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Author Topic:   Project: Chain Saw Whaler
Tom W Clark posted 12-30-2001 12:20 AM ET (US)   Profile for Tom W Clark   Send Email to Tom W Clark  
A new project idea is stirring in my mind. I think it is high time we get to the bottom of several well worn arguments regarding Boston Whalers and related items, especially whether or not the foam absorbs water.

We all know that a Whaler hull can get water into the hull over time, especially if there are unprotected penetrations in the hull. But does the foam itself actually absorb water? Precisely where in the hull is the water in a waterlogged Whaler? How much water can a hull hold?

Few people are willing to cut their Whalers in half to find out but I plan on doing just this. Thanks to Dave Risney I will be acquiring an old 13’ Whaler which I propose to use as an official ContinuousWave test hull. I am looking for ideas from all of you about what to test for and how to test for it.

The scientific method should be adhered to for the sake of maximizing the B.S. elimination from the results. This will be a long term test, perhaps covering a year or more.

I plan to get this hull and weight it on a certified scale to get its current weight. I then plan on putting it in the water on an unoccupied mooring I have here on Puget Sound and leaving it there uncovered and without the plug in to allow the elements to what they may.

After a set period of time (like a year) I will pull the hull and weight it again. Then the chainsaw autopsy begins. While someone takes pictures, I will dissect this hull to look for exactly where the water is. I will wring wet foam to determine if the foam itself holds water.

In addition to these tests, I would like to simultaneously conduct some others such like sealants and bedding compounds: which are best? A dozen screws could be set into the hull below the waterline, each with a different sealant, one without any. We will then see how hard it is to remove them after a period of time and whether they exclude water.

I could build one mahogany thwart seat for this hull and finish it with the current favorite finishes of FORUM members and then we could see what holds up the best.

We could also bash some test holes in the side of the hull and repair the damage with the different techniques that have been debated here in the FORUM. The chainsaw autopsy will reveal which hold up the best.

What other ideas come to mind? The test will commence before the end of February.

triblet posted 12-30-2001 12:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
First: Great idea. I'm in the same general
area as Dave. What can I do to help?

Second: I suspect that hull is either already
waterlogged, or are really tough and not
waterlogged at all. So I'd suggest weighing
it and comparing it to a known dry hull.
If it's already wet, chop it now.

Otherwise, after a year, see if it has gained any
weight. If it hasn't, it isn't worth cutting
in half. Drill a hole in the bottom, let it
sit for another year, then weigh it again.


EasyE posted 12-30-2001 03:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for EasyE  Send Email to EasyE     
That is a great idea. Im glad see someone is up for this. It will be a benefit for all of us.
I have to say, is there a perticular reason that you are using a chainsaw? Although it does sound like a great dissecting tool, I feel cut a whaler in half with a chainsaw isnt the most efficient way to dissect this hull.
1.Rather what I would do, and this is just food for thought and my own opinion, is after a year on the mooring (providing you do start with a dry hull) is to peel the fiberglass skin off the foam in the interior of the hull. Even if its only done to the floor, you will be able to see the wet areas in the foam. You will then be capable to cut the pieces of foam out that you would like to examine. I have seen this done to a Mckee Craft 14' hull and found it very effective. In the end you will still have a solid shell.

2.This is another experiment that this hull can carry out, providing you still have a complete shell.
After you have peeled the skin off the interior floor, you can then gut all the foam from the floor area. Then attempt to rebuild the floor without using foam. Instead you will have seperate sealed air compartments. When your done rebuilding and finishing the floor you can weigh it and compare. You now still have a solid boat.

3.To go futher more you could now fill the sealed air air compartments with diffrent brands and types of foam by injecting it through the floor. Put small holes in the floor...hull? Run it...leave it on a mooring...whatever.
These are just some ideas, hope they help. Goodluck-EasyE

whalernut posted 12-30-2001 09:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for whalernut  Send Email to whalernut     
Great idea Tom!!! I myself has always been curious of the water absorption issue, never had a test boat or the time and climate. Please keep us informed on all of your Whaler tests!!! Jack.
jameso posted 12-30-2001 10:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for jameso  Send Email to jameso     
Great idea, let me ad my 03. I work at a large enviornmental test lab, I would like to get a chunk of whaler for test purposes. If I could get a specimen I can do a water absorpotion test and also cyclic hot and cold cycles even altitude changes. If some one will donate a piece of whaler, about the size of a shoe box or so I would be willing to start. Also I have done some thermal (infrared) imaging of whaler hulls, as such I am able to locate voids between the gelcoat and the foam, also located wood reinforcements and some water intrusion. Most interesting was the hidden damage caused by a blow to the gunnel on my 15.
The visible damage was about 1" in size but the hidden damage was over 3"!
Let me know if I can help or be a part of this type testing. Or email me if you have a piece of whaler laying around,,,Clark do you have some from your LoPro?
Jim Armstrong
JFM posted 12-30-2001 11:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     
Tom, what a great idea! I would like to cut the boat in half, my wife got me a new Stihl 044 Farm Boss for Christmas. If it's not worn out by then, maybe my son and I could fly up for the occasion. Oh no, if I have trouble getting medical equipment through thr airport just think of trying to get a chain saw through. "Yes sir I'm going to cut a boat in half". Do you think they will let me take it carry on? Regards, Jay
Jerry Townsend posted 12-30-2001 11:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Tom - a great project. If I were in Seattle more often, I would help you. My only comment - you do not know the present condition of the hull. Perhaps removing core samples at selected locations and evaluating those samples would provide this base information - of course, these core holes would have to be plugged and sealed. Your base MUST be THIS boat - a similar hull would not suffice. ------ Jerry/Idaho
noswah posted 12-30-2001 01:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for noswah  Send Email to noswah     

Meeks Marine in Kemah, Tx. has a 17 Montauk that has already been cut into. They gave me the Norman Pin, chock and bow light off of it for free.

I don't know what they used to cut it into but I'm fairly certain that it wasn't a chain saw as the cut seems to pretty smooth. It really looked like it was a pretty nice whaler at one time. I asked why they had cut it into and their reply was for demonstration purposes.

After looking at the cut-away there isn't any room for water unless the foam absorbs water. It was pretty tightly sandwiched. The back half was gone, perhaps it was damaged.

LKS posted 12-30-2001 03:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for LKS  Send Email to LKS     
Great idea, Tom! What I'd be interested in learning is whether there is any foam degredation over a period of time--10 years, 20 years? Or, is the foam core of a 1976 equally as good as a newer model? Also, because of allergies, it would be helpful to know if any mold or mildew forms in the inner foam core? -- LKS
KeysWhale posted 12-31-2001 08:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for KeysWhale    
My 13 ft is a 197=67 hull. when they mounted the new motor on the transom they drilled new holes and cracked the inside fiberglass. I cut out the crack and am reinforcing the hole. But the foam was clean, dry and looked brand new, I was really expecting discolored maybe brown foam. It looked brand new.

