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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:42 pm 
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Hi everyone, I've been lurking for a while but finally snapped some photos of the new to us Hobie 18 my dad and I got. I'm hoping the photos can provide a "virtual tour" and to get a "virtual survey" of the boat. Here's a link to the album. I'm off for summer break from college and my dad and I had been wanting to get a Hobie 18 for a while. After perusing craigslist for a while, we found one in Rockledge, Florida. We drove down and gave it a cursory inspection and deemed it in good enough condition to buy, take home, and fix up. We bought the boat for $1000, and the guy who sold it to us suggested we stop by Performance Sail and Sport which was conveniently located down the road from where we were. We brought the boat over there and had Scott give the boat a once over and hook us up with some new running rigging, along with a few pieces of hardware. The boat was made in September 1981 according to the serial number, so it should have the heavy hulls.

We took the boat home, and over the past couple of weeks I've been working on cleaning up the boat and performing some various repairs and maintenance. Cosmetically, the boat isn't very pretty, but the boat seems solid and I hope it will sail well. The gel coat has faded and is chalking, and the trampoline is faded, but other than one large soft spot on the centerline side of the port hull past the front crossbar, I haven't found anything else that needs immediate attention. I've replaced the main halyard (and replaced the old halyard ring with an Aussie ring), jib halyard, jib sheet, tramp lacing, and the trapeze rope, but that's about it. My dad, brother, and I refinished the daggerboards after making some fiberglass repairs to them. We have painted them with white appliance epoxy, hoping to get a nice, hard finish. I have also sanded down a thin layer of UV damaged plastic on the rudders to leave a nice smooth finish.

Since we refinished the daggerboards, I would like to make sure our dagger wells won't scuff up the daggerboards too much. I saw in the Hobie catalog that there's a neoprene dagger well kit. Is this what I'm looking for?

The large soft spot has been the most intensive repair, and I'm a little concerned that we didn't do it quite correctly. The soft spot was roughly 23 inches long and 10 inches high. My dad did not feel like spending the money on Git Rot, which I've read to be the preferred resin for filling soft spots on fiberglass/foam boats. Instead, we bought regular fiberglass resin made by 3M from Lowe's, at $17 per quart. I drilled a couple of holes at the top of the soft spot and began to fill the soft spot. We kept running out of resin, and in the end it took nearly 3.5 quarts of resin to fill. We mixed the resin a little light on the hardener, wanting it to stay liquid longer to fill in all the crevices. Does this sound right? My dad and I were amazed at how much resin it took to fill this thing, and our main worry is that some of the resin inside may not harden. I'm hoping that given enough time out in the heat of Alabama that it will find a way to catalyze and harden.

Our sails are in good shape, but I can't figure out what sail pattern the main is. My only guess is that it is a faded Fantasia from 1986 or so, but the boat was made in 1981 so perhaps the original main was replaced at sometime after. I've read it's not uncommon for sails to be replaced, that they are kind of like clothes for a boat. I'd love to know what sails the boat was originally sold with, though. The jib has some faded splotches but also is in good shape. I can't figure out what this strange plastic bracket is near the tack of the jib is, however.

We've successfully rigged the boat and even got to put it in the water last week (though there was no wind to sail). Our mast rotator arm is very bent so we purchased another one. It appears as though the bolt that holds the rotator to the mast also supports the diamond wires. Is replacing it as easy as loosening the diamond wires, removing the bolt and old rotator, and putting the new one in?

I'll be leaving for the beach this Saturday, and we're planning to take the boat with us. I think everything should be ready to go by then, but I'd just like some advice with the repairs I've made, and some rigging help. I look forward to posting about further boat progress. I know I'd love to have the hulls re-gelcoated in the near future. Thanks for the help!

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1987 Hobie 18 Magnum, white with Cat Fever (and Blue Hawaii) sails


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 5:45 am 
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Congratualtions on your new H18. I can chime in on the appliance epoxied dagger boards since I did the same thing to mine. The thing that tends to scratch the boards isn't the well itself per se, but rather the coarse sand, pebbles, shells, etc that pack into the bottom of the well as you drag the boat the final few feet into the water. If not flushed out, these objects can also make it *extremely* difficult to raise your boards if they get lodged between the board and lower flange (I've had this happen twice now and it isn't fun when you're out solo) . When this happens you will also likely end up with scratched dagger boards. I wouldn't worry about the neoprene kit. Just try and remember to flush out the lower wells before setting sail.

Looking at your photo album, you can see the results of previous soft spot repair along the port bow directly in front of the front cross bar and starboard stern. You will definitely want to make sure these repair areas are good and hard. Also, if you haven't already done so, I would strongly recommend installing new shroud anchor pins. Finally, I would soak the diamond wire turnbuckles in penetrating oil before attempting to loosen.

