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Author Topic:   HELP!!! Whaler wet, wet, wet
mermaid posted 03-15-2002 09:59 PM ET (US)   Profile for mermaid   Send Email to mermaid  
Hi Guys, I am a teacher and I operate a 19' whaler that is 30 years old. This is my second year doing this and we just found out that the foam is totally waterlogged. We drilled some holes in the hull and let it drain for a couple of months but I could tell it was still wet inside so we cut a square out, about 5x5" and the foam was totally saturated!!! The guy that is helping us do this is very experienced at boat repair but not at Whaler repair with the whole foam problem. We are thinking of cutting out a larger piece, removing any wet foam and then replacing it. Is this acceptable? can we replace the foam? and most importantly, will the patched up hull be safe? I'm responsible for teenagers on this boat so it has to be right. Thanks for any suggestions. I appreciate it! Lisa
whalerron posted 03-15-2002 11:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalerron  Send Email to whalerron     
First you probably need a good introduction to "wet whaler foam". There is a real good discussion running in the "General Forum" and it is titled "Project: Chainsaw Whaler".
Here is the link to it:
JohnNorthEast posted 03-16-2002 08:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for JohnNorthEast  Send Email to JohnNorthEast     

I too have a water problem. I have an 85 OR and I am in the process of replacing the gas tank (63-gallon). In removal of the tank I managed to cut into the base of the cavity in a few areas which I could not quickly fiberglass over due to the cold weather. As the boat is outside I have it well covered, assuming no rainwater will enter..? Once the tank was removed, and while waiting for a replacement tank to arrive I noticed some water build up in the stern end of the cavity holder for the tank. As the boat is well covered but outside I assumed water might have entered during the rainstorms here. However, in looking more aggressively in the areas I cut through I noticed wetness. Since the tank is out and I had some time I decided cut a small square in the stern area of the cavity. I found the foam to be very wet. By the way it was white and very much like the core of an apple in consistency- it did not look damaged or discolored but it was very wet.

I removed some and it was saturated with water. I decided to remove about a six inch by three-inch ďtubeĒ going back towards the transom. Latter I noticed water fill up the tube hole I created. So now I
Use a wet vac and drain the water build up daily. I have the boat on a trailer with it cranked as high as I am willing to risk it, allowing for the water to flow to the stern. At this point my strategy is to continue to vac up the water, try to insure no new water entering, and simply let it drain. Eventually I will re foam and fiberglass the cavity holes closed. Until the tank arrives I am trying to get as much water out as possible. However, finding this water and reading

JohnNorthEast posted 03-16-2002 08:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for JohnNorthEast  Send Email to JohnNorthEast     
My last post left out the end of my sentence which is as follows,..... " post on the chainsaw log has left me with a ďsinkingĒ feeling."
B Bear posted 03-16-2002 09:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for B Bear  Send Email to B Bear     
There was some discussion on this quite some time ago, maybe about 2 years.
I recall that one of the solutions to removing the water was top lace the suction of a wet vac (or a vacuum pump) on the hole exposing the wet wet foam. This attachment would be sealed as to allow the wet vac to place a partial vacuum inside the hull drawing the water out.
This can be done using a number of smaller test holes and will not damage the foam. After which the holes can be filled and gel-coated. It is the sandwhich of the hull-foam-liner that gives this hull it's strength so after the water has been removed it will still be very safe. After all it has been wet and you still did not sink to the difference will be a higher riding boat and much faster.
I am sure that there are other avenues to follow concerning this. Good luck!
B Bear posted 03-16-2002 09:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for B Bear  Send Email to B Bear     
Well I repeated what John had said. So let me go one step further.
You know that all that water got in there some how. So you should start looking for areas where the water is able to get into your hull. Spider cracks and damaged gel coat, around tues, and holes, reseal all your screw holes etc. other wise you be doing this agian and you don't want it to become a part of normal maintenance.
JohnNorthEast posted 03-16-2002 11:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for JohnNorthEast  Send Email to JohnNorthEast     
Thanks Bear, I do have lots of small fiberglass repair work. That is my next project. I can find no evidence of any real gelcoat or fiberglass damage on the outside hull. The fittings around the bow rail are lose. However, when I took the floor off I noticed damage /delaminating on the sides of the tube that holds the steering cables and wires. I assume this caused lots of water ingressÖand Iíve repaired this area. The sides of the floorboard are in need of repair as well. My primary concern is if the basic integrity of the foam is now so compromised it will not have the same water resisting qualities. I am also thinking of the value of re foaming the areas Iíve exploredÖ At any rate any other thought or suggestions will be helpful.
Tom W Clark posted 03-16-2002 12:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