KeysWhale posted 12-31-2001 08:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for KeysWhale    
thats 1967 for the year. One of the local "old salts" told me to take the hull to the local dump and use the scale to weigh the boat before buying. He said it should weigh about 500 lbs. Will have to check the reference section for weight of the hull.
KeysWhale posted 12-31-2001 09:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for KeysWhale    
according to the reference section the 13 ft should be about 300 to 400 lb. My 4o hp Merc weighs 199 lbs so a typical 13 should be 300 to 600 lb.
Bigshot posted 12-31-2001 12:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
i have a 1966 brochure at home, I will get "barehull" weight for you tonight.
Drisney posted 12-31-2001 09:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Drisney  Send Email to Drisney     
Well Tom you certainly found some interest !! For those of you who do not know....This hull was an unattended ferry at a marina for folks to get their boats off moorings after into that people crashing it into the dock without a care...It has a crushed rubrail in the front, screw holes all along the gunnel (like every two inches) and best of all are the two grapefruit sized holes in the cockpit sole. The boat was in fresh water , Lake Tahoe, and did not seem to be bailed out on any kind of regular basis as it had a lot of water in it and looked like it did most of the time. Dave
Tom W Clark posted 01-02-2002 02:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
This hull obviously is going to have some water in it already. Perhaps we should do as Chuck suggests and chop it now, but I will wait until I actually see the thing before deciding. I like the idea of using a hole saw and taking several core samples now to see where we're at now.

The reason for using a chain saw is two fold: it allows a more dramatic title for this thread and it is efficient. I plan to slice this boat like deli meat and I have no intention of using a Sawzall. Several people have contacted me about the sadness of chopping up a Whaler, but let's face it: if it were viable, would Drisney be trying to get rid of it for free? It is precisely this resistance to chopping a hull that I am trying to overcome. I'm sure it has been done before, but I want to see for myself.

The problem with using a spec weight for this hull (and I suspect the bare hull weighted about 300 lbs when it was new) is that there is quite a bit of variation between different hulls and models. The reference section list 320 lbs as the Standard's weight in 1996. But does this include one thwart seat? The newer rub rail? Different lay up schedule as compared to the 60's? A difference of only twenty pounds is equivalent to 2.5 gallons. That's a lot of water!

Perhaps we should weight it now, then dry it out for a year and weight it again. I just do not believe a 13' hull is going to hold a hundred pounds of water, but we should find out once and for all. Bigshot had a heavily water logged 13' as I recall and I'm simply trying to quantify what a hull like his holds.

DCPeters posted 01-02-2002 07:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for DCPeters  Send Email to DCPeters     
Hi, Tom. I think you're gonna run into some costs at the end of this whole do you get rid of it? You'll have a tipping or dump fee. Maybe we'll need to take up a collection for you. I'm in if so, cause it's gonna be interesting.
Taylor posted 01-02-2002 08:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
Naw, we're at about $80/ton here now. 400lbs of old glass and foam will cost less than the beer and chainsaw chains :)

Is this a Rendevous activity?

Drisney posted 01-02-2002 08:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Drisney  Send Email to Drisney     
Just for the record...It would have been much easier for me to take this hull to the dump.. I wanted to give it to someone who could use it. Tom's idea has sparked a lot of interest and I am happy to be a small part of it.
Tom W Clark posted 01-02-2002 09:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
I like the idea of a "chopping party". I'll bring the boat, you guys bring the beer...

Dump fees here in Seattle are $96.25/ton with a $15.50 minimum. I don't think this would even make minimum but the fact is I'm a general contractor so getting rid of a little debris is no problem for me. The hardest part will shop vacuuming up all the foam dust from the cuts.

But now that I think about it, you're all going to want a souvenir Slice-o'-Whaler, right?

triblet posted 01-02-2002 10:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
It would still be a good idea to weigh it
before and after, just for the record.

I'd be more worried about the little bits
of glass than the foam. Some appropriate
personal protection for the chain saw
operator would be appropriate too.

How many ways are you going to slice it?
When you say cut it, athwartships comes to
mind, probably because of the whaler ad.
But lengthwise is perhaps more interesting
from an engineering standpoint. Both,or even
more is an option.


We gotta get the slicing on video.

JohnAz posted 01-02-2002 10:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for JohnAz  Send Email to JohnAz     
if you are carefull on how you cut it up ,,,,you could always make lots of little coolers out of it, and sell them on the net or e bay,,,"A Classic Cooler"
Tom W Clark posted 01-02-2002 10:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

I plan to weight it before and after at any rate. In my trade, personal protection is always a must, and to all you kids out there: don't try this at home!

How to slice it is a good question. I had thought of slicing it down the middle and then dissecting each half with different techniques. Perhaps slice one half like a salami, and the other half maybe delaminate it like EasyE suggests. I am curious as to how easily the glass parts from the foam, this is one of the things I had hoped to find out.

JohnAz posted 01-02-2002 11:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for JohnAz  Send Email to JohnAz     
How the foam adheres to the glass,,,,verry firmly, from experience i open 4x6 holes in my 13 for wood blocks ,the foam is realy stuck there
Highwater posted 01-03-2002 09:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
Tom—If you cut it now, you eliminate the possibility of using the boat to test various methods of patching and sealing. I like your original idea of waiting a year.

You might want to paint the boat like a big tic-tac-toe board with about 20 squares. Label the squares 1-20. People who want to perform an experiment with a section could come to a "Work on your section" party one weekend in the spring (we could rent out a few rooms in an inexpensive hotel). A year later, we could meet again to cut the boat and compare how the elements affected the repairs.

wpr posted 01-03-2002 07:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for wpr    
Are we assuming the foam composition hasn't changed over the years? I don't know - I'm asking.
Tom W Clark posted 01-03-2002 07:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
I don't know either. I intend to find out.
gunnelgrabber posted 01-03-2002 07:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for gunnelgrabber  Send Email to gunnelgrabber     
to be growing fungus, mildew and probably that mysterious dark smelly liquid i read about found in some hulls?..almost certain you need an air source to grow that microflora...which would probably indicate hull damage,screw holes etc.....lm
noswah posted 01-04-2002 02:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for noswah  Send Email to noswah     

According to John at Meek's Marine the foam composition hasn't changed since the early 60's. He said he thought it was around 1961 that they changed the foam core.

As far as pieces for everyone, I would love to have one to conduct my own fastner test.

Tom, Since your a contractor you might want to use a Sawsall, you'll have much smoother cuts and I think less mess than a chain saw.

Don't forget a minute of reverence before the cut.

