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"Blue Bomb" heads in a new direction

Repair, or reconstruction. Gelocat or structural fiberglass. If it's hull related, you'll find it here

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Bill Basler
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"Blue Bomb" heads in a new direction

Post by Bill Basler » Sat Jul 26, 2008 10:12 pm

A while back I made several posts about my newest love (hate?) relationship...I can't figure out which.

The "Blue Bomb" a 1964 Chris-Craft Corsair XL175 Sunlounger, has lived a rough life. My father-in-law took her in on trade quite some time ago, and she was relegated to duty as a "harbor patrol" boat in the hands of my wife (then about 10), and her younger brother Mike, who was driving boats about 10 years prior to driving cars.

The point of this brief history is that this is the sole reason the “Blue Bomb” is back in the family. She had been sold a number of times over, and with each new owner she became more weathered.

Through the watchful eyes of my father-in-law, the Blue Bomb was spotted under a (blue, of course) tarp, and he saw to it that she was back with her family. He must of felt I needed another way to spend my free time...or extra money...neither of which I have!

My wife learned to ski behind this boat, and it was probably the start of her brother Mike's mechanical training.

As she says, they would leave the harbor...always heading upriver in case the “Bomb” died...which it always did...get up on plane, run about 100 yards, only to have the engine sputter and die, at which time her brother would take off the fuel filter, blow the chunks out, and start out again...all the while drifting back downstream to where they started. As she puts it, it was a good day if they could ever get farther upstream than where they started, and on the bad days, they would hail her father to come out and pick them up.

With all of this “romance” tied up in this old Chris, it quickly became a goal of mine to make her beautiful again.

The initial survey was not pretty. Everything was faded, cracked, torn or moldy. Some parts were all three.

I started the process, by taking her to the local canvas shop to have a custom fit trailering cover made. My wife noted that the more we covered up, the better the Bomb looked.

On to the hull. These boats had a “feature” that I would not consider one of Chris-Craft’s better ideas, but hey...1964 was the Wild West in fiberglass boat production. Everyone was finding their way, so it makes sense that these boats contain some errors in judgement. Well, to that point, the floor “pan” on this boat is a single piece molded fiberglass unit, that is bonded to the inside of the hull around the 360 degree perimeter of the hull sides.

The problem is, that this floor runs level, with the V of the bilge creating a...well....bilge. Here’s the unusual feature though. There is no access to anything below this liner. So in effect, you can not access the bilge...it is like a boat without a bilge if you can imagine that. The fiberglass pan even extends underneath the engine oil pan.

A bad idea? Yes, I am pretty sure there are reasons they quit doing this.
1. The engine mounts with lag screw. Lag screws need holes....through the liner of course.
2. The seat frames mount with screws. Screws need holes. Through the liner as well.

So, they essentially built a water proof liner then filled it full of holes.

The hull on these boats had balsa cored bottoms and decks. This was pretty advanced stuff for 1964. There were some wood stringers used as well, all encapsulated with resin and glass.

This is a fine building method, but the manner in which the wood parts are isolated from prolonged moisture is entirely tied to what types of resins were used and how diligent the labor was in getting every little pinhole accounted for.

Well, with holes in my cockpit floor to mount things like seats, and a void below that floor which one cannot get access to, and no bilge plug in that inaccessible bilge, I suspected that my balsa core was damp, and a quick check with a moisture meter confirmed this.

In other posts, I bragged how I was going to proudly drop this old boat off at the gelcoat shop for a total makeover. The pricing that two different shops gave me were not for the faint of heart. But hey, this is “romance” right? It’s my perogative to make nonsensical irrational decisions.

After trailering the Bomb four hours to the chosen gelcoat shop, the owner to one look and said, “Boy, she’s in a lot rougher shape than she looked in the photos.” Ouch. That’s never good. Before I left, the once very high estimate had tripled...and I made the decision that new gelcoat was simply not in The Blue Bomb’s future.

So now, with her sitting back in my driveway, the undisputed embarrassment of the neighborhood, the Bomb awaited a rethink. I seriously thought about giving up on her. But, oh, the romance...and the new travel cover. I was sucked into her spell again.

I finally determined the only real solution was to give up on making her perfect. I decided to attack the faded old gelcoat with a wet sanding treatment, then finish up with a buff job. It was really my only option other than dumping truckloads of money into her.

Two weeks ago, my sons and I draped off an area in the street to collect all of the wet sanding residue. We got out some 600 grit and the garden hose and went to town. This is where it gets kind of interesting. The extremely faded sky blue color, transitioned slowly to a medium blue. But strangely, as we took the sanding further, the medium blue yielded to a dark blue...navy blue. When we dried the Bomb off on occasion to see where we were at, it was very clear, that the more we sanded, the more we hit a layer of very dark blue.

