Sole Wars
Episode I: The Phantom Balsa

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Back to Home ... s/v Stella Blue home ... Cockpit Page ... Projects

November 2005 -- I've known for years that I had a problem inside the cockpit sole.
This is a problem with many boats from many manufacturers. I'm just taking pictures and fixing it.
There were two major leaks: The guard rail for the pedestal, and the bearing where the rudder comes through the sole.
The guard rail messes up most boats, but I had a bit of a double whammy with the bearing.
The problem was hidden by the teak cockpit grates, so I left the grates in until I was ready to deal with it.
The set of projects: Repower / Fuel Tank / Steering / Cockpit Sole, are intertwined, since it'll be a lot easier
to deal with them all at once and avoid taking the back of the boat apart more than once.

I had to take off that big beam to get an impact wrench onto the radial steering wheel, while disassembling the steering.

I'm getting a bit worried about how
I'm going to put this boat back together.

The core under these bolts
is also saturated and rotten.
That was expected.

Once the pedestal guard was off, I could see the extent
of the damage.

Here, I'm sticking my finger
inside the sole sandwich.
There's no core there at all.
It's totally rotted away, as far back as I can stick my finger.
There are little bits of black wet mush stuck to the top and bottom of the cavity, but I've never seen anything quite this bad.

There are no big surprises here. I fully expected to have to pull major sections of the sole off and recore it.

Here's the view
under the deck,
directly over the fuel tank.

Note that the pedestal guard was installed with the basic hardware that Edson supplies. That was shortsighted,
since everybody hangs
onto the pedestal guard.
Of course it worked itself loose and began to leak.
Since it leaked onto the fuel tank, the tank corroded.

The small nuts were very loose, and the entire area was totally wet.

There's a support beam that runs transversely under the sole.
It's bolted in, and I think those bolts have leaked. Note how there's about 1/8" of space at the left end of this pic. The right end looks the same. There's about 1/8" of sag in the sole, which helped keep a pool of water around the pedestal, which just made the problem worse.

Next --> Episode II: Attack of the Mold

A bunch of exploratory holes proved that there was nothing under the pedestal but air.
No core.

With a metal cutting wheel on my grinder, I sliced an outline about an inch inside the tracing for the new pedestal block. This way the repair can be hidden under the fiberglass base for the new pedestal.

At this point, my plan called for leaving some of the top layer intact, so I wanted to leave an unscarred strip of original sole around the pedestal base.

I changed the plan
after getting into it.



The blade on my
biggest screwdriver
is 12" long.

There's no core under the sole as far as it can reach.