JFM posted 01-04-2002 04:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     
Many older boats have been put to rest on the bottom of the sea. I guess in this case it wouldn't be possible. Regards, Jay
JohnAz posted 01-04-2002 06:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for JohnAz  Send Email to JohnAz     
NO Whaler has ever been put to rest on the bottom of the sea,,,maybe floated up in little pieces on beaches to bask in the sun and surf,,,,,I heard there was a whaler that they gave to the Navy for target practice in the Gulf of Mexico,,after several hours of gunnery paractice it was little pieces,,,the Coast Guard made them clean it up,,,
KeysWhale posted 01-04-2002 08:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for KeysWhale    
I saw a 13 ft whaler 'floating' just below the surface at Mel Fishers house in Key West once. Even when saturated with water its hard to believe that they would sink. Maybe just reach some equilibrium depth depending on the temperature and salinity.
Draftmanswife posted 01-07-2002 08:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Draftmanswife  Send Email to Draftmanswife     
I just read all the thoughts on this page, and just have to laugh out loud! This is great!
My family, were the third Whaler dealers, in 1963. We often went to Abaco, Bahamas by boat. We even sponsored the Rendezvous for several years.
The ad that Whaler put out, with the Bahamian in the 13, has a story I want to share.
We saw it one year in the bahamas, with no outside gelcoat & bareley fiberglassed .We knew we wanted it, for the ad. We managed to find another one, w/ white interior that had been broadsided for $100.00.We traded the guy. We then had the picture taken, So we ended up contracting for another $100.00 w/ the guy to use his picture. We still have the picture boat in the back 40. Customs was shit, trying to get thru. $400.00 in it.It was to show people that the foam would not absorb water, so here was the boat, still floating. This was CLM still owned Whaler,then Reebok used the picture, and they all of a sudden wanted "their boat" and we said a few @#$%^'s to them and we still have it. It is Unicellular foam. It will not absorb water, But hey I'm interested in bringing the beer for fun anyway,
Love 2 all,
lhg posted 01-07-2002 09:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
JimH has a picture of a sliced-in-half 13 footer in the 13 Reference section. This boat has been sitting outside at the Dealership for years, and there is no water absorbed in the exposed foam, nor has it delaminated. And as they say, you haven't seen it rain until you've seen it rain in FL!

If the boat is going to be moored for a year, it should have bottom paint on it, as the bare fiberglass WILL absorb water and could damage the boat skin unrealistically.

The idea that a Whaler's foam can hold a hundred pounds of water is ridiculous, unless it has been damaged and improperly repaired. At 8# per gallon, that is 2 1/2 five gallon buckets worth of water. When water is trapped inside a good condition Whaler hull, it is usually in small amounts around through hulls, screw and bolt holes, gas tank cavities or delaminated skins etc, where there are small voids for the water to accumulate. But you're not going to drain a 5 gallon bucket of water out of it, which would weigh 40#. Overweight Whalers are usually the result of bad repair work, when the resin & glass was loaded into the hull voids and laid heavily on the hull surfaces.

Tom W Clark posted 01-07-2002 10:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Janis & lhg,

There has been much argument and speculation here in the FORUM about whether or not Whalers absorb water. For the most part I have kept out of these arguments even though I do no believe the foam will absorb water. My own ideas are that a Whaler hull can have water in it, but it mostly absorbed in the wood inside the hull. The notion that the foam is like a huge sponge is contrary to every published statement I have ever read from Boston Whaler. But the notion that this foam will soak up water persists.

It is because of this that I decided this would be a useful experiment and I am keeping my mind open to the possibility of water absorption.

One the one hand we have Clark Roberts who said he put a piece of foam from a Whaler in a jar full of water for a year and then took it out to find that it held no water at all.

One the other hand we have Bigshot who said he once had a 13' that had so much water in he could feel it sloshing around in the bow.

So what's the truth? We'll find out. One explanation that I have heard here is that the foam itself was changed at some point during the Whalers production from one that was absorbent to a closed cell type. I have never heard this anywhere but on this forum and still await confirmation from some more official source.

Janis, you mention Unicellular foam by name. Could you elaborate? I am intrigued by your close connection to Whaler and the fact that you are a Fisher. Could you tell us more about yourself? I think we are all interested to know more. Thanks.

lhg, that's an interesting point about the bottom paint. It occured to me that it might be useful to paint one half with bottom paint and leave the other bare gelcoat in order to see how much damage will occur. What do you think?

Tom W Clark posted 01-11-2002 01:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
There has been much debate here about how to repair damage to a Whaler hull, especially the epoxy vs. conventional polyester/vinylester resin approach as in the Whaler Foam - Mine Was Missing thread.

I would like to use "Chain Saw Whaler" as a test for these two techniques. But how should I induce or simulate the damage to the hull in order to have equal starting points for the repairs and how should we measure the results? Any ideas?

LarrySherman posted 01-11-2002 03:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for LarrySherman  Send Email to LarrySherman     
My 25 sat in the water for proably them most recient 6-7 years of its life with the drain tubes rotted out.

The foam in the area of the rotted tube had degraded to to marine micro-organisms (green stuff), which after it died turned into mud. When I pulled the remnants of the tubes, I got water out of the boat for months. Not lots of water, but rather a small amount of water over a long time.

When I replaced with bronze thru-hulls, I had a hell of time trying to get the exterior glass dry to recieve epoxy and then 5200.

That said, My boat sat in the water from Sep 2 to Dec 10, and the hull looks perfect. No water running from the thru-hulls down to the keel on the outside of the boat, expoxy bonded perfectly, etc.

My concern is whats going on inside my admittidly moist hull? It would seem a perfect enviroment for mold, mildew, osmotic blisters, etc, which I assume would have a negative long-term impact on the foam, and its bond to the glass.

I would ask that you bore a 1" hole right through the boat to mimick the rotted thru-hull syndrome. Then, after a year/season, peel the skin away to determine the extent of damage/penetration.

Is there a beer delivery company I can call?

Great idea! Larry

Arch Autenreith posted 01-11-2002 03:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for Arch Autenreith  Send Email to Arch Autenreith     

In reference to the 'Whaler Foam - Mine Was Missing' thread I wonder if you should take a sledge hammer or simlar and knock a couple holes to imitate the effects of hitting something while moving? You brought up the possibility that crushed foam MIGHT then absorbe water, didn't you? It is a good thought.

Even though the eventual end result will not be much better I'd still hate to take a sledge hammer and start bashing holes in her.


NEVER SCARED posted 01-11-2002 04:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for NEVER SCARED    
While at a local whaler dealer, they had a section of a Montauk to show the foam, glass, and wood construction. The foam had a yellowish/white appearance. It didnt "feel" like it could absorb water. The wood inserts were totally encapsulated with glass meaning there is a layer separating the foam and wood. I have excess foam on top of my gas tank that is wet 90% of the time. Id press it with my thumb once in a while and it is very hard and would be bone dry in a few days. The only way closed cell foam would absorb water is if the tiny thin walls were ruptured, but then the water would be contained by the next "good" wall. I think putting a shop vac to foam will destroy those thin walls that keep water out. I plan to cut a piece of foam, submerg it for a few weeks and check for water. Mean while, Im going fishin!

