Small Boat Repairs You Can Do Yourself
Small cracks and scratches in a fiberglass hull can turn into bigger problems if left unattended. Keep sail tape, Tear-Aid, or another fabric patching product on hand to cover a hole until you can schedule a repair.
Clean your boat regularly to remove salt and dirt, which can corrode metal components. Also, flush your engine as soon as you return from the water to prevent corrosion of its internal parts. However, if you need a professional help, you can contact boat repair.
A boat’s hull is the framework that supports its load and provides structural integrity. The smallest cracks, dings, and dents can damage its structural integrity to the point that it becomes unsafe to sail. It’s important to repair these small dings and dents before they become larger problems that require costly fiberglass hull repairs. Fortunately, these problems are easier to fix than you may think. In fact, with the right tools and techniques, you can do most of these repairs yourself.
Fiberglass is made from two components: structural fiber and resin. The fiber is woven with tiny, flexible strands and saturated with resin, which, when it cures, forms a hard and durable material. The strength of fiberglass varies depending on the weight of the structural fiber and the type of resin used, polyester or epoxy. For a small fiberglass repair on a boat’s exterior, polyester resin is ideal.
To make a small fiberglass repair, first prepare the area by cleaning it with dewaxing solvent. This will remove any contaminants that could interfere with the bonding of the new epoxy to the original fiberglass. You will also want to roughen the surface of the hull, which will help it adhere to the new resin. Once the surface is clean, you can start to repair the hole. First, cut a piece of 10-ounce roving to the size of the hole’s inside diameter. Then, layer the roving pieces on top of one another until the patch is flush or level with the undamaged fiberglass surface.
Once the patch is in place, it’s time to apply a fiberglass gelcoat. After applying several coats of gelcoat and sanding between each application, the finished result should match the color of the original fiberglass. After the gelcoat dries, you can use 600-grit wet sandpaper to smooth the surface of the fiberglass patch and blend it with the original hull finish.
A polyester and fiberglass boat’s original glass has cured and shrunk over years of exposure to the elements. If you epoxy glass directly to this damaged surface, it will continue to shrink and print through the new fiberglass over time, resulting in a negative depression that will show through to the outside. The solution is to build a strong, void-free, and bubble-free polyester panel that is bedded with thickened epoxy and tabbed in place on the damaged hull.
Many boats are built with plywood decks. This material is widely available, provides stiffness, and offers a solid bond with the sheathing material that goes over it. It also has the advantage of being relatively inexpensive. However, it is not ideal for long-term use because water can seep into the wood and cause rot. The result is a soft area on the boat’s deck that is not only unsightly but also dangerous for anyone who walks across it.
Even a small area of sponginess on the boat’s deck is a serious problem that demands immediate attention. It will only get worse if left unattended. To make matters worse, a soft deck can lead to the structural integrity of the entire boat being compromised. Therefore, it is important to have a firm understanding of what causes a soft deck and how it can be repaired.
The best way to inspect for a soft spot on the boat’s deck is to take the vessel out of the water and walk over it. It may be difficult to identify the source of the sponginess, especially on older boats. You will need a moisture meter to determine the presence of moisture and a tapping tool to detect delamination.
A spongy deck can be caused by a lack of support from the beams beneath the fiberglass sheathing. To prevent this, the first step is to add a shear bolt to each end of the stringer where it intersects with the keel. Then, a 12-to-1 bevel should be ground into any existing fiberglass that remains on the stringer. This bevel will allow the new fiberglass to run into and attach to the existing sheathing, providing sufficient support for the area.
It’s important to note that a spongy deck can also be a sign of other problems with the structure of your boat. For example, a soft deck can indicate that there is an unbalanced load on the beams and thus that they are prone to fatigue or stress cracking. Therefore, you should consult with a marine surveyor to assess the damage and recommend a course of action.
Imagine that you have friends coming over for a fishing afternoon, and all of a sudden, the boat refuses to start. You keep turning the key, but nothing happens, and you’re forced to cancel your plans. Whether you’re dealing with a simple battery problem or a complex electrical issue, the loss of power can be devastating. That’s why it’s so important to perform regular maintenance and repairs on your boat.
The first step is to flush your engine. This will remove salt residue from the inside of your engine, which could be corroding the metal components. Also, make sure to wash the seats and other parts of your boat with fresh water after every use. This will help prevent buildup and protect the hull from cracks.
Another common boat repair is to replace the battery. The battery is the heart of your boat, and it’s essential that you have a reliable one. Make sure you regularly check the battery and clean it to prevent corrosion.
Additionally, it’s important to replace the spark plugs. Spark plugs are vital to the engine, and they can become damaged by dirt and other debris in the water.
If you notice that your engine is making strange sounds, it’s a good idea to call for repairs. Unusual noises can be a sign of a serious problem, and it’s best to catch them early.
Lastly, you should always check the warranty on your boat before getting any work done. This will help you know what the repair shop is liable for and how much they will charge for parts and labor. It’s also a good idea to ask for a quote before they begin working on your boat.
When choosing a repair shop, it’s important to know the mechanic’s qualifications and experience. Ask them about their years of experience and what kind of training they have received. They should also be able to provide you with some proof of their skills, such as certificates or diplomas. It’s also a good idea to ask if they have any master technicians, as this indicates that they have passed very challenging exams.
Electronics are the lifeblood of boating, from GPS chartplotters to fishfinders to radar to VHF radios. Most of these items work on either DC (direct current) or AC, and most have a built-in battery that maintains memory and lets you use them when your boat’s power fails. These are very reliable pieces of equipment, but they will all eventually need repair or replacement. For this reason, it is best to have a marine electronics repair expert service your products while they are still under warranty.
The first thing that boat owners need to remember when they install their own electronic equipment is that it needs to be connected properly. Many people make simple errors in the wiring of their equipment, which can lead to disaster. One of the most common mistakes is mounting a battery or other device upside down. This can cause the batteries to drain or even reverse polarity and fail. The best way to avoid this is to look for a label or imprint on the battery that shows you which direction it goes in.
Another problem that can occur is mixing up the different wires in an electronic unit. Some of these wires connect to power, while others can be used for NMEA ports, alarms, or external speakers. Mixing these wires up sends a direct voltage supply to parts of the device that are not designed to handle it. This often results in a fried circuit board.
One of the most important skills a boat owner should have is the ability to read diagrams, blueprints, and schematics. These are very useful for troubleshooting and repairing electrical systems. Most manufacturers will have a troubleshooting section in their product manual that will tell you what to check and how to check it. It is also a good idea to have a multimeter, which can help in troubleshooting.