It seems that somewhere along the way, the Blue Bomb had been painted! This had to have been quite some time ago. After taking note of all of the nuances, I determined that the chalky white bootstripe which I had thought was in the gelcoat, was actually a vinyl tape stripe. When someone painted the Bomb, they had masked off the bootstripe, and just painted up to each side of it.

Well, after about 30 hours of wet sanding, we almost have the entire hull stripped of this paint, down to the original navy blue gel coat. Patience has paid off. There are scratches and blemishes, but honestly the Bomb could look OK. We need to continue with 1000 grit then 1500 grit, and possibly 2000. Then we’ll attack with the buffer. But there is hope.

What about the wet core? I cut about a 6 inch diameter hole in the floor and have had fans blowing into the bilge pretty much continually for a few weeks The boat is definitely drying out. Based on how we will use her, the hull will be fine. Not perfect, but OK.

I will post some pictures of the hull within a few days.

Now on to the seats. The Sunlounger had pretty typical back-to-back lounge seats. These, from what I can tell, appear to be Chris-Craft produced seats, as they are on aluminum frames specifically made for this boat. Again, we tried to map out a course of action on these old, moldy, cracked seats. We immediately determined that reupholstering is the only way to go. As these things typiccally go, I thought, “this should be simple.” Just remove the seat frames, remove all of the staples holding the cvoverings on, strip the seats down to the wood frames, clean them up, and send them off to the upholster. Simple. And yes, I was ready for simple, after stressing with the hull.

Well, I was only about 40...maybe 50 hours off on that estimate. I tired to remove the bolts holding the cushions to the frames. Immediately they started spinning...the rusty bolts not budging...while the T-nuts ripping out from the wood and spinning with ease. But I HAD to get these bolts out in order to save the aluminum frames. There was no easy way, so out came my Dremel tool and cutoff disks...and one at a time, I started cutting the heads off of about 40 bolts. This took me about a weeks worth of evenings...my neighbors think I have gone over the edge.

I got the seat frames removed from the wood frames, and then started pulling hundreds of copper staples. Another three evenings I had all of the cushions removed from the wood structure only to find exactly what I thought I would find. Rot. And lots of it.

The seat frames were really held together with just the cushions, the vinyl and the staples. Once they were stripped, they were nearly dust.

They held together long enough for me to get some patterns traced, and it appeared that I was going to be remanufacturing the seat frames as well.

To end this sad story for tonight, these seats were pretty darn complicated! There were the 3/4 inch seat bases. That was easy. But there were wedges, side panels, reinforcing blocks, and so on. It took me another two weeks to get these remade.

But this time they are better! They now feature stainless steel T-nuts, CPESed and painted wood pieces, stainless steel hardware and all new aluminum hinges.

Like the Bionic Man, the Blue Bomb will, in some ways, be better than ever. I will try to get some pics posted over the weekend.

In my next post, I will tell you how I plan on fixing the 6-inch hole I cut in my floor. And yes, the floor is rotten too!

Ahhh, the "romance."
Last edited by Bill Basler on Sun Jul 27, 2008 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
Bill Basler

Wilson Wright
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Blue Bomb

Post by Wilson Wright » Sun Jul 27, 2008 8:22 am

Bill:

This is not only a testimonial to your perserverance but also as to your writing skills.. Well told...Definitely a Brass Bell story.

As an aside...Have you found any closed cell foam? and if so where? I have two old waterlogged Sailfishes that need restoration. The deck is off one and all the old waterlogged stuff scraped out and discarded. The foam insulation shop gave me some pieces cut to fit but neither of us seem to know if it is closed foam. How would we tell ?
Wilson Wright
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Bill Basler
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Post by Bill Basler » Sun Jul 27, 2008 8:32 am

Thanks Wilson! I hope all is sunny and warm in Tallahassee this morning.

Yes, thanks to a series of scans posted by Bret Kidde on another post

(also shown here...thanks Bret)

I have found the bottom section of the XL175 Sunlounger to be exactly as depicted here...with the foam filled bilge.

This diagram also illustrates the problem pretty well. For every hole that is drilled through the floor, there is an opportunity for water to enter over time, which could hypothetically fill up every single void below the floor with water.

I really don't think there are many boats out there that have lived a tougher life than the Blue Bomb, so I don't know how widespread this problem is. If the seats were attached with a little caulk prior to be screwed down in into the floor, it would certainly have helped the water problem.


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Bill Basler
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Post by Bill Basler » Sun Jul 27, 2008 8:36 am

Wilson, here is what I found on foam:

Open-cell foam is soft - like a cushion or the packaging material molded inside a plastic bag to fit a fragile object being shipped. The cell walls, or surfaces of the bubbles, are broken and air fills all of the spaces in the material. This makes the foam soft or weak, as if it were made of broken balloons or soft toy rubber balls. The insulation value of this foam is related to the insulation value of the calm air inside the matrix of broken cells. The densities of open-cell foams are around 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound per cubic foot.

