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Whaler Foam - Mine Was Missing
|Author||Topic: Whaler Foam - Mine Was Missing|
posted 01-10-2002 12:44 AM ET (US)
I have a 1962 16' Whaler named fester which is best described as a well worn beater. When I bought it cheap 4 years ago, it had it had a hole in front of the center console which had one of the screw on covers on it. The previous owner told me he was trying to feed wires through the hole to the front of the boat but was unable to do so because of the foam. Being the compulsive stupid buyer that I am, I did not remove the cover because it was frozen.
After using the boat a few times I noticed wet spot under the boat. I eventually opened the cover and learned that under the cover there was a nice little hole approxiamtely two inches in diameter through the foam to the fiberglass. Through the hole you could see the fiberglass keel from inside the hull. The hole had about three inches of water in it and was the perfect size for sucking the water out with a shop vac.
I used the boat approximately once every two weeks for about two years and after nearly every use I would suck the water out with the shop vac. I normally would remove 2 to 3 gallons of water after a four hour boat trip. At the time, I was not part of this website and was not thinking about important topics such as wether the foam held water, but in looking back it is clear to me that water is able to flow through the foam and the foam has the ability to hold some water. In order to remove the water from the hull, you have to turn the shop vac on and off numerous times during the day. The shop vac would drain the water within the hole very quickly and after a few minutes the hole would fill up again. You could actually see the water weeping out of the foam into the hole. If you raised the front of the boat trailer, the hole would be dry in that the water would appear to flow through the foam to the back of the boat. When you lowered the boat so that the hole was the low point, the water would flow into the hole. Since water was able to flow through the foam, it is obvious that the foam is able to hold a certain amount of water. I think the amount of water the foam is able to hold is minimal in that one time I did not shop vac it after a number of uses and the water level seemed to reach a certain point, about five inches deep, and future boat uses without shop vacing did not increase the water level. Five inches of water would equate to having to pump about four gallons of water out of the foam to reduce the water level to approximately 1/2 inch deep.
One day after a good pounding in the ocean (one of those trips if you went any faster you would knock your teeth out) I noticed numerous small cracks in the bottom of the hull in about the area of the front storage locker. A further inspection of this are seemed to indicated that the hull was delaminating from the foam. Being a dedicated do it yourself boat repairman (in reality a hacker) I bought the West System resin and drilled numerous holes in the boat and injected resin into the holes in an effort to deal with the delamination problem. After pumping about 1/2 gallon of the stuff into the hull with no posative results, I got frustrated and decided to cut a section out of the bottom of the boat to see what the deal was. I put a cutoff wheel on my grinder and cut a approximately a 24 inch by 18 inch section out of the bottom of the hull right below the storage locker. I cut right through the keel of the boat. In looking in the hole that I had just cut, there was the $50 puddle of West System resin that I just injected but nothing else. There was no foam in this area. Further inspection revealed that the front three or four feet of the bow was full of foam and then there was a section the width of the boat about three three feet wide where there was no foam at all. In looking up through the cut out area, you could see the fiberglass outline of the front storage locker.
It was obvious to me that the missing foam was a manufacturing defect. It was obvious the foam had not been removed. You could see how the foam flowed into this area but it appeared that not enough was used to fill up the hull.
The missing foam area was about three to four feet from the hole where I would use the shop vac. I think to some extent water may have accumulated in the area without foam and then flowed to the shop vac hole.
For you guys that that are going to cut up the whaler with a chain saw, a cutoff wheel on a grinder works great. Nice surgical way to cut a boat up.
With respect to the keel roller/bunk trailer issue I see a lot of on this site, it is obvious to me that my 16 was designed to be on a keel roller trailer. The glass in the keel area I cut out was 3/8 to a 1/2 inch thick. The glass in the rest of the bottom of the hull was thin and flexible, in some areas maybe only one or two layers thick.