Never Scared

Tom W Clark posted 01-11-2002 05:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Larry Sherman, I will happily core a hole for you and report the results. I'll get you the number of that delivery service too...

Arch, I plan on sledge hammering it but what I'm having a harder time imagining is how to get the skin to delaminate from the foam but stay intact in order to try the injected epoxy technique.

NEVER SCARED, I doubt a shop vac would rupture the walls of the cells but I am thinking the key to why some whalers have foam that will soak up water and some that will not has to do with the trauma the foam has been subjected to during its lifetime. I think I'm going to need a microscope. Anybody have one to loan me?

Dr T posted 01-12-2002 03:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     

Great idea. If I can be of help, let me know.

Larry's observations raise an interesting point.

The problem may not be so much one of water being absorbed by the foam as that of biodegradation of the foam.

Clark Roberts' experiment implies that, in a more or less sterile environment, the foam will not absorb water. I presume that Clark put his foam in a jar of FRESH water.

However, Larry's boat was sitting in SALT water, and apparently the foam was eaten by something. (Maybe some sort of salt-water borne micro-organism that lives on Whaler foam). I also presume that the areas where the foam in Larry's boat degraded were dark (even though the green would imply some photosynthesis going on).

This opens up another range of possibilities for testing: Whaler diseases.

In your initial evaluation, you should check to see if you have any areas of biodegradation in the existing areas of damage. Since the boat was in Lake Tahoe, this should be a good data point for any biological degradation in cold fresh water.

After letting it sit in the water at your mooring, you can periodically check it for biodegradation. The slicing and dicing can be used to examine this further. This should resolve the cold salt water issue. At least on the left coast in cold water. There may be different creatures on the right coast and in warm salt waters.

If there is a significant amount of degradation in salt water, it should explain what happened to Bigshot's 13. The hull was damaged and a little water got in. Then some evil creature in the waters of New Jersey got into the cavity with the water and started eating the foam (ie, the walls of the tiny bubbles were broken down letting what ever gas that expanded the foam escape into the cavity with the water and whaler eating microcreatures). As the foam was eaten, more room for water was created, so more water got into the hull.

Do we have a microbiologist on the forum that can address the possibility of this?

In any case, this is an interesting science experiment. You may want to add an additional face mask, rubber glove, and a lab apron to your usual safety equipment. Keep us posted on the timeframes for the major phases of the effort.


trainer posted 01-14-2002 09:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for trainer  Send Email to trainer     
It will be interesting to see the differences in the types of repair. I for one would like to see hoe marine-tex white holds up. Also what will happen to the wood, I suspect that it will rot or become water loged. What kind of wood is used in the hull? Cool project.
Bob K posted 01-16-2002 10:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bob K  Send Email to Bob K     
Years ago I helped a friend of mine repair an old 60's hull which had some serious damage. We found that the unibond had started to delaminate as the result of water intrusion into the hull from both punctures (like dropped on big rocks) and blisters. He dried the hull for almost a year before starting any repairs. I moved, but kept in contact with him re: the project. He told me that he followed the West System manuals to the letter to repair teh blisters as well as the major holes (about 12" in diameter). That was close to 10 years ago. That hull is still going great in SF Bay.
JFM posted 01-16-2002 05:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     
Tom, with that many differn't requests, sounds like you will need more than one boat. It seems that if you try to do everything in this thread you will defeat some of the tests by the effects of others. I know it is your "baby" but a request for a new poll has been made. Might this be a good topic to hold one on? Regards, Jay
andygere posted 01-20-2002 10:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
The Chainsaw Whaler took a cruise on Monterey Bay today in calm, sunny conditions. Tom Clark looked like a regular old salt piloting the classic 13 with a long tiller on his trusty 9.9 Johnson. Dave Risney and I followed along in our own Whalers to photograph the historic occaision. Without giving away the whole story, I'll say that at least a few Whaler myths will be debunked, and a few controversies settled when the grand experiment is done. Dave and Tom, it was great to meet both of you in person.
Tom W Clark posted 01-28-2002 03:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Well, I'm back from my long road trip to California. Chain Saw Whaler is now in my driveway after a long and white-knuckled drive up I-5 through a rare snow storm here in the PNW. Let me tell you this hull is rough. Drisney was not kidding. It has seen hard service.

I had a great time with Andy Gere and Dave Risney down in Santa Cruz as well as stopping in Vancouver, WA and having dinner with Brian Blazer Jr. on the way down. I thought it would be fun to put Chain Saw Whaler in the water and run her around a bit. To that end I brought a small outboard down with me thinking a 9.9 might be able to get a 13' bare hull up on a plane. But alas, it was not to be (the planing part I mean).

Drisney had the hull on a funky small flat bed trailer so launching was not to be conventional. There was no way to back the boat into the water. The best we could do was back it to the water's edge and slide the hull off dumping it into the drink. That went fairly well and we got the thing rigged with the 9.9 and a temporary thwart seat made from a 2x10.

It was a gorgeous sunny California day and the 17' swells from the previous week had subsided to almost nothing. Motoring out of the harbor Chain Saw Whaler seemed, how shall I say, a bit lethargic. Clearing the breakwater I opened up the throttle. More engine noise but not much more speed. I had clearly reached hull speed based on its short waterline and was not going to go any faster.

After a few photos were taken we returned to the dock to leave Chain Saw Whaler there while we went back out on the ocean for some fun in Andy's Montauk and Drisney's 16' faux Montauk. I left the plug out of the 13' to let the water that had poured in upon launching drain out.

After a wonderful afternoon of sightseeing, fishing and getting sunburned in Andy's boat (Drisney had to depart early due to family commitments) we returned to the harbor to find Chain Saw Whaler sitting rather low in the water. I was shocked. I couldn't believe how much water was in the boat. Some wave must have sloshed over the gunwale's and flooded it. But no, the plug was still out and the gas tank was floating around in about ten inches of water inside the hull!

Now aren’t these boats supposed to be self bailing? Mind you I only had a 75 lb. outboard on the transom and one thwart seat. No hardware, no rub rail, no other gear or extra weight whatsoever. When I stepped on board to motor over to the ramp the top of the notched 15” transom was only about an inch above the water!

Now Andy and I had a challenge in getting this hull out of the water and back on the little utility trailer. There was no way we were going to lift it on manually, so in the most shameful display of barbaric boat loading I have ever seen or been a party to, we roped the hull to my truck and dragged it up the ramp and on to the level portion of the parking lot leaving a trident of white skid marks on the pavement.

