Deck Core Repair
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Tracking down leaks in the deck involved removing the headliner to access the deck from below. The headliner was in poor shape and were planning to replace it. There was a leak near a portside window that I needed to track down along with a leak from the center salon hatch and around the forward companionway.
The leak near the portside window turned out to be coming from a screw holding down the outside handrail. After removing the handrail it was found that the balsa deck core was saturated and rotting. I used a Dremel tool from below to cut out the fiberglass in an area around the screw hole.
I cleaned out the saturated and rotten core material and cleaned out the opening.
The next step was to drill out all of the other handrail screw holes oversize. Using a bent nail and an allen wrench on a drill, I cleaned out the core material around the hole. This left a void about two inches in diameter that was filled with thickened West Systems epoxy. This insures that should any of the screws leak in the future there will be no core material around them to soak up any water.
I cut a couple of pieces of 1/2 inch exterior grade plywood to replace the core material. I coated the area and pieces with West System epoxy and using a thickened mixture fit them into the opening. Using a bolt through the old screw hole I held the pieces in place until the epoxy set.
I wasn't able to fit the plywood as tight around the edges as I wanted to so I left room to fill with foam. I used a can of Great Stuff to fill in the voids.
After trimming and sanding down the excess foam I was ready to reattach the fiberglass pieces I had removed.
Using thickened epoxy I reattached the pieces I had removed. This was followed up with epoxy and two layers of glass matt over the area.
The final part of the project was to drill new screw holes and mount the handrail.
If I was to do this project again I would make an effort to fit the plywood better and not use the foam. I wasn't impressed with how the foam filled the voids.