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Date Posted: - Monday - 01/21/08 - 9:56pm
Author: Randall, M31, Murre
Subject: Aft Cabin Bulkhead Replacement

And so it begins…

Oddly, Murre is not only in the same shed as two years ago for the cockpit job, she's in the same slip. She's facing bow out, just like before. The blue tarps I used for extra coverage against storms are the same blue tarps. The same sea gulls do the same tap-tap-squawk dance on the same tin roof. Even the neighbors are the same. But I find their neighborly recognition is slow, somewhat guarded, as I explain I am back for more of the same, as if they are thinking, "didn’t he already do that?”—as if they are thinking “is he crazy or just plain dumb?"

And as to that question and by way of providing evidence one way or the other, I thought I might post a few photos here now and again—as work progresses or fails to progress and my access to enlightenment and divine grace waxes, wanes.

Where do we start? We start with two photos of a sexy looking bulkhead—amlple proof and more that the camera can lie—will lie at its first opportunity and with a smile.

(click on photos to enlarge.)

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[> REPORT #1: Murre meets the hammer -- Randall (), - Monday - 01/21/08 - 10:20pm

The portlight and its exterior frame are screwed together and, I found, come apart easiest by grabbing the light and dogs from the inside and twisting. A few smart wraps with a hammer freed up any corrosion in the bronze threads. The calk was Dolphonite, and the result, obvious.

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Once the trim covering the upper from lower slats was removed, several pulled off with no resistance.

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Even the yellow wood is "powdery".

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At what point is one across the point of no return? Here the propane locker has been removed, the electric receptacle pulled out, and the top trim is off. Under the trim and under the cloth, dark wood.

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Last edited by author: Mon January 28, 2008 02:46:34   Edited 3 times.
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[> [> Bulkhead -- Brett, - Tuesday - 01/22/08 - 2:31pm

I am in the middle of doing the same thing - as well as a complete cockpit rebuild.... LOTS of rotten wood... I will post some pics as I go...

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[> [> posting error -- rreeves (), - Monday - 01/28/08 - 1:59am

see below

Last edited by author: Sat February 02, 2008 21:31:04   Edited 4 times.
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[> Companionway Hatch -- Mark (Aeolus), - Tuesday - 01/22/08 - 6:15pm

Randall, I find starting the "demo" always the hardest part. Judging by your past projects I'm sure you'll do fine, as well as give great step-by-step direction for other Mariners in the futre.
After looking at my companionway I'm afraid I've given you some bad info. I don't see how the "blind" screws at the top of the companionway could be under the 1/2" brass sliders. I see some Teak stop water blocks on the outside of each side, but for the life of me I can't remember how the screws are installed.

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[> [> Agreed. -- Randall, - Tuesday - 01/22/08 - 8:34pm

Brett probably knows as he's been at this more recently. Brett?

Ya, I lifted the brass slider, but didn't see any plugs under there. The only two fasteners I see are at the top of the exterior vertical hatch frames. I pulled those and then gave the vertical frames a good sideways thwack with the hammer. They did not return the favor. It was the end of the day when I got to this; I was going too fast and in danger of doing damage, so have saved for next visit, but my current guess is that I need to pull the grab handles from the INSIDE of the vertical frame as their fasteners probably pass through the frame and into the bulkhead. Beyond that I’m currently at a loss.

No worries re the "bad" advise. One gets great pleasure from receiving any advice at all! And thanks for posting AEOLUS' rebuild photos--I've visited many times looking for clues.

Yes, isn’t starting out the worst? The cockpit sides kind of fell apart in my hands and all in one afternoon. This demolition is going to take a little more finesse.

