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Thread: Caulking Problems

  1. #1
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    Default Caulking Problems

    Hello All,

    First post here. I have a 1965 AYC carvel planked yacht. Recently I inadvertently caused a lot of damage to my yacht by sailing in rough seas. The boat had been sitting in a very hot dry boatyard for several months. I got an unexpected notice from the boatyard, that I needed to move my boat out of the yard as other boats were coming in. I found a slip a couple of hundred miles south, and took the trip on short notice. I had expected to take on some water, as I knew the planks had dried out. The weather forecast called for 15kts of wind, which turned out to be 30kts. The boat pounded hard, and I started taking on inordinate amounts of water that could not be managed by my bilge pumps.

    I was forced to abort the trip, and return to port on anchor as there was no space left at the boatyard. Upon exterior inspection I found a multitude of open seams. But more surprisingly I found broken scarf joints in the planking. My boat has plank joints which are scarfed diagonally between the frames, and are glued together with a non-epoxy glue. 11 of these scarfs joints separated on the starboard side, which was the side facing the sun while at the boatyard.

    The yacht takes on zero water under the waterline, but the topsides have now been severely effected by this 40 minute excursion.

    My question is, has anyone here ever had this type of problem? Are there any recommendations on how best to solve it?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    When you say” scarphed diagonally”… not sure what you mean?
    Where are you, how old de boat?
    sound like re gluing these scarphs and perhaps gluing or bedding butt blocks behind dem

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Do you mean scarf joints like this one on a Narrow boat?



    I can only suggest that you fit butt blocks behind the scarfs, well fastened and caulk them.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    There are no butt blocks behind the scarfs, and there is no way to install butt blocks because the boat has a very robust ceiling. To do that would involve the total demolition of the yacht.

    Unlike the photo posted by Nick, my scarf joints are straight diagonal, without the vertical tabs. As previously mentioned, my boat was built in 1965 and I'm now in Mexico. There is zero love for wooden boats in Mexico, it is literally "casting pearls before swine."

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Well that is a carp way to join planking .
    I think no miracle cure .

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathan View Post
    There are no butt blocks behind the scarfs, and there is no way to install butt blocks because the boat has a very robust ceiling. To do that would involve the total demolition of the yacht.

    Unlike the photo posted by Nick, my scarf joints are straight diagonal, without the vertical tabs. As previously mentioned, my boat was built in 1965 and I'm now in Mexico. There is zero love for wooden boats in Mexico, it is literally "casting pearls before swine."
    I would be very surprised if a yachts ceiling is structural. Bite the bullet and fit butt blocks, You can always patch the ceiling with pieces scarfed back in. Glue rarely reglues a fractured glue joint, it needs clean wood to bond to.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    If I really couldn't get behind the joint, I would consider cutting the scarf out completely, then scarfing in a short plank to rejoin the cut ends. Make the new scarfs in the more traditional manner with the angle running from inside to outside, rather than from top to bottom. And definitely use epoxy for the scarf joints. If the new plank is left extra thick during it's installation, it could be easily faired to the hull's surface after the epoxy hardens.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    A skilsaw or multitool could clean out and widen the joint so that epoxy could be goodged in there, but a butt block behind as well would make it a much more secure joint.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    If you want to fix it right you need to pull either the plank or the ceiling. If you want to make it able to go to weather bend make patches of either 1/4 or 1/2 ply coat them with tar and screw them on with either # 8 or # 10 stainless screws spaced about an inch apart. To be clear the second is very much a temporary fix and only should be used as to get you to a better place to properly repair the planking.

    Nicholas

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    For a repair that works with the planking and can be done from outside, I used to cut away the wood taken up by the broken scarf. Then bevel each end 8:1, easily done with a Japanese style pull saw (to make kerf guides for the bevel) and a slick. Make a plug to fit and epoxy with a few screws at the ends.

    Hard to do in water but also impossible if you're baking one side all day long day after day so finding a working place matters.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Hello my Friends,

    Thank you all for your responses. This yacht cannot be torn apart by demolishing the interior to install butt blocks. If any of you actually saw the interior, you'd all understand why. I don't think butt blocks are actually necessary, as the planks have not sprung. The frames are 8" apart and the scarf joints are diagonal, and extend only between the frames. The breaks are only hairline cracks, the worse one is barely wide enough to put a very thin knife through it. The planking is nearly 3" thick, and will most certainly swell up when hydrated with sea water. Unfortunately, the former owner painted the boat with epoxy based paint which maybe the root cause of the problem, and may inhibit hydration?

