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Author Topic:   Part 3: Chain Saw Whaler
jimh posted 04-26-2002 07:07 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
This is Part 3 of a very long message thread. If you have not read from the beginning, you may wish to jump back to the start or to Part 2.
Dr T posted 04-11-2002 12:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     

A modest adiministrative suggestion.

This thread is now 200 posts long and, frankly, my little dial up connection is beginning to be a bit sluggish.

Suggest that you start a new thread (CSW 2 or some such) for continuing conversations and hyperlink back to this one. Then someone can begin the task of archiving this one. I think there have been a few volonteers, and I am certainly willing to help.


[This suggestion has been accomplished; the thread is now in three pieces--jimh.]

Louie Kokinis posted 04-11-2002 11:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for Louie Kokinis    
Just a thought:

Tom, Is it possible to drill a few holes (say 4 around an inch diameter) at the transom exiting the hull at the bow? If a long enough drill is hard to find, I think a pipe can probably be forced through the foam. Heat from the toaster oven has demonstrated the best results, so why not try pumping hot air from a little furnace or clothes dryer directly through the boat?


Tom W Clark posted 04-12-2002 02:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Dave S.,

When we had a freezing spell here in Seattle last month I disconnected the suction device. I have yet to reconnect it.


Your idea night theoretically work but it seems impractical for a variety of reasons, not the least of which would be the expense of the electrically or gas needed to generate the heat for the weeks, months or years it most likely would require.

At any rate I think CSW is nearing the end of its life. The chain saw is tuned up and I think if the weather is good, Saturday will see it "parted out".


I hear what you’re saying, and I think it got pretty onerous about a hundred posts ago. I think very few of us are even reading it any more because of how long it takes to load. But it's not my job to moderate and manage this thread, I leave that up to jimh. It would be nice if we could view a thread but only load the last dozen posts as a “page” with the other "pages" kept as links. as is done on other forums.

I do not want to star another thread as that would break the information up regardless of whether we included a link to it or not. I just hate to see info split up. How many different threads do we have about 20" motors on 15" transom 13 footers? It drives me nuts.

At any rate it will all become a moot point soon enough. jimh is planning to put this information into a reference article at some point in the future and this thread will have run its course.

PMUCCIOLO posted 04-12-2002 04:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for PMUCCIOLO    

Is this a record for number of responses to a new post on this website?


RedRunner posted 04-14-2002 11:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for RedRunner  Send Email to RedRunner     
From the lab analisys above, am I right in interpreting it as, saying that the foam is closed cell in it's original state and that water seeps into the cells damaged by stress. If so I have a question. If you bring the foam down in a vacuum of say 10,000 or even 25,000 microns will the closed "good" cells be damaged in the low pressure, causing them to burst or explode.

I have a setup I can play aroud with this, to see how fast water can be evaporated, but if the foam is ruined in the process its not good. Maybe some one has already checked. 200+ posts is a lot to go through. I might have missed it.

peteinsf posted 04-14-2002 02:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for peteinsf    
Chain Saw Whaler Drive?

Well, the boat arrived at the yard and I gave her a through examination. All looks OK (normal ware and tare) EXCEPT the original owner added a kicker bracket to the port side of the whaler drive. This is a problem because a whaler drive does not have any wood on the top to screw into. So what they did is cut a 5” hole in the top of the drive, scooped out enough foam to reach around inside and mounted the bracket using machine screws and washers and capped the hole with a access hatch.

What I found was the area under the cover had 3 gallons of fresh water in it! After a short panic (thinking of chain saw whaler drive) I pumped out the area, dried it out a bit and them used an ice cream scooper to check the foam a bit down from the top. What I found was the top ¼ to ½ an inch was wet and lower areas were dry. My concern is that water may have creeped it way down to the bottom (bilge) and the foam down there is soggy. I was thinking of making some probes (ceramic tubs with metal tips) and drill some small holes in the lower section of the drive (maybe via the motor well) and measure the resistance with an ohmmeter to see if there is any “wet apple foam” at the bottom.

Here are some photos:

If it is wet I think with three large holes (port, starboard and bottom of motor well) I could scoop out any area of the drive and refill it with fresh foam. But it is not my favorite plan….