RR

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[> Teak companionway frame -- Mark, - Tuesday - 01/22/08 - 9:10pm

The vertical frames should slide out verticlly(up) once the entire bulkhead is free. You might damage the miter joint at the (2) lower corners if you apply pressure sideways as the miter might be "keyed" as well. To tilt the top of the bulkhead out you'll need to find the "mystery" screws at the upper frame connection. Hopefully Brett can chime in, the 18 yrs since my experience is just a memory. I'll check my grab handles tomorrow, as I'll be at the boat.
Mark

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[> Companionway -- Mark, - Wednesday - 01/23/08 - 4:09pm

Randall, I checked the grab handles today and you may be right as the screws bed almost 1 1/2" (I have one off.) After looking at the teak connection at the top I think if you do decide to try and tap the verticals toward one another you'll have to remove the 7/16" covering that is on either side of the sliding hatch, I think the way the verticals are "keyed" that the covering is in the way. I still think tilting the bulkhead out is the best method. Are the (2) fasteners at the top of the verticals lined up with the horizontal teak frame around the hatch?
Mark

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[> [> hidden nails -- Greg, - Wednesday - 01/23/08 - 4:32pm

as i recall from replacing mine there were nails along the bottom up through the bulkhead into the teak frame but i don't know if that was original or not

Greg
M31 #121 Water Lilly
Columbia, SC

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[> [> [> HIDDEN NAILS -- Randall, - Monday - 02/18/08 - 12:40pm

Thanks for this hint, Greg. There were plenty of nails in my companion way hatch frame, but on two sides only (bottom and starboard. It appeared as though a six inch wide section of bulkhead abutting the companionway on the port side had been replaced, and here there were no nails. So, I think the use of the ring nails was original. It sure would be concistent with their use on other areas of the boat.

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[> [> Thanks for the observations... -- Randall (), - Thursday - 01/24/08 - 9:45pm

...appreciated.

We had guests coming into town this weekend that I thought would 86 boat work plans. Now they only want to do dinner. So to the boat I go.

I'll let you know next week how go the companionway frames.

Thanks again,

RR

Last edited by author: Mon January 28, 2008 02:47:28   Edited 2 times.
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[> [> [> I'm jealous -- John, - Friday - 01/25/08 - 4:17pm

I'm jealous of the guys that can work on their boats outside all year round! I'm stuck working in my basement until April!!!!

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[> REPORT #2: Bulkhead Out -- Randall (), - Monday - 01/28/08 - 2:06am

Yes Mark, the interior grab handles have fasteners that extend into tomorrow. They're #14 x 3 1/2", bronze. The three on the port side came out clean, though they barked a lot and required I go slow, slow. The ones on the starboard broke. I went just as slow and with as much care, but they said not a word and sheared off at the base.

(Note: as it turns out these grab handles did not need to be removed. Their fasteners seat into the companionway hatch frame only and do not pierce the bulkhead ply.)

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Having got the handles off, I went back to thwacking. Per recommendation, resisted trying to pop the companionway frames out by pushing them toward each other, but instead pushed the whole bulkhead out and astern. This was the right approach (more on that later). Here you see some of how the assembly comes apart. Note that of the two fasteners on the fore and aft "flashing", only the lower needs to be removed (hard to explain, but see the one fastener I've removed below the slide...there's one more just above it and a touch forward that does NOT need to come out).

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Though both frames did eventually push free, it was clear there was some other fastener that had failed to announce its presence. As it turns out, this was what looks to be a #14 of 3+" sunk at a 45* angle from the top frames into the horizontal frames. There is no plug or any other hint on the top frames that suggests this fastener exists. Reason says it was laid in through the deck before the top companionway frames were placed.

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Having got both upper joints on the companionway hatch to pop, I went back to the upper joint along the breadth of the bulkhead. The fasteners were easy to find once the one layer of glass was pealed back and were all bronze #10 x 1 1/2" spaced 4 1/2" apart. Every single one broke coming out.

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Then I worked outboard and down. There were three fasteners in the vertical here, the last and lower about an inch below the splashboard shoulder. These three were #12 x 1 3/4", and they all come out cleanly.

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Next was to move back inside and free up the base of the bulkhead. On the starboard side, this meant removing the navigation table slider. The plug holes were evident without sanding away the white paint. There were seven total--the least obvious being the vertical at the outboard edge. The uppers were #10 x 1 1/2" and the lowers were #10 x 1 3/4". The vertical fastener was #12 x 2".

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I puzzled for quite a while over this piece because it just wouldn't budge, and given the joint at the doors, there wasn't much option. Finally figured to lower the outboard edge from its joint...raise the inboard...and the rest was easy.

