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Rot in aft beam or build "Quality" of professional and Wharram approved builder Andy Smith

Today, much to my horror I discovered that the ply webbing of my Tiki 38´s aft beam was rotten round the hole  for beam locating pin. I could trace it back to water ingress around the insert/bushing of the beam locating beam which has not properly been embedded in epoxy. Normally this is part which should not give any word and should last forever. All which hinted my to it was a small crack in the wood around the starboard pin.

This is not only a shame for a professional builder (anybody beware if he wants to have aboat boat built by Andy Smith, the Wharram approval does not seem to help anything) but also a pain to repair.  Pretty much the one side of the beam has to be cut open and the "infected" ply webbing has to be cut out. On the port hole this has been 50 cm either side of the pin, I will then scarf new webbing and wood in. On the starboard side the plywood is only wet, has anybody got experience letting the plywood dry in situ after I have drilled a few holes in it and uncovered about 20 cm2? 

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I understand your point. I am a builder who makes "unapproved" modifications on the boats that I build. I do so only with good intentions, and based on my previous building experiences. But I also know that I am assuming the liability for those changes, and that it is a risk that I am personally willing to take. I only took issue with your premise that there was no excuse for a builder to stick to the original plans.

Obviously, this is not the case here. The paying owner wished for there to be changes in the design, of his own creation, that the builder assumed responsibility for at the time the change was implemented (unless a contract or change order stipulated otherwise.) Based on the owner's written specifications in this discussion, I personally concluded that if properly installed rot should not have occurred. Beyond that, I cannot comment further since I have not personally seen either the intended modification, nor the actual modification as was installed by the builder. At this point, we only have one side of the story and some inconclusive photos of the modification. The one thing we know for sure is that the beam has rot, which needs to be repaired or replaced. Hopefully this community can help with that issue.

Ricardo Aráoz said:

Then he has got to stick to the plans.

But, do you really think this was the case? Do you think an owner to whom you explain he'll get rot in his beams will say no? Specially considering the modifications would be unexpensive?

As for letting the plywood dry in situ, I have done that before. HOWEVER, if there are dried salts left behind, the problem will persist. Unfortunately, it might be impossible to remove the salts unless you can flood the layers of ply with fresh water, which I do not think is possible. Even if it was, the dry time would be significant.

Listen... we thought of maybe using a builder and when I looked further into reviews of Andy Smith's shop, there is story afyer story of poor to no project management on siteday to day during build... lack of communication... and over all problems that a neq owner would never expect. NTM double charging for costs already in original quote. These are a things I continupusly read. And have yet to read a rebutable of the allegations. I have no first hand eperience with him.. but I would. Stay far clear from him OR have an American Contract stipulating every single down to the last screw listed in quote and.contract

pls. send me a direct message or mail if you need more info. However what you heard should be enough to stay away.

This is an interesting blog . . .  I've been a boat builder off and on all my life (Largest Wharram - 40" Nari).  Since I have been in Andy' boat yard in Bohol, Philippines, I can assure you that it seems better organized than most boat shops.  I spent 31 years in Santa Cruz, CA (Home of the original ULDB racing boats).  I can assure you that there were some "very interesting" boat builder there during the late 70s to the early 90s.

More to the point, Wharrams are wooden boats; wood rots and get's termites.  I refer you to the re-build that James and Hanke did this spring on their big boat.  Uh, termites and rot, but its all coated with epoxy . . .

I've had to have wood boats tented for termite before I could even work on them.  Everybody thinks that Epoxy is the great solution for all that ails wood boats.  It ain't.  All boats work and only if you're using West System G-Flex can you be sure that the epoxy will flex with the wood.   

In 2012, my partner and  I were looking to buy a Tiki 38.  Each of us had separately inspected everything thoroughly on the boat and then we compared notes.  Only then did we pay to have the boat hauled and surveyed.  $2,000.00 later, it took a surveyor to find the water penetration and rot in the hull plywood . . .  Both of us being professional, we were stunned. 

The point of all this is simple; wooden boats and water equal constant maintenance.  I've made too much money repairing balsa cored boat to own one those wooden cored boats.  Lets see, balsa is wood and it soaks up water and rots, duh!  Fiberglass/Balsa Core is no panacea.

I've been in David Haliday's old shop and my partner has been in both his old shop and new shop (Boatsmith).  He is an incredible wood worker, yet this Very Professional boat builder has chosen to use Foam and Fiberglass to build Wharrams.  It may not be politically correct on this site, but neither of them rot.  However, I think everyone should own a wooden boat because I love making lots money working on them . . .  

