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Thread: Companionway Step Repair

  1. #1
    Contributing Partner lonokai's Avatar
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    Companionway Step Repair

    I continue efforts to fix things on Lono Kai. I am alas, not a good handyman, but I am trying.

    Today: the companionway steps. I have been sanding them down and removing the old paint from the PO. Today I took off the metal (steel?) plates on either side of the top of the steps.

    This revealed some rotted wood and a crack on one side (see the photos). The crack extends about 24 inches down the steps. The top of the crack was filled with silicon and the wood does separate if pulled. The opposite side is fine. I assume the PO used the metal plats on both sides to reinforce the stairs.

    I never really liked the steel plates, and I do not relish the thought of having to sand all the paint and rust from them, but I am concerned about the wood now. I'm thinking I will do the following;

    Clean out the previous repair work (silicon and whatever else), sand everything down and then put CPES EPOXY just to the cracked areas in the hope of strengthening the wood there.
    Sand down (or clean) the steel plates. Paint them silver. Place them back onto the steps with CPES EPOxY between the steel and the wood. When all have cured, CPES the whole thing, then varnish and hope they hold.

    Any thoughts on the efficacy of this?
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    Last edited by lonokai; 09-10-2016 at 08:57 AM. Reason: verbiage
    Eric Gordon
    1975 Ericson 27, Yanmar 3GM30
    Dana Point, CA
    "Sea Star"
    Hull #721

  2. #2
    Contributing Partner lonokai's Avatar
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    BTW, I realized I forgot to resize the photos and orient properly....sorry
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    Eric Gordon
    1975 Ericson 27, Yanmar 3GM30
    Dana Point, CA
    "Sea Star"
    Hull #721

  3. #3
    Principal Partner Afrakes's Avatar
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    Mounting brackets

    The metal mounting brackets should be plated bronze or brass. Sometimes the pitted and corroded plating makes them appear to be rusty. Injecting thickened epoxy into the tracks should be enough to restore integrity to the wood.
    Al Frakes
    1987 E-28 Reba Gee
    Hull #663
    Port Kent, NY

  4. #4
    Contributing Partner lonokai's Avatar
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    Thanks Al. I am thinking I might drill some holes into the backside of the steps to get more epoxy in there....see diagram
    The dotted lines are where I would drill holes.
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    Eric Gordon
    1975 Ericson 27, Yanmar 3GM30
    Dana Point, CA
    "Sea Star"
    Hull #721

  5. #5
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    Except for the tops, it looks like the ladder will clean up well and take varnish to look good.

    The steel plate was overkill and poor choice of material. You can strengthen that side by other means, suggested above.

    But, appearance-wise, I don't think the tops will look good in varnish, even with a lot of sanding and filling and bleaching.

    If it were me, I would paint the tops (only), giving the ladder a rather dashing appearance, like Fred Astaire upsidedown (reference is to his white spats).

    Even for painting, the tops will take filling and smoothing for a uniform surface.

    When I redid my ladder recently, I used a heat gun to remove old varnish.

    If there are stains still marring the surface, Oxalic acid wood bleach is effective.

    Is prep complete and a surface ready for varnish? A swipe with an alcohol rag previews exactly how it will look.
    Last edited by Christian Williams; 09-10-2016 at 10:14 AM.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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  6. #6
    Contributing Partner lonokai's Avatar
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    Thanks Christian. Just to clarify...you mean the whole top above the step on all sides... (see arrows)
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    Eric Gordon
    1975 Ericson 27, Yanmar 3GM30
    Dana Point, CA
    "Sea Star"
    Hull #721

  7. #7
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    Yes, exactly.

    If when you finish the reinforcement the wood looks OK, maybe you can still varnish it. But if it looks beat up, stained and ugly, in distinct contrast to the rest of the ladder, the alternative is paint as an "accent" there.

    It would be easier just to varnish it all, if it turns out not too bad.

    The white stuff on the rungs--looks like sealant? what glue cures white?-- needs to come off without a trace before varnish.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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  8. #8
    Contributing Partner lonokai's Avatar
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    Its looking good right now...not perfect...

    So, I have the "Layup and Laminating Epoxy," Parts A and B, which I will use for the repair.

    Afterwards, Thought I would "paint" the whole top with the CPES,
    THEN Varnish it all.

    It might not look absolutely perfect but should be better than government work.

    BTW, the PO painted all the steps white. Some of it has seeped deeply into the wood. I might have to live with SOME faint white specks here and there and those lines along where the two pieces of wood join.

