Saved from the Junk Pile!
By "Boatmender"

Part II: Stripping the Hull


This installment will reveal some detailed pictures and dialogue discussing how we will go about stripping the hull. I am using a tent purchased at the deckoff4.jpg (133720 bytes) local Cosco to do most of the prep and glass work. This is a great prep area because the grinding can really mess up any garage or shop!! Removing the hull from the trailer was first on the agenda. I blocked the outermost strakes and allowed the center to hang. I then used an 8' 4x4 fence post to support the pad. This is all the support for now because the hull moves around quite a bit in the demo process. For now, we will be performing all of the work from the outside. Additional reinforcement will be added before climbing into the hull. Finally each strake will be individually supported just before the recore begins.

The previous owner was kind enough to remove the molding on this hull. For anyone removing the molding, I recommend clamping each section in two foot intervals to prevent any kinks that may develop as it hangs under its own weight. Use the smallest drill bit necessary to remove all the rivets. Avoid enlarging the holes if you plan on attempting to reinstall it. After all the rivets are drilled, carefully remove the molding. Great care should be taken to retain the original shape. I would even screw it to a sheet of plywood or two. Reinstalling, although difficult, can be accomplished. Originally, the molding was first fastened to the hull except for the transom area.


Note: the rivet head should be on the hull side

The deck was then placed on the hull slightly aft and slid forward into place, sliding the deck as far forward as possible until it fits under the lip of the molding. When the deck was aligned and glassed, the transom portion of the molding was fastened to the hull. {from the bottom up}.

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Back to our Viper, once the hull was supported I grabbed my favorite tool, a sawzall with a 10" 14tpi (tooth per inch) blade. I started cutting across the seam at the hull and deck joint, being careful to stay in the seam.  The lip on each half will be important when we reattach the deck to the hull.

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This picture shows some areas of the lip that will be repaired later.


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Since I will be changing the design of the motor well area I did not hesitate to cut down into the well along the transom face, indicated by the yellow line.


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My friend Joe came over to help lift the deck off. It is placed on the trailer and wheeled away to be worked on later. Removal of the deck took about 30 minutes.


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Sat. afternoon my brother Paul (15) came over to give me a hand. Our goal today is to remove the foam, the perimeter core & floor. We began removing the foam floatation on the port side by peeling the fiberglass skin from the hull (blue arrows in first picture above). It was quite obvious why previous repairs were unsuccessful once the foam was removed. Failure to investigate the cracks in the floatation skin (as indicated by the green arrows), a sure sign of trouble, was a big mistake.


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As expected, the core skin along the seam on the outer edges of the core had split. This created many problems because it allowed water to continually enter the core. As the saturated core began to rot, it no longer provided support. In the picture on the right above, 1) shows the removed floatation foam. 2) the floatation fiberglass skin. 3) the roven core skin. And 4) the core skin pulled back to reveal some rotted balsa. This area, with the foam floatation removed, exposes cracks in the roven core skin (indicated by the two blue arrows) created by the impact to the side.


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A large crack in the hull developed adjacent to the passenger seat base, just below the seam as a result. They attempted to repair this but were unsuccessful due to the split above.


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It appears closed cell foam was not used to repair the core that time!!


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The foam is cut out first followed by the core skin and then the core. The port and starboard foam were each cut along their outer perimeter and removed whole. We then began removing the perimeter core by cutting the fiberglass core skin along the outer edges of the coring. I like using a sawzall for this type of work because it gives good control over the cut and creates very little dust. This skin is removed in large sections as outlined in colors in the picture on the right above, beginning with the yellow, then the red, and finishing on the blue side.  The green line indicates where the damaged area is. When we were through removing the skin, a 20 lb. pry bar was used to scrape the core from the hull. This required some effort but went rather quickly. Note, scrape back and forth with some "elbow grease". Trying to pry it out WILL only make a hole in the bottom!! With the perimeter coring removed, we simply lifted the rotted 1/2" plywood floor out.


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The only cut required was along the transom seam.


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Sunday's goal is to finish removing the core. This will be broken into three sections, leaving the center for last. Paul with some quick instruction provided the muscle today! Note the angle of the sawzall as he makes what I call a "tip cut". Holding the saw parallel to the bottom he cuts along the perimeter only allowing the tip of the blade to make the cut {Note: Always wear a mask when working with fiberglass, as Paul should be}. With some practice he is able to feel when the blade hits the glass under the core. He is being careful not to cut through the bottom.


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When the perimeter cut was complete we lifted the skin, sliding the pry bar under the tough spots, removing the sections in sheets. A tip cut along the side of the stringer was required after we peeled it up.


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As before we used the pry bar to SCRAPE the core out.


The main stringer is all fiberglass with the exception of the last 10" before the transom. That portion was glass wrapped plywood. I cut at the seam between the core and outer layers under the stringer. This seam was exposed when the perimeter coring was removed. Cutting as close to the bottom as possible also being careful not to go through the bottom. I tried to keep the fiberglass portion of the stringer in tact to preserve its dimensions for later. Once the stringer was cut out the core in the center came out rather quickly. Over 90% of the hull coring was rotted. This is also the result of a poor skin, which was composed of a light layer of chop and roven.


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The plywood portion of the transom was exposed by cutting along the edge.


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A pry bar was used to peel the fiberglass on the inside of the transom. I was careful not to damage the outer layers by working small areas at a time. 


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As expected, the plywood was completely waterlogged. This unfortunately was not all accomplished on Sun. That was the goal! So far I have about 10 hours invested. The next addition will deal with preparing the hull for the recore, removal of the transom plywood, the "grind", and a better look into the damaged area. I welcome any suggestions or feedback.