Iím sorry, but I think you have a problem on your hands with that boat. If you've read through the Chain Saw Whaler thread then you know I have been playing around with ways to remove the water from the foam.

At this point in time I think it is not practical to dry out a waterlogged hull. I have used the vacuum technique to remove some water but I think it is only going to effective in removing relatively small amounts of localized water in a hull. The idea of reversing the saturation that may cover the entire hull in its scope seems just too much work. Too many holes would need to be drilled and then repaired.

All the significant FORUM threads describing other water removal projects are linked in the CSW thread. I have read them all and have based my experiments on the information, experience and insights found in them and expanded upon them with suggestions provided in the CSW thread.

The only idea I have not tried yet is utilizing calcium chloride in some way. But as a practical application of this idea, your hull seems to me just too big and all in all it would be too much work and too expensive. I honestly think you should consider replacing the hull with one that weighs less.

Now the reality is that a waterlogged hull really is just as strong as a dry one. The problem is simply the weight. But as I have discovered and as you suspect, there can be a ton (perhaps literally) of water in there and this will ruin the boats performance.

I do not think removing the foam in its entirety is going to do anything apart from destroy the hull. A Whaler without two skins bonded together with foam between them is just not a Whaler.

mermaid posted 03-16-2002 04:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for mermaid  Send Email to mermaid     
I doubt the schooldept will buy a new boat. I think the water may have gotten in through the transom where the brass sleeve was missing from the drain. Also the drain hole on the bottom seemed to be missing something. it had a metal cover with sort of a screen with a pipe about 2.5 inches but I don't think it was even attached to anything. Should we try the vaccum and then just seal it up? this rots! Lisa
David Livingstone posted 03-17-2002 09:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for David Livingstone  Send Email to David Livingstone     
Lisa, unless the the boat weighs a ton, dry what you can and seal it. Take a look at my boat. It is in the bottom two pictures on page 30 of Cetacea, and that was how I bought it. I reinforced the inside of the hull with 3 layers of mat and two gallons of epoxy. Than placed bulkheads every 16" and two stringers lengh wise. Filled it with foam and built a new floor. Seven gallons of epoxy, 30 yd of matt, and five months of work. I put the boat back in the water on July 16, 2001. Still have to sent Jim the pictures. Would I do it again? I don't know.
All the best, David
Drisney posted 03-17-2002 04:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Drisney  Send Email to Drisney     
It seems the first thing you should do is find out how bad your problem is....weigh the boat on a truck scale and compare against the new weight of the hull from catalog. Then determine if you can live with it. How is its' performance? Dave
mermaid posted 03-17-2002 06:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for mermaid  Send Email to mermaid     
Well, maybe the moisture is only in the stern area. We think it may have gotten in through the transom drain because the brass liner was missing and we didn't notice! The foam in the front seems drier, maybe even dry. we drilled some holes to drain it and the foam on the drill seemed pretty dry in the front. How can we get some foam out from a 3/8 hole? I guess we might try the vaccuum thing. A guy from Whaler said to drill the holes, another boat repair guy said that was a really bad idea. Who knows?
mermaid posted 03-17-2002 06:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for mermaid  Send Email to mermaid     
Well, the performance is hard to gauge because I have ony been operating it for a year and a half, I'm sure it was waterlogged before that. It went well it seemed when the motor was operating, then the motor died. We have a new motor now, just need the boat!
Tom W Clark posted 03-18-2002 01:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

It would be nice to know how much water is in the hull but this is hard to tell. I think you could tell if there was a huge amount or not by measuring the weight of the hull. This is much easier said than done, but it can be fun. If the motor is off the boat now then it will be easier to do. Does this boat have a lot of customized stuff on it? How stock is it?

