Strut Repair Job 50 Ft. Cruisers

This is a 50 Ft. Cruisers that hit some rocks. The Strut & Prop took the main hit. The inside area that the strut is attached to was cracked. From the photos you can see that the inside area didn't look too bad. When the Insurance adjuster came to check out the boat, they said that they would pay only for laying fiberglass over the area that was damaged and use longer bolts to attach the new strut. I took some Infrared photos of the damage and informed them that a job done in that manner could not be guaranteed. Many other fiberglass repair people would do this type of repair and you can check their repair web sites to see photos. They seem to be proud of how they lump the fiberglass on the cracks, I was hired to do the repair the right way and to take photos of the process so we could fight the insurance company.

When I started the job the Insurance Company did a surprise visit to the marina. The insurance adjuster was shocked when he saw how I was repairing the area. He had never seen anyone do the type of repair that I was doing in his thirty years of checking boats. He said that everybody just lumps on the fiberglass over the cracks. This type of repair works for a short-term fix. After 6 months it starts to fracture again. After he saw how the repair was being done the insurance company paid the full amount and the owner could rest assured that the repair was being done the right way. Check out my photos of the repair. Other sites will show Before & After. I feel its what's in between of the repair process that makes a good repair job hold up.

Step-by-Step Procedure

This is what the strut area looked like when the Diesel motor was removed.

The strut plate is removed. You can see some cracks on the right & left sides of the plate.

This is an color infrared photo of the area. On the right side the dark area is where the fiberglass is separated.

Here are some lite stress cracks. It doesn’t look like much does it?

This is a black & white photo of the area with the stress cracks. These photos tell me the area is delaminated.

In this photo the fiberglass is delaminated.

Here the camera shows a color image of what's delaminated.

This is a black & white image of the same area. Different modes on the camera shows how far the delamination goes.

Here the cross member is cracked.

This is the bottom side where the strut attaches too.

Do you see the crack between the Pink & Black section?

Here I’m covering up the work area.

I cover up the whole engine compartment to keep the Fiberglass dust to the work area only. Its real tough to clean up the dust if it wasn’t cover.

Here I’m planning my cuts, and how big of an area I’m doing.

I removed the cross member so I can lay full sheets of fiberglass down. Also you can see that I run a blower/ventilator to suck out the fiberglass dust. To do good work you need to work in a clean area.

Now I’m starting to grind the damage area. You can see how the fiberglass is delaminated all around the perimeter of the strut plate.

Now I’m going deeper into the fiberglass. Its getting worse. You see the areas that are lite pink? These areas are delaminated.

Do you see the strut holes and the crack right next to it.

See the strut holes and the crack right above it. But look above that crack and you’ll see another crack.

This is a close up of how the fiberglass is delaminated by the bolt hole. Now would you want your boat to be repaired by covering up the crack with fiberglass the way the Insurance company wanted to do it?

See the Void in the fiberglass? It seems like the factory didn’t roll out the fiberglass very well.

Now this is the right way. Remove all damage fiberglass from the area. Do not cover up the cracks with more fiberglass. Also see how I started to grind the area? I saw many other repair people only go this far to prepare the area for fiberglass.

This is another close up of how the fiberglass is delaminated. This has to be all removed before laying up with new fiberglass.

See how far I grinded the area? There is a ratio to laying fiberglass to an area to make it stronger then it was before.

Here I placed a template in place to keep the shape of the hull.

A protective coating is applied to the area.

Now I’m sizing & laying out the fiberglass before I wet it out with resin.

Here I’m wetting out the fiberglass. This is done very carefully. If you put to many layers down, the resin will build up to much heat, that in turn can cause a fire. The resin will get brittle and crack again. I’ve seen people mix a lot of hardner with the resin to do the job quickly. Well the resin gets hard fast, but the repair is not strong.

Here you can see how I stepped out the fiberglass. This repair procedure really gives strength to the repair area.

Now I’m installing the cross member, and grinding the whole area for more layers of fiberglass.

See how good it looks with all of the fiberglass in? This takes alot of time to get it to look like this.

I’m Grinding it again for more layers.

This is the last of the layers of fiberglass.

This is a close up of the fiberglass that I use. It’s a better fiberglass then what the factory uses. This is a non-woven fiberglass. A lot stronger then woven. I’ve seen people use fiberglass Mat for this type of repair. If you don’t like swimming back to shore then you NEVER use mat.

See how clean & smooth the area looks? I also install a tube for the engine wires to run thru.

This is a view of the whole repair area.

Now I drill the holes for the strut support. This type of repair comes out so good that the mechanics that install the strut are happy that I do the repair, The strut lines up perfect every time. They told me horror stories of other fiberglass people where the bottom side of the strut support had to be grinded because they lumped on the fiberglass too much which threw off the engine alignment.

Here I sprayed Gel-coat on the repair area.

Here is a close up of the repair. Now I challenge you to find another repair site on the internet that does a job like this. I’ve check out the sites and the only thing i have found is lumpy fiberglass photos.

This is a photo of the bottom of the hull with a barrier coat to protect the fiberglass.

This is the same area sanded smooth & ready for bottom paint.

Here is a photo looking back at the strut area. See how smooth & clean it looks.

Here is a photo of the completed repair.. The mechanic was very happy, everything came together very well. One thing I have learned over the years is that mechanics hate to grind fiberglass to make a strut fit, or to align it.