Boating - Pearson 26

Pearson 26 - Deck seam and rub rails

There are places along the deck seam where the rub rail attaches that look like they came down on a dock rather hard and repeatedly. In these areas the lip that is formed by the seam of the deck and hull has been either cracked or completely broken off. I am not sure how to repair these areas and have placed the images below to hopefully get some feedback on how to go about it. If you have an idea on how to repair these areas, please drop me an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and let me know. I am in no way a professional fiberglass guy. I guess I would qualify as a rank amature.

Let me qualify the problem by stating that my intensions are to paint the hull so gelcoating is not mandatory or even required that I can tell. Having said that, on idea that I had was to completely grind the lip off in the broken areas flush to where the deck and hull meet. At that point grind the deck and hull back from the seam and lay layers of cloth and mat until the area was flush and built out. This would solve the question of the bond between the deck and hull. Next, I would take some fiberglass rectangle bar, 1/4" x 3/4" and epoxy it to the where the seam would have originally been, then layer a couple of layers of cloth around this stock to the hull and deck to give it some more support. This would allow me to hand the rubber rub rail back on the boat.

Does anyone have any ideas or thoughts on the above process? Will it work? Is the idea flawed somehow?

Below are pictures of some of the damaged area. You can click on them for a larger version. If you need more images or larger versions yet, please let me know and I will be happy to provide them.

Seam and rail damage.Seam and rail damage.Seam and rail damage.

Richard Usen from the Pearson mailing list has graciously pointed out an error in my plan for fixing the deck to hull seams and rub rail. Richard noted that more strength could be had for the rub rail if a lip was made by layering fiberglass against a form. In this case I will take his suggestion and bondo a form (a strip of wood) to the hull after the deck and hull have been glassed together. This will allow me to lay glass on top of the form and the side of the deck to recreate the upper half of the lip. After setting up, the strip will be removed and the bottom lip formed against the hull and new upper lip. I only at this point need to figure how many layers it will take to build the original thickness of the lip. I have to make sure it is thick enough to hold the "T" channel that the rub rail pulls over. Thanks again Richard for your help.

Today, I erected some scaffolding and thought I would attack some of the rub rail problems.  I started the project on the port side with the first broken section closest to the back of the boat.  The picture below tell the story.

Area ground outThe plan was simple.  I would cut the rubrail off somewhere past the broken edge so i would get into good fiberglass.  Then I would grind the remaining bits of rail down so that the deck and hull were flush.  Next I would cut back the lower half of the rail on each side by an inch and a half and then taper the lower half an additional one and a half inches.

The lower rub rail was 1/8" thick so I would taper the hull from 1.5" and down to a depth of an 1/8" at the seam.  From there well I will wait for you to see what I do.

Unfortunately, I had some delaminated fiberglass and had to grind it out.  What I discovered is that the hull is only about 1/4" thick at the seam and the cloth that was used to bond the deck to the hull was not saturated very well and only what looked like one layer thick.  I would have thought it to be better built than that.  The result is what you see on the left side of the photo.  I am ground all the way through and will need to add some backing.  I can get to these areas from the inside the cabin and under the cockpit lockers.  Although I will need to remove some trim and panels to get to it all.

Look at that hole!!!Look at this hole!!!  My next step will be to lay up some 4 inch by 24 inch patches made with two layers of CSM.  I will place these behind the hole and along the seam on the inside with some thickened epoxy. After it gets tacky, I will lay a strip of 6 inch wide cloth over that.  From there I should be able to turn my attention back to the deck seam on the outside.

My intension is to make a 2 inch wide two layer thick piece the length of the repair.  In this case about 48 inches long and epoxy it to the hull and to the underside of the top lip.  I will hold it in place if need be with a few plugs of clay.  I will use this piece to lay up the hull and lower lip.  With a little luck, and some fairing I should end up with a decent repair to the lower half.  I will post pictures of my progress.

Pearson 26 - Boat Cover

One of the major problems I have been facing is keeping the boat dry. It rains a lot in the spring and fall here where I live. With the boat on the trailer and needing to paint and rebed things and leaves falling or blowing into the cock pit covering the drains I inevitably get water in the boat. My solution is to build a cover frame to support a tarp to cover it with and hopefully the end result is a dry boat.

My idea is to use 3/4" PVC pipe wrapped around the boat and clamped to the rub rails, then place uprights on about 24" centers. From here I will bring the side uprights to a peak. This arrangement will allow me to keep the stantions in place and the pulpit. I also will extend the frame back past the after end of the boat to leave enough space to get into the boat while it is still covered. I will post my progress here.

Frame about 1/3 done.Here we are from left to right, Michael, Me (Joe) and Zachary taking a small break while Melissa takes a picture for us.  At this point we have the pipe wrapped around the boat and "T"'s located about every 24". The uprights you see are 30" tall so as to clear the stanchions, from here 45s are attached and meet up at the peak. I guess we are about 1/3 done with the general outline of the frame.

