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  How can i tell if my foam is wet?

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Author Topic:   How can i tell if my foam is wet?
reeltime2 posted 05-26-2000 11:19 AM ET (US)   Profile for reeltime2   Send Email to reeltime2  
Im a new member here im reading all these posts on wet foam and im getting worried. I bought my 15 ft ss about 6 months ago when I got it there were about 15 screw holes in various places on the inside if the boat that were not sealed. I just let the boat sit for about 2 weeks and filled them in. Did I do damage by just filling them in without checking for water in the foam? Now that the hull is sealed how can i tell if I am going to have problems?
Thanks in advance for uor replies,
Rick
jimh posted 05-26-2000 12:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Regarding wet foam:

I used to have this same angst about my 15-Sport. I had a few interior mounting holes that were not sealed completely. I'd wonder if the boat were filled with water and overweight by hundreds of pounds.

I even contemplated drilling an exploratory hole in the bottom near the transom, tilting the trailer way up in the bow, and letting it sit a winter so water could drain out.

I removed everything from the boat, took it (and the motor and trailer) to a scale, weighed it, and tried to compute the hull weight. I called Whaler to see what it should be.

I read all sorts of posts and stories about water-logged hulls and water saturated foam...

Then I just started to relax and began enjoying using the boat, which runs just perfectly and shows no real sign of having retained a drop of water!

So, don't worry--go boating!

kent posted 05-27-2000 11:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for kent    
Has anyone actually encountered saturated foam in a Whaler? I mean that if you were to take a 4"x6"x6" piece of suspect foam , foam that has not been crushed or somehow physically damaged so as to break up it's structure, out of the hull and actually squeeze the livin' daylights out of it, would you actually get a measurable amount of water out of it? The foam that Whaler uses in their hulls is described as a non-absorbing, closed cell product. When it is introduced into the vacant space during the manufacturing process, it enters with considerable force. While I am no engineer, the term non-absorbing (a term used by BW in it's sales literature) means to me that the foam will not accept water into it. Likewise, closed cell to me infers a very dense "closed" structure not having voids that would allow entry of foreign material. This dense closed material also gives strength. I can see where it is possible for water to get into voids created by delamination, and one could therefore assume that the water was "in" the foam, when it may actually be "on" the foam.

I would be really interested to hear from anyone that has experienced the saturated foam problem. The reason that I am so curious about this is due to my previous posts about:

1. The open oarlock fittings on my 13, with the seemingly unharmed foam and no delamination at the bottom of the opening.

2. The 3 drain holes in the forward locker that had no drain tube inserts. The holes appeared to be merely drilled thru the fibreglas and the foam. Again, no sign of foam deterioration and no delamination.

My boat is a '60 something that has spent a good part of it's life in saltwater, moored at a dock, with no sign of saturated foam. Do the "non-absorbing" qualities dimish in time?

tbirdsey posted 05-27-2000 09:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for tbirdsey  Send Email to tbirdsey     
kent: I sure like to think your analysis is correct, especially about the closed cell nature of the foam - gotta believe ol' Dick Fisher would have figured that one out. I think you are correct that "saturated foam" is really delaminated, crushed , or otherwise "damaged" foam resulting in voids that subsequently were somehow exposed to water. See my earlier post in this topic titled "water from foam". Still just my theory - never felt like cutting anything open - but I sleep better. BTY my 1963 13' has those same drain holes, oarlocks, etc and no sign of delamination or saturation.
Clark Roberts posted 05-28-2000 05:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
For what it's worth, I have taken a 2"x2" piece of foam from an old 13 Whaler (I recessed a transducer into the deck and that's where I got the foam) and put into a glass jar filled with water and capped it.. took the foam out about 2 years later and it floated as before and had apparently absorbed no water... whaler foam is also supposed to be impervious to gasoline and oil! Carl Fisher, a local ex-Whaler dealer for decades (Deland, Florida.. 904-734-4301), bought a 13 Whaler in the bahamas that had been used locally by an old fisherman.. there was practically no fiberglas left on the boat and the bow was missing about 3 feet.... it was fished everyday ... no water in foam! Whaler's own 13 push boat used at the Mass plant had no glass left on bow.. ?????? All I can add to this never ending discussion is that I have never experienced any water absorption on any of my 40 something Whalers. I did experience water intrusion (between the skin and foam) where the bond was broken by trailer roller misalignment,,, those big front gimbled rollers... on a 1977 15 Sport.. hit a rock and broke open the keel..water weeped out for a coupleof days.. maybe a quart... patch up and no more problems... Others say they have had water absorption problems... go figure???? Happy Whalin'... Clark... Spruce Creek Navy
jimh posted 05-28-2000 12:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I think the greatest danger to the hull is separation of the bond between the foam and the laminates. This can occur from hydraulic pressure of water being forced or scooped into the hull bottom when underway.

