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Thread: Boat Guys...How Would You Fix This?

  1. #1
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    Boat Guys...How Would You Fix This?

    A co-worker of mine recently purchased a used Nor'Sea 27 sailboat, and although it's in generally decent shaope, there is a certain amount of fixing up to be done. Here's the first of what will likely be multiple requests for opinions and suggestions. Todays topic: The Tiller.

    The tiller is laminated wood (oak, maybe...perhaps ash?) and there are a couple places where the laminations are coming apart, and one spot where the wood has rotted.

    Here's the overall view:

    Attachment 7640

    And a closer view of the (slightly) delaminated area:

    Attachment 7641

    There is a little bit of rot associated with the delamination, but it appears to be minor, and fixable with epoxy injection. Suggestions?

    Attachment 7642

    Then there's the bigger rotted "hole" at the other end of the tiller:

    Attachment 7645

    And a bit closer view:

    Attachment 7643

    And one more look:

    Attachment 7644

    We have thought of a few ways to fix this spot, most of which involve scarfing another piece (or pieces) of wood onto the tiller to replace the rotted material.

    Here are some very rough sketches ot the two main ideas we've kicked around.

    Attachment 7646

    My buddy's not trying to restore it to original condition (if he was, we'd be building a completely new tiller), but he'd like it to look decent when we're done. No baling wire and 2x4s. Any ideas or suggestions?
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  2. #2
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    not a boat guy ......but i`d opt for version #2.....
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
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    If it is going to be used in the ocean I say a new build a new tiller. That is not the place to have things go wrong. With the tiller in that kind of shape I would be worried about the rest of the boat. If it were me I would have a very good surveyor go over that boat before I risk my life in it and even that is no gurantee. Also the rigging might look good but all of it should be replaced. I was dismasted in a 48 foot ketch and we were lucky no one was killed or even injured so I am really leary. Thru hull fittings are another danger. My boat was eventually struck by lighting in the middle of the night and it blew out a thru hull fitting and it sunk at the dock. A total loss. Thank goodness it was not at sea. The ocean is no place to be saying "boy, I sure wish that I had". Older seagoing boats can be a real danger. Shortcuts are not acceptable here.

  4. #4
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    Allen covered it perfectly.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Bookout View Post
    If it is going to be used in the ocean I say a new build a new tiller. That is not the place to have things go wrong. With the tiller in that kind of shape I would be worried about the rest of the boat. If it were me I would have a very good surveyor go over that boat before I risk my life in it and even that is no gurantee. Also the rigging might look good but all of it should be replaced. I was dismasted in a 48 foot ketch and we were lucky no one was killed or even injured so I am really leary. Thru hull fittings are another danger. My boat was eventually struck by lighting in the middle of the night and it blew out a thru hull fitting and it sunk at the dock. A total loss. Thank goodness it was not at sea. The ocean is no place to be saying "boy, I sure wish that I had". Older seagoing boats can be a real danger. Shortcuts are not acceptable here.
    Thanks Allen and Jeff...

    I've not seen the boat in person (and wouldn't really know what I was looking for if I did), but my buddy did have a qualified surveyor check out the boat before he bought it. Not only have the problem areas been identified, but the cause of the problem has been found and noted for each. I do believe he's planning to replace all the rigging, and knowing this guy and his perfectionist tendencies, he'll make sure things are sound before getting the boat out on open water.

    Having seen the tiller in person, I have no doubt that it can be repaired as opposed to replacement.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  6. #6
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    Vaughn, by the time you go to all the trouble to fix that tiller, you can have a new one made. You already have that one to make a form from. That way it's done, done right, and done permanently! I just think that's one of those cases that you aren't going to save anything by patching it. Besides the patchwork fix will always show and be obvious!

  7. #7
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    By the way, I was showing this to Dad. H is suggestion is to use mahogany and maybe white oak. Use epoxy to wet out the surfaces and use epoxy with some thickener to glue them together. Make a form for both sides so you can clamp it tight. You can taper it down after its glued up.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes.
    Last edited by Ed Nelson; 04-21-2007 at 12:29 AM.

  8. #8
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    Hi Vaughn, I've done quite a bit of boat work in the past...

    I'm not certain but I'll bet the tiller is Ash, especially by looking at the really rotted part.

    White Oak stands up much better in a marine environment than Ash (a cheaper look a like substitute). It looks like once the finish coat wore through the weather really started to do it's thing.

    There are different products around such as "Git-Rot", "Rot Doctor" etc.

    The main principle of these products is to thin the epoxy so it is more readily absorbed deeper into the wood.

    You can use regular epoxy and thin it with up to 10% styrene which will lower the viscosity and allow deeper penetration. I've worked on wooden boats in the past where I've painted the whole inside of the hull with polyester resin thinned with styrene (need good ventilation and respirator) and that effectively stopped all deterioration and restored things.

    I would sand the whole piece down, remove all finish and the rot (agree with Tod here on second scarf method) use a thinned epoxy (either your own or one of the products above) and paint it on the entire tiller soaking as much as you can into the cracks around the delamination and the rotted areas. Let that dry real well, apply your scarf using normal epoxy and "fill" any cracks or voids with the same. Next shape your scarfed in piece to match then sand and finish with two or three coats of good quality spar varnish with uv protection (more coats are better). In the marine environment "brite work" should be scuff sanded and recoated every spring.
    --------------
    Cheers! - Jim

  9. #9
    Vaughn

    I've owned boats for the past 40 years. If that were my tiller I would replace it. There are simply too many problem areas, many appear to be in the area where the tiller attaches to the rudder. If I remember that boat correctly, that tiller goes over the aft cabin to the rudder. The cockpit is sort of amidships. So, the lever arm on the tiller is real long and all the stress will be at the attachment to the rudder.

    Make a new one, make it strong. You don't want the owner to be worrying about that thing giving way when he is out in 40 knots at night in the rain. Trust me, he may not have planned it, but it will happen! Been there, done that, threw the T shirt away.

    Jay

  10. #10
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    I would have to agree with the others and say replace it. This is effectively a structural part of the boat. It is under the most load when the wind is high and when it is most critical to have working steering.

    The dutchman idea would be alright but since the thing has begun to rot, its difficult to identify how far the rot really goes. Better not to find out.

    Make a form and laminate a new one using epoxy as was mentioned. White oak is a good idea and it looks nice with mahogany. Before applying epoxy to the WO, wipe the wood down with acetone. Don't thicken the epoxy too much. Make it like thin mayonaise. Do a first coat on all the pieces with straight epoxy (slow hardener) before buttering them with the thicker stuff. Don't use massive amounts of pressure when clamping up or you'll just drive the epoxy out. You only want enough to close up the gaps.
    Irony: The opposite of Wrinkly

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