Closed-cell foam has varying degrees of hardness, depending its density. A normal, closed-cell insulation or flotation polyurethane is between 2 and 3 pounds per cubic foot. It is strong enough to walk on without major distortion. Most of the cells or bubbles in the foam are not broken; they resemble inflated balloons or soccer balls, piled together in a compact configuration. This makes it strong or rigid because the bubbles are strong enough to take a lot of pressure, like the inflated tires that hold up an automobile. The cells are full of a special gas, selected to make the insulation value of the foam as high as possible.
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Bill Basler
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Post by Bill Basler » Sun Jul 27, 2008 11:08 am

Here are few photos of the Bomb's paint removal.

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Bill Basler

Wilson Wright
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Blue Bomb

Post by Wilson Wright » Sun Jul 27, 2008 12:19 pm

Bill:

I wonder if Dick Morland's polishing procedure, Makita polisher and all, as discussed on the C.C. Commander forum would bring her back close to original ?
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57 chris
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Post by 57 chris » Sun Jul 27, 2008 12:53 pm

Bill,
Your project is condguring up memories (or was it nightmares) from when I rehabbed my '72 Lancer (same blue by the way). They were still glassing the decks in in 1972 because this boat was full of water under the floor. Same problems with the seats and on and on and........
Repeat after me: I love my boat, I love my boat, I love my boat
1957 18' SeaSkiff #SK 18675 "Knot Sure!"
1958 18' SeaSkiff #SK18722 "Wreckreation"

Past projects: 1972 19' Lancer with 307 Volvo drive-Great Blue, 1968 23' Lancer Offshore with 283 Volvo drive-Narwahl
1988 FourWinns 245 Vista - Blue Ayes.

It's good to have wood!

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Post by Wood Commander » Mon Jul 28, 2008 12:26 am

Bill, I've got many thoughts on your project. Unfortunately I don't have the time right now to get into them. But did you notice one of my previous posts on this subject about how Rob Dapron awl- gripped the hull of his fiberglass Century? It turned out beautifully!
Bret

1953 35' Commander "Adonis III"

1970 23' lancer project

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Post by 57 chris » Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:15 am

Good point about the awlgrip Bret, I was going to suggest that option because that's what I did with my 19' Lancer and it honestly looked better than new gel coat but I didn't know how much of a purist you are Bill and how original you were going with this boat.

Craig
1957 18' SeaSkiff #SK 18675 "Knot Sure!"
1958 18' SeaSkiff #SK18722 "Wreckreation"

Past projects: 1972 19' Lancer with 307 Volvo drive-Great Blue, 1968 23' Lancer Offshore with 283 Volvo drive-Narwahl
1988 FourWinns 245 Vista - Blue Ayes.

It's good to have wood!

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Paul P
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Post by Paul P » Sun Aug 03, 2008 12:20 pm

Hi Bill,

Glad to hear you are sticking with this challenge!

I looked at the info you scanned, and if that boat will hit 46-mph, you're going to have a smile on your face that makes all the work worth it!

That foam core is, as you described, "the wild west of the fiberglass boat builing era", and was NOT one of their better ideas. It was apparently recognized and droppd as a feature quickly. I don't like the thought of water saturated foam in a contained space, with wood anywhere close at all. Having said that, and having a good friend who has pieced together a 396-powered Corvette that used to live on Signal Mountain, I know you could cut that floor out with an electric hand saw and replace the entire thing if you had to (due to rotted p-wood). It is amazing to see how they replaced the entire firewall on this old vette. The question in my mind is, whether or not you re-foam it if you do remove the floor, or whether you glass in some longitudinal hollow fiberglassbox beams that followed. The new stuff may be a lot better. Naturally, if the condition of the boat is such that you do not need to remove the floor, it's a no brainer unless you are one of these guys who thinks being miserable is good, because it makes life seem like it is lasting longer, ha.

My 1966 Cortland-built fiberglass Sea Skiff uses the longitudinal glass box beam construction. All glass Commanders from 1964 on used this technique, and they also used horizontal interconnected box beams through-out to make those heavy bullet proof hulls. Despite the move toward glass box beams, my Skiff also uses WOOD engine stringers that are suspended above the bilge water line from one internal fiberglass box section to another. Port side was cracked by the way, and had to be fixed.

Thanks for the update, and good luck on the work. I like your use of the fine sandpaper, it does the work by hand, slowly, without the risk of burning something with a momentary lapse of focus with a buffer.

Steady as she goes! Payback time is around the corner. Just be sure you install a big RACOR between the fuel tank and fuel pump, and I would (not a recommendation, but what I would do) install a small in-line fuel injection filter right there before fuel gets to the carb (to catch any debris coming off the fuel pump, lines, etc. on the carb side of the RACOR).