Any underwater damage should be repaired right away.

The light weight of the classic Boston Whaler hulls is due to relatively thin laminate construction. The strength comes from the forming of a single structure between the foam and the laminates.

If the bond between foam and laminates is removed, the hull strength will decrease.

kent posted 05-28-2000 07:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for kent    
Clark, thanks for an excellent post on this saturated foam thread. The information that you have given has set my mind at ease, as well as many others, I would imagine, especially those of us who are new to Whalers. I think that your test says it all. I have read so many posts about saturated foam on this board and others, that I was really wondering about this. This water-logged foam scenario just didn't make sense to me, due to the fact that my over thirty year old boat that has 5 approx. 1/2" openings through the fibreglas skin into the foam (from the factory) has no sign of saturated foam at these openings. These openings and the foam have been exposed to the weather and have had a lot of water around them.

As mentioned in Clark's and Tom's posts, water only seems to be evident at places where the foam is physically damaged. Even then, only in relatively small amounts. Tom, your idea of extracting the water by suction is great. It is comforting to now know that the foam in Whalers does not act as a sponge and suck water into it if the barrier (ie: the fibreglas skin) between the foam and the elements is breeched. It would appear that any wetness or softness of the foam should be fairly localized and easily repaired, as Tom has done, and that the possibility of the water migrating through the entire hull/ foam structure creating a waterlogged hull is not going to occur in a Whaler.

Jim, I certainly agree that ANY damage to the hull should not go unrepaired. Although Boston Whaler describes the bond that occurs between the fibreglas skins and the foam as "inseparable" in their sales literatere, most of us have experienced some form of delamination of the fibreglas (possibly due in part to latent defects that would not be apparent at the time of manufacture?). Water entering a breech in the hull with force, such as would occur with a boat at speed and with the breech on the underside of the hull in the water, could have the potential of "peeling" the fibreglas hull skin from the foam. However, based on the Whaler description of the construction methods and the materials used, I would think that the force would have to be considerable to do any substantial damage.

Thanks for the replies, guys. In my continuing quest to find and restore old Whalers, I can now feel fairly confident that I do not have to be concerned about buying waterlogged hulls. Any damage should be quite obvious and assessable upon a thorough looking over of the craft. If the boat were not a Whaler, I would not be so sure. If you care to read about one fellows experience with a soggy Mako hull, go to: http://fibreglassics.com/pgprojx001.html I can't imagine anything like this happening with a Whaler.

kent posted 05-28-2000 07:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for kent    
Oops!! Sorry guys. The link given in my post above does not work. Try:

www.fiberglassics.com/pgprojx001.html

KCarlsen posted 05-28-2000 09:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for KCarlsen  Send Email to KCarlsen     
For all those that added to this post, thanks, especially Larry for his experiment. I am now resting easy. I bought a 1969 classic hull that was in poor condition, moored in a lake and the rear drain tube was gone. The owner still used a plug but the seal between the rubber and fiberglass was so poor that the owner had placed a sign on the console in large letters "LEAK" so that he would not forget to leave the bilge pump on. In any event, I did what Jim was contimplating, Since the drain tube was gone, I tilted the trailer way up for about a month and nothing, not even a drop. I put my finger in the transom hole and felt around and even the wood was still in great shape. I coated the inside with epoxy and installed a new tube but way back in my head I was still wondering about absorbed water. After Larry's experiment, I worry no more. Thanks
jimh posted 05-28-2000 11:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In the bow locker of my BW 15 Sport there is a large diameter section (about 6-inches) that is composed of foam.

