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Thread: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

  1. #1
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    Question Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    Last year i bought an old small sailboat. Last weekend i started restoring the wooden rudder.

    The iron parts where the rudder connects to the boat did come loose in the past. The previous owner didn't really care, water has penetrated inside the rudder. Water inside wood is no good.

    P1030603.jpg

    I removed all the bad wood and was wondering how i can fill up the holes. My first though was to pour epoxy in the holes.

    But i was wondering if i should put a few centimeters of epoxy in the hole, let it try 24 hours, and continue until the hole is filled. Or can i simple fill the entire hole with epoxy and let it dry?

    Or is there maybe a better way?

    Cheers for the thoughts on the subject!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    There is always a better way! The rot will almost certainly go deeper than you have been able to reach. Is it possible to dismantle the rudder without destroying it? It may even be easiest just to salvage the hardware and build a new one. Having said that, yes, just fill the holes with epoxy and see how you go, if things get loose again, then do it properly. Epoxy is a chemical cure process and doesnt shrink so you can do it all in one go.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    If possible use unthickened epoxy to paint all the surfaces in the hole, and then fill with thickened epoxy. Use a structural filler, not sanding dust.

    Better would be to carve wood blocks the size of the holes (or open up the holes) and glue them in then recut for the hardware.

    Best would be a new rudder.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    When I first filled holes with poxy, whether thickened or neat, the next day there was a little dimple to the poxy surface and it required another session of blading mo poxy to fill the dimple flush to the surface. Me thinks the walls of the hole soaked up some poxy overnite.

    Nowadays I pre-wet the hole with neat poxy, then overfill it with thickened poxy, leaving a mound. After it cures I sand the mound flush.

    If I am filling holes where screws will be installed, I coat the screws with paste wax, pre-wet the holes, put some thickened poxy in the holes and install the screws into the holes/uncured poxy. After the poxy cures I remove the screws and sand the excess poxy flush.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    As long as your life doesn't depend on those pintle and gudgeon straps holding, filling with regular epoxy and letting it cure, then filling with thickened should work -- see above. But I'd recommend building a new kickup rudder, as who knows how far the rot has spread.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    Cheers for the suggestion guys!

    The rot has indeed spread quite a lot, but mostly horizontal. I stopped removing rotten wood on a horizontal axis when i almost hit the other side of the rudder. But the "walls" of the hole are still quite solid.

    I also had the experience that epoxy goes into the wood especially with something as loosely as plywood, but i suspect this maybe differ from case to case depending on the wood fiber density. But to be sure I'll follow the tips and pre thread the holes with pure epoxy before filling it with epoxy with fillets.

    Creating a new rudder is indeed favorable but this takes quite a bit of time and i do want to get on the water ;-)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    I 'd like to know how big a boat and what kind of sailing.
    Those look like plywood cheeks, which suck, basically. So right off the top, my mind goes to the tiller busting the rotten buggers off.
    Many other places Id say go ahead and fill it, but this is a crucial spot.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    Vertel ons om wat voor boot het gaat. Frank

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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    I 'd like to know how big a boat and what kind of sailing.
    Those look like plywood cheeks, which suck, basically. So right off the top, my mind goes to the tiller busting the rotten buggers off.
    Many other places Id say go ahead and fill it, but this is a crucial spot.
    My thoughts exactly. I see going hard upwind and having the whole thing come apart, boat rounds up, boom swings around, beer gets spilled...

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    I took a quick peek and they are indeed plywood cheeks, quite thick plywood though and it doesn't seem to be rotten.

    The upper connection, the pin, where the rudder connects to the boat is still rock steady and the hole there is only a few centimeters. The lower connection is where the big deep hole is, about 15 cm, i didn't go deeper cause i would likely hit the other side of the rudder making pouring epoxy more difficult, the walls of the hole are good though.

