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TOPIC: 1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon

1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 5 years 1 week ago #80071

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Hi all,

New member here, a bit about myself: I live in Oregon and work as a Paramedic, grew up working on charter boats on the Oregon coast and I hold a 50 Ton Master's License (Commercial Captain's license). I've been "playing" with boats since I was a teenager and have completed three restorations so far (21' Venture sailboat, 26' Bayliner Buccaneer sailboat and a 14' wooden skiff) and 3 years ago I built a 16' wooden skiff (Brockway skiff).

I picked this boat up of CL yesterday, a 1959 Dorsett Catalina in good shape on a marginal trailer. It came with a 1980 Mercury "Classic 50", which I gather is 45hp?????? The engine starts right up, although it's manual-start.



The main problems with the boat (other than the extensive oxidation of the gelcoat and wear-through in places) is the disintegrating console and the aft cabin bulkhead, which is rotten along the bottom:



Today I pulled the bulkhead out, thankfully the pieces are intact enough that I can use them to trace new pieces. After pulling the bulkhead and cleaning out the cabin (including pulling the old marine head) it now seems that I'll have to replace the v-berths too:



No biggie, just one more piece of plywood. The great thing is that the transom isn't rotten, and the sole is nice and solid too! I'll be picking up some 1/2" MDO for the aft cabin bulkhead, I see that the v-berths were originally 3/8" fir ply but I think I'll upgrade a bit and use 1/2' MDO for that too.

Looking forward to the project and getting to know the folks on this forum!

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 5 years 1 week ago #80072

Welcome. She looks like a beauty and I look forward to watching and learning from your progress.

Bob

edit - I just looked at the specs for your Catalina in the Glassics library and was surprised. It gives the appearance of being a much bigger boat !

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 5 years 1 week ago #80085

Modeler,
Welcome aboard! Very nice project, she'll be great when your done. There's a lot of good help on here so just ask when you have any questions. That 50 is nice but I have to admit, I'd probably find an 80 hp or higher. Just like the extra power when needed.

Bob

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 5 years 1 week ago #80093

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More progress this evening, I got the new aft bulkheads cut out:



I went to seal the edges with epoxy, but it looks like my epoxy pump broke at some point in the recent past. Gotta get a new one tomorrow before I can start the sealing process.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 5 years 1 week ago #80094

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Waterwings wrote:

Modeler,
Welcome aboard! Very nice project, she'll be great when your done. There's a lot of good help on here so just ask when you have any questions. That 50 is nice but I have to admit, I'd probably find an 80 hp or higher. Just like the extra power when needed.

Bob


The 50 will have to work through at least the end of next summer. We'll see where we're at after that. As "right" as the motor looks on the boat, I'd love a fancy new 4-stroke.

OTOH, I have a friend who's a Bearcat aficionado. Maybe I'll be able to get one from him?

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 5 years 6 days ago #80151

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A bit more progress today, I was able to get all the old plywood pulled from the cabin interior. The glass tape/tabbing is still in place, I'll be reusing some of it (epoxy the wood to the remaining structurally-sound glass tape) and cutting out the rest. You can clearly see the two thru-hulls from the old head installation that need to be patched:



Most of the old wood came out in whole pieces, and I was able to extrapolate the rest. I'll likely have to do some final fitting when I install it, but the current dry-fit is pretty close. Here is the bunk flat laid out on the grass:



Headed out to a party tonight and will pick up an epoxy pump on the way. It's coming along quickly!

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 5 years 4 days ago #80287

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Spent another three hours on the boat today, ground out all the old glass tape that I no longer wanted in place, pulled the old thru-hulls and ground down around them. Filled in the old thru-hulls with multiple layers of cloth and epoxy, including a couple layers of thickened epoxy.

The old "threshold" was only a 2x2, I decided to replace it with a 2x4 to provide greater splash protection during fishing and cleanup. The new threshold and the new aft bunk supports were bedded and glued in with epoxy thickened with cabosil. The forward bunk support was likewise glued in the thickened epoxy, tomorrow it will get a fillet and some glass tape to seal and hold it in place. The longitudinal bunk supports are just set in place here, I still need to do some trimming on the starboard one and will hopefully get it glued in place tomorrow as well. The forward portion of the bunk is likewise set in place. No trimming required there though!



