View Full Version : Fairing and the Crack Problem

03-16-2002, 01:41 PM
I've had several wooden boats and have always been able to make them the envy of the plastic affecionados. However, they all had painted hulls. Now I have a 24' runabout that's all varnished. The planking needs to be smoothed out and I guess I can handle that ok but my real problem is the cracks....the ones ABOVE the waterline that show. Some of them are as much as 1/8". What's the best way to handle this problem and still have a varnished hull I can be proud of? By the way, the hull was replanked 7 years ago with honduran mahogany and still looks new. Your opinions and advice will be welcome.

Art Read
03-16-2002, 02:33 PM
By "cracks", I assume you mean the seams between the planking that are filled with a putty of some sort? Where they always there, or have they opened up some? What was there before? I've always wondered about that with bright finished hulls. Obviously the "usual" white stuff would be pretty obvious. Maybe there's a "mahogany" colored filler out there? A lot of the bright hulls I've seen are built tight seamed. (NO putty) Was yours originally? Maybe you just need to get her wet and let the planks swell up again before finishing?

03-16-2002, 03:36 PM
my local epoxy supplier sells wood colored tints to make the epoxy brown. They are liquid and come in little plastic bottles. Sanding dust of the same type of wood seems to work, too. As previously said, don't thicken with 'white' stuff such as microshperes, use anti-sag (cabosil, aerosil) which cures opaque and is not very noticable at seams especially if tinted some way. Its also stronger than spheres. I have no idea if tints or other additives affect strength significantly, but I've done it these ways, and if the problem you have is cosmetic, not structural one hopes it wouldn't make much difference.

03-16-2002, 05:41 PM
Thanks all for the advice so far. Yes, the "cracks" are the spaces between the planks. Personally, I find it hard to believe that swelling will close them all up, particularly since some are 2' out of the water! ...not mention that the boat is trailered and so it won't stay wet. I guess I need something "dark and flexible." I have actually considered long (8' or so) mahogany "wedges" that could be driven in with glue and sanded to contour the hull. Any body ever thry this? THANKS

Scott Rosen
03-16-2002, 06:38 PM
You may be putting the cart before the horse. Before you can even consider a solution, you need to figure out why your seams are open. There could be lots of reasons, some okay, some not. It may also be the case that you will damage the boat by splining the seams--if the planks take up when wet, the splines won't let the planks expand across the grain as they should and will instead force the planks to separate from the frames and pull the fasteners loose. If that's the case, then you would need a flexible compound, or one that is at least quite a bit softer than the wood, and you'd probably have to paint, not varnish.

Maybe you could give us a little more background on the boat's construction and condition.

03-17-2002, 12:34 AM
Sorry guys.....I guess I have been a little vague. OK, the boat is 1 1946 runabout, 24'. It was replanked seven years ago. It also had extensive re-ribbing done. I'm a carpenter and cabinet maker. It looks like a good job to me. My guess is that either the wood had moisture in it when fastened and then shrunk or they just didn't manage to get the seams tight when they planked. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't look that bad, it just doesn't look great. (For the curious, there's a photo available at www.members.aol.com/peggypooh1/boat4.jpg) (http://www.members.aol.com/peggypooh1/boat4.jpg)) I've thought of puttint alot of water IN the boat to see what, if any, effect that had on the gaps. But either way, I think I have to allow for expansion and contraction. But then too, I see alot of restored boats without gaps, putty or varnish squeezed out. I just want to learn how to do it right.

03-17-2002, 12:39 AM
Notice: The link above contains a ")" at the end and so it won't load. If you remove the ")", you'll find the photo......thanks.

jeff pierce
03-17-2002, 12:42 AM
Umm, Ladyhawke?
The link you posted for the boat photo brings me to a page that says what I asked for can't be found. And I really wanted to check out that picture, too. (But only for my own selfish reasons. Unfortunately, I'm not qualified to give you advice on your problem)


Dang, I type too slow...you posted the fix before I finished reporting the problem!

That's a pretty boat

[ 03-17-2002, 12:49 AM: Message edited by: jeff pierce ]

Mr. Know It All
03-17-2002, 01:57 AM
Ladyhawke......I couldn't get your pic's to load even after making the correction. Did you see these restoration pic's of a 1945 20 footer-----> http://www.haerteldesign.com/woodwind/restorations/ElmaRest.htm
Those Hunter's are beautiful boats.
Peace----> Kevin in Ohio

Art Read
03-17-2002, 03:24 AM
Not sure what you mean by putting a LOT of water inside her, but be real careful about just pouring a bunch of water in to swell her up. Boats are designed to resist pressure from the outside, not from the inside. Water's damn heavy. If she's up on blocks or on the trailer, you'll be straining her in ways the builders never intended if you just fill her up like a "kiddie pool". Well soaked burlap bags, old blankets or sheets, or perhaps a "soaker" hose layed along the sheer inside the deck edge, (with her drain plug pulled!) will be a lot less stressfull on those poor, tired, old bones. Putting her in a more "moist" environment, if possible, will help too... (Lovely boat, BTW...)