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Critical Path's Deck Repairs
If water is allowed to penetrate a balsa-cored laminate, it will eventually rot the balsa over a large area. Once the balsa breaks down and detaches itself from the fibreglass, the fibreglass skins no longer support each other and the area becomes weak and flexible, which accelerates the damage. The cure is removal of one fibreglass skin, replacement of the core and restoration of the outer surface, a time-consuming and costly process outlined here.
Prevention entails keeping the water out of the core, by replacement of core near fastenings with epoxy, as detailed in Deck Tracks (referred to below as the "over-drill, fill & re-drill" method) and with carefully maintained bedding of deck hardware.
The owner's comments on the project can be found below. Note the photo dates, from January to June – hardly a weekend project. Some of this length can be attributed to the owner's desire to contribute his own 'leisure' hours to the project.
"Based on the results of a deck survey I had done last fall, Critical Path requires the removal and replacement of balsa core covering most of the foredeck, both side decks, the cabintop, and the cockpit sole. Interestingly, the area around the mast step is still sound and in good condition. I sent the survey to several shops around Ontario (everything from Bristol and Wiggers [two top-quality repair & building yards] to a few small mobile operators), & received back quotes ranging from $5K to almost $30K! Several of the quotes were in the $12K to $15K range, a little higher than what we'd anticipated (& could rationally justify spending on this boat!). "We ended up going with a small shop here in Whitby so that I can participate in the reconstruction process (my background's in Project Management). Custom Fibreglass Repairs do only fiberglass repair & refinishing work, so their experience is as good as anywhere & their costs slightly lower. The owner, Lewis Beardsworth, has been excellent to work with (so far!), & I expect the finished product to meet our expectations...
"In a nutshell, here's the work to be performed:
"We'll be going the over-drill, fill, & re-drill route when it comes time to reattach the deck hardware, & I won't subject my new deck to the less-than-optimal "oversized washers will be good enough" approach. We're cutting small windows in the liner where required to install aluminum backing plates along the entire length of track. We plan to finish them off with either white plexiglass or thin wood covers. Easily removable too, so future maintenance isn't a pain (& there will ALWAYS be maintenance involved with inboard tracks!)."
— Tal Wolf Critical Path January, 2004
PS [June '04]: anyone wishing more info on Critical Path's repair can contact me by e-mail – TW