If you suspect there's water in a localized portion of the hull (like the stern) then perhaps the vacuum would help get some or most (but not all) of it out.

You said the drain tube was missing and I think this is common particularly among boats kept in salt water.

If you are going to try to make the most of your situation then I think it would be worth it to try to suck some water out of the hull. For starters I suggest plugging the inside of the drain hole and hooking up a vacuum contraption like I described in the CSW thread to the outside hole. This will apply suction to the foam along the length of the drain tube hole.

You could repeat this at any other holes you have made along the bottom. Given enough time and patience I suspect you could get a fair amount out of the hull, but if the entire hull is soggy, I would forget about it.

If you are serious about trying to vacuum water out of the hull perhaps I could loan you the vacuum contraption I have been using o CSW. I would need to get the permission of the owner of the pump itself so contact me via email if youíre interested.

mermaid posted 03-18-2002 07:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for mermaid  Send Email to mermaid     
Hi Tom, What kind of vaccuum contraption do you have? Does a wet vac work ok? What we're thinking of doing is removing a little foam from the bottom where we cut out a 5x5 inch section, the foam is saoked right there but I think it's a lot drier in the bow area because when I drilled hole there the foam that was in the bit seems pretty dry. So, we will replace the foam we take out with foam? epoxy resin? and glass over it. Then, we might install a deck plate in the deck and we would have access to the foam to pump out more water during the summer. The boat isn't used all summer. but I would then have to get down to the bottom to reach the water if gravity pulls it down. I don't know how much the foam can be disturbed without compromising the integrity of the hull. Right now the boat is in the votech boat repair class and the teacher there has been wirking on it along with his students and my students. the boat has gotten a lot of use over the past 30 years and not much maintenance. Some we stripped it, we even took the top section off because it is one of the types where the top is riveted to the bottom under the rub rail. We are going to rewire it, new motor, new controls, everything. Thanks for your help. What do you think of my idea about dealing with this problem? Lisa
Curtis Johnson posted 03-18-2002 07:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Curtis Johnson  Send Email to Curtis Johnson     
Lisa - In my opinion, (which is worth every penny you're paying), is that what you, I, and a lot of other Classic Whaler owners need is dry heat. I don't know the details yet, and would appreciate learned input.In my opinion if you add dry heat (like from a clothes dryer with no wet clothes in it) at the front of a whaler (say through the spume hole), and vacuum gravitied wetness near the transom with a Wet/Dry, and if you covered the boat with horse blankets and tarp to raise the internal temp to a very warm, but still safe temp,(say 120 F) you'd have avery dry internal foam area in a hurry. You'd have to decide whether to increase your drying speed by cutting more topside holes for evap escape. Any response?
mermaid posted 03-18-2002 09:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for mermaid  Send Email to mermaid     
Curtis, At whaler the guy said to use heat lamps and vacuum so you must be on the right track. I haven't tried heat lamps. I wish it were summer and I would have more time. The problem is, where to draw the moisture from? Hey, any ideas on the matter are worth sharing. This problem is annoying. I don't think I would ever buy a whaler myself, but I'm sure glad i found this website. I've gotten a lot of information and ideas and I think I'll deal with it the way I said but still would ;love to hear all. Oh yeah, what the heck is the "spume hole?"
Tom W Clark posted 03-18-2002 09:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Lisa & Curtis,

The term is sprue hole, not spume hole! The sprue hole is the hole into which the polyurethane foam was poured during the hullís construction. I'm not sure about the 19' models, but it was usually located in the bottom of the bow locker.