We then grabbed the detached trailer and stuck the short little tongue under the bow (the hull had to be trailed with the stern forward for weight and balance reasons) with a couple of 2x’s jammed under the hull and onto the flat bed for use as ramps. We chocked the trailer wheels and after a few tries (and several snapped ropes), dragged the hull up and onto the trailer with a good pull from the truck. Whew! It was then time for dinner and a beer.

Now if you have followed this thread and read my other comments about water in the foam you know that I have, until this time, not really believed a Whaler would soak up a significant amount of water. That belief has been shattered. This hull, a 1970 model (serial number 2A4131) is damn near water logged. I will try to get it weighted in the next day or so and I suspect it is going to weight quite a bit more than the c. 300 lbs. that a 13’ bare hull should weight.

All this puts into doubt the feasibility of getting it to absorb any more water, though after another year perhaps it will simply sink. Maybe we should cut it up now but that would nix any other long term experiments. One thing that makes this hull a bit of an odd duck is the fact that it has had almost all of the exterior covered in a layer of coarse glass cloth and resin, presumably as a quick and dirty repair/reinforcement to the battered hull. I will need to estimate the weight of this cloth and resin and make a deduction to allow for it, but clearly there is not 200 lbs. in this layer.

Drisney posted 01-28-2002 04:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Drisney  Send Email to Drisney     
My wife is sooooooo happy to have that old hull no longer in front of our house !!! And BTW loves the newer hull from Dick !! As the Chainsaw Massacre Occurs I will be rebuilding this hull as a Super Sport...Thanks Tom for hauling it down..and thanks Dick for the nice hull!
NEVER SCARED posted 01-28-2002 08:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for NEVER SCARED    
I havent seen the boat, but dont under estimate the weight of the epoxy/glass coating. I made a modification to my center console using 3/8in plywood and covered it with West System epoxy. It weighed a ton!!! Also keep in mind that Boston Whaler has changed the foam over the years.

Never scared

Dr T posted 01-29-2002 07:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
Barbaric boat loading, eh? Maybe Jimh should add a come-along to his tool list....

Sounds like y'all had a bunch of fun for this being a scientific-type experiment.

Of course, when CW is cut up, you may discover that it was one of the Buried Whaler hulls :o)


andygere posted 01-29-2002 07:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I must admit, it was kind of fun to be so rough on that old need for fenders or neatly coiled docklines, no precision loading on the trailer. Heck, we didn't even wash her down after hauling her out of the water. You should have seen the looks on the faces of the people watching as Tom gunned the engine on his trusty Toyota pickup...and later as he attached a licence plate to the bow with a screwgun!
Tom W Clark posted 01-29-2002 08:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
At lunch today I took Chain Saw Whaler to the local certified scale and weighed the trailer and hull, then I unloaded the hull and weighed the trailer. The results were astounding, so astounding that I reweighed the trailer and hull after loading the hull to confirm the initial measurement. No error. The results:

trailer and hull: 1500 lbs.
trailer only: 440 lbs.

Thus CSW weighs an incredible 1060 lbs. or more than three times what that hull weighed when it left the factory! I think we have a new champion: “World’s Heaviest 13’ Whaler”

Chuck Bennett at Boston Whaler has confirmed that this boat is a 1970 model. It left the Rockland, MA plant on May 27, 1970 as a Sport model and was shipped to Tahoe Boat Co. in California. It is reasonable to assume it has spent all its life on Lake Tahoe.

How much of that extra weight is water? According to FORUM member Chris, a 1968 bare hull weighs 310 lbs. I believe a 1968 and a 1970 are identical. I am also assuming a bare hull would include a bow locker cover, rub rail and bow and stern eyes as well as 3 Norman pins. CSW has none of these parts.

I figure the bow locker cover would weigh 6 lbs if Mahogany. The thin rub rail would probably weight what? 5 lbs? Cast bronze bow and stern/lifting eyes and Norman pins perhaps 4 lbs? So CSW in its current state would have weighed 295 when new.

I measured how much of the hull is covered in the layer of extra glass and cloth and it is about 100 square feet. I pried a big chunk of it off the transom and estimate this extra layer to weigh about 7 oz./sq. ft.

In other words, I estimate there is an extra 44.44 lbs in this layer. Even if my estimate is off by a factor of two that is still less than 100 lbs. If we allow some weight for the layer of white paint over the cloth and resin I still say it’s only about an extra 100 lbs beyond a “clean” hull.

So, 1060 lb. hull minus 295 lbs. original weight minus 100 lbs. for glass and paint layer equals 665 lbs. of water in the hull! That’s 83 gallons of water! That’s like 17 five gallon buckets. Can you imagine that? That water is not just residing in the wood backing inside the hull, nor do I imagine there is an 11 cubic foot void in the hull.

Tsuriki BW posted 01-29-2002 08:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tsuriki BW  Send Email to Tsuriki BW     

Would it be possible to peel off all the "glass cover" and see what damage was done to the hull? That might give some more input into why the thing is so full of water (probably added without draining it first).


Curtis Johnson posted 01-29-2002 09:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Curtis Johnson  Send Email to Curtis Johnson     
I'd be interested to know the interior(between hulls) displacement. You would be hard pressed to put that much water in between, even with no foam. It does sound like the "old sponge" theory may prevail.
Hank posted 01-29-2002 09:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hank  Send Email to Hank     
Surprising result ! What is the original swamped capacity of this model Boston Whaler? If that is known then,(knowing original weight) it seems to me
the total volume of the boat's structure can be calculated.

For submerged boat, new,(swamped), the bouyant force is equal to the weight of the water displaced by the structure. Swamped capacity is the difference between displaced water weight and the weight of the boat.

If we know original boat weight and swamped capacity rating , adding the two gives us the weight of water displaced by the submerged boat. This can be converted to the volume between the inner and outer surfaces of the boat.(including the skin, foam, wood and voids.)

It would be interesting to see how this volume of the structure compares to the volume of water you've discovered by weighing.


MCano posted 01-30-2002 12:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for MCano  Send Email to MCano     
I will be having my 1986 22 Outrage Cuddy hauled out in a couple of weeks to have the stern through-hull drain tube replaced; it is leaking, and the bottom repainted. I'm not sure how long the through-hull has been leaking, maybe a couple of months. I'll look at the foam when they remove the old tube. If I find anything of interest, I'll post it here.

I do know, when one of the forward sub-water line through-hull tubes leaked a few years ago, water dripped out of the hole for a few days before stopping. What this meant, other than yes water was in the hull somewhere, I do not know. My boat has been in a salt water slip for 13 years. I haul her out for bottom painting and a check-up every two years. Other than the through-hull leaks, I have not experienced any hull problems. I'm not expecting any problems when I haul her out this time, but you never know!


SuburbanBoy posted 01-30-2002 12:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
So the volume translates to a sheet 1.5" thick, by 6' (72") wide by 15' long. Sounds like a sponge to me. Or maybe a hull of an aquarium. This is a great project. Thanks for including us in your discoveries.