Love the "Hobie Atler Signature Model" logo. Good luck!


Last edited by BrianCT on Thu Jul 12, 2012 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 5:49 am 
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I'm going to be brutally honest here.

By going cheap and using polyester resin for the soft spot repair, you have not fixed the problem. The soft spot is in the worst possible place (inside, forward of the front crossbar). This hull will eventually fail - catastrophically - by collapsing inward. You'll be lucky if the mast stays up when that happens.

The reason epoxy is used for soft spot repair is because of its superior bonding properties in a situation where conditions are less than ideal. Polyester just doesn't stick like epoxy does.

3 1/2 quarts is a huge amount of resin for a soft spot. My suspicion is that one of the holes penetrated the inner fiberglass skin, or there was a crack that allowed the resin to leak into the hull.

3.5 qts = 202.125 cu. in. The hull sandwich is approximately .375" thick, so even if the foam was completely gone, that amount of resin would fill an area of 539 sq. in. - over twice the stated area of your soft spot (23" x 10" - and soft spots don't have square corners, nor is the foam completely gone).

It looks like there were soft spots in the aft decks that were repaired, too. That leads me to believe that there are others that you haven't found.

Other than the hulls, everything else appears to be in OK shape. You've got more than $1000 in parts, so it's not a complete loss.

In the photo of it rigged on the trailer, I can see distortions in the hull near the crossbar and shroud attachments on the port hull. These hulls are done. Toast. Not safe in anything but the lightest of airs.

The original sails for this boat were all white with two panels of color in the main - red and gold - in the insignia panel and the panel above that.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but better you find out about it here than be surprised when the boat comes apart on the first big gust / wave it hits.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:42 am 
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Location: Birmingham, AL
Thanks for all the advice. The previous soft spot repairs are nice and hard, and there are no other major soft spots like the one at the front of the hull. I will order some new shroud anchor pins.

MBounds: I know from reading about soft spot repairs that epoxy resins are preferred, but I can't really understand why? I would think that the flexibleness of polyester resin, as opposed to more brittle epoxy, would be preferred. Weren't the boats originally constructed using polyester resin? This is all coming from a relative Hobie noob, but I'm eager to learn more about these boats and their repairs.

Resin did not enter the inside of the hull. I made sure to check that when we were on quart 2 or something. I thought the same may have occurred. I made sure to check the rest of the boat for soft spots, but did not find any NEAR as obvious as this one.

What do the distortions indicate at the crossbar and anchor pin?

Also, how can you tell what color the original sails were? I looked at the "Ultimate Sail Pattern Guide", and for 1981 the only two boats with yellow hulls were Flasher and Boomer for the '81 Nationals. Both have yellow jibs, so I thought perhaps my jib might be original to the boat.

So what's the best course of action for this boat? Sail it until it won't sail anymore, or part it out now and buy a newer boat with better hulls? When looking for another Hobie 18, what's the best way to make sure the hulls are solid? I don't guess I'll be wanting to buy another boat with hulls like the ones we've got now. Thanks for all the help!

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1987 Hobie 18 Magnum, white with Cat Fever (and Blue Hawaii) sails


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:25 pm 
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Polyester is more brittle than epoxy, not less.  Epoxy also has better adhesion properties which make it a better choice for repairing delamination via injection method.   That's not to say that polyester won't work, but epoxy is a better choice.  As long as the end result is a rock solid hull, that is the main thing.

Regarding the 3.5 quarts of resin that you already pumped into the hull, that is way more resin than should be needed for the size of the damage that you described.  It is verry likely that it seeped into the hull somehow.  Otherwise either the resin pushed the two skins apart as it flowed into the hull or the delam area is much larger than you initially described.

I would definitely recommend you inspect the damage by looking inside the hull with a flashlight and a mirror.  You can also take digital pics of the inside of the hull and look at them closely on your computer.  I would also recommend that you lay the hull on it's side when doing the injection so that the damaged area is as close to horizontal as possible.  You want the resin to disperse evenly throughout the damaged area, not pool down at the bottom.  It also looks like you need more holes- the air that is trapped in the sandwich needs to be able to escape as you pump in the resin.  Typical hole spacing would be about 2 to 4" depending on the severity of the delam.

The other distortions in the hull indicate that the hull has been stressed in those areas and probably that the foam core has been compressed.  I would closely inspect those areas for soft spots as well as looking inside the hull for any signs of cracking or damage to the inner hull skin.  Reinforce as necessary.  

My recommendation for this boat- carefully go over every inch of the hulls to identify every area of damage and delamination.  Repair all structral issues with the hulls before sinking another dime into any other part of the boat.  If you can't repair the hulls to safe working condition, then part it out or buy newer hulls.    