To get back to Lisa's boat, I think high temperature and dry air will help dry the boat out but the problem is how to set it up. Even if you were out in the desert somewhere and could tent it to a temperature of 120į it might still take months or even years to dry out a really wet hull unless you perforated it like a colander!

The idea of supplying warm dry air to a hole at one end of the boat and vacuuming at the other end suggests that air will freely move through the hullís foam. It will not as Iíve demonstrated with CSW.

Lisa, you need to go read through the CSW thread. I know, I know, itís a very long thread but it has all the details of how I have been applying vacuum forces to a very wet hull.

Iím not sure a shop vac is really what you want to use. For one thing it will need to run continuously for days or weeks and those things are noisy.

Regardless of how much water you get out of the hull, when it comes time to patch it up, any foam removed needs to be replaced. Whaler had specific instructions on this repair procedure. I have a set of instructions if youíd like a copy.

There has been much debate on this FORUM about how to patch a damaged Whaler hull, and I donít want to go into it in this thread, but suffice it to say, there are always multiple ways to accomplish anything. If it were me though, I would use the official Whaler instructions.

mermaid posted 03-18-2002 09:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for mermaid  Send Email to mermaid     
Tom, thinks for your input. I would sure like the info on how to replace foam. So what kind of vacuum pump did you use? I read through the csw thread, I thought it was a philosophical discussion, how much of that was actually true?
Tom W Clark posted 03-18-2002 09:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

Philosophical discussion? All my posts there are factual.

In the CSW thread I gave a detailed description of how I assembled the vacuum pump and canister. Subsequent posts describe details of the hook up and results. Go back to that thread and scroll down to my post dated 2/27 and read down from there.

Email me your FAX number and I'll send the Whaler repair instructions or email me a mailing address and I can make copies and mail them to you.

Jon Faitsch posted 03-19-2002 12:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jon Faitsch  Send Email to Jon Faitsch     
Hi...I have a 13 ft Whaler that had a 5"x5" crack in the deck. The person before me patched it up with Marine Tex it looks like. In examining the hull the skin has seperated underneath. I have drilled a few holes and some water came out. It is only soft in a area about 12"x12". Any suggestions ?
Taylor posted 03-19-2002 02:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
Jon, I'd recommend that you post that question as a separate thread.

Is Chain Saw Whaler project philosophical? I guess so. There is some Hegel (the thread is a dialectic process), some Kant (empirical verification of a priori assumptions) and some Hume (emphasis on the evidence of the senses as the final arbiter of what is true). Plus a chain saw, a vacuum pump, and perhaps some beer. Clearly important philosophical tools. ;)

mermaid posted 03-19-2002 09:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for mermaid  Send Email to mermaid     
Tom, I'll email you the fax # tomorrow. I have one at work but don't know the number. Thanks! I took yet another look at the CSW thread. I guess I skimmed it before. The first couple of posts were hard to tell if you were serious. But, as I read more, I could see you were. We dug out some of the foam today, not too muxh, and we got to some that was pretty dry. So we patched it up and we are going to add foam through the holes we drilled. I think it will be ok.
mermaid posted 03-19-2002 09:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for mermaid  Send Email to mermaid     
Wow Taylor, Are you a student of philosophy?

