Monday, December 3, 2007

the funky keelson is just that

ffff funky, yo!

Got a lot of work done on Saturday (officially known as "boat work day"). Got almost all the sanding done for the forward section of the berth supports.

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Next up for the berth supports is a good cleaning with acetone and then one more go with some sandpaper, a final cleaning with acetone, and then our first big fiberglass project as we reinforce the bottom of the berths with new glass on both sides of each berth. We were going to glass in the new keel winch support first, but since that will have to be glassed in underneath the cockpit floor and therefore will have gravity affecting it the whole time, we decided it would be best to keep the first ever fiberglass project a simple one. And this one should be pretty simple. I'm stoked. I can't wait to start doing some real fiberglass repair. I mean, I have so much to do, someday I'm sure to be an expert on the subject. :D

While Mom finished up sanding on the berth supports, I began removal of the funky keelson with the dremel. After about 45 minutes and 5 heavy duty dremel cutting wheels, I had about 1/4 of it out.

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Still have to figure out how to remove the cockpit drain through-hull before I can remove the entire keelson as the cockpit drain runs right through the end of the keelson. It is plastic and isn't budging. I'm not sure if we are going to try and salvage it or just get a new one. It looks like you can just put a large plumbing wrench on it to take it off. I hope it's that simple. If it comes off easily, meaning without destroying it in the process, then we plan to reuse it. Either way, it must come out in order to remove and replace the keelson. I suspect the cockpit drain leaking is one factor in the poor condition of the keelson. The worst rot is where the cockpit drain is. So many places in my boat were stuffed with silicone and painted over when something leaked, that it will be very satisfying to reseal the cockpit drain myself. To know it's been done right. (I love when 'been' and 'done' are next to each other in a sentence "Man, we been done had Puff Daddy." is an especially fine example of this.

Removing the keelson itself was enlightening. The wood was black and actually wet to the touch in some places. Hmmm, we obviously needed to do this job. :D

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For those who don't know the keelson is a piece of wood that is fiberglassed into the bottom of the hull (on the inside) to provide structural support. After removing a bad section it became apparent that Wahoo's aft keelson (and most likely the one up front as well - more on that in a minute) had deteriorated to the point that it was basically nothing more than a hollow channel with some rotten wood inside. Not providing much structure there. :/ I'm now very happy just to have discovered the problem in the first place. I could have easily listened to what some people said and just fixed the few obvious problems and gone on about sailing it. Instead anytime I had any question at all I just picked up an icepick and soon the problem was revealed. And finally, I'm running out of places to poke. :)

Another interesting thing about the funky keelson is the thing that gave it the 'funky' name in the first place, the smell. The black pieces (in the pic above) smell almost like gasoline. I'm guessing the smell is whatever they treated the wood with (maybe gasoline?). And now that it's decomposing it's releasing the smell in a serious way. I had actually thought that maybe at some point a significant amount of gasoline was spilled in the boat. No, it's just the funky keelson. Can't wait to get that mofo out of my boat, man! Get some new, fresh wood and fiberglass in there. Yes, new and fresh sounds good!

Another interesting thing about that smell: In the V-berth there is a cutout in the top. You can lift the piece out, revealing the space underneath the v-berth. It's full of foam (for flotation) but has a strange, gasoline-like smell. As soon as I removed that piece from the aft keelson and smelled the petrol smell, I knew it was the same thing in the front. So now don't even have to remove the V-berth tops to know there is rotten wood there. Hell, I can smell it! And seriously, almost every piece of wood in the boat is rotten, so it's not like this is unexpected. And it's nice to know it's something I can remove and repair.

At some post in the not-too-distant future I hope to have finally revealed all that is in need of repair on Wahoo. Until then, I'll look like the Michelin man. Wahooooo!


rob said...

When osmosis is present in a vessel a "gasoline type" smell can be detected a vinegar`y sort of smell (acetic acid) I guess that its not that you can smell? also the "glue" used on marine ply was often urea formaldehyde based, and perhaps its the "residue" of that coming out, fibreglass resin is petroleum based too , or perhaps its just plain old rot! :o)) You are doing a great job by the way.

force ten hurricane said...
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force ten hurricane said...

Thanks Rob, for the info and encouragement. Both are much appreciated.

Nope, it's not a vinegary smell. Whew - thank goodness. And it's just the piece of wood itself that smells. Now in the V-Berth, when I lift the top piece out, the smell is the same but a little stronger. There is definitely rot up front.

Thanks again, Rob! Boat folks are the best! :D