    My plan was to try and re-glue the broken scarf joints using a hypodermic needle and west systems epoxy. Any thoughts on that?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathan View Post
    Unfortunately, the former owner painted the boat with epoxy based paint which maybe the root cause of the problem, and may inhibit hydration?
    Would do that, yes. Why epoxy's so popular for constructing new craft. Worth the expense as long as it's done right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathan View Post
    My plan was to try and re-glue the broken scarf joints using a hypodermic needle and west systems epoxy. Any thoughts on that?
    How thick is your planking?

    You may have limited success with a hypodermic as the epoxy in between the scarf-jointed plank ends will inhibit a proper bond with fresh stuff. Besides, being cracked, the joints are contaminated already & need to be cleaned well before any further insult's imposed on 'em.

    Better proposition I'd think would have you routering out the scarf seams to at least half the depth of the planking then "injecting" fresh epoxy to saturate the newly-exposed end grain of the planking, soon to be followed with suitably thickened epoxy to fill the routered seam gap.

    Don't go all the way through though 'cause then there's nothing holding the epoxy back from simply running down in the inside of your planking.

    This kind of thing is common for decks and hulls but instead of thickened epoxy a wood spline is epoxied in place into a saw kerf that 'freshens' the joint surfaces. In your case the scarfs aren't long enough to deploy a circular saw for the kerfing, why I suggest a 1/8" router bit.

    Find a good source for carbide 1/8" diameter router bits or better yet up-twist carbide end-mills. Notorious for being easily broken but superb for the operation being contemplated. End mills are tougher than single-edge router bits and don't clog as quickly from the stuff being removed. The up-twist are essentially self-cleaning but be prepared with proper PPE 'cause you'll be getting all the dust they kick back into your face.

    And don't force 'em. They'll do the job but if you force the feed they'll break well before they dull.

    Or haul your boat out & strip off the epoxy paint.

    But that won't do much for the epoxified scarfs, will it?

    Can you post a pic or two of one of your scarfed planks that's popped? That'd be of help knowing what it is your facing.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Well I'm afraid I don't have the gonads to do such aggressive things to a yacht that I consider to be a national treasure of the United States The trees used to build this yacht were 1500 years old before they were cut, and then the wood was dried for 30 years before being used to build this vessel. If I do something so aggressive that turns out to be wrongful, this yacht is irreplaceable.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    A few years after I started using the method I sketched in #10, WoodenBoat published a description of what Gannon & Benjamin called the "hide a butt" to repair/replace rotten plank ends. It's essentially the inside version of what I did on over a hundred rot repairs.

    You might use power tools to fashion the insert but it's really as fast to do by hand. The faying surfaces need to by good with clean thin glue lines.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    A little bit of epoxy is not a good thing . That includes epoxy “paint”
    The national treasure is sixty years old .
    How pretel were these planks kept tight originally? Reef the buggers out and recaulk them then. Or slap a dynel patch on the top

    Three inch thick planks PLUS a structural ceiling?
    …. and paint her white.
    Last edited by wizbang 13; 01-25-2023 at 04:12 AM.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by sp_clark View Post

    You may have limited success with a hypodermic as the epoxy in between the scarf-jointed plank ends will inhibit a proper bond with fresh stuff. Besides, being cracked, the joints are contaminated already & need to be cleaned well before any further insult's imposed on 'em.

    Better proposition I'd think would have you routering out the scarf seams to at least half the depth of the planking then "injecting" fresh epoxy to saturate the newly-exposed end grain of the planking, soon to be followed with suitably thickened epoxy to fill the routered seam gap.

    Don't go all the way through though 'cause then there's nothing holding the epoxy back from simply running down in the inside of your planking.

    This kind of thing is common for decks and hulls but instead of thickened epoxy a wood spline is epoxied in place into a saw kerf that 'freshens' the joint surfaces. In your case the scarfs aren't long enough to deploy a circular saw for the kerfing, why I suggest a 1/8" router bit.

    Find a good source for carbide 1/8" diameter router bits or better yet up-twist carbide end-mills. Notorious for being easily broken but superb for the operation being contemplated. End mills are tougher than single-edge router bits and don't clog as quickly from the stuff being removed. The up-twist are essentially self-cleaning but be prepared with proper PPE 'cause you'll be getting all the dust they kick back into your face.

    And don't force 'em. They'll do the job but if you force the feed they'll break well before they dull.

    Or haul your boat out & strip off the epoxy paint.

    But that won't do much for the epoxified scarfs, will it?