The frame about 1/2 done.At this point we have about 1/2 the frame done. You will notice how the frame extends past the back of the boat. This was done to allow me to get into the boat while it is covered for whatever reason. I guess at this point we are about half way done with it and through for the day. Hopefully we can get some more done on it tomorrow. When I have the general shape of the frame don, I will re-enforce it with more bracing. I know this may be over kill but when it is finished it should be a free standing structure.

About 3/4 of the way.At this point we are about 3/4 finished with the frame.  As I go along with this project I wonder if I should have done things differently.  I guess because I have glued about a million joints and feel like I have a million more to go.  Oh well, way to far into it now to change course.  :-D

Framed up to the bowWe are finally framed up to the bow of the boat.  I have also started adding some cross bracing to help make the frame more rigid.  I done this because I feared that the 3/4 PVC will not handle the weight of the tarp.  Another problem that I see is if you take the clamps off the rub rails the frame will flex out enough to fall over past the edge of the rails.  I need to figure a way of keeping the fram on the rails without clamping the.  I would like to use my clamps for other projects.  One idea I have it to tie a line to the posts athwartship to pull them against the side of the deck.  But that will have to be a project for a different day.  Loads of rain is coming and I have to get this thing covered up.

Covered up - BowHere is the bow of the boat covered in the hay tarp.  Unfortunately, from my vantage point, I cannot get the whole boat in the camera frame.  So life goes I guess.

Covered up - SternHere is the stern covered up on the tarp.  Here you see that the tarp was not quite long enough to cover the back part of the frame.  But it is enough to keep it dry.  It is nice to be able to get into the boat with the cover on.  Maybe all that gluing was worth the effort.  Then again, i have not tried to remove the frame from the boat.  I may end up getting out and dusting off some of my navy vernacular before it is all said and done.  ;-)

I will try to get a picture posted of the cover from the inside.  I think it looks kind of neat, but I am a little biased.

My 1970 Pearson 26 - Hull #180

Have you ever had one of those deals fall into your lap that you just can't refuse? Well my whole boating experience has been that way. For example, my first boat was a home built catamaran from a PS magazine given to me by a friend. (Later I learned that it was a Stevenson's design, the designer of the Weekender and Vacationer and many other boats.)

My last boat was give to me as well. It was a Glen-L 10 sailboat. The boat had sit in the loft of my friends barn for a number of years. There was also some damage to the to the deck. I seized the chance and took the boat. Learned a lot of things about repairing a wood boat. The boat itself is fun to sail, but much too small for my needs.

At this point my wife and I decided we were going to build the Stevenson's Vacationer. A 21' on deck Gaff Rigged sloop. And once the big remodeling and building projects were done we planned to start.

Then it happened again. Another friend of mine bought a 40+ foot house boat in a deal with another friend of his. This left him with a Pearson 26, propped up in his back yard with a mostly finished trailer under it. He knew that I liked sailing and decided he would rather give me the boat, sails and trailer and it get used than try to sell it or worse yet, let it decay and rot away in his back yard. Well I took a look at the boat and took him up on the deal.

My wife and I decided we would finish the trailer and move the boat to a new home, clean up the two and a half years of built up grime and cover it with a huge hay tarp until we finished our other big projects. The plans changed. Our daughter was griping about how we never do anything as a family anymore. Vacations, outings and that stuff, because Melissa and I have been focusing on getting out of debt. Melissa and I thought she had a point, the kids are growing up and we need to make a few memories. We decided that we would do what we had to, to get the boat on the water, then this fall, fix any remaining problems and give her new paint.

Getting the boat into the water.

I started looking over the boat trying to figure out what I needed to do to get it in the water as soon as I can this season, and make sure it is safe enough to sail. Well, never having owned a boat this size, and fiberglass to boot, I felt a little intimated by it. But what follows are a list of things that need to happen overall. Some obviously to get it into the water and others because they just need to be done.

  • The boat could use new paint on the deck, cockpit and hull.
  • The interior needs a thorough cleaning and some paint.
  • The keel bolts look pretty rough. I know that the keel leaks a bit so will probably need rebedding and new keel boats.
  • The keel could use a sand blasting, epoxy sealed and faired out a bit.
  • The lip where the deck and hull meet is broken in some places. Probably where it came down on a dock or something. It does not leak water where this lip is broken, but this is where the rub rail attaches and without it looks bad.Also, I think that it affects the structural integrity of the boat a small amount. I will need to repair this before putting it in the water.
  • The rudder bushings are bad and need replaced as well as some repairs to the tube at the lower end.
  • I am sure that there are other issues, but for now these will keep me busy enough.

