Question: After removing the core and outer fiberglass layer in a 2x2 foot area, when I replace the core do I need to use something other than solid fiberglass? Provided I can lay up that much fiberglass, is there any disadvantage to not using another coring material? other than cost and time?
You should put some new core into the deck. Solid glass is going to add an awful lot of weight for being up that high. Cored glass is more rigid than solid glass, I think. Also, you have to put the glass in a few layers at a time or the heat generated will weaken the bond. I recommend using a high-density foam core where you replace the balsa. I used klegecell (PL-75 3/8" thickness), a rigid polyester foam sheet. I got it from Fiberglass Coatings (800-272-7890). That's also a good place to get glass cloth and mat. They're good people, and their web site is improving. (As of 2011, I hate their current web site.) Calling on the phone works well, too. Ask for their catalog, while you're at it. There are other good sources, too. Many places that sell fiberglass and resin will also sell foam coring.
Jim Mennucci's articles on deck repair (in the Alberg 30 Maintenance Manual) are a good source of advice, as is Don Casey's book "This Old Boat." I recommend reading both of them. My short description of the process is as follows:
Question: After removing the mast-step plate I noticed that the six screws in this plate are screwed into the deck. How are they held there, were they screwed into fresh fiberglass? What kind of holding strength is that? I literally peeled the plate off with the screws still attached using a screwdriver as a pry bar. Has anyone ever thru bolted the mast-plate thru the deck? What do you think about that? Or maybe glassing the bolts in upside down so they can have nuts screwed on them topsides?(I think Scott Maury "Bill of Rights" did this.) What should I do?
Steve Weingart wrote an article about this and it got included in the Alberg 30 Maintenance Manual.
FYI: water leaked into the core thru the six bolts in the mast-step plate, and through the bolts for the hinges for the forward hatch. If I had rebedded these when I first got the boat in 1996 I probably could have prevented the majority of the damage. Removing and resteping the mast several times aggravated the problem. You might want to check your if you just acquired your boat.
I'll second that notion. I'm in the same boat, so to speak. It's better to do a bad caulk job than to wait until you can do a better one. Also, you have to remove things to caulk them. It doesn't work to put caulk around the edges. I've just recently fallen in love with Rule elastomeric caulk. I did my chainplates with it, and so far, I like it better than BoatLife. Save the 5200 for metal things that you can heat with a torch if you need to remove them.