Looking for help. I am in the process of restoring a 77 E-29. I just located a crack on top of the keel. I have no idea how I missed this before but anyway. Is this game over not worth fixing? Have any of you seen this before? Picture attached
A few things that I left out. The keel is enclosed in fiberglass, there doesn't appear to be any signs of keel movement (cracks on the outside). Someone has suggested that this may have been caused by freezing water. The crack is wide open enough that I can fit my fingers in.
Wow. And there is no sign of that from the outside? I may have to revise what I thought I knew about how these boats are layed up. Just to be clear, what part of the boat are we looking at? Doesn't seem to quite match up with any of my bilges. Could the keel have been driven up into the hull by prior grounding or mishap in the cradle? I'm sure that you could cut the delaminated part away and build it back up with layers of cloth and epoxy, but it looks like a bit of a project. Maybe that wooden transverse floor is someone else's half-assed repair attempt in there.
Just guessing, but does the crack follow the length of the keel? If so, I suspect a hard grounding of the bottom of the keel that ruptured the top layers of the layup. It looks like several layers of roving. If your boat has the same layup as mine, its five layers of roving with four layers of mat sandwiched (mat separating each layer of roving). Roughly 3/4 of an inch total thickness in that area.
I would have a pro who really knows hull layups--not some wharf rat who does spot FG repairs--look at it and offer a prognosis. They say every FG injury is repairable but WOW.
The the first image I posted is looking foward toward the bow. The stringer in the picture is under the compression post. Although the crack is very large it does not run the entire length of the Keel it stops midway just in front of the middle hatch where the photo is taken from. There is also two small cracks starting to open on the other edge of the keel build up about 4 inches long each. Inside the large crack there are small broken up bits of old resin? (I will attach pic.) I scraped away the bottom paint from exterior and can not find any repairs.
FWIW, before I bought the Ericson, I considered a Ranger of similar size and age. The biggest issue with that boat was that they had chronically weak layup around the keel, to the extent that they developed "keel wobble," and the tabbing would pull away from the bottom of the bulkheads. Then the whole hull was free to twist and shimmy . There are a number of pages on the web showing how people "fixed" those boats by installing a grid of stringers and floors (fiberglass laid over foam or wood core). They seemed to be successful, though at the cost of further reducing the head-room in the cabin, which was only 5' 10" to begin with.
So, I guess the point is that you probably can repair that and make it stronger than it was to begin with. But (unlike the Ranger) you'd have to remove a lot of pieces to gain access to do the repair.
(Do NOT try what the PO of the boat that I looked at did - he just poured a few gallons of epoxy into the bilge and let it harden - made a huge mess that would have had to be ground out before anyone could even begin a repair.)
I will try to remember to snap a pic of my boat for comparison, but it looks like they may have changed the layup considerably between 71 and 77. Or maybe I'm just remembering it wrong.
If you can get reasonable access to the area where the edge of the old roving is separated, just angle-grind it back to good stuff. 36 grit would be a good start...
Put the end of the 3" hose for your shop vac right in front of the out-fly from the grinding disc. Wear a dust mask, also.
Lay in some new bi-ax material in epoxy. You want the bi-ax to overlap onto the surrounding material quite a ways.
It is not unheard of to find a dry spot in the laminating layup in any boat (newer or older) -- that either time or stress caused it to lift a bit.
Hull is likely quite heavily-laid up in that area, so I would doubt that total strength is compromised much.
Still, far better to reinforce it. (!)
Access enough to do your work will probably take a lot longer to create than the actual repair itself.
Thanks for the responses. It appears that the biggest issue is access. Would it be reasonable to cut access holes. I would need to cut at least two large enough to use a grinder. I am not sure if cutting a hole in the head would expose the crack beyond the stringer or if tabbing would be in the way? Would cutting large holes in the sole sacrifice strength
Hard to make a judgement call over a picture, but here's me. I would consider squarely removing a larger section of floor. Don't beat it out with an axe, I'm talking fine cuts with no overcuts. You can build tabs later to the underside of the floor, around the outer perimeter, and when the set, the floor will lay back in nicely. One of the bigger mistakes I see with an owners repairs are, it's not that they can not fix it; but they are doing surgery on their baby and do not want to cut any more access than necessary. More often than not these cutout/access holes are to small. Tear your hands all to hell trying to do a job in a hole that just don't fit. And then some go ahead and make the hole bigger, which further compounds the problem of sectioning back together two or even more pieces. Trust me, try and make sure your access hole is plenty big enough. And if it is NOT big enough, the structural repair will start to suffer as well, because of, again, you can barely get to it.