The big question is, was the free boat a deal, a labor of love or just a curse. I suppose only Time will tell.

Links are provided under the Pearson 26 menu link that I will discuss each section.

Pearson 26 - Rudder Tube and Bushings

I have read about the rudder bushings and shaft wear on Dan Pfeiffer's web site. I though I would check and see what condition the bushings were in. Well, I grabbed the end of the rudder and pulled. Sure enough, there was lots of play in the rudder. I knew I would have to drop the rudder and take a look.

Dropping the rudder was a pretty easy job. Remove the bolt that holds the tiller, then the bolt that runs through the rudder shaft and retaining collar and she will slip right out. With the rudder out, the top bushing was wore but intact. The bottom however was a different story. The bottom only had the lip of the bushing left, the inside was completely gone. The end of the rudder tube was rough and uneven. From looking at the diagram on Dan's site, there should have been a bushing at each end of the rudder tub and a thrust bearing (or collar) on top of the upper bushing. Well, what I had was one complete bushing, and either the last owner did not use the thrust washer or used it for a lower bushing. If they did use a lower bushing, there is no evidence that there was any bushing entering the rudder tube.

Now on a side note, as I was sanding, I discovered a patch that was made to the hull at the rudder tube. This patch looks like it is Bondo or something. It is not well attached and probably should be removed and redone. At the same time doing some repair of the rudder tube.

Below are two pictures of the rudder tube as viewed from the bottom of the boat. The quality of these pictures are poor because they were taken with my cell phone. If I had my camera with me they would have been a little better. Both images show the bottom of the boat where the rudder tube exits. The first picture shows the Bondo patch pretty good. It is coming loose at the edges and should probably come out to expose what was trying to be fixed. The second image gives you a better idea of the condition of the rudder tube. It has some gaps and unevenness around the edges and face of the tube. I think this should be fixed. I am thinking of some epoxy with some filler here to both fill the gaps and replace the Bondo patch. But first I am going to ask for some suggestions from Dan and the Pearson group. Hopefully they can point me in the right direction.

Rudder tube before repairs Rudder tube before repairs

Help arrived from a fellow in New Jersey, by the name of Bill Chapman, who had to make the same repair to his Pearson sailboat. He has been gracious enough to walk through this repair. I am grateful that he has volunteered his time to help me. I wish more Bill Chapman's lived in this world! Thanks Bill.

The pictures above show you what the current situation of the rudder tube as it exits the hull. What you don't see is a nipple that is supposed to extend below the hull. This nipple receives the lower bushing. My best guess is that the boat was pitched against a dock smashing the rudder to port and breaking the nipple off. Afterwards coming down and breaking the lip off where the rub rail attaches. The owner of the boat ground the rough breakage off and used bondo to fair the hull. Then only used a bushing on top and the thrust bushing on the bottom. To make this repair, the patch will have to be ground out as well as an area surrounding the rudder tube opening. But I am getting ahead of myself. Check out what happens below.

Buying new rudder bushings.

New rudder bushings from DR MarineFirst, knowing that I needed new bushings, I set out to order them. The new ones that I bought are pictured to the left. The were bought from D & R Marine. You can find them on the Internet at These guys sell two different sizes of bushing, Standard ID at 2.354" and Oversize ID at 2.380", (Both for 78 US Dollars) so I had to get an average measurement of the rudder shaft to get the correct ones. My rudder shaft averaged 2.780" so I bought the oversize bushings. There are a couple of differences between the old bushings and the new one. The old bushings look to be made of nylon, while these are made from delrin. The old bushings had a larger size outside diameter than the new ones. The new bushings has slop when inserted into the upper rudder shaft tube. The bottom has to be reformed so it does not matter. The top however may need to be injected with some epoxy filler. Finally, the old bushing was round on the outside and the new bushing has flats cut into it. I presume to keep it from spinning in the rudder tube, that would result in worn areas of the rudder tube.

Polished rudder shaftThe next thing I had to do was prepare the rudder shaft for the new bushings. The rudder shaft was in pretty rough shape. So I decided to give it a good cleaning, remove the scale and polish it up. What you see to the left is the nearly finished shaft. The rudder shaft is made from aluminum. Looking at it would make you think stainless steel. That is what Mothers Aluminum polish can do for you when used with a speed ball and lots of progressive sanding. Before polishing, the shaft was worked with some sandpaper starting at about 600 grit and finishing with 2000 grit with a few flavors in between.

Starting the repair on the boat hull.