gilligan posted 04-14-2002 08:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for gilligan  Send Email to gilligan     
I didn`t read all the posts. In the islands here, we`re plaged by hurricanes/storms. It`s a widely known fact the older whalers used "open cell foam" & the newer ones use "closed cell foam". Yes, some of the whalers here are quite heavy!When thier hauled here, they have a hole drilled at the lowest point of the hull at the transom, are pitched for some time as it takes quite long to dry the hull (3-4 months we have found to be satisfactory).
I`m sorry, there are misleading claims here from dealers who purchased old 196somethings from the Bahamas. THIS ISNOT TRUE!
I don`t recall when the transistion to closed cell happened, but what I can say to you weekend (nothing negative implied here)boaters is yes, Boston Whalers retain a hell of a lot of mosture in the real day to day use & it is quite heavy! Now, if you put it on a trailer, it`s a differnt story.
Here, the idea of a sandwiched cored hull don`t work for long. Most small (11-25') vessels don`t use this constuction method & therefore, arenot, unsinkable.
Hope I stoped an experiment that happens here each & every hurricane season.
DanT posted 04-14-2002 08:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for DanT  Send Email to DanT     
I was concerned about having moisture in the core of my 1966 Eastport. I used an inexpensive house plant moisture meter to probe several areas of the hull for wetness. The device consists of a metal probe about 1/8 inch in diameter and is about 10 inches long with an analog meter attached to the top that reads from dry to wet. This is normally used to measure the moisture content of house plant soil. I drilled several small holes in the hull (just big enough for the probe) and began probing for moisture. I found a small amount of moisture in the area of the battery strap holes and in the forward locker. There were some holes drilled into the hull to hold the battery down that were not drilled into the wood. This allowed some of the foam in this area to get wet. In the forward locker there was a small hole in the fiberglass in one lower corner. The glass in that one corner seemed very thin. I drilled several more small holes in each wet area and let it dry over the winter while under cover. I probed the holes again recently and they were dry thanks to being exposed to the cold dry air of winter. The only draw back to this method is that holes need to be drilled in the hull but I think this is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Tom W Clark posted 04-17-2002 01:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

Your interpretation of the report is the same as mine. The foam is closed cell in both newer and older Whalers. I have no evidence that the cell walls of “good" cells will be damaged by a vacuum, but then again I don't have any evidence they won't either. Perhaps you'd like to take on that particular test for us.


I saw that on your boat. The red 25 Outrage in Everett had deck plates all over it from all the crap that had been mounted to it over the years. There was water in almost all of them but I couldn't tell how deep it went. I think you need to check down at the bottom of your Whaler Drive for moisture. My concern would be that it crept down between the inside of the glass and the foam and collected there.


Saying "it's a widely known fact the older whalers used open cell foam and the newer ones use closed cell foam" parrots what has been said on this FORUM and among boaters everywhere for years. But because something is repeated often (regardless of where) does not make it true. Unfortunately the evidence indicates that this is not true.

While one 1970 Whaler does not represent a very good sample, it does suggest the foam then was clearly closed cell polyurethane foam. In fact, I have yet to even here of a open celled polyurethane foam.

If you review the significant threads that discuss wet foam here on the FORUM (I have listed them in a post above on 2/11) you will read all sorts of assertions and claims about how the foam changed. Nobody, including Whaler itself, has provided any proof of this however. Until I see evidence to the contrary, the talk of “old foam vs. new foam” and “Whaler foam can’t absorb water” will remain mere dogma to my ears.

Tom W Clark posted 04-17-2002 12:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

I like your idea of the moisture meter in the hull test. jimh had suggested a similar electrical resistance test for CSW way back. I would have experimented with it but this particular hull has wet foam all the way up to the top of the gunwales. I have made a few slices into the hull to facilitate a photo shoot for the benefit of jimh's article on CSW and the foam is wet everywhere.

By the way, here's a sneak preview of the photos we took: dickfisherreincarnate.jpeg

I had planned to chop CSW up this past weekend but the weather was not cooperating. I would like to do so this Saturday. All local FORUM members are invited to attend. Let me know by email if you are interested.

Dr T posted 04-17-2002 01:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
I will be with you in spirit. Any, IF you find anything hidden in the hull, I told you so.....

Have fun. It looks like snow and rain here.


Taylor posted 04-23-2002 02:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
Tom is probably still formulating an official report but I was there on Saturday as Tom handled the chainsaw like a surgeon. There were some surprises (for me), including aluminum conduit and yellow polypro line specific places in the foam, as well as some odd glass/foam 'spacers' between the hulls. We looked at embedded wood. Tom took a careful look at the drain tube. He took a section through the sprue hole. That is one analytic guy. That was one beat up boat, too.

I've finally gotten the glass itchys out of my forearms from standing to close to the spray off the saw. My five year old daughter lasted about two hours, and made off with a set of Tom's ear muffs.

Dr T posted 04-25-2002 01:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
What was in the conduit? And, any speculation about what the polypro line was for.

Sounds like you have a smart child...


Tom W Clark posted 04-25-2002 01:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
OK, I’ve been avoiding this thread because there is so much to talk about and I haven’t had time to pull it all together (besides there are only like four of us who are reading this anyway), but here’s a short account of Saturday’s event:

Taylor was the one and only FORUM member to show up. He was a great help and took many pictures. I had two cameras and between them and the photos from the previous week I have something like 114 digital images of CSW which I will be mailing to jimh in the hopes he can find a few usable ones for the reference article.

First of all let me say that CSW is (was) full of the foam that it left the factory with. Furthermore, all the foam in that hull was wet all the way to the top of the gunwale. All the foam is white except where it has been soiled.

We took a section from the top of the splash well dam which had no screw holes in it nor other trauma that might have facilitated the entry of water to the foam there. Presumably this would be the most protected foam in the whole hull. The foam was still wet. It seemed the foam at the bottom of the boat was more wet than higher up on the hull, but we found no place where the foam was dry. That foam definitely wicked water everywhere.