The one thing I couldn't deal with economically or at all, is the fact that the windshield assembly is a combination of extrusions that are press fitted into one another, as in "permanent". I could not dissassemble the extrusions to work on them individually, so I had to put the entire windshield (broken down into three big pieces) on a bench and firstly get to the bottom of the corrosin pitting, then spray with a self-etching primer, and then continue with build coats of primer until hand sanding with fine sandpaper provided a flat surface over the pitting. I am now at the stage where I am going to spray the windshield with an industrial coating (from Eastwood) to match automotive mag wheels or other, to give the appearance of anodized aluminum. I have experimented with clear coats too, but that takes away some of the luster, but probably gives good durability. Let me know how you approach the windshield, if you are plagued with pitting like my Lake George boat was.

Regards,all the best,

Paul
1956 17' CC Sportsman, 300-hp
1957 17' CC Sportsman, 95-hp
1966 20' CC fiberglass Sea Skiff, 210-hp+
1973 23' CC Lancer inboard project, 427/375-hp.
1966 38' CC Commander Express, 427/300-hp(2)

So many boats.........so little time.....but what a way to go!!

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Bill Basler
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Blue Bomb is Stuck in Reverse

Post by Bill Basler » Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:58 pm

The Blue Bomb is stuck in reverse, figuratively, not literally, but we're getting nowhere fast, just the same.

Read the above to brush up on my angst with the old family boat, aka The Blue Bomb, a 1964 Chris-Craft Corsair XL175 Sunlounger. You'll note that I left you all with a cliffhanger...to regelcoat or to paint.

Well, I decided to go the do-it-yourself route, which will probably involve paint at some point fairly soon. I just cannot justify going so far upside-down on this project. This boat admittedly has sentimental value, but honestly little monetary value, so in the current economy, I have to resist being stupid here. Paint it will be.

But, before then, I knew I had to address the floor issues. When you take a short walk across the cockpit floor it is very apparent something is wrong. The fiberglass skin has a noticeable ripple, and the floor has little stiffness. I am pretty sure the floor could be rotten. Time to open it up and see.

Before I broke out the jigsaw, I cannot thank Bret Kiddey enough for posting here on Boat Buzz a Boating Magazine article from the 60s. This article told me exactly what I needed to know...something that photos and literature did not detail, and that is exactly what the hull is made up of.

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Given the illustration and description in this story, I knew what to expect, and It held true to form.

The first thing I did was research how I wanted to replace the floor. I called my friendly neighborhood marine products reseller, Cedar Tree in Des Moines, Iowa. Club member, and good guy, Paul Morris was able to advise me on the exact grade of 11mm plywood, and MAS epoxies and fillers to use.

Paul was coming through Cedar Rapids, so he delivered the materials to my doorstep. The first thing I did after receiving the products was to take some measurements of the sheet of plywood and compare those measurements with the floor. I wanted to remove only what I could replace in one piece, with no seams.

After determining the maximum size hole that I could cut given the replacement material, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the sheet was big enough to replace almost the entire floor.

I first started by creating a paper template of the current floor, deciding where the cuts would be made. I then transferred that template to the sheet of replacement marine plywood. Here I am, cutting the first side of the ply.

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Forget the fancy shop. The Blue Bomb needs only a driveway, and a bunch of kids toys to dodge. Next I used my scrap piece, mirrored it over, and traced the other side.

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After cutting the entire shape. I lifted the piece up into the cockpit and tested the fit. Since this will all be covered with fiberglass cloth and faired in, the fit was perfect. I then used a Sharpie marker to trace the perimeter of the new floor down to the existing fiberglass cockpit floor. Next, I drilled a few pilot holes for the jigsaw. What came out of the holes was exactly as I expected. Wet, rotten plywood, and closed cell foam. I'll be darned. This boat is made just like the Boating article says it was.

I took a few deep breaths, plugged in the jigsaw and started cutting. What was I going to hit? Lateral frames? Who knows. No better way to find out. There's not much pressure here. This is the Blue Bomb after all. Not much to loose.

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Sorry, but I did not get any dramatic photos of me lifting big sheets of rotten plywood and fiberglass out. By this time neighbor ladies were herding their children inside their houses. My own wife was putting on her biohazard suit. Seriously, I was a mess, and not in the mood to dirty up my camera. I will say that the fiberglass and wood came up pretty easily. Strangely everything was stuck to the foam better than the wood was stuck to the glass. The foam appeared to be a two-part, pourable, foam in place type of stuff. If anyone has used an aerosol foam called "Great Stuff" you'll know that this stuff gets everywhere, and makes a serious bond to whatever it touches. The floor plywood itself, I was surprised to find, was seamed down the centerline. There was no reinforcement running laterally, just the plywood. I have to assume that Chris-Craft believed in the strength of the foam, as it supported the plywood over its entire surface. I was also totally surprised by two other things. One: the smell was just like freshly poured polyester resin. I'm not talking a little smell, but a pretty intense polyester smell. Two: the plywood was wet to the touch. Not, as is in, "used to be wet," but still wet. There was no sign of rot or mold though. Could the strong polyester fumes have kept rot from setting in?

