Pacemaker Rebuild. Summary

Ref: http://www.fishwrecked.com/forum/pacemaker-rebuild-formally-foam-bilges-pic-heavy

So now this project has come to an end, I thought I would note down a few things I have learnt along the way.

The Pacemaker hull is an extremely sound structure, well the one I had was at least with the only timber in the structure being the transom, deck and the block in the bow the u-bolt for the trailer winch fixes to. The longitudinal and ring frames are all fiberglass up to the deck height with foam internals that are fibre glassed down. I found the keel quite strange as the profile for the keel is essentially reflected inside the hull with no stiffener behind it so if you were to cop a blow against the keel and breach the hull, it is just the strength of the fiberglass holding the hull form. Great for drainage should you wish to take advantage of that option though as soon as you put foam in the hull, it is the place where the water seeps down to. I had a couple of chips out of my keel so the water seeped in that way and took three days to drain out the same way. They are all patched up now. Had there been a timber keel running the length of the boat, I dare say it would have been rotten to a paste so it was great it wasn’t there, though I am surprised there was nothing there. During the re-build, I cleaned up the keel hollow, glassed in a bit more structure then bogged it up. Being that the hull is largely foam filled, the drainage need isn’t there though where drainage is needed, I have glassed in a bit of conduit to do what is required and it works a treat.
Imagine the structure like two capital H on top of each other with the vertical and horizontal extended. The outside of the H doesn’t drain into the middle of it so if you ever get water up there, it will remain wet for ever and end up rotting.

If you are gutting a boat with foam internals then a shovel is the easiest way to do it by far. I hammer and chiselled away, filled bags and bags of roam over hours, then thought about using a shovel. I with the shovel, I was able to do in an hour what I had taken me a day to do previously. The number of cockroaches within the hull space was phenomenal considering the only opening I was aware of was the bung hole so god knows how they existed in there, in the gaps between the foam and the deck/hull. Literally hundreds.

Now for the re-build, A great big thanks to pelagicyachts who recommended the channel running up the guts of the boat to run my cables. GREAT IDEA! It was suggested that I run two pipes through I wasn’t keen to take out 10% of the ring frame so just went with one and it is pretty tight when running the last bits. In order to make it look pretty and maximise access into the console, I used a few 15 degree bends to make it all work and it has though when running in hard cables that don’t like bending, they get caught up on each join. I ended up using a bit of ‘tongue’ from chipboard flooring as a mouse and it worked a treat. Ultimately everything fits though it would take a bit of work to get anything remaining through. I need to throw a couple of bits of foam in the holes now because my little fella loves putting stuff in them….And don’t forget to drill a drain hole into the lowest point

Now I did this refit using a 5 inch grinder, jig saw, reciprocating saw and a drill, all of which were Ryobi battery tools. The Flap discs are great for the work on the hull though they are expensive and don’t last all that long. I ended up buying a heap of sanding discs which take a bit longer though do the job. It is easier to throw one of those away after an hour and be content with 90 cents in the bin rather than 15 bucks. Make sure you have a batteries because tools like the reciprocating saw and jig saw chew through the batteries. Either that or my batteries are on the way out as I was only getting 5 minutes. Real pain in the arse to be half way through a cut and the battery to go flat.

Now being that I did this job on one hell of a budget whilst trying to aggressively save money, I could only afford to purchase items on a weekly basis so I would have saved plenty of money going to a wholesaler for my fiberglass and resin. Fiberglass and Resin sales were my supplier of choice and had some great advise though it would have been better off to pick up 20l drums of resin rather than 4l at a time. There is another mob in Welshpool who sold larger quantities though yeah, it was out of my budget for that period. I used 225 gsm chopped strand mat and put layers of that down where I should have just used 450 gsm. Significantly stronger product and I could have put down multiple layers of that rather than layers upon layers of the lighter stuff. Lighter stuff is necessary for corners though for large flat spaces, just go the heavier stuff and be done with.
I used a flow coat (waxed top coat) in the spots which will likely have extended exposure to water (sump and under deck storage. It is a good product though sets hard so if there is any flex in the space, or expansion/contraction then it will crack. Doesn’t work on Silicone.

Timber wise, I found a mob selling marine ply in Willetton on Gumtree. Sheets were around $20 less than Bunnings and I used 12mm being that it is backed by foam. I flooded the panels in resin to seal them even though they were ‘marine ply’. Takes a bit longer though is a bit of insurance I guess. Easy stuff to work with and easy to make it look like you have lots done once you get to the deck point.

Now when I kicked off, I removed everything form the console and put the controls in a bucket as I wasn’t sure how to remove them from my etec. I should have figured out how to remove them (as it is very easy) to start with just to get them out of the boat. The motor is an Etec and if anyone ever needs to know how to do it, give me a shout as it is incredibly easy.

