Teak deck bung maintenance

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Oct 5, 2007
Vessel Name
Anastasia III
Vessel Make
Krogen 42
Teak Deck Bung Maintenance

Ive gotten pretty good at this over the years. I usually wait until I have at least 50-100 that need replacing. I can do 100 in about 3 hours one day, and then I have to let the glue dry overnight and come back and chisel the protruding bungs off the next day. I never bother to sand afterwards. Heres how I do it, assembly line style, e.g., do each step on every bung before moving on to the next step.

  1. <li style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNormal">Get your knee pads on. Get a good set, not those silly foam disposable kinds. Your body will love you for it, and you can use them on other jobs as well.<li style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNormal">I only replace bungs that have fallen out. With the screw heads exposed, take a Phillips bit that matches the size of your screws, and set it in each screw and whack it with a hammer. This will help loosen the screw.<li style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNormal">Get a Forstner bit that matches the size of the holes. Use it manually to clean out the hole before removing the screw. Just grab it with your hand (gloves if youre doing a lot to prevent blisters) and rotate it in the hole. This will prevent splintering when the screw comes out. <li style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNormal">Use your power drill or screwdriver to take the old screw out. I use it in low speed mode. Press down hard and back the screw out. In the unlikely event the bit jumps on the screw (you DID whack them as in step 2, right?) dont try to force it. Get some screw removers from Sears or wherever to back them out. <li style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNormal">Get a properly sized countersink / drill bit combination to deepen the holes if needed. This is usually required for older decks where the wood has worn away. At 20 yrs. Old, my bungs are paper thin, so I have to drill the holes deeper with the countersink bit so that the new bungs have enough wood to grab onto and be glued in. <li style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNormal">Once youve re-drilled the holes, vacuum out the debris. At this point, I spray each one with Tinactin or some other anti-fungal spray, just in case fungus has gotten a start down there. Let this dry.<li style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNormal">I replace all the old screws with Robertson square-drive screws. These will take much more torque than Phillips. This isnt really important when youre putting them in, but will be if you ever have to take them out again. Take the new screw and dip it in a sealant. I dip mine in a bit of polysulfide sealant like Lifecaulk. It doesnt take much when you insert the screw just a bit should be visible around the head of the screw down in the hole. Some people use varnish or other sealants; I just prefer polysulfide. Insert the screw and tighten very lightly. You dont want to strip the hole out. This will take practice, and you will strip out some holes. Sometimes this may be due to advanced rot. If this happens to only one, dont worry about it. If a bunch in an area does this, you may have a lot of rot and thats a whole different problem. <li style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNormal">Take the new bung and dip it in some type of glue. I use Titebond II waterproof glue, but there are others that will do the same things. I avoid epoxy as some others use, because you may want to remove the bung someday. Others dip the bung in varnish, and that will work well if the bungs you have are a tight fit, as they should be. Make sure the grain of the bung is aligned with the grain of the deck. If you can determine which way the grain slopes, try to put all your bungs in the same way. This will help when you come back to chisel them off later. Tap the bung fully into place with a tiny hammer, like a tack hammer. <li style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNormal">Let the glue dry per manufacturers recommendations, usually overnight. The next day, come back with a SHARP chisel to knock the tops off. If you can tell the slope of the grain, chisel from the side with the lowest point of slope, so that the bung chisels off and doesnt end up lower than the hole. If not, dont worry its not the end of the world. <li style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNormal">(Optional) If you want to sand, go ahead. 60-80 grit should be just fine.
We use this exact same method (we were taught it by one of the local shipwrights who does much of the work on the big GB charter fleet in our marina). We've replaced somewhere over 1,000 plugs so far. I think the most I've done in one day is 80. To seat the new plug we use a rubber mallet. Also, we were taught to always chisel the plug off by shearing it off with the grain of the plug, not across it. We've found that chiseling across the grain almost always results in one side being a little lower than the deck.

One thing we do differently is we re-use the original screws. American Marine fastened our deck planks in 1973 with stainless, slot-headed screws. So far, every one that we've removed has been in great shape. The reason we re-use them is two-fold-- one, the straight slot makes it very easy to clean out glue, compressed wood from the plug, etc. And two, the same size screw today, regardless of the type of head, has a head noticeably smaller in diameter than the screws American Marine used in 1973. The original screws with their wider heads get a better "bite" on the wood to clamp it down.