Going back and rereading my own prior chapters in this story, I must say that I have been on the fence on virtually everything on this boat. In fact, I almost turned it over to scrap. I had had enough. Fortunately for "her" I had already rebuilt the seat bases, I put good money in a new trailering cover. All of that would have been thrown away if I stopped. In one of my prior posts, I also said I was going to leave the floor alone. I lied. I tried to ignore it but I couldn't. I am really glad I didn't. Here's why.

In the process of removing the floor, I had this sinking feeling. It is the same feeling you have with a wooden boat. The one where you say, "well, maybe it just looks bad, but once I tear into it, I will find out it wasn't as bad as it first looked." How many times has that come true? For me? Never.

The entire time I was removing the floor, I thought, "what if it's just the floor?" " What if I remove the old plywood and the foam underneath looks perfectly white, just like new fallen snow?" "Because if it is white (and squeaky dry) I'll bet none of this wetness made it down into the hull bottom, specifically the coring." "Yea, that's it. I'll just get this nasty floor out and the rest of the hull will be fine."

Wishful thinking of course. I knew in my gut that this was not going to be the way it would be. My gut was right. After getting the floor entirely removed, I was down to the foam. It was not snow white, but it wasn't terrible looking either. But as I walked on it, I notice something. Water was spoooging up under my feet, wherever I walked. The foam was holding water.

Now, it's point of no return time. Do you trust your gut, or do you lie to yourself, and pretend that everything is really OK. At this point, I literally went into the house, showered, and told my wife the Blue Bomb was headed to the dump. My 6 year old son started crying. My wallet started screaming, "what about the thousand dollar cover you had made?" Damn. I put the cart before the horse on a few issues, and that is the only thing that kept this boat out of the boneyard.

The next evening, I had new energy. I decided to let the Bomb live. The foam had to come out. My inner voices were saying...."I'll bet once I get that foam out, the balsa coring on the inside of the hull bottom will be fine." Yea, right.

Armed with gloves, an old carving knife, a hand keyhole saw, and a shop vac, I proceeded to start the process of removing the foam. What a real pain in the rear! This stuff is tough! Little by little I carved away. My goal was to leave the inner fiberglass skin, and the balsa core in tact.

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The above photo represents two nights worth of foam whittling. What a lousy job. Again, here is what I found. One: all of the foam was wet, to a greater or lesser degree. Two: the deeper into the bilge I whittled, the wetter the foam got. Not what I wanted to find. Again my wishful thinking was dashed. And Three: this foam was heavy...not the foam, mind you but the water. What should have weighed grams weighed ounces, and what should have weighed ounces weighed pounds. At this point, I was stashing this stuff in paper lawn waste bags (not that I was going to pass it off as lawn waste, but that's all I had). I was placing these bags at the side of my garage, and I had the wild idea to bring a bathroom scale out and weigh each bag. More on that later.

To make this long story shorter, I spent a week of 4 hour evenings removing this foam, only to find out that my hopes of finding a pristine fiberglass inner skin and core were history. In many areas, the inner fiberglass skin peeled right up with the foam. Again the foam was a better glue than the resin in most cases. Then beneath the inner fiberglass skin, I found exactly what I was expecting but was hoping I wouldn't find....wet balsa wood.

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Balsa is pretty amazing stuff. It can soak up water, and dry out repeatedly, and not rot. When it is dry it is strong. When it gets wet, and is then dried, it gains much of its strength back. But when it is wet for years on end, it will eventually break down. It is not rot really. It's just that the strength properties of the balsa go away. What you're left with is balsa that flakes apart kind of like a well done pot roast. Again, there was no smell to any of this. It did not smell moldy, or rotten. It just smelled wet.

Frustrated, I went in and showered and went to bed. With a weekend in front of me, I had new energy again, and I decided that I've gone this far, obviously the balsa coring has to come out. Once to this level it is literally like rebuilding a house by removing the foundation. You can't go much deeper. Over the course of two more days, I removed the core.

Strangely, the core on one side of the keel all but fell out. If was all wet, and fell apart like flakes of tender beef. The inner fiberglass skin could be cut with a utility knife and peeled back fairly easily. Once you break through the inner fiberglass, the core is there for you to attack with putty knives, chisels....or whatever else gets it to lose its grip. Luckily it didn't have much grip. On the other side of the keel I could not penetrate the inner fiberglass skin very easily. In fact, It was darn tough. And from the tests that I did, I found the entire core on the starboard side of the keel to be totally fine. Almost dry in fact, and very tough, and well adhered to the hull bottom. In short, the port side had its entire core removed. The starboard side was left alone...almost.

Just like the foam, the wet balsa was a zillion times heavier than it should have been. Again, more on this in a bit.