Sorry for being so wordy!
posted 01-10-2002 07:47 AM ET (US)
This is one of the most interesting posts I've read on this site.
posted 01-10-2002 10:15 AM ET (US)
Interesting that you said interesting.
posted 01-10-2002 10:16 AM ET (US)
Interesting post, fester. I also had a hole to fix ('84 Montauk) on the hull just below some of the console screws. The screws had stripped the wood of it's teeth and were, of course, loose. Obviously any water on the floor just seeped down through the screw holes to below the deck. The foam had turned black just around the screws (probably from just dirt) and the surrounding foam was indeed soaked. And by soaked I mean when I pulled out chunks it was heavy and squeezing it produced about as much water as a piece might could displace if it were a solid. (a cup-sized piece of foam would produce about a cup of water.) The moisture hadn't spread much beyond the immediate area but I'm sure that given enough time it would spread further. So, I do understand when you say the foam holds water. It surely does (given enough time).
posted 01-10-2002 10:26 AM ET (US)
I purchase gas at several locations.
Two salty comments, that I recall, when I approached the dock with the new/used boat.
"You should have spoke to me before you bought that sponge, I'll have to teach you about boats one day."
With my 9 year old on board.
posted 01-10-2002 10:41 AM ET (US)
Your missing foam story is like Deja Vu, all over again for me. Last years project was a 22' OR, of 1988 vintage that had a large hole punctured in the bottom, just below the fuel tank. THe original owner assumed the missing foam was caused when the hull was punctured and rushing water tore the foam out. Investigation by several repair shops revieled the foam void was not only a manufacturing problem but had probably caused the puncture to occur, due to the lack of support in that area of the hull.
Whaler claimed not to have any experiance with this problem in the '88 OR erra and since the 10yr warranty was past, the repair cost was mine.
posted 01-10-2002 10:49 AM ET (US)
The only foam I used to worry about was from a bad bartender. Now do we all have to worry about another foam issue? We just had the spue hole issue now this. In a past thread, I read that they overfilled the hull with foam, sometimes so much that it shot out of the spue hole 10' high. Maybe we should all check to see if our foam was injected on Monday am. Regards, Jay
|Tom W Clark||
posted 01-10-2002 11:57 AM ET (US)
That's great information. Do you have photos of the void? Your experience and JAC's demonstrate there can be voids in Whaler hulls. Makes me wonder how often these defects occurred.
Your experience with wet foam flies in the face of testimony from many others. Do you think the foam was necessarily compacted and/or crushed in order for it to absorb water? Your Montauk, being a 1984, is well beyond any speculated date Whaler may have switched to a different type of foam and therefore it must be assumed your's is a closed cell foam. Do you think the cellular structure of the foam could be broken down from impacts and thus allow water to be absorbed?
posted 01-10-2002 01:51 PM ET (US)
Until you mentioned it I never thought of what the impact may have had to do to change the original characteristics of the foam. After thinking more here are some more observations in hindsight.
The impact happened at night going about 30 kts and I never saw what it was. As a matter of fact I thought something just hit the motor so I stopped and lifted the motor to make sure nothing was awry and in another hour it was back on the trailer. I took it out again about 2 week later for a day and then back on the trailer again. (I don’t leave it in the water as I trailer it everywhere.) So it wasn’t in the water more than about 8 hours total after running over whatever it was I did hit. (I didn’t notice the damage at first because I parked it during the night.)
The crack was about 12-18 inches long and I cut out the affected (effected?) piece in a rectangular shape. (I wouldn’t to repair that specific damage that way again for various reasons but that’s not the discussion here.) The damaged area was on the relatively flat area between the left sponson inwards towards the keel. (Topsides to outside of sponson to the inside of the sponson to flatter area. If that makes any sense.)
The foam was crushed in an inch or so right along the jagged crack but only a couple inches in length. The rest of the foam was in its original shape. Now come to think of it I don’t know how much of that was due because of a.) it’s small amount of adherence to the inside of the skin and the skin returned to it’s original shape or b.) it just wasn’t crushed that much or c.) it was crushed but didn’t stay crushed. I simply don’t know.
Nonetheless, there was a fair amount of water in the foam but it was more saturated closer to the before mentioned loose screw holes.
I have to make an amendment to my previous post: while it may not have been a one-to-one ratio with the amount of water to foam as I described it, it most definitely was at least half that. But I do think it was closer to my original statement though.
Lastly, I kept pieces of it for a year or so (until I lost them) and never thought about holding it under water then squeezing then releasing it to see if it would hold water more like a sponge. It just never crossed my mind to do that. Now, what did I do with those pieces? Lol.