If you don't KNOW that the foam is wet, IS it really wet?


grandmufti posted 03-19-2002 10:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for grandmufti  Send Email to grandmufti     
Knowing the layout of your boat I would suggest you cut a hole in the floor slightly forward of the console to install a removable deck plate.Before you install the deckplate obtain a piece of 4"PVC and an end cap for it.Drill a number of holes into the end cap and PVC pipe.You will now remove a plug of foam the same diameter as the pipe almost to the bottom of the boat.Cut the pipe to fit the depth of the hole that you have cut into the foam.Install the pipe with the perforated end cap at the bottom.If it is too loose you can squirt in a little foam but try not to plug any of the holes you have drilled in the pipe.What you are trying to do is create a sump for the saturated foam to drain into.Install the deck plate and seal with Silicone.If you really want to be slick install a small bilge pump so you do not have to empty the sump by hand.The pump install will require more work and a thru the floor fitting for the hose and wires.It will take a long time for all of the water to drain from the foam but it took a long time to saturate it.The quick and easy way to empty the sump is with Stream Machine squirt gun.AKA water bazooka.The key to maintainig structural integrity is to install the PVC with patience and precision.That is my story and I know it works.
mermaid posted 03-20-2002 06:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for mermaid  Send Email to mermaid     
I thought of the deck plate idea and the hole in the foam but not the perforated pipe. I like it! thanks, Lisa
grandmufti posted 03-20-2002 08:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for grandmufti  Send Email to grandmufti     
The pvc pipe is critical to this technique as it keeps the foam from crumbling and maintains hull strength.A snug fit of the pipe must be maintained on the sides and from the hull to the deck.The water cannon which will amuse your students and withdraw the water which collects in the sump can be found on page 288 of the 2002 West Marine catalogue.IMO no boat,kayak or canoe should be without this handy pump and toy.
dfmcintyre posted 03-20-2002 08:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Lisa -

Based on the age of the boat, and the probable point of water entry, you should also check the integrity of the transom for dry rot.

If you've removed the upper skin, you've turned it into one of the rare lo-profile 19's, by the way. There is some photos of one in the picture section of the forum.


LarrySherman posted 03-20-2002 11:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for LarrySherman  Send Email to LarrySherman     

I've go a 25 from 1981 with some moisture in the foam too. I spent last summer drying it out and rebuilding it. I have found that it is neigh on impossible to dry the foam compleatly. Over the spring I set up a 4 layer tarp over my hull, removed all the thru hulls, and put a propane space heater under the hull. I proably got the temp up to 100-105 for about 2 weeks. I also used a wet vac to try and pull the water out. I then let the boat sit out all Summer while I worked on it.

I did succeed in removing a good bit of water from the boat, but my experience is that it would take a LONG time to get it truly dry. The hull is essentially a sealed atmosphere: if by heating the hull you actually get the water to vaporize, where will it go? To the top of the hull, where it will condense and rain back down into the foam.

After about 9 months of working on this, I replaced the soft brass thru hulls with silicon bronze ones, sealed with 5200. when I lanunched, I pulled all the plugs, and with over 1200 lbs on the transom ( a Johnson 235, a 4 stroke bigfoot 15, and 3 200lb+ guys), the boat still floated fine.

I think, after all is said and done, that the only problem we have is that we no longer have the comfort of our delusions. the reality is that most whalers, esp ones that live in salt water, will have water in the foam to one extent or another. The Unibond design has some negatives to it, along with it's much vaunted positives. Add to that the very poor thru hull design, and we arrive at our possition: Good, solid boats, that still float without the plug, but perhaps not as high as they did when origional.

In sum, if you pull the plugs on your hull, and it floats ok, seal it up, slap your motor on there, and enjoy it. It will proably give you many more years of service.

Sincerly, Larry Sherman

mermaid posted 03-20-2002 07:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for mermaid  Send Email to mermaid     
well, it looks like the boat will be ok. I was so worried for awhile there. You guys have been a big help. thanks for all the input. this is a great forum. The transom seems to be in good shape. the boat is totally stripped. the wiring, everything. Stuff had been repaired rather haphazardly for a long time on that boat, and it gets pretty heavy use. It will be a new boat I hope. The guy doing a lot of the work is SO awesome and his students have been such a big help. I would have been in real trouble without them. I love this job. I forgot to get the fax number Tom, hopefully I'll remember tomorrow. thanks all. Lisa

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