Here are a few photos of the port side with the core removed:

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Well, finally, I have reached the absolute bottom of the bilge of the Blue Bomb. One of the manufacturing methods, that of using a one piece fiberglass cockpit liner (floor), with no access to the true bilge, ends up being an early Corsairs Achilles Heel. But, just like wooden boats how long were these early glass boats expected to last? Here I am cursing this old family boat from the 60s, after it has literally been rode hard and put away wet...for some 45 years.

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Now that I have the entire hull bottom free and clear of all rotten stuff, here's what I can tell you about how these boats were manufactured. The first thing into the hull mold was a layer of tinted gel coat. Next, the layup of strand matt and roving. All glass is impregnated with polyester resin. You can smell it a mile away, and 1964 was well before broad spread use of epoxy resins in production boatbuilding. The keel, just like the Boating article notes, is 5/8" plywood, standing on edge. This keel was glassed into the bottom using fiberglass matt. Luckily, my keel seems to be solid. In addition to the fiberglass matt, the keel is actually faired in with some sort of green polyester based fairing compound. It looks a lot like Bondo, and it has not held up well. This green stuff chisels away kind of like half hardened Bondo. Another interesting thing here is that the polyester vapors in this stuff are fresh...like it was put in yesterday. I don't know whether it was improperly cured or what, but, I'm telling you, it's just like you mixed a batch of poly resin and poured it in two hours ago. It is THAT strong. With a charcoal respirator on, and using gloves, and good ventilation, I got most of this off with a putty knife, then wire brushed it with acetone.

The strakes of the hull are filled with a very hard, beige substance. Looks just like bondo, but beige rather than green. And this stuff has different chemical makeup than the green stuff, as it is hard as a darned rock. Really tough tuff. Some of my strakes will be refilled, but just to rebed everything and to get rid of a few stress cracks. Over the entire hull bottom, this same beige filler/adhesive is troweled, creating a bedding for the end grain balsa coring. From what I can tell Chris-Craft did not spend too much effort impregnating the balsa with resin. It just appear to be bedded. Finally on the inner surface of the balsa, there is a fiberglass skin. The glass cloth is a lightweight weave. The glass is bedded down to the balsa, and to the perimeter of the hull.

Like all fiberglass manufacturers in the late 50s and 60s, it was believed that fiberglass cloths and resins were impenetrable by water. We've since learned that that is not true, although advances in resins and manufacturing process make it more true today.

Finally, and this the end of the story for tonight, I weighed all of the bags of foam and balsa that I removed. NOT INCLUDING the plywood floor, I removed 550 pounds....yes, 550 pounds of wet stuff. This foam and balsa should have weighed in at less than 50 pounds.

I am really glad I kept going deeper in this boat. It was very aggrevating at times, and I have not yet started putting it back together. By the time I recore the bottom, reinforce some weak areas, refoam, and replace the floor, the Blue Bomb will be as good as—if not better than new.

All of the bags were taken to our local landfill and refuse processor. They have an area for hazardous materials such as solvents, oils, resins...all that stuff. What exactly they do with it, I do not know, but I feel that I disposed of it properly.

Stay tuned for the next chapter. For now I am tired.
Last edited by Bill Basler on Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
Bill Basler

Thommyboy
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Post by Thommyboy » Sun Aug 16, 2009 9:20 am

GREAT story. I do not envy your journey. But, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Here's a picture of my version of the "blue bomb" on Lake Minnetonka, MN on 14 August. This is a 1966 Corsair Sport V outboard 17'-6" and she floats!

Andreas


Image

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Bill Basler
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Post by Bill Basler » Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:10 am

Thanks Andreas. I have a long ways to go, but it feels good knowing that this can't go much deeper. I got tired of typing last night. I have made a bit more progress in the last week. Specifically, I have been reinforcing some areas of the hull that look like they could use some help. I have also been prepping the hull, getting the inside surface thoroughly cleaned and roughed up, to get ready to bed the new coring. Balsa coring material is on order. Should be in next week.

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In this series, I am reinforcing the inside of the hull where I found some hairline stress cracks. These crack are not all the way through the hull, but the are significant enough that I figured some reinforcing come help.

I scoured everything down with 44-grit on a orbital sander. Then I took a Dremel tool and scoured up the areas under the existing cockpit floor where I could not reach with a larger sander. Everything was then vacuumed, and wiped down thoroughly with acetone.

Once surfaces were prepped, I mixed up a 3 oz batch of MAS epoxy using a slow hardener. two pieces of fiberglass clothe were bedded into epoxy directly over stress cracked areas. Then specially cut pieces of 11mm Oukume Marine ply were brushed on all sides with epoxy. I positioned these pieces over the stressed areas, and drive (gasp) sheetrock screws through the wood, and directly through the fiberglass hull. Three screws each just to hold the wood in place. I then moved to the outside of the hull and drove a dozen screws with fender washers up from the outside and into the wood.

No fear, all of these screws are temporary. After the epoxy cures they will be removed. The holes will be cleaned out and filled with epoxy and cabosil.