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The ring nails were next. They were spaced about every 5" along the base of the bulkhead and had to be pried out after chiseling a base from which to attack the nail head. Don't mind the blood splatter. I'd skinned my knuckle on something is all. I'm not a big fan of ring nails.

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There is plenty more bloodshed between the above and this shot. Essentially having loosed the bulkhead at every point save its extreme outboard ends inside the splashboard shoulder, I took a jig saw to that area to the right of the companion way hatch and the area just below the port window and pried this large piece out. Then came the tedious task of the splashboard shoulder. This took a lot of patient chiseling. There were two more bulkhead fasteners here--one could be got at without worry about the shoulder; the other (pictured) was at the base of the interior grab rail and had to be cut, then backed a little, then cut again. It came out just fine.

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Having got the big piece of bulkhead out, I set to prying the companionway hatch pieces off the bulkhead. They felt as if there was some other fastener holding them at the corners because they refused to pop. When I did get them apart, there was a largish fastener that was set up from the bottom horizontal frame and into the vertical. Pictured here is the extreme bottom of the port horizontal frame; down and to the right in the photo is the bottom frame. I rocked there frames back and forth and knew there was something in here, but there was no hint until it was totally apart. The bottom frame sustained some damage, but this will be easily repaired when the time comes.

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What will be more fun by far (I've not totally cleaned up the companionway frames, yet) will be getting the small ring nails out. Greg, I think this is what you predicted. These nails are driven through the bulkhead and into the frame from the inside, and are nearly all buried. I get that ring nails are strong, easy to work with, and quick to deploy, but for Christ's sake--when you are building the boat new and if it is of wood, remember the poor sod who will be rebuilding it 30 years hence.

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Here a shot of the yellow (bless me!) coach roof frame, which is instructive for the geographic lines apparent. You can see the stainless ring nails coming through vertically from the coach roof (just like we encountered in the cabin side rebuild); the small brass spots are the bulkhead fasteners that broke off--every one; the darker fastener holes are for the teak trim that was removed the first day, and the dark, regular vertical lines mark where the interior paneling popped off.

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And that's the weekend--a couple of half days, really. And about that idea of "point of no return"?--definitely past it!

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Last edited by author: Mon April 14, 2008 01:43:33   Edited 4 times.
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[> Bulkhead -- Mark(AEOLUS), - Saturday - 02/ 2/08 - 3:27pm

Nice job Randall, I think you should bind your restoration write-ups and print a "how-to" book. What kinda shape was the main support beam in? I know there are variations to these 31's, when I replace my bulkhead I added some storage outboard of the frig box (just below the main support frame). Also moved the electic panel thats above the frig. Justa thought.
Mark

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[> [> Interesting -- Randall, - Monday - 02/ 4/08 - 12:21am

Thanks Mark. Do you mean the mizzen support? Lots of shots coming up of the deck beam, but I've supported the mizzen (some years ago--check out the cockpit job write-up for shots of that ) with vertical supports that drop into the hull on either side of Old Blue.

I like the idea of extra storage--I'll check that out.

Where'd you move the switch board to?

RR

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[> [> Bulkhead -- Mark, - Tuesday - 02/ 5/08 - 4:21pm

Randall, the support beam I questioned was the deck-beam you showed. Surprised to see it already spliced. Surely no one had been there before you? I moved the switch board to the starboard side below the shelf (on the 31's w/a quarter-berth). Previous owner had installed some electric components there. Looking Good!

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[> [> Storage -- Randall, - Tuesday - 02/12/08 - 1:19pm

I too was surprised by the scarf joint. I hesitate to call it a splice, mind you. :) Wonder what the rationale was. One would think that that supporting structure and others would have been first in. Maybe mahogany trees didn't grow that tall in Japan.

Hey, about that storage outboard of the ice box, I like that. On Murre the food locker outboard of the galley counter top is two levels deep. Did you follow the same for this extra storate space? Does the storage area access from the food locker in the galley or from the settee hatch ... or both?