Tom W Clark posted 01-30-2002 12:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

It will not be possible to peel the extra layer off. It could, however, be ground off. I will bring CSW over to your house and leave it in the driveway with my grinder and a stack of discs if you would like to take this project on.

But seriously, there is no mystery as to how water got in the hull. The interior has holes and fractures all through it. As Drisney has testified, the hull sat in the water without much attempt to keep it bailed out. If this is how it has lived the last 31 years then we should be surprised it floats at all!

Dr T,

To get back to one of your earlier posts, I don't think there is any biodegradation of the foam. I suspect the green found in Larry Sherman's hull was from the brass drain tubes corroding. Brass + salt water = "green putty" which is the same color as a verdigris patina on old brass, bronze and copper hardware left exposed to the elements.


I do suspect there was some change in the composition of the foam used in the hulls. I would guess this change occurred somewhere around the time the hulls changed from blue to Desert Tan. The notion of Whaler changing the foam has been tossed around here on this forum many times as fact but it has never been proven or defined within a specific time. It has even been stated (erroneously) that the early Whalers had Styrofoam inside of them. (The 13’ Whaler prototype Dick Fisher built was made of epoxy over Styrofoam) Either way, I suspect your superb 22' has the newer type of foam. This may also be true of Janis' Bermuda/ad Whaler.

Dr T posted 01-30-2002 11:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
Hmmmmmmmm, I wonder.....


You state:

"I measured how much of the hull is covered in the layer of extra glass and cloth and it is about 100 square feet. I pried a big chunk of it off the transom and estimate this extra layer to weigh about 7 oz./sq. ft.).

Just where is this massive patch located? Since CSW is missing the hardware in the bow and has this big patch, it COULD be that the foam has been removed from part of the hull and replaced by something else. Maybe hidden treasure, maybe nothing at all.

I suggest that you get a hole saw and do a core sample somewhere in the middle of the patch. Who knows what you will find....


NEVER SCARED posted 01-30-2002 01:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for NEVER SCARED    
I wonder if CSW had weights added along the keel like those sail boats have. Someone has done a lot to this boat and who knows whats under all that epoxy stuff! Im sure the foam BW uses has changed over the years cause some report seeing brown foam, Ive seen a yellowish/white in a section of a Montauk! My 1987 BW manual states that "water entry is of no concern". Thats a pretty bold statement. When do we start cutting?
andygere posted 01-30-2002 02:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I'm glad to hear that the Chainsaw Whaler really is as heavy as it seemed. I remember being able to manhandle my old '13 without too much trouble, but I was a few years younger at the time. In fact, I recall one time when I had to drag it back about 50 feet to the water (I used its oars as rollers) after beaching it on an island and forgeting about the tide....never would have been able to do it with your 1000 pound brute!
Tom W Clark posted 01-31-2002 11:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Dr T,

It's not so much a massive patch as it is a (nearly) complete overlay of the exterior. This layer covers all the exterior with the exception of the last four inches below the top of the gunwale. In addition it wraps up and over the bow descending to the point where the flat portion of the foredeck begins.

Strictly speaking you are correct. We don't know what is in there. This is why we are going to cut it up. But I think if you saw the boat in person you would conclude, as I have, that no great expense or effort has been expended upon this boat.

The repairs made have been very quick-and-dirty. I seriously doubt anybody went to the trouble of digging out foam and replacing it with lumber or anything else. There is no visible evidence of a major accident or damage, rather lots of little crunches, holes and cracks.

There clearly is not a void as that would allow the water to drain out, or at the least, slosh around. The cockpit sole as well as the gunwale have lots of holes into which I can peer and I see foam at all these points.

NEVER SCARED, the extra layer is not epoxy. It is made of polyester resin and cloth. Nothing high tech (or expensive) at all. Unless someone used mortar to patch a very big hole in this hull I can only conclude the extra weight is due to water.

It's interesting to note also the there is flexible metal conduit running (I assume) around the entire gunwale of the boat. It is 1/2" electrical conduit just like what you can get at the hardware store. I have read other threads about repairing damage to a crunched bow where this was found but I don't know what purpose it served. Perhaps as rebar?

Dr T posted 01-31-2002 03:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
Well, 83 gallons takes up 11.1 cu. ft. That is a lot of space.

I understand your argument, but I cannot discount the possibility that someone used the poor old thing as a hiding place. If it was done in a big hurry, it would not necessarily look good. I have seen stranger containers used for smuggling...

Of course, they could have used rebar and concrete as a patch for a big hole. There were a number of concrete ships built during WWII.....

Drisney posted 01-31-2002 07:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Drisney  Send Email to Drisney     
I saw that conduit in the rail....I assumed it had the wires for the bow light.
triblet posted 01-31-2002 09:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Concrete ships go back to at least WW ONE.

There's one on the beach at Aptos, south
of Santa Cruz. It's been there since
the thirties. It was beached to be a dance
hall, IIRC, but broke in two in a storm
(that happens when you are on the end of the
longest fetch in the world).


daverdla posted 01-31-2002 09:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for daverdla  Send Email to daverdla     
There's a concrete boat wreck off Cape May. I think its from WWII.


Dr T posted 02-01-2002 10:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
I hope Tom doesn't have one in his driveway....

Chuck, I wasn't aware concrete boats went that far back. May have something to do with my being raised on the edge of a desert 400 miles from the nearest ocean...

Tom W Clark posted 02-01-2002 12:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Many ferro-cement sailboats were made in the 60's and 70's, many still floating.

I've been doing some poking and prodding on CSW and have found nothing but soaking wet foam. My God, this thing really is a sponge!

Drisney, the wires for the bow light are cast into the foam, not the conduit which is why they used to put three in there, one for a spare. If they had used conduit it would have (maybe) been possible to run new wires.

DCPeters posted 02-01-2002 06:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for DCPeters  Send Email to DCPeters     
Tom, could you take a small sample of foam and put it in a jar/ vial/ tube. and send it to me?

I'd be glad to analyze it to see what we can find out re the specific foam type.

Dr T posted 02-01-2002 06:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
It would be interesting to know what has made the walls of the foam bubbles break down.
Tom W Clark posted 02-01-2002 07:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

You got it. What size do you want and from where on the hull do you want it? Email me with your mailing address. Anybody else want a sample for testing?

triblet posted 02-01-2002 07:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Hey, Dr T, I was raised in the desert: Tucson. Moved to Northern California to go
to school and never left. However, in the
'50s, Arizona had more boats per capita than
any other state!


tbirdsey posted 02-02-2002 12:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for tbirdsey  Send Email to tbirdsey     
this thread needs to be renamed - "Chainsaw Weighler"
Dr T posted 02-02-2002 06:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
Well, it was a poor excuse at best for inadequate research. I remembered the Liberty Ships, but my memory abruptly stopped there. Like many other topics, my knowlege here is of the theoretical variety...:-)

In West Texas, the bigger boats tended to be on trailers with bald tires--very few lakes.