Apart from the extra layer of ‘glass on the outside of the hull we found nothing that would have added any significant weight to the hull. Based on the apparent thickness of this extra layer at different points of the hull that got sliced I am sticking with my earlier estimate of something like 100-150 lbs. of extra weight.

The yellow polypropylene rope runs all the way around the gunwale. Its purpose I imagine is to serve as a reinforcement of some sort but that is speculation on my part.

The conduit was flexible aluminum conduit that ran around the transom and splash well but not the rest of the boat. This is in contrast to other accounts I have read on the FORUM about conduit being in the bow. I presume the conduit is some sort of reinforcement as well, but why it’s only in the stern and why rope was used elsewhere, I do not know. There is nothing in the conduit.

We found the 3/4” plywood backing for the attachment of the console “leg” in the floor of the boat but we did not find the 1/2” plywood that is supposed to be in the stern for the battery hold down.

Perhaps the strangest and most baffling things we found were these odd, rectilinear shaped pads of foam filled fiberglass in the floor of the boat. They are hard to describe but they appear to physically connect the inside and outside hulls at eight points in the floor of the boat.

They seem to be formed by folding up glass cloth into a box-like shape were filled with foam like the rest of the hull though whether they were pre-filled, or filled with the rest of the hull, I do not know. I would imagine they must have been pre-filled. The cloth on the top and bottom of these things was very strongly attached top both skins of the hull. Taylor and I speculated they may have been used as some sort of spacer, but I can’t really imagine how they worked.

The wood we did find was all wet to a degree but absolutely none of it was rotten. The double layer of 3/4” plywood in the transom was thoroughly saturated with moisture but none the less perfectly solid and willing to accept a screw. I wonder if Whaler was using pressure treated plywood back then?

I have yet to dispose of the remains and I will be saving some parts for future reference like the transom/drain hole section that I cut out as well as the sprue hole section which shows 1/4” plywood backing around that area.

If anybody wants a chunk, now is the time to speak up. Email me directly.

I will post more later...

Chap posted 04-25-2002 01:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chap  Send Email to Chap     
I am reading and would have been there to help with the beer etc.
This hard work is not going unappreciated.
I am on board with the spacer explanation as the liner may weigh enough, be flexible enough alone, to bow towards the hull bottom and prevent uniform foaming or deck positioning. They were probably installed wet and may have also prevented the floor from bouncing/delaminating from the foam/stress cracking etc., mini-stringers.
Thanks again.
jimh posted 04-26-2002 08:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
First, let me congratulate Tom Clark for his outstanding achivement: this is the longest (and most interesting) thread among the 25,000 or so threads on the FORUM. To facilitate reading it more easily, I have broken it into three parts. If it continues past 300 messages I will add a fourth part.

Second, I think a major discovery has been made. In the past, every Whaler ever seen cut in half has shown us only foam filing the interior. Tom has discovered there are several other structural components in there, as well. Perhaps the choice of location for the previously (factory-) sawn Whalers was made so as not to reveal any of these other elements in their interior.

It is also interesting that literature from Whaler intended to illustrate the hull constrution technique has omitted mention of anything but foam in the interior. Perhaps these "spacers" that have been found in CSW are an early form of the glassed-in stringer grid that was later used in the Edgewater hull construction.

Finally, I really do intend to collect this information and (with much help from Tom and his wonderful photographs) assemble it into a Reference article. That may take a while, so bear with me until it is done.

Tom, a tip of the hat for all your fine work. It is most interesting that after 40 years of talking about it, finally a post-mortem has been performed on a Whaler. The results are very interesting, to say the least!

weaverf posted 04-26-2002 09:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for weaverf  Send Email to weaverf     
Just a comment. I too had the fiberglass pads connecting the floor to the outside hull. They to me did not appear to be spacers as the glass was very heavy. They appeared to be there to connect the bottom to the inside and hold it there. In my rebuild I have attached lengthwise stringers to the pads as they were so solid. I have also poured foam around the pads and the new floor inside will set on them. I also found the yellow rope and aluminum as well.
DrZ posted 04-26-2002 09:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for DrZ  Send Email to DrZ     
The most interesting factin this record setting chain is the silence on the part of Boston Whaler. Maybe insstead of posting here all forum members should email whaler for a response. If they do not feel a response is warranted this post should be forwarded to all their competitors. I believe this would be a great marketing tool for all other boats who are in this very competitive market. boston Whaler should be eager to srt the record straight.
jimh posted 04-26-2002 12:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If I have already not made this clear, I will explicitely state it here:

I don't endorse in any way the notion that the FORUM or the WEBSITE should be used to apply leverage to the Boston Whaler company.

The FORUM exists to benefit the Whaler community, and I consider the Boston Whaler company part of that community. The company has been kind to me in all my dealings with it as a Boston Whaler owner, and I try to respond with similar treatment in kind to them here.

If you obtain knowledge from reading the contents of the website, that is fine--that's the purpose.

The organization of campaigns to send letters, emails, petitions, etc., is really not part of the purpose of the website and I do not endorse or encourage those activities. I think people who wish to organize such campaigns should hereafter respect my wishes and not make such efforts part of their participation on the FORUM.