I assume this is the entrance hole where the liquid foam was poured in during the process of clamping the hull and cockpit together and foaming the interior.

This section of foam is not protected from water. It just sits exposed. I am sure that if there were a possibility of water entering the interior foam, this would have been prime area of access. The locker is quite often wet; in fact some people might intentionally flood it as a bait well or cooler.

--jimh

kent posted 05-29-2000 12:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for kent    
Jim, I think that you are probably right about that place where the foam is poured in. I have a similiar thing in the bow of my boat, except that it is on the forward deck ahead of the locker, instead of in the locker. Mine has a fibreglas cover on it, which looks as though it could be removed, but it is stuck on there good, presumably stuck to the foam. I seem to recall a picture of the manufacturing process that shows the workers pouring the foam into such an opening.
dfmcintyre posted 05-29-2000 09:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
While I think that the saturation of closed cell foam is minimal, there probably is a problem with water migration through the foam to the lowest part of the vessel, along the keel.

Jim -
The later anchor lockers, and other places forward and out of the way will normally have a fiberglass cap (never seen an exposed foam pore site) that was resined in place.

The foam isn't truely "injected" under any sort of pressure (from a factory trip in 1977) but rather poured in, after the mixing of the two part product occurs.

lhg posted 05-24-2001 01:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
This about to expire topic seems to be of continuing interest.
Eric posted 05-24-2001 09:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Eric  Send Email to Eric     
My first whaler was a 13 tiller model that belonged to the Indian River County, FL bridge and road dept. It was a 68 model, the bow had been bashed against bridge pilings for 30 years with no rub rail. I cut out the rotten foam in the bow, and at a depth of about 3 to 4 inches, hit dry, normal, undamaged foam.
Hank posted 05-24-2001 11:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hank  Send Email to Hank     
My '84 Montauk had 2 large screws in the deck apparently used to hold the engine oil tank.
Prior to launching the boat I washed it down and noticed that as I stepped near the screws some water squirted out from around them. I removed the screws and let the holes dry out for 10 days in the hot Florida sun. Looking into the holes (less than 1/4" dia.) I see what appears to be wood. I simply filled the holes with epoxy to prevent any additional water from entering.

Although the foam does not absorb water, I'm sure the same cannot be said of the wood inserts. Based on the excellent diagrams in the reference section of this site, odds are a hole any where in the deck will penetrate wood. I wonder what the best approach would be in repairing holes of this nature.
Hank

kamml posted 05-26-2001 08:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for kamml  Send Email to kamml     
My old government Montauk spent it days floating in a warm water pond when it was working for the good old USA.(77-91) It has blisters, here and there, an occasional crack on the decking and water has seeped-weeped, both into and out from beneath the transom drain. My repairs to this old tub have allowed me to remove some of the core foam from beneath the deck. Grabbing a 1" sq piece between my thumb and forefinger I have been able to sqeeze water out, a couple of drops. Oh darn.

Taking it to sea it is a stable platform that catches fish, get me out and back and my family loves it. It just doesn't get any better. Don't worry about a little water. Spend your money on a good motor. Its a great hull even with a some water inside.

David Gilliland posted 05-26-2001 09:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Gilliland  Send Email to David Gilliland     
A buddy of mine restored a 13' whaler that was so heavy a 40hp merc. would not plane the thing. The boat was given to him with a 2' hole in the bottom from a stump that had never been patched. Water was also inside the boat as it drifted about a stock pond. After drilling holes and drying upside down for a year it was reglassed and painted. The boat was supposed to weigh 360 pounds. I know it weighed more. Weigh anyboat to make sure. MY 2cents

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