Cutting up that old Whaler will surely be an interesting topic, Tom. I think we should do it in the winter and have a ‘rendezvous’ at some hotel in Florida! How’s that for an idea? I’d definitely do that. (I’m sure your wife wouldn’t want a bunch of Whalerheads hanging around your house for such an event.)
I’ll bet that string then will top 500 posts and we’ll be sick and tired of talking about water in the foam!! Lolol. We’ll all awaiting….
posted 01-10-2002 02:02 PM ET (US)
Oops. Sorry, Tom. I thought you lived in Florida. Washington is a fer bit of a drive for me.
posted 01-10-2002 04:50 PM ET (US)
Tom and Arch,
In addition to the problems mentioned above, my boat also had numerous sealed and unsealed screw holes in the deck and two areas of the hull which were damaged such that the foam was exposed. Over time, I eventually worked on all of the problem areas.
There were about 10 open screw holes in the deck, most in near the center console. There was an obvious difference in the holes that penetrated the wood supports below the deck. In the holes that penetrated the wood, the wood was rotted and the area of the foam around the wood was black. Other than being black, the foam appeared to be in relatively good condition and while damp, it was not soaked.
The holes that were not into the wood were a dirty brown color but not black like the holes into the wood. Except for one hole, the foam appeared to be damp, not soaked, and in fairly good condition. One hole appeared to have drilled through a repaired area in that there was some bondo type of material present. Below the bondo, the foam looked crushed to some extent and this area was very wet.
The two damaged areas, one was below the water line on the starboard side of the boat and the other was on the same side of the boat above the water line in the vicinity of the rub rail. The one below the water line was about four inches in diameter and still had some glass covering a portion of the damage. The upper inch or two of foam was very spongy and obviously damaged. The damaged foam would be saturated with water immediately after the boat was used and then would dry out. I dug the spongy foam out to expose what appeared to be undamage foam. The undamaged foam was slighty wet but not soaked. If you a pushed a paper towel into the good foam, the towel would be slightly damp. I did this paper towel test a number of times in that I was trying to dry the foam before repairing the area.
The foam in the second damaged area near the rub rail was in very poor condition. It appeared that this area had been damaged a long time ago and the unprotected foam was exposed the elements. The area was about the size of football. It was obvious the structure of the foam was destroyed. You could break a chuck of foam off with your hand and then crush it into a powder in your hands. If this area was exposed to water, the water would soak into the deteriorated foam like a sponge. After digging out the bad area, the foam below looked good and was slightly damp but not saturated.
I do not profess to have all of the answers regarding foam, but it is my feeling that as long as the foam is not damaged or exposed to the elements, it will remain in relatively good condition. Good foam will be slightly permiable such that a small amount of water may enter it but will not become saturated with water. If the foam becomes crushed or damaged, the integrity of the foam will be destroyed and a significant amount of water will soak into the foam.
Holes into the wood supports of the boat must be carefully sealed in that water entering these areas will rot the wood. This may or may not affect the integrity of the foam in this area.
One question I have is what are the differences between opon and closed cell foam. In my mind, closed cell foam is foam in which nearly all of the indivdual cells in the foam are sealed completely trapping air. This is the type of foam in a Whaler, will float and will absorb very little if any water. In open cell foam the cells are open and conected such that fluids and air can readily flow through the foam. An example of open cell foam is a sponge. The open cell foam will readily soak up water. I think all foam used in whalers is closed cell although it may have changed over the years. If I understand open cell foam correctly, it would essentially be useless in a boat in that it would have very little buoyancy. Let me know your thoughts.
posted 01-10-2002 05:38 PM ET (US)
In reading Fester's story, I think his Whaler has an unknown history of accidents and incompetent repair work, before he purchased it. It clearly is a "beater", with previous damage. I just can't believe, that even an early Whaler, would have been so defective. Hull tapping would have revealed these voids at the factory. How does a hull, with good integrity, take on 3 gallons of water every use between the skins? Perhaps someone tried to use other foam in the repairs. Something is wrong here. Sounds like this boat is ready for the scrap heap.