Workweek starts tonight, I should have 30-60 minutes every morning after work to chip away at it (assuming the night wasn't too rough).

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 5 years 4 days ago #80289

Great she's coming along nicely! A bearcat would look cool.

Bob

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 5 years 3 days ago #80366

Welcome to Fiberglassics,
I was looking at this boat for quite a while on CL. I am glad to see someone got it but it looked like it needed a lot of work and I thought it was underpowered. I ended up getting a 62 El Rey over in Hermiston from the original owner with the original Merc 1000, a little overpowered. I see you got right to work on it. There are a few period correct white merc 800's for sale up in Seattle if you are restoring. Once again welcome aboard

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 5 years 2 days ago #80368

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jdlease wrote:

Welcome to Fiberglassics,
I was looking at this boat for quite a while on CL. I am glad to see someone got it but it looked like it needed a lot of work and I thought it was underpowered. I ended up getting a 62 El Rey over in Hermiston from the original owner with the original Merc 1000, a little overpowered. I see you got right to work on it. There are a few period correct white merc 800's for sale up in Seattle if you are restoring. Once again welcome aboard


Thanks for the info. I'm not necessarily doing a complete period-correct restoration, I'm doing more of a functional fishing/cruising restoration with upgrades where it makes sense while still keeping the original feel. Newer engines make sense to me :-)

The plan right is to finish the plywood replacement that's underway and use it as-is for the rest of the summer and fall. Then it'll go "into the shop" for the winter and spring, we'll pull off all the hardware and sand and paint it inside and out. The gelcoat isn't saveable, there's numerous deep scratches and gouges and a few spots where the gelcoat is worn clear through. We'll be keeping the red on the outside, inside of the cabin will be white and we're still debating on the inside of the cockpit. Gray maybe? Haven't decided.

Have you started work on your El Rey?

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 5 years 2 days ago #80371

I have started but mostly it is alot of soap and water. I replaced the impeller and she fired right up but...It's leaking water and exhaust from the front motor mounts. After talking with Joe Poole (I recommend him if you own a vintage Mercury) and ordered the parts to fix it. The power head needs to come off and then dissasemble the rest and will replace all the gaskets and seals because of it's age. The engine has been rebuilt once in it's life and is in real good shape. I will also be painting the engine while it is off. I plan on restoring it to it's original glory and it should haul a**. I am in Olympia and if your in the Portland area we should tear up the river sometime and catch some sturgeon. John

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 5 years 2 days ago #80424

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Considering how to mount a kicker motor (4 hp Mercury). I have a spare modern aluminum kicker bracket. Is mounting it on my Catalina blasphemy?

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 5 years 1 day ago #80428

I'm not in the habit of telling someone what to do so if you like it go for it. Basically from the cap down you boat is the same as mine, same hull. The guy I got mine from put the merc 1000 and a small hp engine right next to it (another 62 merc) and offset the big engine a little to compensate the weight and switched the fuel line between the two. I could have gotten the kicker but did not. I am kicking myself for not doing it, it had it's own controls which I am selling. I am thinking about a little 2.5 merc that I had on my dingy I think it would work for trolling.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 4 years 11 months ago #80573

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Making progress! I haven't been doing a very good job of taking photos as I go, but here's where I'm at right now:



With the three days during the workweek I was able to get all the vertical bits in, the forward bulkhead was also filleted and taped in place. Yesterday I filleted the longitudinal bulkheads in place as well, but didn't tape them. I did use the existing original fiberglass tape (which was in very good condition) to glue the longitudinals in place (grey bit at the bottom). I also glued the forward horizontal plate in place, smearing thickened epoxy on the top forward corner and using screws to temporarily clamp it to the underside of the old fiberglass tape (all the way forward).

Today I fit the outer horizontal panels to the hull, notched out for stringers and built some small half-bulkheads to support everything midway. I also cut the center out of those parts to allow for airflow and storage of longer items. In the photo above you can see everything clamped in place.

The epoxy will be cured enough to hold everything in place by this evening, at that point I'll fillet and tape all the seams along the hull sides to lock everything in place.

