Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "Corrosion In Ballast"
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Thread: "Corrosion In Ballast"

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


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Corrosion In Ballast

Lawrence and Mayumi Wheeler

Hi, Bud,

As you know, it was my fate to have the grandlady of them all: W32 #32. The ballast is mostly steel punchings which have corroded in two places that I can see. One is the area under the teak grating between the head and the hanging locker: i.e. the kingpost and the area forward of that. The other is the area under the companionway steps, between the main cabin bilge and the engine room: another area that looks like a ballast barrier between the engine sump and the main bilge.

I doubt whether it is true of the later boats, but these two areas are built up to a level just under the sole. Oddly though, these are the only two areas where the punchings show evidence of water intrusion and severe corrosion. The outermost punchings have expanded and separated from the pack. The upper surface of the main ballast that forms the bottom of the bilge is intact and relatively smooth except at its lowest point. My boat does not have a deep sump.

Last haulout, late in 2003, when diesel fuel was sloshing around in the bilge, we removed the rudder only to find diesel "fuelish" water coming out the holes to fasten the gudgeons. Does this mean there is water throughout the ballast?

I have read your comments elsewhere about grinding off the rusted punchings in the ballast, filling with epoxy slurry, then glassing over...but you advise that that be done during a haulout. Since the areas affected are high and dry, do you think I can accomplish this while the boat is in the water? Will epoxy remain adhered to rusted ballast material? What number filler should I use with the epoxy resin? Must I use glass mat before a layer of woven roving?

Thanks for you help.

Chip Wheeler
s/v Evangeline

Bud Taplin

Trying to fill and fiberglass wet areas will not work very well. If the areas are dry, then filling over with an epoxy slurry should work. You should always have a layer of mat under every layer of roving, as the mat absorbs the resin and permits the roving to wet out and stick well.

Lawrence and Mayumi Wheeler

I have used an epoxy slurry on one section that has stuck nicely to the rusted ballast material. Can I do this gluing and glassing as long as the surface is dry, even though the interior of the ballast may be wet? Do your think there is water throughout the ballast that needs to be drained next haulout? Does it matter, as long as the visible top of the ballast looks to be intact?

Lawrence and Mayumi Wheeler

I think you may be right about the water intrusion. The top of the main ballast seems to be sealed well with woven roving, with an added inch or two of what looks like cement over the top, perhaps to support tanks. Incidentally, two pipes of thin plastic (one broken) run along each side of the length of the cement, but seem to go nowhere. The only two areas that show corrosion are the two areas that I have described previously, that were not originally sealed. I intend to do what I can with epoxy and fiberglass to seal them now. Thanks for your advice.

Bud Taplin

Hard to say if there is water intrusion throughout the ballast, but I doubt it. If the top of the ballast is well sealed, then there should be no oxygen getting to the ballast that would cause additional rusting. At your next haulout, you might try drilling some holes in the side of the keel to see if any water comes out. You can fill the holes with epoxy putty before bottom painting.

Dave Kall

Check this guys site out. He had a similar problem Scroll down to July http://westsail42.blogspot.com/

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