Bulkhead and Stringer Repair


While the engine was out of the boat for a rebuild, I spent some time poking around the structure of the boat, looking for any potential problems. 

Boy, did I find one as can be seen in the picture to the right. The rear bulkhead that separates the fuel tank and engine compartment was thoroughly deteriorated and had rotted away from within. It was pretty much just the fiberglass shell that was left.  That alone might have been OK, but the rot had apparently migrated into the stringer to some extent.  Exactly how much, was yet to be determined, but there was clearly some dry rot in the first foot or so of the port side stringer.

The picture to the right shows the culprit areas, where the fiberglass covering had some voids and imperfections, as well as the dry rot visible in the stringer.  There was also a void on the starboard side and some potential problems there.

After doing a little bit of research on stringer repair and replacement, I decided to open up the cockpit floor to have a closer look at the problems.  The Formula 242SS has a large deck hatch assembly the runs the length of the cockpit, which allows access to the fuel tank and the structural area of the boat.  It is held in place by some screws and a silicone bead around the perimeter.

Below are several pictures of the Deck Hatch Assembly and the process of removing it.

Once the Deck Hatch Assembly was removed, I could get a closer look at the stringer and bulkhead structure and assess any damage.  Below are several pictures of the structure.

Dry rot was present for about 2 feet of the port stringer.  The starboard stringer appeared to be solid.  The forward bulkhead had some early signs of rot stemming from a fastener hole.  I also found a crack in the fiberglass reinforcement a bit further up on the port side stringer.

So, after checking things out, it looked like the rear bulkhead was pretty well vaporized and dry rot had extended forward on the port side and aft on the starboard side.  The fuel tank will have to be removed to further assess any damage that was not visible and to do the actual repair work.

I was generally pleased that the stringer damage was not too extensive, as it looked like more of a repair than a replace.  It was a bit disappointing to see that the structure was not that well made . . . the stringers were not fully glassed in as I had assumed they would be, and the crack appeared to be due to insufficient glassing.  The fact that it lasted about 20 years is actually surprising.

The next steps were to remove the fuel tank for a more extensive view of the structure and then plan out the repair work accordingly . . .