I'll post more pics this evening.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 4 years 11 months ago #80577

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No need for more pics, I ran out of cab-o-sil. The starboard side hull-bunk joint is filled and taped, but not enough cab-o-sil to even start the port side. Gotta drive 45 minutes to the nearest West Marine for more filler tomorrow...

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 4 years 11 months ago #80593

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Making good progress there Modeler, nice attention to detail. There were several times during my last project that in spite of my attempted "planning ahead", a shortage of materials halted progress. (Working with a tight budget didn't help any either!) Hang in there, it will all be worth it in the end. ;)

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 4 years 11 months ago #80648

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Made some great progress today. First off, here's the port side aft bulkhead with it's first coat of epoxy. On the right is the face of the helm station with the hole cut for the helm:



Here's the starboard side with the "permanent" part of the helm station attached. It too has it's first coat of epoxy on:



The helm will have the top and sides permanently attached to the bulkhead, and the face will be removable for servicing inside. It will be secured by #10 stainless screws threaded into t-nuts to hold everything in place.

Lastly, the bunk flat. I was able to get more cab-o-sil today and fillet and tape the port side. No hinges right now, I'm going to reuse the old hinges but I need new screws to secure them down (tomorrow):



I was going to paint the bare wood inside the cabin, but after some consideration I've decided to hold off. It's really, really hot in that cabin right now (paint would dry on the roller) and I haven't decided on the color or paint product to use. Same thing for the bulkheads, but I decided to go ahead and coat them with epoxy to protect from moisture for the time being. Looking for a test run next Monday (a week from tomorrow).

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 4 years 11 months ago #80715

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Didn't get much done on the boat today, we were sidetracked by a free greenhouse on craigslist....

As it is, I still managed to get the bulkheads in place this evening. My wife approves!



I widened the helm a bit, keeping the left side of the box at the same location and running the starboard side out to the previous location of the sideboards that covered the gas tank. The wheel will be in roughly the stock location, I'll use the extra width on the right side for a row of switches. I'll wait until the steering cable arrives to actually mount the helm face.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 4 years 11 months ago #80841

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Yesterday I remounted the windshield to the boat with new t-bolts converted from carriage bolts with closed-cell foam weatherstipping on both sides of the windshield to seal everything up. Today I cleaned the boat up, washing off all the fiberglass dust out of the cockpit and accumulated mold from the outside. I also received a NOS steering linkage from Joe Poole yesterday, and the new steering cable the new steering cable is due to arrive on Monday. It's pretty much ready to go for a test run (except for the steering cable)!



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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 4 years 11 months ago #81105

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Ready to go! The steering cable came in today and it fit perfectly with the steering link that Joe Poole Jr. sold me. The console is together (mostly) and the tanks are filled with fresh fuel. I have a chase boat going along just in case the old Merc doesn't run like it should.



I'll post more tomorrow after we get back!

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 4 years 11 months ago #81160

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Success! We took the boat down to the Willamette River today, launching from Boones Ferry Landing just south of Wilsonville. A friend of mine who's also into old boats came along and took some videos and pictures. I don't have his video yet, but here the pictures he took and a video I took myself from the cockpit.











Performance with the 1980 50 hp Mercury was 20 knots at full throttle and a comfortable cruise at 17 knots. Had some problems with fuel delivery on the engine, but I think I have that narrowed down to an old bulb in the fuel line sucking air. That's where I'll start at least. The lower unit was also leaking fluid after I pulled it out of the water, looks like I'll need to pick some new seals up from Joe Poole Jr.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 4 years 11 months ago #81164

Modeler, congrats on getting your project splashed. Looks like it is running really nice there. Did you take your speed from your speedo or from a GPS unit. I found mine was about 5 mph slower than the GPS speed. Hope to see the vid soon. Skip.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 4 years 11 months ago #81165

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Skip, I used a GPS Speedometer app on my Droid for the speed. It only displayed whole numbers and only in MPH, so the conversions are estimates in knots. There isn't an in-water speedometer on the boat just yet (probably this winter with a new fishfinder).

