Subject: Epoxy Repairs
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998

Just bought a 36' Trojan that needs some serious work done on the deck and cabin. The deck is plywood covered with canvas as is the exterior of the cabin. The deck has some soft spots and the lower half of the cabin is rotted to the point that I can push my finger through the side of the cabin in some locations.

Plan of action was to remove the deck and replace with new plywood and cover it with epoxy and fiberglass. After reading your web site I am wondering if I can just remove the canvas, clean up the old plywood, seal it with your epoxy and install new plywood over the old deck. I would then apply epoxy and fiberglass to the new deck.

I was going to replace the cabin sides with new wood but now I am wondering if I can fortify the old wood with your epoxy and then laminate fiberglass to the cabin sides. The hull is fiberglass and in good condition as is the machinery. This should be a good boat once the rot problem has been dealt with.

I will be looking forward to your suggestions on your web site.

Thanks in advance.

You have a bit of a project ahead, don't you?

This is the kind of project where everything will depend on what you're looking at -- how bad is it, REALLY? Epoxies and patience can do some wonderful things, but sometimes you just have to replace wood.

First, you need to get the boat out of the weather. It needs to be dry. Nothing you are going to do can be done satisfactorily if the boat is subject to rain.

Secondly, you need to tear things apart. Can your decks be salvaged with Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES), Tropical Hardwood Epoxy Adhesive, Layup & Laminating Resin, and new plywood and fiberglas cloth? Maybe. What are the frames and supports like under the deck? Are they rotted? If so, how bad? Can they be repaired with epoxy or must they be replaced? You can't know this until you tear things up and look.

Your cabin sides sound very bad indeed. It's possible that with careful injection of CPES, followed by the L&L Resin, followed by glass cloth and epoxy resin they can be saved. But it might just be that new cabin sides that have been pre-treated with CPES for protection would be easier. And maybe cheaper. Epoxy products cost money.

You need also to look at anything wood that has been affixed to the hull: supports, stringers, sheer strips, etc. It's no use going to a lot of work just to cover up another problem you missed. This why I suggest you get the boat out of the water and into someplace dry. Whatever you do is going to take time.

Overall, you have to decide on how far you can go with patching and when replacement is the better choice. Your hull may be fiberglas, but it depends on the structure of the deck and transverse beams to hold it in shape. You may just be putt-putting around the Bay, but you need to remember that a sudden thunderstorm can raise a chop that will stress the hull and all structures. Think of safety.

If you want to tear things up and send me some pictures, I would be happy to give you an opinion based on what I'm looking at.



A GENERAL NOTE TO OUR READERS: This is a good example of a man contemplating the salvage of a boat as economically as possible. We have been criticized by shipwrights and surveyors for advocating the use of epoxy products for repairs they would rather see done by traditional replacement methods. But who can afford to spend that much money, far more than the boat itself will ever be worth? We did the same thing with the horn timber on our old tug (see the RottenBoat 'Zine linked to this website). Replacement would have cost upwards of $20,000.00. We repaired it with about $150.00 worth of epoxy and ancillary products and probably 80 hours of labor. Is it as good as new? Probably not. Is it good enough? We think so.

The Rot Doctor
E-mail: drrot@rotdoctor.com