The best way to make sure a set of hulls are solid is by simply tapping and pressing along the entire hull and deck to inspect for soft spots.

sm


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:05 pm 
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Hah, I think I need some more firsthand experience with the different resins before taking anyone else's word for it! I had just called a guy at one of the sailint stores somewhat near me and he assured me that epoxy was more brittle, and that polyester would be fine for the repair, as that is what they were originally constructed with it. The words and opinions in my previous post were his, not mine. I guess I should take it upon myself as a chemistry major and read up and experiment with the different resins. Frankly, though, I'm more inclined to think that you guys have more practical experience with boat repair than the guy I talked to at the sailing store.

I'll peek inside the inspection ports with a light and mirror and see what I can see.

I tried to convince my dad to flip the boat on its side to perform the repair but he did not feel like getting a couple of more people to come over to help flip it. I didn't want to drill any more holes than the ones at the top of the repair since we weren't flipping it. Perhaps I need to understand the actual definition of a soft spot. I could press nearly a centimeter into the hull in nearly the entirety of the area. There did not feel to be any foam under the area at all. Perhaps it disintegrated away. I wish I could have someone experienced in soft spot repair look at my boat, press on the hull and say "here's a soft spot". Or perhaps just feeling the hull of a new boat would allow me to see what they are supposed to feel like.

My dad has sailed Hobie 16s and Catalina 25s for many years now, but he has not done much hull work. It's been tough trying to convince him to sit down and read about different repair methods and procedures. He seems to just want to go at it and do it his way, which I don't really agree with. Many people have been doing these repairs for a long time and have figured out what works and what doesn't. He and I are both extremely stubborn so it can be a challenge sometimes, especially when he doesn't want to spend the extra money to do things the tried and true way. Anyways, I'll try and inspect the boat some more and report back with what I find.

Oh, one more thing: is it preferred to remove the rudder assembly when trailering? Is it normally just laid on the tramp and lashed down?

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1987 Hobie 18 Magnum, white with Cat Fever (and Blue Hawaii) sails


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:21 pm 
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inspector071 wrote:
MBounds: I know from reading about soft spot repairs that epoxy resins are preferred, but I can't really understand why?
The objective in performing a soft spot repair is to re-adhere the fiberglass skins to the foam core (the structure behaves much like an "I" beam - the skins are like the caps on the "I"). Ideally, only a thin layer of resin is necessary to do this. Epoxy develops strong chemical bonds with whatever it comes in contact with, polyester much less so. As a glue, epoxy has superior properties than polyester, which relies more on a mechanical (rather than chemical) bond.

inspector071 wrote:
What do the distortions indicate at the crossbar and anchor pin?
Possible structural issues - those areas are solid glass and there may be incipient delamination problems where those areas transition to the foam cored areas.

inspector071 wrote:
Also, how can you tell what color the original sails were?
The Yoda of sail colors, I am. I am the author of the sail pattern guide. There were a very few patterns that are unique to 18s that do not show up in the pattern guide.

inspector071 wrote:
So what's the best course of action for this boat?
If you're going to sail it on small lakes, with no waves, then it's probably OK for a while. Even if you get into trouble, you're not far from shore. Don't even think about taking this boat down to the Gulf or even the inner bays behind the Gulf barrier islands. If (when) it does fail, it will do so without warning. The good thing is that the boat will not sink, and if the mast comes down, it will float down relatively slow - just don't get caught underneath it.

Delamination is like cancer. Your hulls have Stage 4 (terminal). You can slow it down, but you will not stop its progression.

inspector071 wrote:
Oh, one more thing: is it preferred to remove the rudder assembly when trailering? Is it normally just laid on the tramp and lashed down?
Removing the rudder assembly is preferred when traveling a long distance, but NEVER put them on the trampoline to transport them. The rudder system is chock full of sharp edges and hard points. You'll end up with holes in the trampoline.

The greatest enemy of the boat when trailering is chafe - don't put anything on the tramoline. Don't strap over the hulls. Don't overtighten straps. You're going to need cradles for the front trailer supports - the rollers will crush the hulls.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:40 pm 
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Thanks again for all of the help. It sucks that the hulls are in the condition they are in. I wish I had known more about them when we purchased it. If soft spots are such a common repair on these boats, at what point are the hulls beyond repair and deemed unsafe? For my next boat, should I only get it if the hulls are rock solid and have no signs of delamination?

I guess I'm still confused about the sail patterns and their respective years. If my boat was manufactured in 1981 are the only possible combinations of hulls and sail colors the ones listed under the 1981 section? I see red and gold sails, but it's under the 1973 section. Teach me, master Yoda! Also, do sail numbers give a general idea of when the sail was manufactured?

I'm going to try and make my own hull cradles from some PVC pipe and carpet. I think there was a thread on here about that.