--Jim Hebert
Publisher of the website

DrZ posted 04-26-2002 01:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for DrZ  Send Email to DrZ     
On an issue as important as this one and that affects all Boston Whaler owners, the encouragement to obtain and share information from the factory with other owners is not an attempt to leverage the company. I do not know if you are employed directly or indirectly by the company but I am concerened about the tone of your post in reply to my suggestion. Is this forum one of free exchange of information or a self serving glorification of a boat that has now been exposed to have a potential serious Achilles' Heel. If there is no problem with the foam, I am sure a reputable compamy would welcome the opportunity to inform owners through this forum and set the record staight. Why is Boston Whaler mun on this issue and why have you become so defensive?
andygere posted 04-26-2002 02:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Tom & Drisney, was the boat ever stored upside down while in your possession? If so, that could explain the migration of water to the top of the gunwales and splashwell, which we would otherwise expect to be reasonably dry.
Salmon Tub posted 04-26-2002 02:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Salmon Tub  Send Email to Salmon Tub     
With all due respect, it is like the guy in the movie "The Matrix" said: 'Ignorance is Bliss'. I for one, think that the work and effort Tom has put into CSW is commendable. Today, after work, I will go home, stop at the marina where I store my boat, fill my fuel tanks, check the battery, and prep it for the weekend, without having any doubts about the quality of my boat, or what is actually in there between the two layers.
My opinion of Whaler's products has not changed and I don't think that there are many other construction methods out there that are much better. I am sure that this same test has been done by every other boat builder that has set out to compete with Whaler. The competition's silence on any 'negative aspects' created by the existence of these secondary internal components must only mean that these 'discrepancies' between the percieved and actual components used in the construction of the hull are negligable in their interference with the advertized performance of the hull - rigidity, strength, low weight, durability, and ofcourse unsinkability.
I would have been more concerned with such things as finding voids in the foam, or in any major delamination.
Dr T posted 04-26-2002 03:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
Good point. I tend to agree.

And it raises an unanswerable question: If any other boat had been subjected to the same abuse suffered by CSW, would it still be floating?

Taylor posted 04-26-2002 03:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
Andy, I can't imagine how anyone would have turned it over. It was way too heavy to turn over without mechanical assistence.
Salmon Tub posted 04-26-2002 04:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for Salmon Tub  Send Email to Salmon Tub     
DrZ, if you take this post the wrong way, I appologize, but, first off, I don't think the foam is any more of an Achilles heel than the foam in any other boat. By Coast Guard standards, the foam does it's job, and I am sure it is not required by the Coast Guard to do it's job for ever - i.e. leave a swamped boat drifting in the ocean for ten years and see if it still floats the same. Second, and personally I don't care if anyone thinks I am defending anyone or not, I can understand the moderator's point because, BW can easily make life hell for anyone via the use of lawyers they already have on their payroll, and as part of Brunswick, I am Sure they have a whole army of Suits ready to battle (no offense to any of our fellow boaters here who happen to be lawyers). If you want, go attack them yourself. Don't go dragging anyone else just because they commented here. Unless you subject a whaler to some serious abuse, I don't think there is anything to worry about. By the way, have you read all the fine print and warranty wording from whaler? I haven't, but I ain't gung ho to go yelling charge. I am sure though that they make no direct or even indirect promises that the foam will never obsorb water.
And just so nobody gets any funny ideas, I shall include the following disclaimer:


........not bad, I should've went to law school.............

Salmon Tub posted 04-26-2002 04:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Salmon Tub  Send Email to Salmon Tub     
Sorry, did I raise my voice when issueing that lovely disclaimer?
Taylor posted 04-26-2002 04:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
You could have just said 'The writer is a fisherman' :)

Factoid: CSW was still able to float while swamped.

jimh posted 04-27-2002 08:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I must detract briefly from the topic of this thread (CSW) to respond to DrZ (not to be confused with much more active partipant DrT).

When you characterized your solicitation for participants of this forum to undertake a mass emailing to Boston Whaler as an "encouragement to obtain and share information from the factory with other owners", I have to disagree with your assessment.

When you preface your remarks with the qualifier "I do not know if you are employed directly or indirectly by the company" I can only imagine you have prepended this qualifing statement only to put forth the suggestion that such a relationship exists. If you would like to ask me that question directly, I suggest you do so.

When you say you are "concerened about the tone of [my] post" you should be. A solicitation to begin a mass email campaign is completely out of character with the general purpose and intent of this forum.

When you rhetorically ask "is this forum one of free exchange of information" you have mistaken the meaning of "free". This forum is "free" as in "free beer", it is not "free" as in "free speech". You do not have a constitutionally protected right to do or say anything you want here. I moderate the contents and exercise control over them. And in responding to your post I have told you that I do not wish the FORUM to be used to organize campaigns of mass-emails or other such attempts to leverage Boston Whaler or anyone else.

When you ask "why is Boston Whaler [mum] on this issue" I can only observe that of the 25,000 or so posting to this FORUM in the previous two years there have been exactly zero from the Boston Whaler company. I am not surprised that they have not posted in response to this topic, nor do I expect (given their previous behavior) that they will. Their lack of participation is not surprising or suspicious.