posted 01-10-2002 10:47 PM ET (US)
My previous 1986 Montauk had a problem caused by having the console mounted too far forward. The aluminum L bracket actually sat partially on the smooth sloped in front of the console, causing the L bracket to sink into the floor. A Marinetex patch job was done.I was not the original owner but I did know him and knew the boat was fished hard. The hull was bottom painted and I first noticed longitudinal lines along the small chine running down the starboard keel just below the console forefoot. One day running the boat I noticed water on the deck and discovered a leak at the spot where the L bracket cracked the deck. A few more trips and the water was pouring in. Upon hauling the boat a 2' long crack was discovered right where those lines appeared. Water weeped from the crack and when pressed was somewhat soft. Whaler said no warranty, 10 years and 1 month old. I sold the hull to a boatyard for $850, minus everything. Got an Alert for $4795 and transferred everything over. I checked back with the yard and was told the foam separated from the hull along the bottom from that point below the console forefoot to 3' from the transom. All wet and had to be removed. More work than he thought. I saw it in the BoatTrader a year later for $3000.
posted 01-11-2002 07:56 AM ET (US)
I love it, you made my day. Other than being very interesting and informative, something you said in your post reminded me of myself.
The point at which you were pumping the West epoxy into the hull and decided to hell with it all and went for the grinder...What a classic moment, and you all now you have been there before...ahh the smell of the grindert blade RIPPING through some material (fiberglass and gelcoat in this case) that it was probably never intended for... The feel of particles of solidified fiberglass resin smacking me in my unsafty goggled face (as I would have been just to curious and too impatient to know just what lay beneath that smooth creamy layer of white gelcoat)... the look on my wifes face when she comes out into the garage to see what is smelling up the house... OH YES my friends I have been there!!!
I can also be fairly constructive when I want to be...
posted 01-11-2002 12:46 PM ET (US)
This West System program of drilling a grid of holes and pumping in THEIR material, to rebond the foam to the skin, is just not the way to repair a delaminated Whaler skin. You do have to cut out the delaminated area, and lay up a new glass skin using Whaler's repair method instead.
posted 01-11-2002 01:08 PM ET (US)
I respectfully disagree. If you’re going to be doing essentially the same thing (bonding glass w/epoxy) and it’s not necessary to cut, why do it? I DID cut and patch (but not exactly Whaler’s way) but I believe the one (of many) method that West suggested for my SPECIFIC repair would have been 3x easier and just as effective. Probably even more so IMHO.
I don’t think there’s one way to repair every damaged area.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 01-11-2002 01:29 PM ET (US)
lhg & Arch,
I don't know...on the one hand, I tend to like the sound of Whaler's repair instructions and I do think the West System instructions are totally self serving (of course I don't blame them for that. It's business) but I also know that epoxy has it's place in the world too.
As a contractor I have to deal with all sorts of problems. I've learned to be resourceful and creative. There are always multiple solutions to any given problem. I also have to consider the costs, both of money and time. I also use epoxy in my work. It works well for many things but is expensive.
Having reviewed the Whaler repair instructions, they seem very straight forward. They do not involve a great deal of expense, whereas epoxy is quite expensive. Is there only one satisfactory way to repair a Whaler? I don't think so. Is one way better than another? Perhaps, and I'd like to explore this with "Chain Saw Whaler".
posted 01-11-2002 03:28 PM ET (US)
I am not trying to win a debate and for me this will always be a learning experience. The most recent learning experience was the recent thread having to do with sea anchors. At the beginning I thought there was no use whatsoever for a sea anchor while under power with a planning boat. After numerous posts and forming my own opinion on the subject someone mentioning the possibility of being in a storm and having the engine(s) stop. It then occurred to me that there is a very good reason to have a sea anchor/drogue on board to keep the bow towards the wind and waves. Thanks, all. I will never know everything. (but don’t ask my ex…she’ll say the opposite;-))
I do remember another thread/post with a comment about West Systems being one-sided. The way I see it is that Whaler is in the business of building/marketing boats primarily. They don’t manufacture their supplies and have to purchase resins / epoxy, glass, etc., along with the most current information, the same as the rest of us except in bulk. Who knows…they may purchase from Gudgeon Bros. also. Whalers’ design and manufacturing processes are not unique to the industry. So in my mind to think that any boat manufacturer knows everything about a specific repair is not reasonable.