Then it will be back tot he inside. The new resign will be ground down a bit, and and overlay of glass cloth will be made over the wood reinforcements. Then, the coring will go back in with a skin of cloth and resin over that as well.
Bill Basler

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Don Ayers
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Post by Don Ayers » Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:31 am

Bill;

What motor outdrive combo does this boat have?
Don Ayers
1959 Riva Ariston
www.RivaForum.org
www.barrelback.com

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Paul P
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Great seeing the progress !

Post by Paul P » Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:59 am

Hi Bill, hi Corsair fans!

Great to see the work progressing like this, but oohh I don't like seeing a guy doing epoxy work without gloves on! I always wear two or three layers of gloves, it allows me to actually put my hands in it if I have to, and then just peel off the sticky layer and keep on truckin!

I have a buddy here in Nashville who got one of these cool little boats (his is a rare 16' model) and his has the 60 hp Renault (Mercruiser) motor. Since I learned to water ski behind a 35 hp Evinrude, 60 hp would still be "adequate" but the optional 120 would be a bomb for sure.

Regarding the foam you may be contemplating for an final touch, be darn sure you use the non-expanding kind. I installed a 13' wide commercial glass window in my livingroom years ago, and to help things out I thought I would insulate the underside of the aluminum extrusion commercial window frame with an expanding insulating foam (Great Stuff, polyisocyanurate, from Home Depot). Boy was THAT a mistake, the stuff expanded allright, and it produced so much force it actually bent my expensive aluminum frame upward toward the glass. I had to get a saw blade under there and work it until I eroded so much of that crap out, to allow the aluminum frame to settle back down and conform to the intended shape. I know they make a non expanding version of insulating foam. Using the wrong product could virtually destroy your boat while you watch.

Hope all is well,

Regards, best, Paul
1956 17' CC Sportsman, 300-hp
1957 17' CC Sportsman, 95-hp
1966 20' CC fiberglass Sea Skiff, 210-hp+
1973 23' CC Lancer inboard project, 427/375-hp.
1966 38' CC Commander Express, 427/300-hp(2)

So many boats.........so little time.....but what a way to go!!

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Bill Basler
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Post by Bill Basler » Sun Aug 16, 2009 11:28 am

Caught me Paul. I had been wearing gloves, but I took them off so I could grab the camera. I am the worker, the camera guys, and the hand model so concessions had to be made to avoid a sticky camera.

The foam that Chris-Craft used is an expanding type. The only thin I can guess is that they poured the last pours in extremely small batches. And the must have metered this stuff to a T.

This also begs the question, how did they get the foam in below the fiberglass liner. I have not solved that riddle yet.

I had my fist nightmarish experience with two part expanding foam when I was about 16. I had used the product a zillion times, but always pouring it into a cavity with an open side.

This tim, I had just finished framing and plywood skinning a scale model, U-95 hydro. It was scratch built and boy was it looking good. It was built on a jig, and was straight as an arrow. I created small access holes so that each cavity in the framing could be foam filled. Not so much for flotation but for rigidity/strength. I read the directions, calculated how much I needed, and proceeded to fill each cavity with a large syringe. I watch in amazement as a little bit of foam started squirting up through the access panels. Perfect, as it was just a little bit.

But then, the foam started to set, and it was moving from liquid to solid before my very eyes. The semi-solid could no longer escape through the little access hole, and I watched in horror, as all of my hard work literally started exploding, like a bad sprained ankle. The plywood skin was all pushed right oof the framing.

Arrgggh.

If I use an expanding foam, it will be with the floor still out. I will mix in very small batches as the stuff will adhere to the prior pour, as if it was one. When I get up close the plywood floor, I do not know what I am going to do just yet. That's a whole new chapter.
Bill Basler

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Blue Bomb

Post by Wilson Wright » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:21 pm

Wow !...Sounds like quite a bit of work...Wonder how you find the time and patience for that ?
Wilson Wright
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Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club

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Bill Basler
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Post by Bill Basler » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:26 pm

Don, this boat has a MerCruiser Type 1 drive which was a first gen sterndrive, pre Alpha The early Type 1s were painted white on the outdrive with a black gimbal. Engine is 120-hp straight four.

Other options were Eaton Interceptor engine and drive package, Volvo unit, or Outboard like Andreas has. The outboard version was sold under the Sport V name.
Bill Basler

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Al Benton
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Post by Al Benton » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:30 pm

Bill,

A few years ago I did a similar project as yours on my old 1956 Glasspar Club Lido. This one didn't have the balsa core but was built using gelcoat, polyester resin and several layers fiberglass cloth.

In talking with Steve Smith regarding the materials to use in re-assembling this, he recommended that I use polyester resin rather than using one of his epoxy products, that his epoxy would not bond real well to the 50 year old polyester material. I did use his CPES to treat the new white oak frames used to support the new plywood floor boards and as a primer on the plywood. Smith said the new polyester would adhere to the fresh CPES ok but not the opposite on old polyester.