When you ask "why have [I] become so defensive?" I can tell you that I have put a great deal of effort and time into the creation of this website and this FORUM and that I do not intend to allow it to be hijacked for a purpose that I do not support, encourage, or agree with. If you want to start rallys for mass emailing, if you want to try to extort manufacturers, if you want to send information to competitors and encourage others to do so, you must go do that somewhere else.

DrZ posted 04-27-2002 10:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for DrZ  Send Email to DrZ     
Again, why the hostile tone? I agree you put in great effort in a wonderful web site and forum and that surprises me even more that you would be so hostile. There is no wish for extortion from anyone just a friendly request that Boston Whaler answer the important questions raised by CSW.
I will give you the opportunity and put it in question form. Are employed directly or indirectly by the company or have you ever been? I am still concerened about the tone of your post in reply to my suggestion. Is this forum one of free exchange of information or a self serving glorification of a boat. It is truly ignorant to believe other manufacturers do not follow this forum and I will guarantee CSW results will be used in the marketing of all competitor boats.
As for a respose from Whaler I have seen many post on this forum referring to information provided by Boston Whaler in response to issues covered in this forum. With post approaching 300 on this subject not a single one mentions a response from Whaler. As a matter of fact there are post to the contrary that provoked my initial post. I am not looking to bash the company but they should acknowledge the issue and offer suggestion on how to deal with the problem or point out facts not a considedred in the post relating to CSW.

DrZ not the not the much more active DrT

jimh posted 04-27-2002 12:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
To be perfectly clear, I am not an employee of Boston Whaler. I have never been an employee of Boston Whaler.

I have never received any compensation from Boston Whaler in any form. In fact, about the only things I have ever received from Boston Whaler are free catalogues from dealers I visited, a wood locating diagram in the mail, and polite responses to my telephone calls to customer service. I am perfectly happy with that relationship, and I would like it to continue, which is why I have strong objections your proposals.

We use the forum to share knowledge; we don't use it to plan extortions.


BrettDD posted 04-27-2002 03:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for BrettDD  Send Email to BrettDD     
Okay.. after neglecting my routine errands for the day by reading this whole thread I have a few things to add that a few people may have neglected to think of. 1) salt.. if salt permiates the foam it will absorb much more water than if it were not. 2) capillary action.. that is why the water wicks throughout the foam that has been comprimised. and lastly, someone above (dont want to pour through all the posts again and not get anything done) said that BW never said that it would repel water forever, but right on their website as we speak it claims it uses "high density, nonabsorbent foam". if they claim it doesnt absorb water.. it shouldnt absorb water, period. Mind you I have an '86 11 foot whaler and love it.. just food for thought. PS I read it all as quick as I could and dont remember if you resubmerged the piece you dried in the oven to see how long it takes to reabsorb the water.. that would be interesting.
triblet posted 04-27-2002 03:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Dr Z:

1. I don't see anything hostile in what jimh
said. Quite to the contrary, he was most
polite. For an example of hostile, try

2. It's his site. He makes the rules.

3. I've never seen a post here by Boston
Whaler. There has been information posted
here that came from whaler, but it's been
because someone on the forum called or
e-mailed Whaler, and then posted their
answer. If I'm wrong, please cite the
specific Forum, Topic, and date.


Tom W Clark posted 04-27-2002 04:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

There is no mystery as to why Boston Whaler has not posted a response to your query here on the FORUM. Whaler does not post on this FORUM or any other. Wise or foolish, that is their policy. It is the policy of most companies. (see for a discussion of this behavior)

Whaler does respond to emails and phone calls. In this thread I have described responses I have gotten from Whaler. I have exchanged emails with both Chuck Bennett (Customer Service) and Terry Dunagin (Director of Marketing for Whaler), and they have always responded promptly and been friendly and helpful.

If you have a question for Whaler there is no reason in the world why you cannot ask them. They will give you an answer. It is very naive of you to think that you can get a more desirable response if you get a hundred FORUM members to send the same email as opposed to just sending it yourself. That is the thinking of a bully.


Your idea of the salt is interesting. I’m not sure I agree with it, but I will think about it. However, in the case of CSW, this boat was never in salt water until Dave Risney, Andy Gere and I put it in the Pacific Ocean down in Santa Cruz in January. The water in the foam is all fresh water. I have tasted it as has Taylor.

Yes, of course capillary action is responsible for transporting the water through out the foam. This is the crux of why we should be concerned about letting water leak in at even one little screw hole.

The conclusion I have reached is that in order for the water to be evenly distributed throughout the hull, the cell walls of the foam must be compromised in some way. The foam used is, was and always has been polyurethane foam. It is, by nature, closed cell.

Andy Gere,

CSW has not been inverted during my possession of her. I do not believe Dave ever had her upside down either. I do not know if it was ever stored upside down at Lake Tahoe during the last 32 years. Dave may be able to shed some light on that.

It is interesting to note that Jim Potdevin (jimp), who is working on an old Squall (see ) that was used as a mail box stand and was stood on end for years, bow up, measured the weight of that little hull (which should have weighed 125 lbs.) at almost 500 lbs. He determined the bow was actually heavier that the stern! It may well be that the water wicked all the way to the top (bow) while sitting out in the Alaskan weather all those years.