Even new houses need constant maintenance.  Boat builders build the the boats, but the owners need to maintain them.  Just remember, everyone of you out there is intelligent and quite capable of improving on Wharram's original design in order to make them more durable.  

You are correct. Though neither foam nor fiberglass will rot, such a boat is not as easy to repair a a plywood boat, especially in remote locations. From experience, scarfing in new foam to a delaminated or broken area is more difficult than scarfing in a new piece of ply.

Foam, by itself, is has no inherent strength, whereas plywood is the strength. Therefor when making a repair to a foam-cored boat, one must be certain to glass both sides properly to regain the strength. Plywood is far more commonly available throughout the world compared to foam. All of this being said, properly built foam/glass boats are generally maintenance free if kept in good condition.

General notes to all Wharram owners: There are some consistent concern areas on all plywood Wharrams where rot is known to make appearances. The most common are the areas around the beam troughs, the beams where they make contact with any other part, and the hull deck joint. These are working areas where friction or impact occurs most often. As the wood flexes, the epoxy generally does not (as Doug pointed out.) This creates tiny cracks which can allow water to get behind the epoxy, and the process usually takes years.



doug nisbet said:


I've been in David Haliday's old shop and my partner has been in both his old shop and new shop (Boatsmith).  He is an incredible wood worker, yet this Very Professional boat builder has chosen to use Foam and Fiberglass to build Wharrams.  It may not be politically correct on this site, but neither of them rot.  However, I think everyone should own a wooden boat because I love making lots money working on them . . .  

Even new houses need constant maintenance.  Boat builders build the the boats, but the owners need to maintain them.  Just remember, everyone of you out there is intelligent and quite capable of improving on Wharram's original design in order to make them more durable.  

The fact something has gone wrong in a boat built by a pro does not in itself mean they did something wrong.  You are responsible for maintenance, and apparently also modifications to the beam.  Unless the beams are laminated of small sections and then sheathed there is little hope water will not get in.  Phillipine plywood tends to be of species that turn to mush rather easily compared to Doug Fir, for instance.  I had rot get into my deck in an area where there was phillipine ply, sitka spruce, cedar, 1088, balsa.  The Phil ply, and balsa were excised in their entirety.  Of course the 1088 was quite possibly made of Phil ply, but whatever they use in that, holds up well enough.

Not everyone's misfortune is someone else's fault.

A well built boat using the wood epoxy construction techniques should virtually last forever, the book of the Gougeon brothers will explain the proper building techniques in quite some detail and also elaborates on the longevity of the materials and the built structure. Even "simpler" wood lasts forever when it is well sealed in epoxy.
In this specific case the end grain of the wood had not been properly saturated in epoxy and the bushing had not been properly set in epoxy, I could all see this in pretty much detail when taking it apart and rebuilding it, there were large glue gaps, or better the glue missing at all which caused the water ingress (BTW I used the same bushing design on my old boat and it is lasting for 13 years without a repaint, rework or similar). So it is quite clearly the builders fault, unfortunately showing up years later and negligence in a structural part like a beam is an absolute nogo!
On another note, I well understand the importance of maintenance and regular inspection of wood-expoxy-glass structures and fast repair of any chips or dents as they can occur in normal use.
,

Do you know the brand of ply used Björn?

No, not really, according to Andy Smith it was locally  in the Philippines sourced plywood and he was supposed to have done done some boil testing before. From my feeling working with it during modifications ans repair it feels like a Meranti plywood we could source here ln Europe. It feels quite brittle and has rather thin top and bottom veneer layers.

There are two types of Marine Plywood you can get mainstream here in the Philippines, Santa Clara and Tuff Ply. Both are good and survived the boil tests I did on them ok. However the quality of the veneers are quite poor with an A/B side with lots of patches on the B side. The rest of the ply you get here is just cheap Chinese imports ridden with voids and overlaps, stamped Marine Grade but doesn't last an hour in hot water! For anyone considering getting a boat built here in the Philippines I can offer my services as an owners representative and document everything. Do you have any photos of the boat under construction?

I have plenty of pictures, I can put some online. Can you view them when I open an iCloud album?

PS I noticed that the quality of the plywood seemed mixed, some  good some overlays and voids, hopefully the pics can guide you.

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