RR

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[> REPORT #3: Digging Deeper -- Randall (), - Monday - 02/ 4/08 - 2:17am

This weekend I felt the archeologist, carefully prying and chiseling a clear view down to the bone of Murre’s companionway bulkhead deck beam.

I started with the electric panel area, which is to port of the sink.

Maybe it will be moved; maybe not, but the switch box is carefully labeled. My heart sinks to think of all the little things that will need doing before this job is considered done.

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And here is a view into that space. Inside the rectangular frame, the beige, gray background is the upper wall of the ice box. Above it the athwartships deck beam is coming into view, still covered in aged, brown Dolphinite goop, and above that, the black 3M 5200 used to create a seal between the bulkhead and the deck. The thick, grey wire running up through the deck is shore power.

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There are two tools (other than the hammer, the chisel, and the screw driver!) that I’ve used extensively during this demolition. One is only what I can call a spatula. It’s a Japanese implement left over from when Iki rebuilt Murre’s deck in 2003. What makes it so useful is that it’s blade is much thinner than any putty knife available in the states. It’s not built for taking blows, as its chewed up handle will indicate, but it does a great job of sliding into the glued spaces of, especially, the interior slats on the bulkhead.

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The other is a Fein Multi Master, another Joanna present—what a genius she is!
*Think of turning a hacksaw or a wood saw into a chisel—amazing for digging out the bulkhead that was between the splashboard and the interior joint.
*Or use it for separating joints in the deck beam where a chisel would do too much damage.

It’s only disadvantage is that the blades are shockingly expensive. In my town, one hacksaw blade is $40, and I’ve ground the teeth smooth on two in two weekends. But it’s worth it.

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This is a shot of the two bronze bulkhead fasters that have to be removed carefully. The top one is barely inside the splashboard shoulder, the bottom one decidedly so.

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The wood on the outer joints of the deck beam is reassuringly yellow on the port side, but when pushed with a knife, is as soft as butter. So the outboard joints have to come out. To get the port side out, the aftermost of the food locker door frames has to come out too. Here you can see there are two, stern-facing fasteners on the frame under wood plugs. But there are more. (Yes, I know, there are always more.)

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There are two bow-facing fasteners as well—at top and bottom of the frame (only top pictured).

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With the food locker frame out, an open view of the deck beam joint.

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The purpose of this shot is to expose “the shim”. Notice above the deck beam a very long piece of wood that tapers to a point as it comes amidships. I have thought for years that Murre’s cockpit deck “sloped” toward amidships because the cockpit had “relaxed” with age from the weight of passengers and pressure of the mizzen. Not so. It’s designed that way and so as to move water toward the cockpit drains. Sadly, much of the shim is soft and has to come out.

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But before removing any of the supporting structure, I trace both the shim and the deck beam joint. From the upper tooth of the joint, it’s 13” to the hull.

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In removing the shim (only as far inboard as the shore-power wire was necessary) more ring nails were encountered. Big surprise. I cut the heads off with wire cutters—a small pair with 12" handles and designed to cut wire rope—then grabbed the remainder with pliers and beat the pliers with a hammer from underneath. Got the nails out cleanly.

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Dry fitting a new shim cut from the tracing paper pattern. One thing to note: the top of the deck beam is beveled, a slight, sloping angle aft so as to discourage standing water, and this must be accounted for in the new shim.

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That’s as far as I got this weekend. What’s not accounted for is all the time spent wondering what the next move should be. This is uncharted territory, at least for me. Should that frame come out or be left? As it comes out, how many fasteners can it possibly support? How best to separate that joint? How to get the bulkhead out without separating that wire—oh, never mind, I just tore the wire. And all that time shifting between the sander and the grinder and the Multi Master, between chisel and screw driver and spatula. And all that time looking for the tool I just had in hand. How the ½” chisel can be mine one minute and at the bottom of the tool pile 8” out of reach the next talks to the sentience of inanimate objects.


And next, the much sorrier starboard side frame.

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Last edited by author: Mon February 11, 2008 02:17:09   Edited 5 times.
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[> REPORT #4--Replacing shims and scarfs -- rreeves (), - Monday - 02/11/08 - 1:48am

This weekend was dedicated entirely to replacing the shim and scarf pieces on both sides of the deck beam.