On another note: I believe I have resolved the mystery about the different colored foams reported to be in Whalers through the years. The foam in CSW is white. However, after sitting out all week in front of my house the big pile of Whaler bits have now turned brown.

I suspect it is sunlight that turns the polyurethane foam brown, thus the picture of the display hull at Lauderdale Marina shows the foam as brown while the freshly cut up Whaler used in Whaler literature shows the foam as white.

BrettDD posted 04-27-2002 08:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for BrettDD  Send Email to BrettDD     
Did you ever figure out if that core you drilled out resoaks up water like a sponge or does it take days/weeks/months for the water to permiate the foam once it has been dried?

Also, I put the fact of capillary action up since there were several posts mystified as to why the wood and foam on the upper part of the foam boats are soaked as well even though they were never flipped upside down.

Thanks. Good job all!

Dr T posted 04-27-2002 09:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
Tom and Brett,
32 years is a very long time, and the diffusion could well have reached steady state, i.e. it could have been uniformly saturated. As I have mentioned before, the second law of thermodynamics is truly a marvelous law of nature.

Nothing will last forever. For example, Mercedes is a fine automobile company. But when the timing chain broke in the engine of a friends 450 SEL (at 275,000 miles), he replaced the engine on his own and didn't ask them to do it for free.


Thanks for taking the trouble to point out that I was not to be confused with DrZ. According to his profile, he has even been around longer than I have--and he doesn't use a space in his nick. It was very gracious of you, and I do appreciate it.

I will also observe that BW has been generally responsive when addressed by individuals, but as a company, they do have a point in not participating in a forum where they could be blackmailed. This policy would be logically extended to any forum or user user group as a blanket policy for non-discriminatory purposes.

A poor, simple mathematician that wandered in off the ranch,

Dr T
aka Terry

jimp posted 04-27-2002 10:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimp  Send Email to jimp     
Tom -

Thanks for mentioning that you tasted the water in CSW. Because of you I just had to go taste the wet foam in the Squall! Now I'm washing it out/down with a beer! It tasted fresh... the water, not the beer. The Squall was last in salt water maybe 15 years ago, but fresh rain & snow has had MANY places to enter the hull.

And today, six of us carried the Squall into the garage and I was able to place it on its stern, leaning against the wall, bottom side out, between the furnace and all the hot water base board heating zone valves and pipes. So for the next few years, it will have a continuous warm, dry area to sit.

I'll try to forget about it for a few months, maybe til the fall, and then report back with a new weight. Have to wait a while becuase I have to commission the Revenge for king salmon in the next few weeks.

On another note, I've already got six coats of varnish on the mahogany seats and support brackets. Chuck Bennett thought that the stern seat cover was plywood, but since I couldn't find the right stuff at the right price in Juneau, I settled for and made a stern seat out of 3/4" mahogany. Guess they'll be ready before the boat.

Final note, you know, its really sad when you have to wait for guests to stop by to ask them to help you move your 9' boat into the garage.


Dr T posted 04-27-2002 11:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     

Think of it as an input of energy required to restore order (nice dry foam on the inside and water on the outside) in a disordered (water and foam on the inside) system.

It's the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics......


Tom W Clark posted 04-30-2002 03:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

I think you've a good point about capillary action. I had imagined it went without saying but it's not really that simple. Given time I would expect water to soak everywhere that the foam is permeable, but not where the foam is not. Furthermore, I had expected gravity might limit the amount of water that's able to "climb" via capillary action to portions of foam higher up.

If you take a bucket of water and hang a rag so the tail end of it is in the water, the water will wick up, via capillary action to the top of the rag. But when you remove the wet rag you will find a greater quantity of water in the lower portion. It will be "richer" in moisture than the top because of gravity. I had expected this to be the case with CSW but if it is, it is not pronounced.

What still baffles me is how water could get to a place like the top of the engine well dam where Taylor and I took a chunk. There was no trauma to this area, yet it was still wet. There are two possibilities that come to my mind:

1) The freeze thaw cycle has broken down the cell walls of the foam allowing capillary action to wick moisture up there.

2) The foam had this potential to absorb water when it was new. In other words, "closed cell" is not as black and white a term as we think. More like "more-or-less closed cell"

To specifically answer your question about reabsorption, yes it will. I had recreated the test Clark Roberts did with the 2"x2" piece of foam (read about that here: Hyperlink ) and it did reabsorb water but I did not quantify it or record how long it took.

However, Saturday I took the core sample that I have had sitting in my office on the bookcase for the last couple months and submerged it in a larger beaker-like pitcher of water with a downrigger ball on top of it to hold it underwater.

I took the core out just now and weighed it, sopping wet, and it weighed 2.5 oz. Remember it weighed 1.1 oz in its dry state so it has gained 1.4 oz of water which I find surprisingly small given that it has been underwater for 72 hours.

I should point out that the core sample is not a solid piece but actually three separate pieces with a fourth tiny piece in the middle. This is because of the hole saw having a 2” cutting depth and the fact that the sample was taken from an area where there was a fracture running through the foam. In other words, the core sample has much more surface area than a solid cylinder would have and thus I would expect it to absorb water at an even faster rate than solid foam.

