D. HULL AND DECK, GELCOAT, BOTTOM
We are keeping track of the full hull numbers, and we would appreciate getting the hull number
off of the stern your Westsail for our records, if we have not done so already. In the series of
numbers molded in the hull, WSSF 0XXX XXXX, the WSSF refers to a factory finished boat (or
WSSK for a kit boat), the next four are the hull number, starting with 0, and the last four are the
month and year the hull was laminated. There were some variations of this numbering sequence
on the latter W-42 and W-43 hulls. The numbers should be about 3/8" high for the boats
laminated on the West Coast, and about 3/4" high for the Westsail 32's molded at the
Wrightsville Beach, NC plant.
CENTERLINE BONDING OF HULL
If you have noticed cracking of the gelcoat on the center-line of the hull at the bow and stern,
do not be too alarmed, as this is cosmetic and not structural. Since the hull on most of the boats
was made in two pieces, and center-bonded together from the inside while the boat was still in
the mold, the structural integrity is there, but the seam on the outside needed to be ground
smooth, filled with putty, and touched up with gelcoat. On the underwater portion, you will see
this seam continue, and it also should be filled with epoxy putty, and sealed over with epoxy
resin. On the Westsail 42 and 43, this seam also extends on the aft portion of the keel on either
side, from just below the prop opening forward and down about six feet. This is because this was
a third piece to the hull mold, and it was laminated separately, and attached when the hull halves
were bonded together.
Most of the early Westsail 32 boats built were ballasted with 2000 pounds of lead pigs, and
5000 pounds of steel punchings, cast in place with fiberglass resin, then bonded over with two
layers of mat and roving. Some of the later boats had 5500 pounds of steel, and of course,
some had all lead instead of a combination of lead and steel. In late 1974, Westsail made up
molds to cast the lead in three large pieces, which were put in and spaces around them filled with
resin. The Westsail 42's were primarily ballasted with 10,000 pounds of steel punchings, encap-
sulated with resin and bonded over. Some were done with lead pigs and lead shot if ordered that
way. Most of the Westsail 43's were ballasted with lead. The Westsail 28 was also ballasted
GELCOAT DEGRADATION WITH AGE
With age, gelcoat, which is, after all, a protective coating on the fiberglass to give it a color, will
degrade. It begins to chalk, get porous, and craze in spiderweb patterns. This can be observed
on the cabintop and decks, and on some hulls of most boats that have gelcoat that is now 15 to
20 years old. Above water, it is simply a cosmetic problem. Underwater, it has some additional
consequences, such as osmotic blistering.
As water increasingly penetrates through the gelcoat, water vapor condenses in the small
cavities of the laminate as distilled water. This water then reacts with chemicals contained in the
fiberglass resin to form an acidic solution. When this solution achieves a certain concentration,
a chain reaction takes place which is referred to as 'osmosis'. This acid tends to dilute itself by
attracting water through the fine pores of the gelcoat by osmotic action. The resulting diluted
solution increases in volume, because it requires more space, pushes against the gelcoat, and
creates swellings. This is how the blisters typical of osmotic problems are formed on the
underwater surfaces of fiber-glass boats.
If the molded nonskid on you cabintop is not looking too good, plus getting very slippery due to
age, you might want to consider recoating it with an epoxy paint, and using a sand grit type of
additive to make a new non-skid surface. Be careful to not add too much grit to the epoxy paint,
as you do not want to turn the cabintop into a giant sheet of sandpaper.
DECK SEAM CAULKING AND PLUG REPAIR
If you have a teak deck overlay on top of the fiberglass deck, the time has come on most of the
boats to renew the caulking in the seams. The original decking was 13/16" thick, with a 3/16"
wide by 1/4" deep cut on one edge for the caulking seam. As the teak wears down over the
years, the caulking no longer has a deep enough groove to hold it in place, and consequently it
pulls out. Also, the plugs over the screws come out, and the screw heads show. We have put
together kits to repair the seams and screw plugs on the teak decks. A two part Thiokol
polysulphide caulking was used originally, and the same should be used for repairs.
FIBERGLASS RUDDER GUDGEONS
Fiberglass gudgeons were used on most of the Westsail 28's and 32's, and have proved to be
very strong, with virtually no problems. We can supply the 1-1/4" bronze pin that was used with
the fiberglass gudgeon, however the mold for the gudgeons themselves is no longer available. If
you want to make some, we have written up a procedure.
W32 STAINLESS STEEL PINTALS AND GUDGEONS
Stainless steel pintals and gudgeons were used on the early Westsail 32's. The three pintals
for the rudder were identical, and the two lower gudgeons on the hull matched each other. It has
been some time since we have had any made up, but they can be fabricated. An alternative, if
the electrolysis damage is only around the mounting holes, would be to cut off the strap ends and
have new ones welded on, providing the tube and bent end is still in good condition.
We have found a source of sheet plastic to make new washers to use on the rudder
installations on all the boats. The washers are used to take up the gap between the gudgeons
and the rudder, to keep the rudder from banging while in the water. On the W-42 and W-43, the
washers are installed on the upper end, between the rudder and the hull, as well as on the
On the Westsail 28 and 32 we have seen a few rudders that have developed cracks, primarily
on the front and rear edges. These are not serious, but should be cleaned out and filled with
epoxy putty to prevent water from entering and soaking the foam core. There is a stainless steel
box under the cheek plates that takes the stress of the tiller. The Westsail 42 and 43 have a
steel plate welded to a stainless pipe as the core of the rudder. with a molded closed cell foam
RUDDER LINE PREVENTER
A safety item that Westsail did install on a few of the Westsail 28's and W-32's was a tab
between the aft end of the hull and the front edge of the rudder to close the bottom of the gap
between them. This gap is a place for any line or rope you run over to get caught up into, and
cause problems. An easily installed item, this tab across the gap will serve to prevent the line
from hooking into the rudder, and the line should slide off the rear end.
Check for play in the tiller. It should be snug, with the pivot bolt being able to tighten up just
enough to hold the tiller in any position you set it at. If your tiller is delaminated or cracked, new
ones are available from Worldcruiser.
Despite the instructions as to the installation location on most of the tiller mounted autopilots,
they should be moved further forward on the tiller to gain more force, with less movement. The
outboard end should be mounted on the caprail of the W-28 or W-32 just about where it starts to
dip down. It can also be attached to the leg of the boom gallows, or on the inside of the
bulwarks. An extension of the drive rod would be necessary, and these are available from the
manufacturers of the autopilots.
WESTSAIL SERVICE MANUAL TOPICS
[Back To Home Port]