One tip we were given by the same shipwright is that with a new screw, particularly a Philips head, to put one of those self-adhesive little paper "dots" on the head after it's screwed in and before the new plug is installed.* The "dot" will prevent glue and wood from filling the slot(s) in the screw head and make it much easier to remove in the future if someone ever has to.* We don't usually do this with slotted screws since the slot is so easy to clean out, but we do on the rare occasions we use a Philips head screw that's going to have a plug glued in over it.

-- Edited by Marin at 11:53, 2007-12-19
I pretty much follow what Keith said.*To get those screws out use an Electrician screw driver that has a slotted blade that expands/grips the screw so it can be pulled out.* Electrician screw drivers are not sold at most hardware stores but through an commercial electricna store/out let.

If the screw hole is stripped to big, then try the next size bigger and/or longer screw.* If that does not work then fill the hole with epoxy, and redrill/tape the hole.**The old wood will absorb the epoxy making it solid again.** In some of the holes/solft* areas i have filled the holes with a liquid/runny epoxy so it is aborbed to the point of having to fill the hole a couple of times.

Bungs that are pushed up also need replacing as its a ealy sign*the screw is not holding.* I prefer to tighten the screw down*so tight it will*pull the teak board down*to the fiberglass deck.**

Oh, I use Daily's SeaFin on the teacks decks as it's a a runny/thin sealer that gets into those little cracks but dries hard.
Took me awhile to find that sealer, it's Daly's Seafin, at:

Do you* use the oil, or the Ship N Shore sealer? Or both? The sealer looks interesting, the seafin looks like, well teak oil. From the MSDS, it looks like the sealer may have linseed oil as it's main active ingredient, in a solvent base.
Be careful if you decide to put some sort of liquid sealer or finish on a teak deck (which I have learned from the shipwrights I've talked to and the books I've read to be a bad idea to begin with but it's the owner's choice.....). Some of these products can attack seam sealant, breaking it down over time or making it more susceptible to weather deterioration.

Any kind of oil finish wll hold dirt, which isn't good for the wood plus it makes a wonderful cutting compound under your shoes. The best thing for a teak deck besides good seams and no missing plugs is salt water and a detergent like Lemon Joy, which suds up nicely in cold water. Clean the deck regularly with a string mop or SOFT brush. If you use a brush, alway brush across the grain where the configuration of the boat allows it.

The reason to use salt water is that if there is a leak in the planking, and if your boat has a wood subdeck or a subdeck with a wood core, what will leak down is salt water, not fresh, so the onset of rot will be much delayed. Same reason many wooden sailing ships had boxes attached to the top of the frames to hold salt. As rainwater leaked down past the deck it would end up in the bilge as salt water, not fresh. We have some seams in our deck that need to be redone, so during the winter when it's raining 24/7 we periodically sprinkle salt on this portion of the deck.* An aquaintance in the UK who has a GB32 woodie keeps a block of rock salt on the foredeck of his boat for the same reason.

The most important thing with a teak deck is not to wear away the teak, either by sanding it or using the so-called "teak cleaners" or "restorers." The reason teak goes gray is because the pigment weathers out of the upper cells of the wood. You cannot make the color come back-- the only way to get that*nice new-teak color*back is to remove the upper layers of gray cells. You can do this by sanding or by using chemical cleaners. The chemical cleaners do exactly the same thing as sandpaper--- they remove the upper layers of wood cells. The only difference is that sandpaper does it mechanicallyi where the "restorers" do it chemically. Either way, you're removing wood.

I was associated for awhile with a 120' corporate yacht here in Seattle. Because of the way the yacht was used, it was important that the teak decks looked like new teak all the time. So the crew used teak restorers fairly frequently. The yacht was built in 1966, the company bought it from the original owner and owned it for more than twenty years. If I recall correctly, al the exterior teak decking has been replaced twice in that time, solely due to the "disappearance" of the teak due to the use of the cleaner. It was known this was going to happen and the deck replacement costs were factored into the overall operating cost of the yacht.

But for someone without deep corporate pockets, or who, like us, has an older boat with a teak deck that's already been thinned down by previous owners, the object is to keep wood removal to an absolute minimum. The best way to do this is not to put anything on it at all and keep it clean. And learn to love "silver gray"

-- Edited by Marin at 12:13, 2007-12-20
I use the SeaFin Teal Oil as it thin and penetrates the wood.* It does not damage the calking made for teak which is what should be used on teak the decks/wood.* I have used for abut 10 years with not damage to the caulking and no leaks of 9 months of rain 24/7 per year.****

I *apply a new*coat in August when the decks are complete dry and*are*shrunk down.* *
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