    Can you post a pic or two of one of your scarfed planks that's popped? That'd be of help knowing what it is your facing.
    ^ This.
    Rout to at least 2 1/2 inch deep to give adequate glue area.
    Ian's suggestion of gluing in a deep Dutchman is also sound.
    Epoxy paint is OK, providing it is a pale colour to reflect the heat.
    A yacht with structural cieling and 3 inch plank on frames with 8" space sounds more like a converted merchant schooner than a yacht.
    This thread needs pictures.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathan View Post
    Well I'm afraid I don't have the gonads to do such aggressive things to a yacht that I consider to be a national treasure of the United States The trees used to build this yacht were 1500 years old before they were cut, and then the wood was dried for 30 years before being used to build this vessel. If I do something so aggressive that turns out to be wrongful, this yacht is irreplaceable.
    If you don't do a proper sound repair, the boat is just a pile of firewood, however much of a national treasure she once was.
    That method of scarfing planks was obviously inadequate and needs to be fixed. Ian's method is better than sp_clarks. But sp's method will get you to a yard that can do the job right.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathan View Post
    Hello All,

    First post here. I have a 1965 AYC carvel planked yacht. Recently I inadvertently caused a lot of damage to my yacht by sailing in rough seas. The boat had been sitting in a very hot dry boatyard for several months. I got an unexpected notice from the boatyard, that I needed to move my boat out of the yard as other boats were coming in. I found a slip a couple of hundred miles south, and took the trip on short notice. I had expected to take on some water, as I knew the planks had dried out. The weather forecast called for 15kts of wind, which turned out to be 30kts. The boat pounded hard, and I started taking on inordinate amounts of water that could not be managed by my bilge pumps.

    I was forced to abort the trip, and return to port on anchor as there was no space left at the boatyard. Upon exterior inspection I found a multitude of open seams. But more surprisingly I found broken scarf joints in the planking. My boat has plank joints which are scarfed diagonally between the frames, and are glued together with a non-epoxy glue. 11 of these scarfs joints separated on the starboard side, which was the side facing the sun while at the boatyard.

    The yacht takes on zero water under the waterline, but the topsides have now been severely effected by this 40 minute excursion.

    My question is, has anyone here ever had this type of problem? Are there any recommendations on how best to solve it?

    Thanks
    Seems you want a temporary repair to get her moved to her new berth, rather than a permanent fix done on the water

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    The planks and frames are in like new condition, there is zero degradation. The problem is the yacht, especially on the starboard side got dried out too much, and I took her into a rough seaway and some of the scarf joints were breached. They look like a hairline crack from the outside of the yacht. Would it be possible to caulk them with a very think layer of cotton and seam compound?

    Here is a photo of one of these scarf joints from the inside of the yacht, that has not separated. This is the only one on the yacht that I have access to from inside the boat.

    1674656611248.jpg

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    What do they look like from the outside?

    While no expert, I've never seen planks scarfed that way.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    If you simply need a temporary fix in order to move her to somewhere else, why not put butt blocks on the outside. Bed them well to keep out water, screw fastened only. No, they won't improve your speed but they'll keep the boat from sinking.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    What do they look like from the outside?

    While no expert, I've never seen planks scarfed that way.
    I also have never seen anything like this. Not the greatest shot, but here's one from the outside. This by the way is the worst one, other's are just a hairline.

    IMG_20230125_091810.jpg

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    For temporary seal-up, get some lead flashing at your local hardware store and some roofing (wide diameter heads) nails, cut out patches, punch nail holes every 2", goober with your favorite seam-seal, and slap it on. I've installed this above and below waterline and some such patches were in use a couple of years.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Someone here suggested that my boat was built with inferior construction techniques, here's a photo of her out of the water. That double planking is of Lignum Vitae and it is 1" thick, and was steam bent over 3" thick 1500 year old Alaskan Yellow Cedar. My friends, this is NOT an ordinary yacht, everything about her is extraordinary and totally unique. Including her sold Cocobolo interior.

    untitled-0008.jpg

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    well she sounds perfect and there is actually no problem
    just make sure the sun never hits her topsides ever again.
    also, avoid rough seas

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Double planked 1" thick lignum vitae? She'd built like a gunboat. Is there anything between the layers?

    Whats that along and below the scarph? Some kind of glue? Resorcinol maybe given the age of the boat.

    More pictures would be more better.....

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    where would one purchase enough lignum vitae to frame a boat with? That seems somewhat.... unusual...
    Last edited by Thad Van Gilder; 01-25-2023 at 02:44 PM.
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  28. #28

    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    you can caulk it with cotton, who designed and built this boat, when, what size is it, and why was it built like this, is that rescorsinal , red glue

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Wow, I think we need to know the history of your boat. OK, I want to know the history ;-), seriously ,it will help determine how your boat is built because it doesn't sound like typical materials or methods.

    For example, Alaskan Yellow Cedar is a wonderful wood, quite special but doesn't hold paint or glue particularly well. I'm caulking an AYC deck and using an enhanced method of cleaning the join with acetone, then a special primer, then a special Sika caulking compound. The wood is so soft I can't use a reefing hook to clean the old rubber out of the join as I'll tear the wood. My point is, I've never seen a AYC hull. I can go to a friend who had a tug with AYC planking but your boat's construction method sounds different.