    My sailboat is an old English boat called a seahawk:
    http://www.seahawk17.org.uk/

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    That looks like a Seahawk,they used to be built a few miles away.My take on the situation is that where I live epoxy is a huge amount more expensive than wood and a large lump of epoxy is much more rigid that wood of questionable durability.So I would carefully dismantle the old part to extract enough information about sizes and geometry to make a replacement that I could depend on for many years to come.

    My thinking is perhaps coloured by the experience of a friend who bought an old Solo with rot in the bottom.He believed a generous application of unthickened epoxy to the rot would restore some integrity to the bottom and put the theory to the test.After some paint and varnish and a few new fittings he took the boat off for an initial shakedown.The first problem was that after launching the boat and making it fast to a pontoon,he needed to hoist the sail and for some reason the sail didn't want to be hoisted and jammed in the luff groove.It wouldn't go up and he couldn't drag it down so in desperation he wrapped a couple of turns of halyard round his hand to exert a bit more force-I will add that the halyard exited the mast at the heel-having a satisfactory grip on the halyard,he gave an almighty heave.....

    And his feet went through the bottom.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    I was expecting a much nastier outcome, involving the loss of a hand. Glad it was just the boat.

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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    John,
    Had to be embarrassing for your friend, wearing your boat like a pair of half-down britches.
    Tinus,
    Take measurements off your rudder, patch it up with epoxy and use it gently while you make a new one you'll trust implicitly. If the old one comes apart, you'll have the info you need. Does the blade kick up on that? Kinda looks like it. All you'd need to fabricate would be the rudder head.

  15. #15
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tinus View Post
    Cheers for the suggestion guys!

    The rot has indeed spread quite a lot, but mostly horizontal. I stopped removing rotten wood on a horizontal axis when i almost hit the other side of the rudder. But the "walls" of the hole are still quite solid.

    I also had the experience that epoxy goes into the wood especially with something as loosely as plywood, but i suspect this maybe differ from case to case depending on the wood fiber density. But to be sure I'll follow the tips and pre thread the holes with pure epoxy before filling it with epoxy with fillets.

    Creating a new rudder is indeed favorable but this takes quite a bit of time and i do want to get on the water ;-)
    In the time you reach a consensus on this forum, a new rudder cound be built. Not a major job.

    Sent from my Vivo 8L using Tapatalk

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    If you make a new rudder, It sounds like you might do better with the modification described (inadequately) here: http://www.seahawk17.org.uk/owners-c...ing-rudder.php
    Management is the art of counting beans. Leadership is the art of making every being count. --Joe Finch

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    I believe what has happened to cause the wood deterioration is a common reaction between certain woods, moisture and some alloys of stainless steel that is based on an ion exchange between the damp wood and the SS. Some might, simply, say that it is a form of electrolytic deterioration. I have seen this phenomonum many times in the past. Note the slight color of rust on the deteriorated wood and the enlargement of the areas around them. Nothing can be worse than losing your rudder in the dark of a windy night! It looks like this one was on its way to doing just that! It also looks like some of the wood is plywood of a poor quality that was not suitable for the job it was called to do. A good grade of solid mahogony would have been a better choice! I should think that a new rudder and a set of bronze gudgeons and pintails would solve the problem nicely.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 03-15-2018 at 01:08 PM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    In the time you reach a consensus on this forum, a new rudder cound be built. Not a major job.

    Sent from my Vivo 8L using Tapatalk
    That's my reaction as well. The general scheme is fine - backfilling with thickened epoxy. For most applications. But that is too critical an area to do something potentially halfazzed. Just replace it. Maybe not as is though. Maybe look for a better design. Take a look at Michael Storer's 'cassette rudder' design, for instance. And there are others.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    Sounds like the facebook wooden boat forum, "Ooh its rotten, epoxy will fix everything". Its a rudder & steers the boat, it has gone rotten. Make a new one & be done with it.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Fill up rotten wood holes in wood with epoxy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Y View Post
    I was expecting a much nastier outcome, involving the loss of a hand. Glad it was just the boat.
    But a shark bit his feet off.

    Rick

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