In thinking about this thread, if Tom decides to christen CSW with a more genteel name, I suggest that he name it after another aquatic creature: the Sponge.

More to the point:

When you are taking the core sample, do you plan to take one of a convenient unit size, squeeze all of the water out, and measure the volume of water? It would be a convenient baseline measurement.


Draftmanswife posted 02-02-2002 08:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Draftmanswife  Send Email to Draftmanswife     
Unicellular foam. Somewhere, somehow, there is something wrong with this boat.
Tom W Clark posted 02-03-2002 02:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

Dr T is convinced there is something (heavy) hidden in this hull. I think it just soaked up a bunch of water.

What year is the "Bahama" Whaler you have? Can you see the serial number on it? I would love to see a photo of it, could you send me one? Do you think there might be a change in the foam used over the years?

At this point I really don't see the advantage of putting this boat in the water. The other experiments we have discussed may have to wait for another hull. I guess it's time to start making plans for cutting it up...

JohnAz posted 02-03-2002 02:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for JohnAz  Send Email to JohnAz     
As they say in Wood Work,,,,
Cut once and talk for a month,,,,,,
Tom W Clark posted 02-03-2002 02:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Getting back to Hank's earlier post, the swamped capcity of a 13' Whaler (from a 1998 catalog) is 1600 lbs. Assuming this hull weighted 300 lbs. when new means it is capable of displacing 1900 lbs. which is equal to over 30 cubic feet of volume. I think it is entirely possible there is 11 cubic feet of water in there.
Dr T posted 02-03-2002 10:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
Not convinced, just speculating on possible sources of weight. However, I wouldn't be surprised.....

Another possibility is that it got its keel badly crunched--say, by filling up with water with the plug in while on a trailer. The custodian of the boad scooped out all of the crunched foam, filled it in with what ever was on hand (maybe the stuff that comes in aerosol cans), and slapped a new bottom on it.

In any case, we await the results of your dissection. If there was damage and foam replacement, you should be able to easily judge the extent. If not, it will be interesting to hear the explainations from other sources.

DIVE 1 posted 02-03-2002 10:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for DIVE 1    
We gutted a 1973 13' BW a couple of years ago. We took the old foam out using shovels. Every time we got a bite with a shovel the water poured out of the foam. We filled (11) 55-gallon drums with wet foam. The day we picked up the boat from the original owner we used a small flat bed trailer. We had to get the boat from the lawn onto the trailer. We barely got the boat on the trailer with 4 big guys and the trailer bed was only 12 inches above the ground. I believe the foam in the older hulls will absorb water. I also think that freezing temperatures accelerate the absorbtion process by breaking down the foam cells and allowing it to absorb more water. BTW - the foam we removed was not mushy. Most of it was solid and it held water like a juicy apple.
Tom W Clark posted 02-04-2002 01:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
I just cut a core out of Chain Saw Whaler. I took a c. 4" core at the lowest part of the hull, the keel, about 2/3 of the way forward. I went all the way through the hull including both skins.

DIVE 1's description of soggy foam is perfect. It is exactly like a juicy apple. When I broke the foam apart it made the same sound as biting into an apple. The foam is totally saturated.

It is interesting to note the foam is pure white where it has not come into contact with any external contaminants. The wet foam looks exactly like compacted, wet snow.

There are areas within the foam that look more saturated than others. For example, there appears to be a fracture or perhaps a cold joint in the foam that runs randomly at a diagonal angle through my sample. You can see how the water has traveled along this fault and perhaps contributed more water to this specific area.

For the record: After trimming the skins of the core I am left with a cylinder of foam that measures 3 13/16" in diameter and is 3" tall. It has a 1/4" hole through the center of it from the pilot bit on my hole saw. This cylinder of foam weights 14.5 oz. on my postal scale.

Doing the math, the foam weighs 0.42 oz./cubic inch or 45.73 lb./cubic foot.

If this hull has an internal volume of 30 cubic feet then it would hold 1372 lbs. of this foam. Based on the measured weight of this hull I am left to conclude that most, but not all, of the foam in this hull is saturated.

I have the core sitting out to dry. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to dry and how much it weighs after it is dry.

LarrySherman posted 02-04-2002 02:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for LarrySherman  Send Email to LarrySherman     
I'd also be curious to see how quickly it re-absorbs water vs. a new section of foam of the same dimensions.

I think I dried my hull fairly well, and the static waterline did not change significantly over the 3 months I had her in the water. But am I fooling myself? Will this hull absorb water at a much faster rate than I would expect? IE: Does Swamped Capacity have any meaning once your foam is compromised?

Tom W Clark posted 02-04-2002 02:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Based on new information about specified weight of this hull when new I am now revising my estimate of what it would have weighed in its present, stripped condition: 265 lbs.

I am also revising my estimate of the extra glass layer on the outside of the hull. Based on the weight of the core samples extra layer (11.37 square inches), which weighed 1.4 oz. I estimate this layer adds 110 lbs to the hull.

So, revised numbers:

total weight of hull, 1060 lbs.
weight when new, 265 lbs.
weight of extra glass, 110 lbs.

weight of water in hull, 685 lbs or 10.98 cubic feet.

Tom W Clark posted 02-04-2002 03:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Here is a photo of the core: core.jpeg

Note: The pink color is from the red paint on my fairly new hole saw. The foam is otherwise white. You can see the cold joint, fracture, or fault running through the sample.

Chap posted 02-04-2002 03:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chap  Send Email to Chap     
It sounds like the water did not "fall out" of your core sample upon extraction. This leads me to believe that drilling a hole in the bottom of an older Whaler and tipping it will not easily dry it out completely by gravity drainage. Water doesn't appear to "flow" thru this year's foam, similar to the foam used in cigar humidors or flower arrangements(skinless). It absorbs a certain amount "up to" the saturation point and holds it, if you squeezed it, you would crush it and it would not return to its original shape like a "sponge." Once the outer foam skin of this foam core is broken water enters and migrates. Clarke's foam in the jar must be different.? I've read the foam described elsewhere as only able to absorb about 2% water or that it is similar to millions of ping-pong balls sharing skins with each other, bust the skins and you have intrusion in that area.
Thanks Tom and well done so far.
Dr T posted 02-04-2002 04:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
82 Gallons of water. Not as romantic as hidden treasure, but far more puzzling. Maybe Whaler got stuck with a bad lot of foam from the manufacturer.

I am interested in what DCPeters can learn in his analysis of this.

I think it would be useful to send him a piece from either side of the fault line.

Very interesting, Tom--and thanks.

tbyrne posted 02-05-2002 03:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for tbyrne    
Eye opening, to say the least. I had an 18 Outrage (1982) that I swore was waterlogged (scuppers below water, some hull delamination) but after hearing countless opinions that the foam doesn't absorb water (both here and elsewhere), I just accepted it and moved on.