The Gudgeon Brothers are not in the boat building business, per se, but they certainly supply their products to the industry and absolutely need to understand the many complexities of specific repairs and manufacturing as it relates to materials and their uses. Understandably they have an interest in supplying a product along with directions that will produce favorable results. (And make a profit!!) It would make it exceedingly difficult to stay in business if they didn’t, wouldn’t you agree?
When you have two experts, and there is no question both are experts in their fields, with somewhat conflicting information it comes down to the individual in the end to make what they think is the best. After reading both publications along with my reasonably good abilities to repair things there is no doubt in my mind that, again for my specific repair, Whaler’s method was not only much more difficult but also more costly, more labor intensive and would not have achieved superior results. But to each his or her own, really.
I am usually more of a lurker on the Forum but every once in awhile I feel like ‘getting involved’. Sorry so wordy.
posted 01-11-2002 04:43 PM ET (US)
Years ago and old timer who had toured the Whaler factory, probably Rockland, claimed that the foam injection process is carefully measured. He said BW knew precisely how much foam a full hull required and if it did not accept the full amount they scrapped the hull. Is this just a sea story?
|Tom W Clark||
posted 01-11-2002 05:34 PM ET (US)
No need to apologize for being able to string more than one or two sentences together. Indeed, it is refreshing. The more you invest in something the more it is worth (usually).
I generally agree with you but would differ on a few points in your post above.
The Whaler Unibond process uses non-unique materials but it is a unique hull building method. Nobody else builds a hull the way Whaler does. It is, and always has been, its first and foremost trump card. Oh yes, other manufacturers build cored hulls. Some even use foam, but not the way Whaler does. I can only suspect that they know as much, if not more, about repairing their boats than anybody else.
The Gudgeon Brothers can speak and recommend on the basis of experimenting on Whalers. They own a few old Whalers themselves. Nobody is begrudging them their opinion that their's is the way to repair a Whaler, I just think there is room to disagree about whether or not it is the best way.
dgp, the foam is not injected into the hulls but rather poured in. And yes, it is a carefully measured amount from what I've read. I seriously doubt they would scrap a hull that didn't fill all the way up, that's just not how things are done in the real world. But I do suspect they make absolutely sure the deficiency is corrected completely before shipping it out.
posted 01-11-2002 05:39 PM ET (US)
dgp - that was one of the things I was wondering. Could fester have inadvertantly picked up one of these hulls discarded by Whaler back in 1962? They might have given it to some employee, or some salvage guy might have picked it up, and put it back in service with a "quick buck" motive, with a whole chain of later unsuspecting buyers?
Regarding the West system, the point I was making, based on fester's experience, one never knows how bad the situation is under the delaminated hull. When you open it up, you can see exactly what you've got, what condition the supporting underlying foam is in, and fix it right. I'm sure this is part of the "unwritten" intention in Whaler's instructions.
It's like fixing a roof. You can either "goop" on the tar and caulking from the outside surface, or you can open it up and REALLY find out what the problem is, and repair it from the REAL source of the problem. To each his own, but I prefer the more professional and thorough method.
West want to make sure you work with THEIR products. Whaler wants to make sure THEIR boat is properly repaired, maintaining it's reputation for excellence and structural integrity, and won't let you down when your life is at risk. Take your pick and do it your way.
posted 03-16-2008 10:29 AM ET (US)
I'm sorry for dragging up a 6 year old thread, but I've been reading it with great interest.
I recently purchased a 1984 18' Outrage. There is a spongy spot in the floor in the port aft corner, between the fuel tank cover and the gunnel. There are stress cracks around the perimeter of the area, and it depresses quite a bit when you step on it. My thinking is that it's not just rotted wood, but some sort of void underneath. The question of whether to simply drill a few small holes, and inject epoxy, or to cut out the entire area and repair it that way, is one I've been wrestling with since I discovered the problem.
Here's what I THINK I'm going to do. I was thinking I'd take a hole saw, maybe 2", and cut out a small section. This would be enough to determine the extent of the damage, while keeping the cosmetic and structural damage to the fiberglass floor, and the resulting repairs, small. This would be a large enough hole that, if there is a void, I could shine a small flashlight in there to get an idea of the size of it.