Bondo ground away revealing damageTo start with the patch that was placed there by a previous owner had to be ground out and checked for damage. In the image to the left, you can see there is some damage to the fiberglass. This may have been compounded by the fact that the place was never sealed against water and that body filler will absorb water. Oh well it could have been much worse and the area still needs to be ground out. To get an idea of what it is supposed to look like, imagine the tube you see in this picture extending out from the hull about a 1/2 inch to 3/4 of an inch. Well you can see that it was snapped off up in there a little ways. Before proceeding, the tube was checked to see if it would move at all by climbing into the hull and trying to physically move the tube. Then it was sprayed with a pressure washer to see if it allowed any water into the hull. Neither happened so we can proceed.

Damaged area ground out to be repaired.Next, the hull was ground around the rudder tube opening to about three inches. It gradually tapers down to where the tube had been broken off. The reason this is done is to give a large area for the repair to adhere hopefully resulting in a stronger bond. The rudder tube was sanded to make sure there is good adhesion for the base coat of epoxy.

Rudder tube plug.After the sanding a form was made from green floral foam. The foam was chucked into my Craftsman 109 lathe and turn down to fit the ID of the rudder tube. Afterwards the form was turned down to fit the new bushing. The purpose of this form is to place the bushing at the proper distance from the hull to form the new nipple that holds it.

After a little thought on the subject, I began to wonder if the short stub of a plug would work.  I mean, what was there to guarantee an alignment with the upper bushing.  After all the rudder shaft itself is not flexible.   My response to this question was to laminate up some poplar and turn it down on a lathe to the same diameter as the rudder shaft.  By placing the bushings, washer and retaining collar on this shaft, I would have a reasonable chance that the rudder will fit in afterward.  Many thanks to my friend Byron for turning this down for me on his lathe.  Mine is not large enough to handle such a big piece.

Determining the distance from the existing rudder tube is the next order of business.

Determining the length of the stub that needs built out.The lower bushing is slid on the rudder and then the rudder run up the tube. On the top the bushing, thrust washer and retaining collar are installed and the rudder allowed to rest on its own. I want about 1/4" clearance between the rudder and the bottom of the lower bushing. Here you see me taking a measurement so that I know how far down the nipple has to come to meet these specifications. The nipple has to come down 1-5/8". I will write this measurement down for reference. Now to take the rudder back out.

The repair surface is coated with epoxy.Here the repair area and the inside of the tube is given a coat of epoxy. This will be allowed to fully cure for twenty four hours, then will be cleaned and sanded to rough it up. This helps insure that our fiberglass will have a good base to stick to. (More to come.)

Cloth whetted out to start the repair.The next step in the process is to start forming the new rudder tube extension. This will be done by taking a piece of fiberglass cloth an inch longer than the circumference of the rudder tube and about eight inches long. The cloth weill be whetted for about two and one half inches of its depth. (As seen in the image to the left) and then when the epoxy has gone tacky will be placed inside the rudder tube and smoothed and worked into place. (Two pictures seen below.) So, what's next?? Tune back in and see! Till next time, happy casting, constructing, milling or whatever it is you like to do!'

The cloth in the tube.Another angle of the cloth in the tube.

Top of Rudder TubeAt this point, we are ready to put in the rudder tube plug.  The rudder plug will be clamped at the top to help make sure the top bushing is held centered into the rudder tube.  I am doing this because when the lower nipple project is finished I will want to fill the space between the new rudder bushing and the rudder tube with some thickened epoxy.  This will permit the tube to grip the bushing and allow the rudder shaft to spin inside it.

A close look at this picture will show you what I am talking about.  The top of the rudder tube has a lip at the depth of the bushing.  You will also notice that the tube is cracked at the bottom edge.  Rather than filling the tube with thickened epoxy, I may cut and lay some fiberglass cloth to build it up and use something like a brake hone or cylinder hone to smooth the diameter.  I will worry about that after the nipple is done.

Plug in place ready to epoxy.The plug is in place and ready to receive some epoxy.  The position of the bushing is held in place by the bits of wood and a hose clamp.  The plug was previously marked with the position of the bottom of the bushing.  The extra glass has been trimmed to meet the bottom of the bushing.  I have a few stragglers to nip off but you get the idea.

Epoxied and filletedHere the fiberglass has been whetted out and in the remainder of the epoxy, glass strands have been added to help create a fillet around the junction of the rudder tube and the hull.

Patches ready to go.Here are the four patches I cut to form the nipple of the rudder tube with.  I will need more but I am new at this and do not want to get too far ahead of myself.

Patches applied and a little more filetingHere the patches have been laid on and whetted out with epoxy.  I mixed some stuff with the remaining epoxy to fair out the fillet a little more.

Since my last post, I have finished the fiberglass layup on the rudder tube.  At this point I only need to apply some fairing compound and smooth everything up.  I will post some pictures of that when I get it done.  I have to order some fairing compound before I can start on that.  In the mean time here are a few pictures of the rudder tube.

View from portHere is a view of the repair looking from the Port side.

view from starboardHere is the repair looking from the starboard side

view from aftAnd finally a view looking from aft.