Remembering how hard it was to suck any water out of the foam even with a very effective vacuum, and how (relatively) slowly it is reabsorbing water, I am left feeling like it hard to get the water either in or out. The analogy of a sponge just doesn’t quite seem appropriate.

On another note I have been doing some research and have found an old patent for the original Boston Whaler. It is a fascinating document. [Originally here there was a hyperlink to a patent search website, but now I have reproduced the material in a much easier to access manner in the Reference section; see the original Boston Whaler construction patent article.]

Note that it answers the mystery about the eight box-shaped things Taylor and I found in CSW. They are called "shear braces" and they help prevent the foam from fracturing from bending forces. The ones we found are exactly like those described in FIG. 4. Until now I had never heard of or seen anything like them.

In another remarkable development, Miles Gathright, Material and Process Engineer for Boston Whaler, has contacted me and requested that I send him a chunk of CSW, presumably for analysis. I have shipped him a 60 lb chunk that was formerly the starboard stern quarter of CSW. I guess the factory has taken notice of all this folly!

DrZ posted 04-30-2002 07:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for DrZ  Send Email to DrZ     
GREAT! This renews my confidence in the company. And I don't expect the answer if Boston Whaler can not come up with it. Their interest and effort is all you can ask for. In science sometimes we just can't come up with solutions. I am sure much to the moderator's surprise I own a Whaler, I love the boat and I have all the confidence that Whaler will do what they can to help solve this dilemma. This is just what I advocated, with this much interest in CSW the company should be allowed to chime in, not neccessarily by posting but through the owners.

DrZ, not to be confused with the much more active DrT

Salmon Tub posted 04-30-2002 08:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Salmon Tub  Send Email to Salmon Tub     
Low and behold, was cleaning out my front well in the Montauk, and noticed that if I step on the Sprue hole cover, I would hear air escape. Upon further examination, there was a pin hole in the sealant used around the cover. This concerned me because not only did this thread immediately come to mind, but also the fact that I never put a plug in there so it basically always has water sloshing in and out, and also that with the 40 horse, there was always a few inches of water in there. I called Chuck at Whaler, and he explained that it will not obsorb water, and that they just use an adhesive to glue the cover in place. Upon his advise, I have covered the whole edge of the hole with a healthy bead (about 1.5 inches wide, and 3/16 thick) of 5200. I did let it dry up first, and after stepping on it, only air did come out. If there is water down there, I will not dwell on it. The hull still sits the same as the others and shows no sign of any additional weight.

To any of our fellow scientists, it may be interesting to try the following experiment: Take a test tube and fill it with wonderbread trying not to crush it (similar to foam, then take a cigar tube, cut the end off so as to make a cylinder and also fill with same bread. take cigar tube and submerge one end in water (not too deep) to observe capilary action. Do the same with the test tube (opening down ofcourse). I have a feeling that the bread in the test tube will not obsorb water since the air in each of the "cells" of the bread would have to be displaced. So this leaves the question, if CSW's gunnels where soaked, did air escape somehow through the top? Perhaps behind the rub rail?

Dr T posted 05-01-2002 01:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
Perhaps through the screw holes used for the cleats.


jimh posted 05-01-2002 09:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[Administrative post]
Drisney posted 05-04-2002 03:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for Drisney  Send Email to Drisney     
Hi all,
Tom, the photo of you in CSW is fabulous!!!! I did not realise what I was looking at until I recognised the holes in the transom!!!!
To the best of my knowledge: at Tahoe the marina went into bankruptcy and changed hands a few years back. The CSW was part of the facility. The manager told me that they just ignored the little boat. I never turned it upside down as it would have crushed me...LOL. I believe the hull never left the water until they hoisted it for me. The fellow on the fork lift, it was a big one, had a lot of trouble positioning it on my flat trailer as it would not slide at all,,,it was very much heavier than we imagined.
andygere posted 05-04-2002 03:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Taylor, good point. Having helped Tom load the boat on to its little flatbed trailer, I know there is no way anyone could have turned it upside down without a backhoe or forklift.
boxers posted 05-12-2002 12:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for boxers  Send Email to boxers     
Just a thought. Maybe T.W.C. would want to take the foam and experiment with the effects of freezing. If the manufactures "closed cell" foam were compromised by moisture and subsequently frozen then the wicking or capillary effect may be propagated as to allow the moisture to move through the foam medium. It seems hard to believe water could so easily displace the air locked up in the PE foam. Could the frozen water rupture the cell walls further penetrating into the hull? Over many years this effect could be significant My 02 cents.
jimp posted 05-12-2002 01:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimp  Send Email to jimp     
boxers -

I've got the 1968 Squall that Tom mentioned in his 4/27 post that was used as a mailbox in Southeast Alaska for the last 15-20 years. It sat on its transom with the bottom more exposed to the weather than the inside. It was located in Juneau, Alaska and maybe went through a dozen or so "freeze-thaw" cycles each year for the 15-20 year period. Juneau is a sub-arctic maritime climate, temps of 20-40F are the norm through the winter with rare dips to -25F, and temps to 0F or so for a period (several days to a week) each winter. The boat should weigh 125 pounds, but when I got it, it had about 75-100 holes in it (slices, gouges, holes, crunches, etc) and it weighed 484 pounds.