To that end we started with the port side by cutting through the joint as cleanly as possible. Again, the Fein Multi Master was the right tool for the job. On some parts of the joint, the blade went quickly through; on others it caught on hard wood.

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And often it caught on more ring nails. When replacing the cabin sides, the ring nails we encountered holding the coach roof to the sides were brass (or bronze). But the nails used to fasten the bulkhead to the deck beam and the beam joints and shim were all stainless and were hell on the tiny hacksaw, not to mention my wrist.

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Next we cut away the forward side of the glass wrap that connects the deck beam to the hull.

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And with some thwacking on its aft side, the piece came out cleanly.

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Fashioning and fitting the new pieces was the most challenging job so far. Though the Multi Master did a nice job of cutting out the joints, the remaining surfaces were plenty ragged such that the tracings of the original joint (pictured last week) had to be discarded in favor of measuring depth every few inches along the run of joint and then drawing that pattern onto the new stock. As careful as could be in inches and eights were we but still plenty of shaping with the grinder and the plane was required.

One word of caution: the original beam was not cut square but rather was beveled so that its topside sloped down and aft about 12 degrees (this to keep moisture from collecting on the beam). This bevel was carried to the bottom of the beam AND INTO ITS JOINT. Not a difficult problem once you see it, but if the joint is chewed up by rot, it’s easy to miss.

Note here that this week's shim has been recut and extended out over the deck beam some six inches (why later).

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Performed same operation on starboard side. It was in much worse shape, particularly at that part of the joint right under the starboard side of the companionway hatch. Even so, you can see that the entire deck beam before the joint was good wood and (more or less) half of the joint. Given that this one was salvageable, I think, and the worst of the two, one wonders if extracting these teeth was worth the trouble.

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Fitting the new scarf on starboard side and then the addition of the overlapping shim.

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Next I “painted” all joints with straight epoxy and then puttied them up with a thick mixture of half West 406 (colloidal silica) and half West 407. I also injected this thick paste with a syringe into all the voids between the deck and beam.

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An then I wrapped the shim with 6 inch biaxial tape. The tape was layed over the shim and scarf and down to the bottom of the beam on boths sides. Though the scarf is fastened from underneath w/three #12 x 3" wood screws, there was no way to get ring nails or any other fasteners back into shim, and if anything, this tape will do a better job of providing strength, not only to the shim, but to the extreme ends of the beam.

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Same procedure for the starboard side with the exception that the voids left by rot had to be puttied in. I also put one layer of 6 inch tape along the entire length of the beam (pictured here) in order to, as they say, seal in freshness.

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And that’s the weekend. The final pictures of the puttied joints don’t do it justice. After much sweat and choking on wood dust, the area is extremely solid.

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Last edited by author: Mon February 25, 2008 02:10:56   Edited 9 times.
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[> [> The inside slats -- Randall, - Monday - 02/11/08 - 9:36pm

For those of you who've done this job, did you replace the interior mahogany slats? If so, how? Seems it could easily be a messy job. Weight them down with sandbags? Sit on them overnight? Mine were only glued in place, no other fasteners.

If not reinstalled, how did you account for the 1/4 inch of depth they add to the bulkhead at the coachroof frame and around the splashboard shoulder where they are tucked under? What's weird is that they AREN'T part of the companionway hatch frame assembly, so if left off, some type of spacer has to be added to that top frame and shoulder or else the companionway hatch will be off by 1/4 inch.

I don't want to put them back as they are nothing but decoration, but most if not all came off in good condition, so am mulling...

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[> [> [> Slats -- Mark(AEOLUS), - Tuesday - 02/12/08 - 3:59pm

Nice weekend job Randall. Looks like you could start restoring 31's for a living. I did replace my slats as some had some rot and I couldn't match what I salvaged, so made new ones. You're right about the 1/4" difference as well as glued only. Since they have to be glued up before the bulkhead is installed you can control the gluing process to some degree. And since they aren't structural it doesn't take much to hold them in place. Keep at it.
Mark

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[> [> [> [> Randall, You're Awesome! -- Brett, - Wednesday - 02/13/08 - 3:04am

To those of you that asked for and waited on a reply from me at the beginning of this thread - I’m sorry. I hurt my back at work (lifeflight paramedic) and have been out since. I have not been on this board since my last post and have been VERY limited in what I can do at the boat.

