wires in the deck connect to a female deck plug that goes in the hole. The wires in the mast are connected to the male part of the plug. This plug is necessary if you ever want to take the mast down.
On the evening of June 8, we began the next step. We we used a 1" OD piece of PVC tube to shield the plug wires from the resin during this initial build. We used a marine calk (Boatlife) to secure it to the fiberglass base. Then we notched the bottom piece of wood to fit around the PVC tube and dry fit the first two pieces one last time. (photo #3)
Showtime! We wanted a thickened resin so it would have more strength so we added some West System 404 high-density filler. We mixed up a batch with the tablespoon using a 5:1 resin to hardener/ catalyst ratio. After stirring for a minute to mix it well, we began to add rounded tablespoonfuls of the filler, one at a time, mixing well between additions. The filler was a fine powder like cornstarch. It was like adding dry ingredients to wet when you bake a cake. We wanted a mayonnaise-like consistency and that ended up being eight rounded tablespoons.
Mr WK buttered the the front of the first piece and put it in place. (photo #4) Then he poured some of the thickened resin into the base and spread it around. (photo #5) This would fill all the gouges we'd made in the fiberglass as we dug down to the base and level it.
Then he placed the bottom piece of our 'marine plywood' and smooshed it down a bit so the thickened resin would 'flow' more readily into the gouges. (photo #6) Next he evenly spread some of the thickened resin on top of the first piece and placed the second piece.(photo #7).
After placing the second piece of 'marine plywood' Mr WK added some more thickened resin to fill in around the sides of the second piece of wood and into void at the front of the mast step. (photo #8) When he was done we had this. (photo #9)
Early the next morning (June 9) we were right back out there. All the thickened resin had kicked and mostly things looked ready for the next step.
The first thing Mr Wk did was to saw off some of the PVC tube. As it sat, it was too high and would protrude up through the mast step and would prevent a proper seating of the mast deck plug. Mr WK bent off a piece of hacksaw blade and painstakingly hand sawed off that half-inch. (photo #10) Now the top of the PVC tube was well below the front wood piece. (photo #11)
But we still needed something to keep the hole open so Mr WK sacrificed a shotgun shell
Mr WK dry-fit the front of the mast step (photo #12) that we'd hacksawed off, added the rest of the wood pieces behind it and dry-fit the top pieces of the mast step. (photo #13) The top was a little low but as there would be layer of thickened resin between the rest of the wood pieces that would raise it up a bit.
Next he took a file and roughed up the smooth gelcoat on the sides near the top of the mast step. (photo #14) Eventually we'll place a layer of resin-saturated fiberglass cloth over the top of the mast step and it will adhere better if the surface is not glass smooth. And it's easier to do now before the top pieces are in place.
We wrapped the shotgun hull in waxed paper and stuck it in the PVC tube. The resin is not supposed to stick to waxed paper.
We mixed up another batch of the thickened resin using the same ratios as the previous evening and the same amount of the filler. Mr Wk buttered the inside of the front of the mast step, the front of the wood piece and all the edges around the crack with it. (photo #15) Then he put it in place. We placed waxed paper over it and taped it in place. (photo #16) The waxed paper would also (hopefully) prevent any of the thickened resin from leaking out.
Mr WK poured some of the thickened resin onto the second piece of wood that had been set in place the previous evening and smooshed much of it forward into the void under the front of the mast step. (photo #17) Then he added a bit more and smoothed it over the second piece of wood and added the third piece of 'marine plywood. (photo #18 & #19)
After that he poured out a little more resin and using a piece of wire we scavenged from the boat yard Mr WK poked some of the thickened resin into the screw holes in the fiberglass at the rear of the mast step. (photo #20)
|Here is the third piece in place|
|3 hours later — front of mast step|
|3 hours later — the 'crack' at the front right|
The horizontal straight crack is where we'd hacksawed that front part off.
|3 hours later — the 'crack' at the left front|
It all looks really, really rough. Not worried at this point about pretty.
|3 hours later — void under the front of the mast step|
We dry-fit the fourth and final piece of wood. (photo #21) Then we dry fit the two top pieces, again. (photo #22)
As if the two larger cracks on either side of the mast deck plug hole weren't enough that small horizontal crack on top of the mast step is what we couldn't see under the mast tabernacle which is a metal fitting that is screwed to the top of the mast step and what the mast sits on.
Next up was to mix up another batch of thickened resin. This one we made just bit thinner with only 7 rounded tablespoons of the filler instead of 8. We wanted the resin the flow a bit more easily and to be able to push it into the front of the mast step and fill the all the voids.
Mr WK spread some of the resin on top of the third piece of wood and placed the final piece. (photo #23) Then he began pushing the thickened resin into the void at in front of the mast step (photo #24) Any tool will do.
Mr WK spread an even layer of the thickened resin on the top of the fourth piece of 'marine plywood'. (photo #25) These next steps happened so quickly I was unable to get many photos. Then Mr WK carefully laid the larger piece on. (photo #26)
He carefully filled in the area where the small piece would go with some thickened resin. (photo #27) He also buttered the small piece and set it in place. The top was a little high. To squish the resin into the voids under the top we set a full water jug on top of a piece of waxed paper on top of the mast step. (photo #28).
We came back out the evening of June 9 but I'm going to stop this post here. It's so photo heavy already. I'll do more in a few days.If you want to see where we are now in this process and more photos than what I've posted here go here.
blogging to: a quiet house
reading: Show No Fear by Perri O'Shaughnessy (a Nina Reilly mystery)