    Now, Mr. Smith's site says that you should use the CPES as the first step, then move on to other products......I was going to use the Laminating Epoxy first.
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    Last edited by lonokai; 09-10-2016 at 11:35 AM.
    Eric Gordon
    1975 Ericson 27, Yanmar 3GM30
    Dana Point, CA
    "Sea Star"
    Hull #721

  9. #9
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    I would not use cpes to effect repairs. WEST epoxy would be my choice. Lay it in the crack with a syringe, and then clamp it up.The bond
    created will be stronger than the wood.

    Martin
    Last edited by Martin King; 09-10-2016 at 12:18 PM.

  10. #10
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    That's going to look fine with varnish. It will have character.

    Your plan is sound, but since we're discussing this repair among us amateurs, here's what I would do.

    Since the issue is just a crack in the wood, I'd drill ( from the back) for three #12 stainless wood screws to draw the pieces together and keep them there. Expoxy is optional.

    I might use a 3/8ths forstner bit to insert the screws, then plug them with 3/8th plugs.

    For the holes and gaps remaining, I would (keeping this to myself since it isn't nautical) get from a hardware store some plastic wood or other mahogany-colored fill and fill the holes and cracks.

    Sand and apply at least four coats varnish, the first thinned 50 percent so it will absorb.

    I wouldn't bother with CPES, myself. The screws provide mechanical strength and CPES is for wood that's gonna get wet or needs to be hardened up.

    Many ways to do it, just thuoght I'd give my approach.
    Last edited by Christian Williams; 09-10-2016 at 12:11 PM.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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  11. #11
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    Sanding those steps.

    Eric,

    I have a Bosch corner sander with the triangular random orbit pattern that I'd be glad to lend you. As a matter of fact, I have two of them so probably would't miss the one. They work like a son if a gun and would make short shrift of the remaining white paint. Have you considered Gorilla glue for that long split in the wood? The rest could be filled/repaired with a slurry of thickened West System 105 and gobs of mahogany saw dust. Let me know if I can help, Glyn

  12. #12
    Innocent Bystander tenders's Avatar
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    I agree with Martin that CPES is a waste of time for this. Actually I think it is a waste of time for most everything. I have a quart I bought years ago for some repair I can't even remember anymore and it has never been used. I have always found some other better approach, and in this case I think Martin's suggestion is that better approach. In fact it is like the Six Million Dollar Man: better, stronger, faster. (CPES takes a long time to cure.)
    1969 Ericson 32 #112 • Atomic Four
    City Island, NYC
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    Hair by Mr. Gigi

  13. #13
    Contributing Partner lonokai's Avatar
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    Smile

    OK, Thanks to all of you. As it turns out, I did NOT use CPES. I did however use the Rot Doctor's Laminating Epoxy, simply because I am 100 miles from the boat and nowhere near anywhere to get some West epoxy...etc,,,

    In any case, I sanded everything down and filled the larger space with the epoxy. IT has dried extremely hard and is holding together. Since I went ot the boat over the weekend, I use ther steps and they are fine. I will do one last sanding befpre beginning the varnishing process.

    The Epoxy was looser than I anticipated and my efforts to get it to stay were halfway successful....I have about 1/4 inch to fill next time.

    I'll post photos later showing where I am now....


    Glyn, I may just take you up on that
    Eric Gordon
    1975 Ericson 27, Yanmar 3GM30
    Dana Point, CA
    "Sea Star"
    Hull #721

  14. #14
    Contributing Partner lonokai's Avatar
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    So, the Epoxy was loose enough to spread over the wood as you can see in the photo. I will have to sand it all down. The steps are looking better and will soon be ready for varnish. It IS a hassle taking the steps back and forth to work on them...but its breeding some patience on my part, and will come in handy when I tackle the companionway hatch.

    Thank you all again for your comments and support.

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    Eric Gordon
    1975 Ericson 27, Yanmar 3GM30
    Dana Point, CA
    "Sea Star"
    Hull #721

  15. #15
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    Believe me when I say we are all in a learning process with boat jobs. Even though knowledge builds up over time, every new job is the first time, which separates us from professionals.

    Laminating epoxy is wrong in this case, since you're not laminating anything. It's runny and remains somewhat flexible. West System epoxy (there are other brands) is the general epoxy to use, and it can be thickened to a peanut-butter paste for filling using colloidal silica (very hard) or sawdust (sold for the purpose).

    It's what we would use to "glue" elements together. It can fill gaps, unlike glue.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
    Table of Contents for Thelonious Blog here
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