Al

dustoff135
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Post by dustoff135 » Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:58 pm

Bill, do you have the Bomb in a cradle so that it does not alter its shape after all this "rigidity" is removed?

What are other members thoughts on how to address this potential problem?
Patrick

Previous projects: 1940 17' Barrelback, #71572
1971 XK19, ORCZ19-2016V

New project: Looking???

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Paul P
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Post by Paul P » Sun Aug 16, 2009 7:31 pm

Hi Bill,

they make two kinds of insulating foam, certainly more than two but the point being, one will expand with tremendous force, and the other will expand up to the point where it fills the void and it will compress upon itself and not create an outward force. Naturally, the later type is what should be used. Cheers, regards, Paul
1956 17' CC Sportsman, 300-hp
1957 17' CC Sportsman, 95-hp
1966 20' CC fiberglass Sea Skiff, 210-hp+
1973 23' CC Lancer inboard project, 427/375-hp.
1966 38' CC Commander Express, 427/300-hp(2)

So many boats.........so little time.....but what a way to go!!

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Bill Basler
Posts: 1996
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Location: Cedar Rapids, IA

Post by Bill Basler » Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:58 pm

dustoff135 wrote:Bill, do you have the Bomb in a cradle so that it does not alter its shape after all this "rigidity" is removed?

What are other members thoughts on how to address this potential problem?
Pat, in this particular case I think I am OK. There is no weight whatsoever in the hull and I am well block for, mid, aft and chine to chine. I still have a lot of rigidity, given the areas of the floor that have not been cut away. In addition there is a full length glassed in keel.

Now bottom deflection is another matter. The balsa that I will be using is on a flexible scrim, designed to flex around compound curved surfaces to a degree.

I will be doing all of the work from planks bridged across the existing floor structure. If the boat was sitting on a bunked trailer, the bottom could be deflected, but primarily the boat is resting on the keel, chines, and transom.
Bill Basler

farupp
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XL 17 Sunlounger

Post by farupp » Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:45 am

Bill: take a look at this on eBay if you haven't already seen it. Frank

Click Here
Frank Rupp
1959 22-foot Sea Skiff Ranger
283 Flywheel Forward engine

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Bill Basler
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Post by Bill Basler » Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:03 pm

It's been awhile since I have posted progress on the Blue Bomb. Over the last couple of months I have recored the bottom, refoamed and have been working on getting the floor glassed back in and refaired.

Here are a few photos of progress.

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Roll of balsa coring laying on top of newly cut marine ply floor

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Close up of coring. Flexible...on fabric scrim

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An even tighter shot of the coring


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Here's what the coring looks like flat. You can install this scrim side down or up. It really doesn't matter. It depends on which way you need the coring to "bend" given the bottom contour of your hull. All the cracks between the coring blocks are "pre-brushed" with epoxy with a small amount of Cabosil for gap filling

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I did not get too many shots of the process, because I had to work fast. Even with a slow set epoxy, I had to hustly given the surface area I was trying to get done. In my case, the coring laid into the hull very flat with no weights required. The first step was to dry fit all coring pieces. Then, the inside of the hull was liberally coated with epoxy, as was the scrim side of the coring. Once fully coated, the coring was dropped into place. Shown here is the second step. The top side of the coring was again coated with epoxy and heavy glass cloth. The perimeter was filled with epoxy mixed with Cabosil and a little Cellulose filler.

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The floor is next. I precut the cloth with about 6-inches extra on all sides.

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Here, I am laying out the cloth on the BACK side of the marine ply floor. This was then coated with epoxy. More to come...
Bill Basler

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Post by zombiescustoms » Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:49 am

I see we have the same model boat, here is a ling to mine, do you think you could post some up close pics of the seats, as mine has stationary back to back seats and I would like to see if I could find something close to the originals.

Here is my boat:
http://www.chris-craft.org/discussion/v ... sunlounger

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Bill Basler
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Post by Bill Basler » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:30 pm

Here is a link to another XL175 thread that may be of interest to you.

http://www.chris-craft.org/discussion/v ... ight=xl175

I had posted a photo of my new reconstructed seats, prior, at:
http://www.chris-craft.org/discussion/v ... ight=xl175

The seats were total rebuilds. All wood components were rotten, and vinyl was as crispy as potato chips.

There are a few shots of the "ugly" here:

http://www.chris-craft.org/discussion/v ... 98&start=0
Bill Basler

R_Maclay
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Post by R_Maclay » Sun May 01, 2011 8:13 am

How is the rebuild of the Blue Bomb coming?

I worked on a new battery kill switch location out of the engine bay and mounted on the starboard rear side storage compartment with new battery cables.

I have new trailer wheel bearings and races to install today, hubs were cleaned up and repainted.

Mac
1965 Chris-Craft Corsair
17.5 Ft. XL-175 SunLounger
225v6 OMC-Buick I/O

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