My guess is that there's a void of some sort, but that it's no large. The area around the spongy spot is firm.
posted 03-17-2008 04:58 AM ET (US)
Why not just drill a small hole big enough for the dispensing tube on a can of GreatStuff and fill her up? Void filled....
posted 03-17-2008 05:45 PM ET (US)
I bought a 87 montauk that the previous owner(Moron) had moved the console all the way forward against the bow locker. He drilled two 3" holes in the floor with a hole saw to run the cables and wiring trough. I thought it was mighty tongue heavy. I took a quarter inch dowell and sharpend it like a pencil and drilled some holes along the hull in previous screw holes and inserted the dowell through the floor to the keel and let it set over night and to my relief no water. Do ya'll think this is a good way of detecting water.
posted 03-18-2008 10:34 AM ET (US)
I don't know about that. I think the potential for the dowel to not absorb water, even if it's there, is too high. Also, I don't like the idea of drilling holes through what could be perfectly good foam.
With regard to using Great Stuff, I've used it before for a very small repair. But in that case the extent of the damage was clearly visible. When there's the potential for the void to be quite large, or for it to not be a void at all, just soft wood (can I give my boat Viagra?), I think I'd rather open it up at least a little bit to see what's going on. Also, for anything beyond a very small repair, I'd like to use the correct kind of closed-cell foam.
posted 03-18-2008 04:48 PM ET (US)
I think you are describing a much less serious problem than what this original poster was faced with.
Iâ€™m trying to remember exactly, but I believe there are two sections, on either side of the deck, where many 18â€™ Outrages have developed a cosmetic â€śdetentationâ€ť or minor cracks in the non-skid along the sides of the fuel tank cover. Last summer at a rendezvous, I had a conversation with a few folks from the site that revealed additional (information/speculation?) about the manufacturing methods which may have lead to these symmetrical spots.
In brief, the report is that Whaler used foam block â€śspacersâ€ť inside the hull forms as a quality control to keep a standardized form between inner and outer hull shells. These foam blocks now, 25-30 years after manufacture, have begin to show through stresses. I know I have 4 symmetrical â€śdetentationsâ€ť in my deck that coincide with the small cracks that another owner was musing about at the summer rendezvous. Neither hull had signs of abuse or hard use.
I believe jeffs22outrage wrote an article about this on www.whalercentral.com ; but again, I donâ€™t know exactly where that information is located over there.
My suggestion to you is to try the WEST SYSTEMS method of drilling a grid of very small â€śinjectionâ€ť holes to inject epoxy to strengthen the deck and re-adhere any delamination that may have occurred between the fiberglass deck and the foam substrate. I believe that these holes can be patched with minimal cosmetic damage.
My understanding is that there is NO WOOD under the deck in the location you describe; however, I have not drilled into the area to confirm it on my hull. If you find wood from a few of the pilot holes when developing the â€śgridâ€ť for the WEST SYSTEM fix, you may want to re-evaluate the situation and use another epoxy product called â€śGIT ROTâ€ť which is designed to penetrate rotted wood. I believe the WEST SYSTEM epoxy might do just as good of a job as the GIT ROT though. Let me restate, however, that I donâ€™t think you will find wood in this area.
I would avoid the product â€śGREAT STUFFâ€ť foam because I do not think it is at all what you are looking for to seal, adhere and fix your problem. This product MIGHT be applicable in non-traffic areas of the hull (such as around the fuel vent fitting from the inside of the gunwale to fill the void left from the factory installation). The product was designed to seal up cracks in your home (to keep wind out and keep your pipes from freezing in the wintertime)â€¦not to fix a boat hull.
Good luck on your projectâ€¦.and congratulations on the new boat!
posted 03-18-2008 06:05 PM ET (US)
I think you're right. Wood, even if it was rotted, wouldn't let the deck flex like this. The only reason I think it's not as simple as delamination is because the floor is not raised at all. It simply depresses when you step on it. It is clearly visible, and the stress cracks around the area clearly widen when you put weight on it. It only does it on one side. And it appears to be the entire area to the port of the tank cover, aft of the cover for where the fuel fill crosses over to the tank, and forward of the splashwell bulkhead. Well, actually, it appears to only be forward of the rear bench seat, but I can't really tell if it flexes underneath the seat as well, as I can't effectively place weight on it.
So, the potential for a rather large void is there. Nothing like what this guy's talking about, but still.... it's something that clearly needs to be fixed.
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