    I'm not a boatbuilder but I do know a little about how they think. The first question, is your boat a bowl or a basket? Is your boat designed to flex? A lapstrake boat is flexible, a basket, designed to flex, has wood on wood joins and needs water to swell the wood for a watertight joint. If you use new methods like epoxy, you can damage it because it may not have the flexibility needed. They tell me sometimes the old ways are the best ways.

    The more information you give these guys, the better they can advise you. I can attest to the depth of knowledge the group here has, it is profound.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    What an interesting boat, what little we see of it so far; I also would love to see more pics!

    "The yacht takes on zero water under the waterline, but the topsides have now been severely effected by this 40 minute excursion" ..

    What does this mean? 40 minutes in rough seas created by a 30 knot breeze should have little effect on a boat of this provenance. Have you pics of her topsides in question prior to undertaking this journey? Like others on this forum, I've had some considerable experience with boat quality AYC, which includes using it in epoxy lamination. I'm sure between us we could help to illuminate your way forward, for the good of this sweet ship of yours.

    "Would it be possible to caulk them with a very think layer of cotton and seam compound?" ...Given the info you have provided to date, this may be the only fix required. All the best! / Jim

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathan View Post
    Someone here suggested that my boat was built with inferior construction techniques, here's a photo of her out of the water. That double planking is of Lignum Vitae and it is 1" thick, and was steam bent over 3" thick 1500 year old Alaskan Yellow Cedar. My friends, this is NOT an ordinary yacht, everything about her is extraordinary and totally unique. Including her sold Cocobolo interior.

    untitled-0008.jpg
    It certainly is an extraordinarily bad way to scarf planks, as you have now learned. They have literally spoiled the ship for a hapen'worth of tar.
    It works on British narrow boats, because they never see waves, and the ends are nibbed and fastened to the frames. Yours are not. Do not drive caulking, as there is nothing securing those pointy ends.
    For a temporary fix whilst you move her to a yard where proper repairs can be carried out, nail/screw on tingles, as suggested. Then do the job properly by scarfing in dutchmen.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  32. #32
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by peter radclyffe View Post
    you can caulk it with cotton, who designed and built this boat, when, what size is it, and why was it built like this, is that rescorsinal , red glue
    Would you really drive caulking into a butt that is not fastened to any frame timber, or backed by the bearding of a rebate?
    Seriously?
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  33. #33
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathan View Post
    I also have never seen anything like this. Not the greatest shot, but here's one from the outside. This by the way is the worst one, other's are just a hairline.

    IMG_20230125_091810.jpg
    The crack is not only wide but is filled with something. It looks to me like that seem has been open for a while and someone put caulk into the opening.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    My boat has topsides of 80 year old AYC - about 1.5" thickness. Joints are either on frames or have butt blocks. It sat on the hard in Florida for over 5 years (when the boat was about 60) & never developed issues like this.

    The pic above (post #3) showing the scarf detail on the Narrowboat might work just fine on a canal only boat in a damp & less sunny place like England, but I can't see it doing well in hot CA or Mexican sun.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Caulking Problems

    Thank you all for your interest in my boat.

    She was built in 1965 by Master Shipwright George Calkins. Among other things George was also in the lumber business, and had squirreled away the very finest lumber throughout his life for his final lifetime project, which was this yacht. The yacht was custom designed by William Garden, to George's specs. LOA end of bowsprit to dinghy davits 88' LOD about 70". The yacht has many unusual and unique features that nobody has ever seen before. The construction, craftsmanship, and attention to detail is far beyond anything I have ever seen. Even snobby experts who think they know everything are quickly humbled when they come aboard and have a look around. Maybe I ought to invite "coelcanth" to have a look, it may knock the sarcasm out of him?

    Let me explain what happened... I had already sailed the yacht from Los Angeles to Mazatlán Mexico, and went through 2 gales on the way down without any problem. While in Mazatlán I hauled out for bottom paint, I think the yacht got damaged from the haul out? They used the marine railway system for the haul, but were not careful enough. They have absolutely zero love or respect for wooden boats in Mexico. It's the equivalent of placing gold bars in front of a pig. Instead of slowly launching the yacht back into the water, they just let the cables go, the yacht was pounded hard on the rack as she flew down the ramp. They're a bunch of jerks. I think the yacht somehow got twisted? I inspected the yacht with my dinghy after the launch, but didn't notice anything wrong. She had been out of the water for a week, and didn't take on a single drop of water after launch.

    I then I went out into that moderately rough seaway many seams opened, and also the scarf joints came apart. I don't know if this was due to the haul out, or being too dried out in the hot dry Mexican sun? Your thought are most welcome.

    1674618400158.jpg

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