I opted to replace my Teleflex cables with like for like (but longer) cables and I got them from Chivers Marine. There is another dealer north of the river though they are more expensive and with regards to Hydro Steering, big thanks to Scubafish for the emails and various comments regarding what to go with. You were right on all accounts. I had intended to get everything from Whitworths though their stock holdings are marginal. After speaking to the local distributor (Mike), he directed me to All Boats and Caravans. Bruno at AB&C helped me identify what I needed and I paid them over the phone and the dealer dropped it off for me (I was between where he was and where he was going). I have since needed some help troubleshooting and both businesses helped me out.
Chivers Marine are also listed as a distributor for the Hydrive product though they were 20% more expensive.

After stuffing up my install a few times by going to the wrong side of the ‘don’t over tighten fittings’, and having to clean up the hydraulic fountains, I have a pretty good and tight system now. Bit gutted I had to drill a hole in the side of the boat to allow fitting of the bar that holds it all together though. Just needed an extra 20mm. If anyone is installing one, there is a youtube video which is handy though some of the things they said to do were wrong (per Mike) and caused my hydraulic clean up.

Most of the stuff I had to repair on this boat was purely due to penetrations in the deck and or gunnel which weren’t sealed properly allowing moisture in. Where I hadn’t put anything on the deck/gunnel, the boat was fine. The foam WILL absorb water over time and will add weight to your boat so remember, put in your fitting, remove it, add Sikaflex and re-install.

I am sure I will add some more stuff later though a couple of final thoughts and observations are to make sure you wear PPE!!! Glasses or goggles and gloves and long sleeve shirts/coveralls when working with fiberglass as it turns your body into a large itch. Also, when using my grinder, I cut through gloves I was wearing twice. Thankfully I was wearing cut resistant gloves as I would have gone straight into my hand each time.

The expanding foam needs to be mixed very well and it is best to put it in on a warm day. The first patches I did, I didn’t mix too well so the foam is extremely dense. Great as impact resistance in the bow which is a pro though a bit heavy. Make sure you have drilled a 25mm vent hole or you will rip your structure apart. Even with the vent, you get some funny sounds coming from under the deck as it all settles. Generates a bit of heat too.

So this will do me for the time being. Again, a great bit thanks to scubafish, pelagicyachts and everyone else who gave advise and support. I had intended this to take a few months but not 6 though I am glad I took my time, though that was mainly due to financial requirements. In the 6 months, we had been camping 4 times, had 5 trips to emergency due to sickness, three ambulances and a few other events that prohibited works on the boat (Grand final, wettest winter in years ect) so if you were able to smash out a lot of work on consecutive days, and had the budget to support it, you could to the project quickly. I did all of the work myself other than bleeding the hydraulic system. I had tinkered with a bit of fiberglass in the past though nothing this extensive.

Cheers if you read this far.


Swompa's picture

Posts: 2415

Date Joined: 14/10/12

First extra bit that I

Mon, 2018-12-10 10:32

First extra bit that I thought of was lighting under the gunnel. I got a few rolls of LED lighting off Ebay (like $8 for a 5m roll) and stuck it to some square conduit and stuck it to the underside of the gunnel. Very effective and a cheap option. Just make sure you heat shrink and silicone the joins, and only use the siliconed’ lights or you will just dissolve the other stuff.

I stuck it down with double sided foam though it is not doing the job (falls off when its hot) and I will run a bead of silicone along the lengths tonight.

Cruise Control's picture

Posts: 887

Date Joined: 03/11/10

 Lots of good info there

Mon, 2018-12-10 11:11

 Lots of good info there Swompa. Enjoy your new boat !

scottnofish's picture

Posts: 1553

Date Joined: 28/08/07

I always thought that you were

Mon, 2018-12-10 11:37

 not ment to use expanding foam as its open cell foam which means it will absorb and hold water .below deck should be closed cell foam like polystyrene

Swompa's picture

Posts: 2415

Date Joined: 14/10/12

Not sure there is a two part

Mon, 2018-12-10 11:40

Not sure there is a two part closed cell foam in the market?

I worked for a mob that made the plastic marker buoy's and we used the same two part stuff that goes in boats.

crano's picture

Posts: 489

Date Joined: 04/11/09

Good stuff

Mon, 2018-12-10 18:12

 Well done, it has been interesting following this story.

pelagicyachts's picture

Posts: 854

Date Joined: 23/02/11

You see so many on projects

Tue, 2018-12-11 07:54

You see so many on projects on gumtree or elsewhere where people have started and given up - so its great to see a project completed!
Having done a couple - albeit mainly cosmetic refits, I can attest that it is a journey that can break a man! great job and lots of fun times ahead :-)