Strengthening the Ballad (Part 1)

Post Reply
patentnick
Posts: 57
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:51 am

Strengthening the Ballad (Part 1)

Post by patentnick » Sun Oct 01, 2017 6:48 pm

Strengthening Moments of Clarity is something I've had in mind for a really long time. Over the years, I've discussed this subject with a Swedish friend who has been living on board his Ballad in Greece since 2010, and another Greek friend who has an Albin Singoalla. One of the things we always wondered about was why these boats had no stringers. This is all the more surprising, given that even the furniture is screwed in or bolted on--rather than being glassed in.

In the end, after noticing some hull flexing in the location of the lockers, both of them chose to laminate stringers. One guy glassed-in strips of wood with mat and polyester resin, while the other went exotic and used PVC foam and carbon fibre. This followed some previous strengthening they'd done under the saloon settees. As for me, following a really rough, 11-hour passage this summer, I finally decided to go ahead as well. Boy, what did I get into.

Rather than laminating stringers, I chose to tab-in bulkheads simply because some existing, non-structural ones needed to be replaced. Planning was fairly easy: First, I would glass in a small bulkhead under the port settee (the starboard side had already been beefed up during the dinette conversion). Then I would also tab-in the two half-bulkheads aft of the settees, on the side that had no tabbing, removing and later replacing the bolts. Also, I would get rid of the 8mm, non-structural bulkheads that separate the accommodation from the lockers, as well as the two small bulkheads that separate the lockers from the lazarette, and replace them with tabbed-in 18mm, using the old ones as templates. I figured that the forward part of the boat wouldn't need strengthening since I had already installed another bulkhead aft of the water tank when I had relocated the chain locker under the V-berth.

Needless to say, all this involved taking most of the boat apart. Now I'm in week 3 of the project and after an astonishing amount of dust, metres of epoxy filets and biaxial/mat fabric, and 3 litres of resin, I'm a little more than half-way through. The small bulkheads that divide the locker space have been cut, their edges sealed with epoxy and will be tabbed-in by the end of this week. Finally, the bulkhead that separates the accommodation from the starboard locker (just forward of the diesel tank) has also been cut and awaits tabbing.
P9112169.jpg
These two half-bulkheads are on the starboard side. The forward was originally tabbed only on one side, the other was essentially free standing.
P9112169.jpg (167.82 KiB) Viewed 17437 times
PA012183.jpg
Bulkhead tabbed. It will also be through-bolted like before.
PA012183.jpg (159.78 KiB) Viewed 17437 times
PA012184.jpg
I tabbed this bulkhead only on one side as I didn't have the courage to remove the fridge.
PA012184.jpg (158.37 KiB) Viewed 17437 times
PA012188.jpg
Small bulkhead under port settee tabbed on both sides and given two coats of epoxy resin.
PA012188.jpg (119.21 KiB) Viewed 17437 times
Attachments
PA012187.jpg
Pre-cutting strips of biaxial/mat combination cloth (200g+200g+225g) the day before makes the job a little easier.
PA012187.jpg (159.13 KiB) Viewed 17437 times
PA012189.jpg
The bulkhead that separates the accommodation from the port locker has been given filets and awaits tabbing.
PA012189.jpg (141.27 KiB) Viewed 17437 times
PA012186.jpg
While I was at it, I epoxied these plywood corners on the outer edge of the port settee.
PA012186.jpg (118.85 KiB) Viewed 17437 times
PA012185.jpg
Port-side half-bulkhead tabbed.
PA012185.jpg (158.54 KiB) Viewed 17437 times
Last edited by patentnick on Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
Nicholas Koligiannis
Moments of Clarity
Hull No. 334

ibbo
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:24 am

Re: Strengthening the Ballad (Part 1)

Post by ibbo » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:31 am

Hi Nick,
I'm interested in what has been done to the other boats you have seen too. There is movement in mine when rolling, and the step, which I thought the only support between the two bulkheads has broken the support on the port side.
I have seen pictures of other Ballads with the same crack, so it seems to happen at least occasionally.

What made you decide to strengthen the hull?

Mike

patentnick
Posts: 57
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Strengthening the Ballad (Part 1)

Post by patentnick » Sat Oct 21, 2017 7:03 am

Hi Mike:

When you mention "step", are you referring to the mast step? Which part has cracked?

I guess the tipping point for strengthening the Ballad came after a long, rough sail this August. It wasn't so much the wind--the local summer wind known as "meltemi" regularly blows to 35+ knots--but the fact that I chose to go sailing at the end of the second week after it had started, so the seas had built up. Much to the boat's credit, she didn't slam once, but I noticed some creaking from the cockpit floor when rolling.

As I mentioned in my original post, a Swedish friend of mine who also owns a Ballad had noticed some hull flexing around that area as well, which is not unreasonable given that the Ballad has no stringers. Since then he has glassed in several stringers and I will post a few photos of this soon. Unlike his version, mine is the one with the aft-facing chart table and two deep lockers, with two full bulkheads and two half bulkheads dividing the area, all of which were essentially free standing. I decided to replace those because I had noticed some rot and, in the process, I glassed them in.

