My 15-year-old polyurethane longboard is taking on water and I'm completely at fault for not fixing it sooner. Sometime last summer I taped over a crack in the rail -- which was about 1 1/2" long with an 1/8" wide x 1/4" long gap in the middle with the rest just a hairline. I didn't fix it when I found it because, well, there was good surf that morning and my other good small wave board was 40 miles away. The crack didn't seem to go through the glass and I used clear packing tape -- which works very well in a pinch -- but then the laziness set in. I re-applied the tape a few sessions later as a precaution and the board sat unridden for most of the winter. Too cold to glass was my excuse.
A new year evidently resets precautionary measures with me because I've taken it out 4 or 5 times sans souci since the end of February and one of those times the tape failed -- most likely in the last session but maybe the one before. I store the board vertically and a day after the latest session I noticed water slowly oozing out through the tape on the rail. I took a razor and enlarged the hole then hung the board horizontally with the crack at the lowest point on the rail, and over 36 hours slightly less than a 1/4 cup of water has dripped out. The dripping has slowed considerably but another two tablespoons have come out since this morning.
The rest of the board is in fairly good shape. There are two minor delam spots on the deck where I pop up but I'm fairly certain they're unrelated to water damage. The stringer is also slightly elevated in spots with small cracks on either side where the deck foam has been compressed, but the cracks aren't breaking through the glass. The rest of the board seems watertight. There's also some yellowing of the foam because it's an older board but there's no uneven discoloration to suggest water damage, but I don't know for sure. It feels heavy now but maybe that's just in my mind.
The last time I surfed it I was out for nearly 4 hours so I don't know how much water got in (crack is 3' from the tail so it's basically submerged the whole time, but it's a tiny crack). I also have no clue how long the discoloration takes to show or how damaging the salt water is to the foam (can't be good). I weighed it now so I'll see if it gets lighter...
But, what's the best way to dry it out? I haven't gone through all the Swaylocks/Internet posts yet but anyone here have this issue? Do I flush it with fresh water first? Throw it in the attic as it gets warmer? Should I drill holes elsewhere to let it breathe? Blow air through it? Suck air out? Maybe cut out the delamination and let it sit for a few weeks?
I had hoped to inject resin under the two delams so I didn't have to rip out foam, match paint and turn it into a frankenboard, but maybe now it's worth opening up the deck and fixing a few issues at once. I've read that PU foam absorbs lots of water yet also read that PU foam doesn't absorb water much beyond the crack. I'd hate to open the deck if I didn't need to. I can do all the work myself but I have zero experience fixing water damaged boards.
Time for surgery. Open it up and remove all damaged/loose material. Suck out as much water as you can, then store the board in a warm, dry place, ding down and forget about it for a while. Some people stuff paper towels into the damaged area to wick water out, and use a fan to accelerate the drying process. But if you do that, at some point you still need to remove that paper towel and continue to let it dry. You've waited this long to fix it, so you might as well do it right. Wait for the foam to completely dry out, then do your repair. Injecting resin has never worked for me, so I don't advise it. If you want to fix a delam, there are a few ways to go about it, and the size of the delammed area will dictate which way to go. No need to flush it out with fresh water. No need to drill holes. Just open it up and let it dry completely.
Thanks for the info. For the rail crack I'll cut into the rail and deck as far as necessary to remove the water-damaged foam, but I'm not sure what to do with all the delam spots on the deck. For one of the larger (8" round) isolated spots I can probably slice one side open, clean it out, fill it in with resin and then fix the seam, but I see delamination on either side of the stringer where the foam has been compressed.
Each spot extends no more than 2 inches from the stringer, but there are 7 or so small spots with lengths varying from 1 to 3 inches, some very close to the second large spot (4-5" round). Is this grounds for replacing large sections of the deck across the stringer? Should I try to fill-in and rebuild the deck back up to the stringer? (it's compressed maybe 1/4" in spots.) Or is it best to keep as much of the existing glass as possible and fix each one separately? I appreciate any info and it looks like I'll have lots of time to read up on this as the board dries.
Seriously, brother... unless this board is really something special, OR you absolutely can't afford to buy another board anytime in the foreseeable future, don't bother with the small delams. If you want to fix the larger ones, here's what I do... sand the areas down to the weave, and cut them open around the perimeter of the delam with a utility knife, except for a part that will act as a hinge, creating a flap. I don't use any filler in the dented in foam to bring the deck back up, but many do. I think it's a waste, and I use the opportunity to add some strength - I use a layer of cloth. I clean out any foam dust, sand, etc, then cut a piece of 4oz cloth to fit inside the repair area. I wet that cloth out, getting it good and wet... almost puddling, but not. Then I flap that flap back down and weight it down with gallon jugs of water, bricks, pain cans... anything that will get that flap down tight, and squeeze out any excess resin. Wipe away anything that oozes out, and let it kick. Then like you said, treat the seam like a repair... patch, fair, tape off, hotcoat, sand.
Seriously, brother... unless this board is really something special, OR you absolutely can't afford to buy another board anytime in the foreseeable future, don't bother with the small delams.
When you wrote that I should "do it right" I figured I'd mention all the issues, but not bothering with some delams seems like a good balance between hacking up the board and fixing the most important issue with the rail. And that advice could only come from someone who's done it before, so thanks. It's a great board and it's the only true longboard I have now but it won't be the last, and I have other boards to keep me entertained. I'll do one or both of the large delams to get some practice but if this is how it looks after 15 years it's got some life left -- as long as I don't make the same stupid mistake with the tape. I wonder now if I've made a mistake ordering all that rice...