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 4 years 11 months ago #81179

Excellent, glad you got her wet and running. Looks like the 50 is pushing her along nicely, of course more power never hurts IMHO. ;)

Bob

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 4 years 11 months ago #81974

Right on man, looks real good and glad to see you got it out on the water. I got my lower unit back from the welder today so time to paint and reassemble the motor. I have been fixing all the chips in the gelcoat but I dont know if I will get it all together before the end of summer, we will see.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121081

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I'm resurrecting my old thread! Shortly after I got it running I developed a hernia, which prevented me from using the pull-start 45 hp until after the weather turned. And so it has sat ever since...

But tomorrow I'm going to go pick it up from the rural property and bring it home to restart the project. First step will be to remove the engine and get to work replacing the transom. I haven't looked at it in a while, I remember that it was mostly solid but that it was cracking at the corners. My plan right now is to build a new transom out of some Nida-Core sheets I have laying around. It's a plastic honeycomb with fiberglass mat on each side, three layers of 1/2" laminated should get me a solid, lightweight transom. After that I'll pull all the hardware and fill and sand the hull before sending it off to a local shop for either paint or new gelcoat.

Then it will sit while I'm up in Alaska for the summer. I'll pick it back up in the Fall when I get home.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121156

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Got the boat home today, going to get some supplies tomorrow and get to work.

My plan is to laminate the transom on the workbench. I'll laminate it outside-down, using a piece of brown hardboard with mold release was to get a nice smooth surface.

Has anyone ever used this technique to get a smooth surface? I've never seen or heard of it, just came up with it. I'll probably run a small test on scrap or something, but I'd appreciate any thoughts.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121218

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Spent the day removing all the bits of hardware. I feel fortunate that all the original hardware is (mostly) still there and in good shape, including the badging! Here it is midway through the day:



I got both of the side windows out, the screws all came out of the front windows ok but I'm having a hard time getting them out. Ran out of daylight and patience today, I'll be back at it tomorrow.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121219

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Almost forgot... While I was out working on the boat a neighbor from down the street came over to introduce himself and check out the boat. Turns out he's a boat guy, he has a 22' Vicscraft Dory (local Oregon brand) that he restored a few years ago. He even offered to help me with the repainting the boat, or offered up a guy who will spray it for me as well.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121235

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More progress today. Got all the rest of the hardware and windows off the boat today, left the windshield on to keep it from breaking in storage. I also left the bow eye on for trailering purposes and the aft cleats on to hold the trailer lights.

After all the hardware was removed I drove it over to the local self-serve carwash and pressure washed the whole thing, inside and out. Looks much better, took off lots of loose paint and mold. Next step is to build a new transom, then it's prep and paint.

Workweek starts tomorrow, next weekend I'll get to work laminating a transom.





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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121238

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Did a quick "proof of concept" test for my planned transom rebuild. The plan is to use the smooth side of a sheet of hardboard as a mold to keep everything flat and fair. I took a scrap of hardboard and gave it three coats of mold wax, then coated another piece of hardboard (rough side) with epoxy and laid it down last night. Got up this morning and it popped off with a minimum of persuasion; looks like I'll be good to go!

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121249

Nice. I want one of these style of boats.

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Florida's Amphicar restoration destination

Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121393

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A (hopefully) successful day today! Woke up this morning and started cutting the Nidacore to shape:



Three layers, all the seams staggered for maximum strength. First (outer) layer:



Middle layer:



Inner layer:



I waxed the board up, 3 coats plus another touch-up coat in a few select spots. I didn't take any photos of the layup process, since I had gloves on and felt a little time pressure. It took 2 1/2 hours to lay everything up, but it's done and clamped (so to speak) with 3/4" MDF and a whole bunch of ammo cans to weight it down:



A side-view. Three 1/2" layers of Nidacore, cloth sheathing the outer layer and mat with epoxy on the in-between layers:



I'll sheath the inside with cloth and epoxy once it comes off the form. Here's hoping everything works out well in the morning!

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121411

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Woke up early this morning to see how I did. The disposable tools I had left on the mold as a test popped of easily; a good sign. I pulled the clamping weights and the transom separated easily; success!