Seriously, thanks for all the informative replies. I've learned a TON in the last couple of weeks by reading and just going out and working on the boat. Even if this boat does't last us long with its hulls, I'll be a hell of a lot more prepared for the next one we get.

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1987 Hobie 18 Magnum, white with Cat Fever (and Blue Hawaii) sails


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 2:29 pm 
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This video shows the extent of soft spots due to delamination.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dL33jMcV4oM


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 2:58 pm 
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The hulls should be so rigid that when you stand on them, there is no noticable deflection. This includes the sides of the hulls (with the possible exception of the first foot or so of some 18s, the very bow is broad and flat so you may notice some deflection there). One cm of deflection in the area where you're repairing is definitely an indication of a soft spot.

If I were you, I would completely disassemble the hulls from the crossbars. This will make it easier to work on the hulls and it will also allow for a complete and thorough inspection of the hulls and crossbars - the major structural components. This boat is old, it's lived at the coast, and it's been neglected. I would also want to be sure the crossbars are in good shape (i.e. not cracked or corroded).

sm


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 4:42 pm 
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The hulls are nowhere near as bad as that video. The top deck of the hulls feel rock solid, but there are a few somewhat iffy spots on the sides of the hulls. They can't be depressed 1 cm like the big soft spot, but they don't feel hard and solid, either. Taking the hulls off sounds like a good idea. Are there any tricks to removing it, or are they just affixed by 4 bolts at the crossbars?

The crossbars are in good shape. Some of the anodization has worn off but they aren't cracked or corroded.

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1987 Hobie 18 Magnum, white with Cat Fever (and Blue Hawaii) sails


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 5:19 pm 
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The crossbars are connected to the hulls by 8 bolts, 4 inboard and 4 outboard.

The 4 outboard bolts are clearly visible. The 4 inboard bolts are inserted from under the hull flange and thread into a fitting inside the crossbar. You need to use a hex wrench to remove the inboard bolts, 5/16" I believe.

It is easiest to disassemble the boat if you have two people. Loosen all the bolts first, then remove the bolts for the rear crossbar and remove the crossbar. Then do the front. When you reassemble, use anti-seize grease on all the bolts. You won't know the condition of the crossbars for sure until you take the boat apart. Inspect the mast step area carefully as well.

sm


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:03 pm 
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Ah, I forgot about the inboard ones. If the hulls are worth salvaging and fixing the delamination, then I suppose we'll take them off to repair.

I went down and pressed on some different spots, a bit harder than I had before and heard "crunch crunch crunch" on most of the sides of the hulls. While there isn't the amount of give that the big soft spot had, there is definitely delamination all along the hull and top decks. My dad is pretty bummed out after I showed him all of this, too, saying he wouldn't have gotten ANY used Hobie 18 if he had known about the delamination more in depth.

So at what point are hulls for these boats beyond repair? This one is looking more shabby every time I look at it, and it's also making me wary of the next one we get.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:23 pm 
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When you hear crunch, crunch, crunch all along the hull and deck, the hulls are shot.

Obviously this is a major bummer, but realize that there are a lot of good used boats out there. If the boats are maintained, they last quite a while. I've got two 18s and they're both more than 20 years old and still in good shape and sailing well.

Take this as a learning experience, recoupe some of you money by parting out your boat and get a good one. Also realize that delamination is not only something that can occur on a H18. Delam can occur on any boat with a sandwich construction and this includes just about every fiberglass beach cat ever sold as well as scores of other fiberglass boats. Knowing what to look for and what to avoid is critical and now you know.

sm


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:44 pm 
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inspector071 wrote:
I went down and pressed on some different spots, a bit harder than I had before and heard "crunch crunch crunch" on most of the sides of the hulls. While there isn't the amount of give that the big soft spot had, there is definitely delamination all along the hull and top decks.
That is the death rattle of those hulls. Like I said, they're done.

inspector071 wrote:
My dad is pretty bummed out after I showed him all of this, too, saying he wouldn't have gotten ANY used Hobie 18 if he had known about the delamination more in depth.
Not ALL used Hobie 18s are bad and full of delam - you just need to be more selective when looking at older boats. And like I said before, you have more than $1000 worth of parts, even if you chainsaw the hulls.

inspector071 wrote:
So at what point are hulls for these boats beyond repair?
When the cost to repair is more than what the boat is worth without the delam. I know that's a very fuzzy number, but it's realistic. Some soft spots are worse than others. Walk away from any boat that is soft anywhere forward of the front crossbar. 18s are prone to developing soft spots in the deck forward of the rear crossbar where the skipper sits. That's an easy repair, not necessarily a deal breaker.

inspector071 wrote:
It's also making me wary of the next one we get.
That's the right attitude - start looking for another one - one with a bent mast, trashed sails, broken rudder castings - but solid hulls. Offer to haul it away for free ;-)


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