View Full Version : Leaking Thru Hull Fitting
03-20-2002, 02:11 PM
The port engine water intake thru hull (1.25") had a slight weeping of water and the wood seemed a little soft there. The mechanic stepped on the valve while the boat was still in Connecticut. The 10 day truck trip south to Georgia allowed the wood to dry out a bit, but it began leaking slightly again after a week. Then the local mechanic stepped on the valve and the Weeping quickly became a stream of water. The bilge pump was running once every 15 minutes. Due to the weather temperature, I could not haul the boat back out and leave it sit in the boatyard til summer, so I found that by WIRE tying the valve to another thru hull, the flow slowed down and then stopped. Three weeks have gone by with no water at all coming through, and the wood has dried totally.
Now let me know if what I did will be sufficient for long term, or should I plan for a better fix in the summer. Since the wood was now dry, and no leak, I poured in a Quarter inch of West System epoxy, allowed it to harden, then added another quarter inch. The area filled between the frames and I had a dam in place to prevent run off into the bilge. I now have a secure fitting.
I no longer worry about sinking, but request advice on whether I should drill it all out and rebuild the planking with new wood. I wonder if a Dutchman replacement would be less strong than what I have already done.
Will this method hold up, once I crank down on the Valve to remove it (Old Gate Valve), and replace it with a modern recommended valve?
Your advice is appreciated.
03-20-2002, 02:37 PM
I don't feel qualified to recomend a specific answer to your question other than that what you have now is NOT a good long term, or even short term, "solution". You've basically got a "band-aid" keeping your boat afloat. First of all, you're right, that gate valve has to go. Secondly, you really need to determine just what is going on with the surrounding wood. Sounds like maybe an electrolysis problem. You need to correct the damage there and find out WHY it occured in the first place. A mechanic "stepping on" a thru-hull fitting shouldn't be anything to worry about. Hell, I'd want any thru-hulls on my boat to stand up to somebody stomping up and down on 'em! This isn't a "do-it-yourself" project unless you really know what you're doing. If it was my boat, I'd haul it tomorrow and seek help from somebody who's done this kind of work before. I've made my living delivering boats for people. One of the first things I look at are the thru-hulls. From what you describe, I wouldn't be willing to leave the dock on your boat until it was fixed.
[ 03-20-2002, 03:29 PM: Message edited by: Art Read ]
03-20-2002, 02:40 PM
I hope your insurance is paid up. If I were you, I'd still be worried about sinking. I wouldn't drive that boat anywhere.
It doesn't sound like you have a proper installation of the through hull. There should be a wooden backing block between the frames where the through hull comes through the plank. The block should be fastened from the outside and should be large enough to absorb the stress and stabilize the fitting. It should be bedded in something strong like 5200. There should be no leakage at all from the fitting or the surrounding wood. It should be mounted strongly enough to absorb the impact of a hard kick without moving or leaking.
I'm guessing that your through hull is metal and was in direct contact with the hull plank and you've got some kind of metal sickness in the wood. Glopping on some epoxy is not even a good short-term fix, so forget about keeping it long-term.
You need to haul the boat and have someone who knows what they're doing inspect the fitting. And while you're at it, you should inspect all of your fittings.
By the way, there's nothing wrong with gate valves. They are approved by Lloyds and all of the other groups that care.
03-20-2002, 03:04 PM
Scott... Lloyds "approves" gate valves? They must specify a particular "standard". I've had too many shoddy, old, corroded ones fall to pieces in my hand to ever trust 'em again. For my money, give me a well greased, bronze, cone shaped valve any day. (What are they called?)
And I thought that you were pushing your luck with the fuel tank cleaning episode. A handful of epoxy and a couple tie wraps (electrical type I assume) won't get you very far from the dock or very far with an insurance company. Art and Scott have provided sound advice, nothing more needs to be said except that if you have thru hulls that are in harms way it's best to put a step, guard or removable box over them in order to provide them some protection. This repair DOES NOT qualify as "deferred maintenance", you should haul the boat and get it fixed by somebody who knows what they are doing. As Scott mentioned, inspect all of the other thru hull fittings and underwater hardware. Did you have the vessel surveyed before purchasing it? If so, what are some of the other deficiencies that were noted?
03-20-2002, 04:03 PM
Larry.... I hope you won't get put off by the tone of our responses here. Wooden boats, (or ANY boat, for that matter) require a certain level of "cautious skepticism" from their caretakers. I've assumed that you are fairly new to this grand obsession. If not, forgive the presumption. You're off to a good start. Asking advice. Plenty of that here! But make friends with the guy that runs your local boatyard. Bring him a beer after work and see if he'll be willing to act as a "sounding board" for the various issues you'll be needing to deal with on your boat. That's one of the best parts about this particular "hobby". We love to talk about it. You'll learn more than you'd suspect and maybe save yourself from doing work that should be approached differently. No sense re-inventing the wheel when so many folks have already been through it all before. Oh... and post some pictures here for us to drool over!
[ 03-20-2002, 04:13 PM: Message edited by: Art Read ]
03-20-2002, 04:10 PM
Larry- you have a beautiful boat- there's one in my harbor.
However, now you are seeing why many people do not want to mess with wood boats. Once the maintenance is let go, it can be AWERFULLY expensive to get back to safe condition ... let alone cosmetically beautiful again.
I have a serious suggestion, based on this post and your other two- haul it out, re-work your through-hulls, valves, tanks, etc. on the hard.
If you cannot get it done, you may want to sell her to someone who can- before she's too far gone for people of "normal" means to even consider.
Over the past years, I've watched a mid-50's 63' Constellation (the ultimate flagship in the 50's) go from some spot problems that were NOT fixed correctly ... to now- She sits on blocks and is gradually falling apart.
Heck, it would take AT LEAST $200,000 to bring the 63' back.
Maybe I'm reading more into your boat than I should ... maybe they are very isolated problems. If so, I apologize.
If not, take care of the problems ... or get rid of the boat.
Seriously- Good luck. I've been through a lot of that with mine ... so, if you need anything, even moral support, let me know.
03-20-2002, 06:45 PM
Art, The ABYC requires seacocks to meet the standards of ANSI/UL 1121. This standard includes material and performance requirements as well as thermal, shock, vibration, and rough usage tests and operational and leakage tests. Both standards also specify a 500-pound static load test of the as-installed seacock and thru-hull fitting assembly. It does not specify a type of valve.
The traditional bronze quarter-turn tapered plug valve is a thing of beauty, but it's fickle and requires regular maintenance. Any gate valves that meet the above requirements are acceptable in a boat for below waterline usage.
You have probably seen only inferior quality gate valves.
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