She's in the garage now between the furnace and the hot water pipes. I've drilled 1/2" holes through all the holes, dings, and slices in the bottom. I've drilled through the bottom, through the foam until the bit either reaches the chuck or hits the interior bottom.

In all cases, until tonight, the drill backed out soaking wet (dripping with soaked foam). After I read your post, I went out and drilled a hole about 12" from any other visible damage. It came out totally dry.

Maybe that tells me that the freeze-thaw cycle might destroy the local area, but does not necessarily open the boat to water traveling from cell to cell (wicking) and breaking down all cell walls. Maybe my boat has more dry areas. But CSW was soaked all over.


Tom W Clark posted 05-13-2002 11:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

If you read the foam analysis which I reproduced in a post dated 3/10/2002 you will see that J. Shearer Consulting concludes by saying:

”While this is closed cell foam some of the cell membranes either break on formation (particularly larger cells,) or will fracture with time under stress. One of the major stress factors would be slight water penetration followed by freeze/thaw cycles encountered in winter. Note that the progression of such damage is not likely to be a simple, linear process; it would probably proceed exponentially, as damage spreads from one cell to three or more adjacent cells with each cycle. This hypothesis could be tested by comparing water logging in hulls which never encounter freezing weather (as in semi-tropical climate) with hulls used and stored in northern climates.”

This is my current thinking as well. jimp’s report of non-complete saturation leaves me a bit puzzled though.

Both his Squall and CSW are roughly four times their normal weight as a result of water absorption. If the foams are similar in each hull then doesn’t this suggest the percentage of saturation is comparable?

At one point I had calculated that CSW held about 40% of what it could hold if it were totally full of water so there is clearly plenty of room for more. There may, however be a terminal point at which no more water can be absorbed. This might be an interesting experiment in itself:

Submerge a unit of damaged, saturated foam, say one cubic foot, in water for many years and see if it will absorb a cubic foot of water, or something slightly less allowing for the volume of the polyurethane itself.

As to displacing the gas in the cells, I don’t think this is hard to believe. The process of foam saturation sees to happen over a very long time. Can’t gases be absorbed into solution by the water itself? Even if not there are plenty of escape routes for gases which will flow much easier than fluids. By this I mean if water can make it into the hull, surely gases can escape just as easily. I really don’t think a Whaler hull produced in Rockland, MA or Edgewater, FL will expand like a balloon when it’s brought to a place like, say, Denver, CO at over 5000 feet of elevation. The gases or air will move in and out of the hull.

As far as experimenting by freezing CSW’s foam, I think the horse is already out of the barn; the cell walls seem to broken down already. However, if any of you Whaler owners in Florida want to send me a piece of one of your southern climate Whalers for testing, feel free.

Also, the core sample that I have had submerged for the last 16 days now weighs 3 oz., up form its dry weight of 1.1 oz. As I was handling it tonight it was clear that the top part which was closest to the deck was much heavier than the bottom part of the core, in other words it seems to be absorbing water at a faster rate.

This would be consistent with water having entered through all the punctures in the floor of the boat and wicking down. It may well be that absorption is very much influenced by the foam’s proximity to the point of water entry. While CSW was wet through and through, it may be the result of lots of holes and cracks or it may also be the result of lots of time. jimp’s Squall would tend to support this supposition as well.

In other news, I got confirmation from the Whaler factory today that the chunk of CSW I sent them arrived last week in Edgewater and they have confirmed that it is full of water and all beat up. More news as it develops...

jimp posted 05-13-2002 11:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimp  Send Email to jimp     
Tom -

After reading your thoughts tonight, I went out and drilled two more holes in the '68 Squall... one dry (about 12" from nearest other damage) and one wet (5" down from the gun'l, 6'6" from the stern).

No conclusions...


Dr T posted 05-14-2002 07:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
As a note to: "...if water can make it into the hull, surely gases can escape just as easily. I really don’t think a Whaler hull produced in Rockland, MA or Edgewater, FL will expand like a balloon when it’s brought to a place like, say, Denver, CO at over 5000 feet of elevation. The gases or air will move in and out of the hull."

When I brought up here to Denver, I concluded that there are a number of ways for gas to move in and out of the hull. The primary way is from the screw holes that are used to hold the console, seats, rails, and stern light in place. As these become loose with age and vibration, air can escape or intrude.


John W posted 05-14-2002 09:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for John W  Send Email to John W     
The gases that are in a whaler are obviously in the individual cells of the 'closed cell' foam. While these cells are obviously destroyed in CSW, either through freeze cycles or some other form of deterioration, I doubt that a simple change in elevation would be enough force to burst all the cells in an undamaged whaler. That would make every high elevation whaler a sponge, something I find hard to believe. And if the cells aren't damaged by the change in elevation there won't be much gasses escaping though screw holes.
jimh posted 02-28-2004 10:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
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