Sole Wars
Episode II: Attack of the Mold

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Back to Episode I: The Phantom Balsa

November 2005 --

What we have here is
the "worst case" scenario.

There's no way to just drill holes and dry this sole out,
then pack with epoxy.

The core is dripping wet and totally rotten.

Bear in mind that I live in California, and it hasn't rained
in about six months.
A few years ago I built a serious awning to keep water out of the cockpit, because I knew there was a problem and wanted
to keep it dry.

Even then, it was saturated. Once water gets in there, it's in there to stay.

This is what Balsa Core
looks like when it is disintegrated with rot.
It's a bit mashed from lifting it off the deck, because I can press it flat with my little finger.

At the top of the picture, the balsa is a bit more solid. However, it's totally saturated with water.

I let it dry out for a day,
and then started scraping it clean.

The sole under the rudder bearing, all the way back to the stern, also must come out.
However, I don't have the steering pulled at this point, so don't have the rudder supported at the lower bearings. It'll stay like this
until the rudder is supported underneath.
I don't want it to drop out of the boat (yet.)

I scraped the rotten stuff off the bottom of the sole with a good thick putty knife, tapping on the back edge with a small hammer when necessary to get a clean surface.

I cut the the sole off with a grinder,
leaving a good two inch lip in place
so the top could be glassed back on.
It took a bit of work to get the rotten stuff
out from under the lip,
but it came out in reasonably sized chunks.

That's plywood.
Hard to believe.

There was core stuck to the top pieces as well.

The more rotten it was, the easier it came off.

I guess that's a good reason to wait, if
you know you're going to have to do this job. Just let it get really good and rotten, and the job will be a lot easier when you
finally get around to it.


Where the sole transitioned to plywood
(to add structural strength around
the pedestal and rudder thrust bearing)
it was just as rotten. I could lift the top lid of the sole off with my hands -- no pry bar needed.

I could grab it and rip off chunks,
and squeeze water out like a piece of rotten fruit.

Next --> Episode III: Revenge of the Grinder