Then horror. Air entrapment, lots of it. And not the easy surface kind either. A thousand bubbles of various sizes, some large and some tiny (but a lot of large) show that my surface laminate didn't adhere to the nidacore properly. A combination of too little clamping pressure and not enough epoxy, no doubt. Should have figured out a way to vacuum bag it I guess.

Not sure what to do now... My first thought is to wait until the epoxy cures fully, then grind off the layer of fiberglass and fill the voids. Then maybe make that the inner surface and make the other side the outer surface. But then I'm right back to having to surface the whole transom again.

There's also the distinct possibility that there is air entrapment in between the other layers, which would mean that the whole thing is no good. Not sure where to go from here.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121413

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You're doing a fine job on this old Dorsett.
If you were building a wood core transom the air entrapment might allow water intrusion, but since it's Nida Core no worries.
You effectively had thousands of air voids before you started, within the core of the Nida.
Yes you could have used a vacuum table, but you're not bolting 200hp on the transom either.
You are not using a lot of horsepower/weight on the transom.
The new transom as-is is both much stronger/stiffer and not prone to rot, compared to the original.

Use your new transom insert is my vote.
Unless you want to experiment with bagging a new one where the process is the fun.
I've owned several Dorsett boats, San Juan, Belmont, Farallon.
The transoms were lightly built as original. Every one I've personally seen with original transom has bowed aft even if no rot.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121414

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Thanks BillR. I guess my concern isn't so much about the air itself as it is about the air suggesting an improper bond. OTOH, you make some good points about it already being stronger than the original transom.

Looking at the transom now I think what I'll do is grind out the air pockets (which will also remove the glass from those areas) and fill it with an epoxy cabosil/microballoon mixture; that should give reasonable structural strength while still being somewhat sandable. Then I can fair it from there with microballoons and it it's smooth enough use that as the outer layer. If all else fails that side becomes the inner and I figure out a way to put a smooth coat on the other side.

I'll wait until tomorrow though. The epoxy is still pretty green, and I'm out of cabosil.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121423

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Spent the afternoon and evening prepping and filling all the screw holes. I started by boring out one side of the hole with a countersink bit, then briefly taking the edge off of the other side of the hole with the same bit. All holes were backed up with duct tape to hold the filler in place while it cured. I tried to fill as many of the holes as possible from the inside, I wasn't able to get many but I was able to get some. I figure that will be easier to finish that way. For filler I used West System epoxy with cabosil and microballoon to thicken it for a nice balance between strength and sandability. It will cure overnight, I can start in on the transom tomorrow morning.





Bonus: The local Ace Hardware was having a 20% off bucket sale today. I filled a bucket up with tools and sandpaper; I'll certainly need it!

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121452

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Got the transom out in the driveway this morning and took the flapwheel to it. Lots of bubbles:



Here it is on the bench with the newly-applied epoxy/cabosil/microballoon mixture:



I'll sand it down and go back over with a microballoon mixture tomorrow. Starting to think that this will be the interior surface of the transom, ordered some peel-ply from fibreglast and will use it to ensure a smooth surface when I glass the other side of the transom.

Pretty deflating to have to do this; I thought I had a great idea. My execution just wasn't adequate.

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121480

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Hours more work with not much to show for it... I'm not a fan of fairing.

Here's the transom with the last coat of filler (epoxy/microballoons):



I also sanded and filled the screwholes on the boat again, but there's not much there to show as far as photos go.

The floor of the boat has always felt solid, but I was curious (concerned?) about the condition of the stringers. So I decided to cut a hole:



This hole will of course be functional; I have a 6" screw-out deckplate to put in it when I get to that point. I don't believe in leaving sealed compartments fully sealed; they tend to collect water and promote rot. In that vein, I was happy to find that the stringers are in overall adequate shape with a few small soft spots. The plywood itself is in excellent condition!



I'll have to wait until I pull the transom to take a look at the stringers and deck ply at the aft end, but I don't think it will be much different. Very relieved to find everything in good condition!

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Re:1959 Dorsett Catalina - Oregon 2 years 3 months ago #121481

Don't want to be a kill joy here but a small soft spot becomes a big soft spot later if not taken care of. Once rot starts it doesn't stop without intervention.

Bob

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