Leaky Rowing Shell

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  #1  
Old 07-02-13, 12:55 PM
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Leaky Rowing Shell

Howdy wooden boat experts,

We have a new (to us, vintage most likely WW2 or thereabouts) double rowing shell. She's lovely and has been well cared for.

Unfortunately we have taken her from a shady, mild, covered climate and storage area and must keep her outside (in her canvas cover, but otherwise unprotected) where humidity is low and summertime temps rise above 100F regularly. Even worse, she is on an asphalt parking lot, next to a party barge and speed boat trailers.

Predictably, she has started to dry out and leak. I accept this as a sign of protest for her inglorious new surroundings. I would like to help her be as watertight as possible given the conditions however. Do you have suggestions?

I am considering any or all of the following:

1) Her planking is secured with copper nails/rivets. I am thinking to let her continue to dry for a couple of months then tighten these up with a tap with a ball peen hammer (backed up with a dolly on the factory head side).

2) Revarnishing. A given maintenance procedure for a wooden boat. But is this an effective waterproofing method? Will a soft marine varnish fill a crack?

3) Epoxy coat with or without fabric. This seems like an effective but short term solution. It also seems like a heavy solution and I would prefer to keep the weight down. I suspect that after a hot/cool cycle the wood will move and separate from the epoxy layer anyway.

Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 07-02-13, 01:05 PM
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Welcome to the real world of old wooden boats.
Best thing you can do is use the boat more often to keep the wood swollen up.
Might want to try posting a on the "Good old Boat" web site.
Good Old Boat - Welcome to Good Old Boat Magazine
 
  #3  
Old 07-02-13, 02:37 PM
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Thanks Joe,

Yes, the best choice is keeping her in the water, but $50/mo for a parking spot vs. $200/mo for a slip is a tough upgrade when we can only make it out 3-4x a month. It's worth the difference in price to do a little bailing.

Mark
 
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Old 07-02-13, 03:57 PM
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Old 07-03-13, 02:53 AM
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I don't agree with an epoxy solution. As the wood expanded and contracted it would play havoc with the epoxy.

If you can't keep the boat in the water, can you keep water in the boat? A daily misting will keep the wood wet and swollen. If you decide to fill the boat with water, keep in mind that the extra weight could damage the hull or trailer.
 
  #6  
Old 07-03-13, 05:40 AM
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I did not think keeping a shell in the water is ever an option for anything more than a glass club training boat getting very regular use. I've always thought of them as prissy thoroughbreds that only get put on the track when ready to run.

I agree that glassing and/or epoxying the hull is probably not a good idea. You might consider it if you were totally encapsulating the hull inside and out but with a significant weight penalty. I think old school might be the better approach but your conditions are far from ideal for a wooden boat so unless you want to spend your life on maintenance some leaking will just be pride of ownership.

I'll send an E-mail to my father-in-law. He has a wooden double kayak and may have similar issues but I suspect it's glassed inside and out.
 
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Old 07-04-13, 04:19 PM
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A vote seconding the No Epoxy plan, good to see. And I had contemplated keeping water in the boat, even to the point of designing in my head the sturdy and well-distributed rack that would be required. But, we get out to the marina once per week at most, and as the boat is leaky I think all the water would just run out!

And yes PD, normally these boats are nicely kept indoors, protected, but not climate controlled. I look forward to hearing about the wooden kayak.

I think I will proceed with tightening any and all fasteners I can find, and give a nice coat or 8 of varnish. That will have to do.
 
  #8  
Old 07-04-13, 04:50 PM
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where humidity is low and summertime temps rise above 100F regularly.
Before messing with a perfectly good boat, I'd try to stabilize the humidity in the boat.

What comes to mind is
1) add moisture.
Find the cheapest disposable diapers you can at the local store - you're looking for a cheap source of the water holding/releasing agent - sodium polyacrylate.

Soak a diaper in water, plunk it into an open bucket inside the boat.
Put the canvas cover on, see if the slow release of water keeps the humidity up.
Keep increasing the amount of water (add soaked diapers) until you are able to stablilize the humidity.

2) If that doesn't work, get some 1-mill plastic Christmas tree bags, they're about 7' long, connect as many as necessary with duct tape to make a big plastic boat bag to keep the humidity in.
 
  #9  
Old 07-05-13, 04:46 AM
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But, we get out to the marina once per week at most, and as the boat is leaky I think all the water would just run out!
It would at first, but as the wood swells the leaks will subside.
 
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Old 07-05-13, 07:49 AM
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My father in law glassed his boat inside and out picking ease of maintenance over light weight. Probably not what you want to hear for a rowing shell.

I think minimizing temperature and humidity variations are you best bet, although difficult in an outside rack. You want to be careful with water trying to keep it wet as you can easily go overboard and create a rot problem. I like the idea of a bucket of water inside the boat to help keep the humidity higher. Monitor the interior carefully for signs of mildew as you're walking that fine line between keeping the wood hydrated and dry rot.
 
  #11  
Old 07-05-13, 11:47 AM
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Prior post suggest some other options...

Even worse, she is on an asphalt parking lot, next to a party barge and speed boat trailers.
Three ideas

First, any way you you put the shell in the shade of some other, bigger boat?
Second, is there any place on the lot where there is an open gravel/dirt area where you could park?
Third, any possibility of painting getting a cheap white or silver car over which is open on the bottom to let humidity in?

Given the bad situation, the best solution I can figure is

1- find a place on the north side of the largest boat in the yard (shade)
2- find a place with bare earth or gravel and put a car cover over the shell (trap evaporative humidity)
3- paint or purchase a white or silver car cover (temperature mitigation).
 
  #12  
Old 07-06-13, 08:45 AM
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Some creative and useful ideas, guys. Thanks. It might end up being the worlds's largest (and best-smelling) cigar in the worlds's largest humidor.
 
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