It is now clear that at least the older (pre-closed-cell) foam could absorb and retain massive quantities of water. Does anyone know what year Whaler changed over to the closed-cell foam?

tabasco posted 02-05-2002 03:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for tabasco  Send Email to tabasco     
That photo is almost obscene.....are you sure this is not a medical photo :-)
hauptjm posted 02-05-2002 04:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    
I'll bet it smells good too....<'///><
andygere posted 02-05-2002 05:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
If there is a portion of the hull that has a section of dry foam, it would be interesting to take a core and see how fast and how quickly water is absorbed into it. It could answer part of the frozen foam question, especially considering this vessel's high altitude history.
NEVER SCARED posted 02-05-2002 06:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for NEVER SCARED    
Im wondering if using the boat in freezing temperatures on the lake caused the tiny cells to shatter during impact in choppy water! Is the foam used for the internal fuel tank the same as in the rest of the hull? If so, my 1987 foam is brown and seems to dry quickly. Tom, could you place that foam core into a pail of water. Im wondering how bouyant is it? I also think it would be good to call Boston whaler and tell them what we discovered!

Never scared

Tom W Clark posted 02-05-2002 07:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
This core sample does not smell at all nor does any other part of the boat as far as I can tell. There does not, at this point, seem to be any biodegradation going on here.

I put the 14.5 oz. core in my toaster oven yesterday. I set it for its lowest temperature setting, perhaps 100° to 120° with the oven door cracked open for ventilation. This morning the sample weighed 6 oz. I just weighed it again and it is down to 4.5 oz! There was a lot of water in there.

I still do not believe the newer, post late 70's boats will absorb water, but then again I did not used to believe any Whaler would soak up water like this. I do not think this boat is exceptional or defective, per se. Based on other accounts of soggy hulls I am left to conclude that, at least until some point in the lines history, Whalers soaked up water if given the opportunity.

At what point, if at all, this changed, I do not know. Others here have speculated about when a change in the foam may have occurred but I have not read any authoritative opinions on the subject. I do suspect Whaler knows perfectly well about all of this but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for them to talk on the record about it.

hauptjm posted 02-06-2002 11:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    

A simple observation:

Core weight 14.5oz. dried to 4.5oz. That's a 69% reduction in weight.

Hull weight at the scales 1060lbs. manufactured to be 310lbs. That would be a reduction of 70% to get it down to specs.


Dr T posted 02-06-2002 11:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     

Quick question: What were the physical dimentions of the piece you placed in your toaster?

Hauptjm's observation is telling regarding the relative bouyancy.

Dr T posted 02-06-2002 03:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr T  Send Email to Dr T     
Just some additional figures:

From Tom's earlier post:

Cylinder height: 3 in.

Cylinder Diameter: 3 13/16"

Calculated density: 0.42 Oz/Cu. In.
Q. What is the relative density relative to water?

Density of fresh water ~ 0.55 oz./cu. in.

Relative bouyancy of saturated foam relative to water: 0.76

Weight of wet foam cylinder: 14.5 oz.

Weight of dry foam cylinder: 4.5 oz.

Relative density of dry/wet: 0.31

Relative bouyancy of dry foam to water: .31*.76 = .24.

So, while the foam is quite heavy when saturated, it is still quite a bit lighter than water per unit volume, but not nearly a light as the dry foam. No surprise, but what does this say about the swamped capacity of a whaler with sodden foam vs one with dry foam?


SuburbanBoy posted 02-06-2002 04:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
What year was this hull estimated to be manufactured? The foam analysis will be very interesting.


Chesapeake posted 02-06-2002 04:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chesapeake  Send Email to Chesapeake     
Tom: Given the 70% water figure in the calculations and the use of heat to generate the reduction, I am most interested in your thoughts / hypotheses on a few things: 1) Is heat needed to effect the full removal of water? 2) or... Is gravity capable of removing the majority of water from the foam -- with or without suction / vacuum. I guess what I am really asking is "Is the 'usual' method of drilling multiple aft holes near the keel an effective strategy given what you have learned with Chain Saw Whaler?

Thanks for your insight.


lhg posted 02-06-2002 07:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
The 1970 Whaler catalog, the year of this hull, says the boat contains "rigid light plastic foam, two inches thick more or less".

This catalog has no mention of "closed cell non-absorbing foam". This must have come sometime later. Has everyone following this thread seen the cut Whaler picture in the 13' Reference section?

Tom W Clark posted 02-06-2002 07:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

As stated above, this boat is a 1970 model. It left the Rockland, MA plant on May 27, 1970 as a Sport model.

Dr T & hauptjm,

The foam core sample is still loosing water. I just pulled it out of the oven and weighed it again. It's down to 3.75 oz.


I've looked at that cut Whaler photo in the reference section. That's a newer, tan model. I wonder what year it is. I also wonder what year that "Bahama" Whaler is that Janis talked about using in the Whaler ad.

The foam in that Lauderdale hull looks rather brown. It is closer to other, non-Whaler, polyurethane foam I have seen. But it's also interesting to note the foam on CSW works with the "apple" analogy in more than it's texture and sound.

Where the foam has been exposed to the elements it has turned brown just as an apple will if you cut it in half and leave it exposed to the air for any amount of time. Perhaps this is just white foam becoming soiled, but perhaps there is some else going on here. We'll find out.

Tom W Clark posted 02-06-2002 07:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

To answer your questions, I suspect heat would help but not be necessary. What is necessary is low relative humidity. This is where heat helps out.

I do not think gravity alone is going to do it, though it will probably help. If you take wet snow and compact it, the excess water in it will migrate down to the bottom just as a soaking wet sponge will hold more water in the lowest part of it even through the whole sponge is wet.

It seems to me a vacuum is the most promising tool for removing water. Or more precisely, a pressure difference between the inside of the hull and the outside. Air pressure can do amazing things. But how to best to utilize this technique, I do not know. I suspect we will be discussing this more in the future.

Steve Leone posted 02-07-2002 12:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for Steve Leone  Send Email to Steve Leone     
may i suggest saving a piece of this experiment and burying it in a time capsule to be opened in 100 years. (worms vs whalers?)
LarrySherman posted 02-07-2002 02:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for LarrySherman  Send Email to LarrySherman     
I thought heat would be the answer too, but while it is helpfull, it presents problems of its own.

If you heat epoxy beyond about 115F, the matrix begins to break down. I read about this while following a link from west's site that delt with using epoxy to build airframes. the discussion related to the wings of an airplane chaging shape when left in the sun at Pheonix (I think) airport.

I believe fibreglass would suffer from the same problems.

jimh posted 04-26-2002 07:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
This message thread continues in Part 2:
jimh posted 02-25-2004 11:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[Fixed bad hyperlink]

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