However, Randall seems to have compiled all the answers and info into an awesome package with great pictures. THANK YOU, once again, for the step by step instructions – it makes my life so much easier. I agree with the previous poster who said that you should compile all of your info in to a “Mariner Restoration Guide”.

My project is going pretty slow – but I still have a very optimistic goal of sailing her late spring…. I can dream anyway.

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[> [> [> [> [> Thanks Brett! -- Randall, - Monday - 02/18/08 - 12:36pm

Thanks for the compliment, Brett. Sorry to hear about your back.

Hey, what's the name of your Mariner? Is she posted on the MOA site?

Would still like to see photos of your project. I find it really helpful to see other approaches.

Dream on, Brother! Spring is comin'.

RR

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[> REPORT #5: Fashioning the bulkhead -- rreeves (), - Monday - 02/18/08 - 1:35am

The most popular question of those wandering by the slip over the last couple weekends has been, “So, how you gonna build that bulkhead?” I have not solicited suggestions from anyone (this has not stopped the flow) and though I know how I’d like to proceed, the method is new to me, so I have been reticent to share my plan. Mostly I’ve just smiled and said something along the lines of “building a frame”.

“Oh, you weren’t able to save the old bulkhead for a pattern”, said Jack, a local boatwright, “Ya, that’s gonna be really hard.”

That remark aside, mostly the comments have been positive. “Keep at it.” “Looking good.” “Pretty boat you have there”, this though Murre looks like someone tossed a hand grenade in the cockpit.

One guy asked how much I was making per hour, the implication of which made me stand up a little straighter. When I explained I owned the boat, his expression changed. “I see. So, it’s only a hobby,” he said. I suggested rather stiffly that gluing up model planes in one’s basement is a hobby; collecting stamps is a hobby; even bird watching is a hobby, but building a thing from scratch that is at once a home, a chariot for exploring the watery world, and a refuge in time of, not to put to fine a point on it, storm, is emphatically not a hobby. He was quiet. Maybe he was waiting for me to describe what, if not a hobby, this mucking about in boats was, exactly. Are my dreams really all that different from those who spend their winters assembling miniature B-29’s? I could see his point. I don’t like it, mind you, but I could see it.

***

This weekend began by cleaning up the joints in preparation for bulkhead measurement.

On the inside of the splashboard shoulder was a strange calk I’ve not encountered before—a grey-brown clay-like substance. It had to be scraped out with a chisel.

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The joints cleaned up nicely.

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I ground down the fasteners in the coach roof beam that broke off during demolition and the ring nails, and sanded smooth both the beam and roof overhang.

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The next step was to build a frame that would serve as a pattern for the bulkhead. I used the “staff and feeler” system described in Bud C. McIntosh’s HOW TO BUILD A WOODEN BOAT (p. 196). It is only one of three methods he explains in the chapter on bulkheads, and not even his favorite, but I found its simplicity appealing. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to this specific maneuver for many months.


I started by erecting three staffs out of 1 x 4 pine as the foundation of the frame.

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I positioned the base of the staffs right at the edge of the cockpit deck and put a spacer at the top (knocked out of the same pine), this so the feelers would have room to move inside the area described by the bulkhead.

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Then, from the inside of the boat, I nailed feelers made of 1 x 3/8ths pine strips to the relevant points. I picked up three points for the base, three on each of the bulkhead sides, and nine across the top. Notice that two of the feelers cross at least two of the staffs (so the whole thing holds together when removed). Also notice in the third photo that the staffs are themselves held in place by clamps to the coach roof beam and by 2 x 4s run to hard spots in the deck (like a knee into the cockpit ice chest, the mizzen step, and far to the right a run all the way back to the aft cockpit bulkhead).