As far as the repair in the bilge goes, I don't know, but it doesn't strike me as all that bad. I've put 'em back together that busted worse than that. If you worry the structural, consider a spider of sorts. I know these things are long held up to yacht designers, thereby like a lot of things on the boat, people are afraid of it thinking the pro is the answer. Sometimes it is. But consider a light sufficiently tapered spider. Once you glue that sucker in you can rename your boat, "The Reef Breaker".
So, I cut out the floor to gain access and this is what I see. It appears that on top of the keel there is a 3/4 inch layer of filler that just crumbles, on top of that a thin layer of lead much like you would buy to flash a chimney, then the fiberglass skin. The whole mess continues under the stringer to an unknown point. What now? Is this structural? I was expecting built up fiberglass not filler. It apears water has played some role in this. If I don't find a way to repair under the stringer will it just crack again? Any advice Appreciated. I am pulling my hair out wondering if this is even worth repairing. The boat also needs deck recoring and wiring.
I'm having a hard time understanding what I'm seeing in the pictures. The original series of pictures looked like a rip in the hull layup maybe six inches higher than the bottom of the bilge (which is the top of the keel lead). Did you rip out the roving, moving down toward the bilge bottom and across to the other side? What is that circular, kind of reddish black hole? Is that the top of the keel lead? Or is that the side of the hull?
This is starting to look more familiar. I'm guessing that those circular depressions in the lead were somehow the attachment points for the tackle that lowered it into place. (?) My boat has or had plastic plugs over them. It doesn't look as if the single layer of fiberglass across the top of the lead contributed much strength. (?) Like PDX, I'm having trouble matching this up to the original photos. Now I'm suspecting that the original photo of the crack was at a higher magnification than we first assumed. That is, all of the damage is directly above the keel, and not in the hull to one side of the keel? That seems much less worrisome.
My boat doesn't have any raised bulge over the keel that I recall... the bottom of the sump is just a modified V shape with a flat bottom. And... I will have to stick a camera down in there, but I don't think that there is any wooden "stringer" in there. I think I have a solid fiberglass form that holds the bottom of the compression post, and separates the little bilge under the head and closet from the rest of the boat. (Which is kind of a PITA, since I have to dry it with a sponge every time I change out the speedo paddlewheel.) Hmm... come to think of it, I have a bulge forward of the compression post but not aft of it. I can't see it, but I can feel it when I'm sponging that area. Could this all be due to "fairing" to ease small differences in how the lead settled in different boats?
I'm starting to come around to the ice freezing theory that you mentioned. That "filler" might hold a lot of water.
These images are close ups. All of the damage is directly above the keel. I spent the afternoon grinding away debris. It apears that they used scap lead and filler to fair out the top of the keel before glassing over. Something caused it to expand and crack. I think the reddish hole is from lifting the keel in place.
I think this should be pretty straight forward now. I plan on fairing the top of the keel and using biaxial mat to finish it off. I was able to gain access from the head and determined that the crack stops under the stringer. If I cant get mat under the stringer I will inject with epoxy.
Thanks to all for the advice. This is a great site. Without the support I may have junked this great old boat.
I will post some more pics as I go.
In the "ship has already sailed" department, I finally remembered to stick the phone down into the bilge and take a picture of that area of my boat for comparison. I've never gotten my head in there for a good look. It looks... messier than I had anticipated from exploring it by touch.
Interesting, I am a bit confused about the structure of the compression post support on these boats. There is a space between the stringer and hull on mine. It appears that the support comes from being tabbed into the bulkhead above. Yours appears to have much more foam. Anyway this is where I am with the project. It has been a nightmare regulating the temperature in my temp garage. That along with the tight work area and this being my first fiberglass repair. I think I am headed in the right direction. I hope
From what I can tell from a picture, that looks like a first class fiberglass repair job. Bravo on you for putting the glass and epoxy all IN that bilge. I love to see a job like that, not some skimpy little patch that looks like someone is going to have to buy another foot of cloth. That is my thinking, if somewhat unsure about it, put BIG patches in it! There would have to be something awfully stupid going on under that boat for that to fail.