Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "WestSail Kits And The Steel Punching Ballast"
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Thread: "WestSail Kits And The Steel Punching Ballast"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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WestSail Kits And The Steel Punching Ballast

Rob and Janet Sutton

Hello Bud,

Say, did all kits produced by the factory include the ballast in place? Particularly the steel punching ballast on those that were installed?

On our WSSK60 kit that we are cleaning out, we discovered delamination on the plywood fiberglass covering. I cut a few holes in the top and found it filled with water.

According to the construction manual, punchings and resin were layered on each other till 11,000 lbs was installed. Was the resin laid good enough to 'seal' the layers, or simply to hold it in place?

Would I find the entire ballast filled with water? (my guess is 'yes').

Also, if I wanted to replace the punching ballast with solid lead ballast, how difficult would it be to clean out the punchings? (our deck is not bonded).

Thanks for your help Bud!

Rob and Janet

Rob and Janet Sutton

An update,

I drilled a hole at the bottom of the keel and very large quantities of water came out.

The good news is that the water was fresh and clean. No real evidence of rust. My guess is, as the previous owner stored this outside, and
allowed rain water in through the deck joints, that it simply filled up over time and never emptied. Never being exposed to air, the steel never got a chance to rust.

The current idea is to

1 - flush the ballast with alcohol or acetone to get out as much water as possible.
2 - cut out the plywood/fiberglass skin atop the ballast
3 - Vacuum infuse as much slow cure resin as possible from the top
4 - Glass over the top with new skin (not using plywood this time).

Do you have any suggestions?

(BTW, we figured scooping out the punchings and replacing with lead would be WAY to impractical).

PS, where in the bilge would you guess water most likely leaked into the ballast?


Bud Taplin

I know that after I left Westsail they started using plywood over the top of the ballast. Prior to that, we smoothed the top of the punching with a fiberglass putty mixtrue, then bonded over with mat and roving.

I have always felt that the plywood was not a good idea, as if you get water penetration, the plywood will rot. There also may not have been a good fit between the top of the ballast and the underside of the plywood.

Your idea of removing the plywood, and fairing the top of the ballast with a thickened fiberglass slurry would be a good idea. Then glass over with mat and roving.

Rob and Janet Sutton

There also appears to be some settling of the steel punchings. Probably during the numerous times the hull was moved (especially the 1000 mile trip from CA). The forward area of the ballast had some large gaps between the top and the plywood. I am think of topping this off with some lead shot to bring the ballast up to the original height. Maybe mixing the shot with the fiberglass slurry. "Putty" that in over the punchings up to the original level, then skin it with mat and roving.


Bud Taplin

I don't think the ballast moved at all. I think that they simply did not level off the top of the ballast. That's why they put a piece of plywood over the ballast, so that they could put on a layer of fiberglass roving. Bad idea. Fill over the top of the ballast with a slurry, and smooth it out so the fabric will lay evenly without voids, dips, or bumps.

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