Rebedding Deck Hardware Part 2: sealing the bolt holes

The holes for the bolts used to attach the deck hardware now are prepared for filling with epoxy.  To make a good ‘seal’ to keep any future leaks (remember, it is only a matter of time until another leak develops) from allowing water into the balsa core a ‘plug’ needs to be created.

Step one is to remove about a quarter-inch of balsa from around the bolt hole.  To do this I created a ‘bit’ using a bent nail.

balsa removal tool

With the ‘bit’ in the bolt hole I ran the drill for in the hole to remove the balsa.

removing balsa

After removing the balsa iI could see that no core was wet (core not having contact with water is light colored; wet or water damaged core is dark brown/black).

Now to fill the holes with epoxy.  I used West System 105 for this task.  To keep the wet epoxy from running out the holes I placed a small bit of duct-tape covering/sealing the hole inside the cabin.

duct tape bolt hole

After mixing the epoxy I filled the holes using a large syringe.  Refilling the holes is necessary as the balsa soaks up the epoxy.  After a few ‘re-fills’ I filled the holes with an epoxy mix of colloidal silica.  This mixture was a ‘mayonnaise’ consistency.  Be sure to wipe away any excess to keep the cabin-top flat (ie, don’t creat a bump).

After the epoxy had set (this is temperature dependent, and I did the work on a chilly days so this was overnight) I removed the duct-tape from the inside cabin roof.  It is important not to let duct-tape stay attached for longer than necessary … the adhesive will stick if left in place for more than a day and rip off the cabin roof paint when removed; along with leaving tape ‘goo’.

When the epoxy was fully set (usually 24 hours, i waited two days) it was time to clean up all the dirt and old 4200 from around the now filled bolt holes on the cabintop.  I first used basic ‘boat soap’ to clean the area.  I follow with 3Ms adhesive remover (NOTE: you may not be able to purchase this item … i found some in my father’s collection of home ‘fix it’ supplied).  The final step was another cleaning with ‘boat soap’.  During each cleaning stage I used a good nylon scrub brush to work out the dirt and 4200.

OK, with the holes are filled it is time to clean up the handrails and cleats.


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