Over the years, I've pored over photos and drawings of old, small boats (28-32 feet) and I've become envious of a few that display substantial built qualities such as the Pacific Seacraft/ Mariah 31, Cape George 31, Saga 31, Centurion 32, Vancouver 27&28, She 31, Contessa 32, Hallberg-Rassy Monsun 31. Granted, several of them are longish-keeled cruisers rather that IOR cruiser-racers but they seem to share certain characteristics in the tabbing and stringer departments. Even boats that have the same underwater lines and overall dimensions as the Ballad, appear to be 300-700kg heavier. A guess some of that extra weight must be attributed to a more substantial build.

I've also been inspecting a few 1975-77 Carter 33s for a couple of friends interested in buying, and I've been amazed by their build quality--every single bulkhead and half-bulkhead on those boats was glassed in on both sides. You can grab any part of the interior with both hands, put your full weight behind it and it won't move at all. (Ironically, the best Carter 33s were built by Olympic Marine in Greece, the earlier ones under Dick Carter's supervision.)

Having said all that, the fact that Ballads are still being sailed hard--and at least two of them have completed circumnavigations--is a testament to their initial build quality. I guess only Rolf Magnusson can truly enlighten us on this subject.
Nicholas Koligiannis
Moments of Clarity
Hull No. 334

ibbo
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:24 am

Re: Strengthening the Ballad (Part 1)

Post by ibbo » Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:29 am

Hi,
It's the steps above the engine box I'm referring to. When you lift the small hinged lid that acts as the top step, with the tool tray beneath it, at each side there is a fore and aft aligned timber that the top step rests on. It is this that's split. I will get a picture tonight.
I get movement in the cockpit floor, and creaking from the bulkheads at each side of the engine. We are blessed with atlantic swell when we go past lands end which is when it shows up most. The boat creaks when at anchor too when it's rolling.
I am of course wondering what to do about it, if anything. Until I read this post I didn't know that anyone else had tried to reduce the movement.

Has it been effective?

Mike

patentnick
Posts: 57
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Strengthening the Ballad (Part 1)

Post by patentnick » Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:43 am

Hi Mike:

I don't know if it's effective as I haven't sailed the boat since. In fact, I'm not entirely finished with all the work. The boat will be taken out of the water in a couple of weeks for anti-fouling, the mast will be lowered and the rigging replaced--which is why I wanted to finish with all the structural jobs first.

At any rate, I guess some creaking from non-structural parts should be expected as the fit and finish on these boats was good but not exceptional. After 40+ years, one shouldn't be surprised to hear a creak or two. Also, my boat has been quite heavily modified, so with every new addition there is the possibility of some infinitesimal movement, which translates into sound. My floor is pretty solid but some other Ballad owners in this forum have had an issue with theirs.

I also haven't had a problem with the steps. The small bulkheads on the sides of the engine aren't glassed-in, they're essentially just dividers. Of course, one could replace them but there isn't much space to work around since the engine is in the way. I think that with some judicious use of good plywood and thickened epoxy resin one could reinforce the area without resorting to using any fabric.

Looking forward to your photos.

Nicholas
Nicholas Koligiannis
Moments of Clarity
Hull No. 334

ibbo
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:24 am

Re: Strengthening the Ballad (Part 1)

Post by ibbo » Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:52 am

Ballad step support.jpg
Ballad step support.jpg (119.88 KiB) Viewed 17358 times
Picture attached I hope of the step support.

Mike

patentnick
Posts: 57
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Strengthening the Ballad (Part 1)

Post by patentnick » Sun Oct 29, 2017 7:27 pm

Hi Mike:

Hmm, I have no idea as to how this crack may have occurred. I've never seen it before. As the surroundings are relatively loosely fitted I can't see what caused it. Perhaps other members can come up with a cause.

Nicholas
Nicholas Koligiannis
Moments of Clarity
Hull No. 334

Jan_Ballad_323
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2016 6:50 pm
Location: Gothenburg/Sweden

Re: Strengthening the Ballad (Part 1)

Post by Jan_Ballad_323 » Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:57 pm

Thanks for the thread.

I haven't noticed any movement in my Ballad nr 323, but I haven't been out long in rough weather either.

I am doing some refitting during this winter, building a septic tank that I will install above the toilet against the hull. Will make sure to put some glasfiber on the bulkheads as well, It can't hurt.

Bob McGovern
Posts: 281
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:08 am
Location: Wyoming, USA

Re: Strengthening the Ballad (Part 1)

Post by Bob McGovern » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:41 pm

ibbo wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:52 am
Ballad step support.jpg

Picture attached I hope of the step support.

Mike
That's just wood being wood, failing along the grain. Probably made worse by moisture cycling & the way that ledger cantilevers to support both the chart table & the tool tray lid. It is being stressed over a vertical edge, so it cracked. You can replace it, fill the crack with epoxy to stabilize it, or ignore it. Not a structural part.

ibbo
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:24 am

Re: Strengthening the Ballad (Part 1)

Post by ibbo » Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:50 pm

Thanks Bob, I shall ignore it. Surprisingly I have enough to do.

Mike

Post Reply