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Next came gently prying the contraption out of the boat and placing it face down on the soon-to-be-bulkhead plywood sheet. Before doing this, I screwed another feeler in place for the sake of the frame’s stability.

Once the frame was positioned on the plywood, I nailed it down at two corners so that it couldn’t move while I was transferring points and drawing in lines. In order to be as accurate as possible, I used a knife for marking points and a mechanical pencil for drawing in lines.

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I used finish nails to mark the points of the bulkhead’s upper curve, bent a batten around, and then made the batten hold its place by nailing it up on the opposite side. I was concerned that, with so few points in total and none in place of the companionway hatch, the curve might not be fare. So after drawing in the line, I measured a few points and went back to the boat to compare. After a couple scares, it seemed we were in good shape.

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The top and bottom of the bulkhead are beveled. Luckily, I had had the foresight to record the bevel in a journal (simply a drawing of the angle of the bulkhead relative to cockpit decking) before breaking out the hammer a month ago.

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Though I’m working with hand tools, I was careful to set a cutting guide on the bulkhead straight edges. The top curve had to be cut with a jig saw but came out very clean.

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Then the unthinkable—I cut the bulkhead in two. For the port and starboard lines of the bulkhead, I had followed the angle of the cabin side all the way to the bulkhead’s base. This made it impossible to fit the bulkhead in one piece. The cut made will be in the center of the companionway hatch, a minor stress point, and will be thoroughly glassed.

Because the base of the beam on which the bulkhead rests was a little uneven (remember, I only took three points), the bulkhead took a little shaving on top to finally fit under the coach roof overhang. But the fit was snug, and I, pleased with the result.

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The rest of the afternoon was spent cleaning up the companion way hatch frames. I’d cut them out of the bulkhead a few weeks ago, but had left the bulkhead in as a bother that could be dealt with later.

They were a mess to get right. Small ring nails held the bulkhead on two of the three frames, and the Dolphinite used as calk was a chaos of black goop, but as I intend to epoxy these back in place I needed clean wood.

Final photo is the frames just hanging in place as I try to figure out how to mark for these cuts.

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[> REPORT #6: Cutting the companionway hatch; dealing with the slats -- Randall, - Monday - 02/25/08 - 1:50am

One wonders if this type of work is at all like building a new boat. Certainly Murre hints how she should go together by the way she comes apart, but it’s not like there are plans. Maybe this is the more interesting endeavor; maybe the restorer is envied by the builder forced to revisit someone else’s drawings at every turn. Somehow I doubt it.


Having cleaned the grooves on the companionway hatch frames, the next piece of this jigsaw puzzle was cutting a space for them in the new bulkhead. It gives one pause to think what a mistake here will cost.

To start, I wanted to “permanently” dry fit the bulkhead so that when it came to final installation, there would be no discrepancy. But how to accomplish this without the slats in place (which must come later)? The batten I used for shaping the top edge of the bulkhead happened to be ¼”, the depth of the slats. I cut a few short lengths as spacers and fastened them with tiny brads to the deck beam and side joint. I also bought some thinking time by filling the fastener holes along the beam and side joint with epoxy.

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Then I drilled and fastened the bulkhead at a few key points, top (outside) and bottom (inside). Once the bulkhead was solidly affixed, I placed the hatch frames on the outside of the bulkhead and fastened them with clamps from above and finishing nails under the lower frame. I eye-balled the location, tapping the frames gently with a hammer until they were correctly aligned, and then drew a fine line describing the outside of each frame.

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Then I moved the whole assembly to the dock. A result of cleaning the hatch grooves of goop and glue was that they had become a little uneven on the inside, so I placed the frames on their drawn lines, marked stations every 4” along each of them, and measured the depth of the groove at each station, marking that on the bulkhead. Originally the groove was 7/16” deep on all three sides; the variance I found at my 4” stations was generally less than 1/16”.

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I cut the starboard side piece first and then tested its fit. It took a tiny bit of shaving, but otherwise was right on the money. Same for the port side. And the hatch boards fit as if nothing had changed.

Having got to this stage was immensely gratifying, and I took about 20 photos of an otherwise unsexy hatchway—you’d think I was Michelangelo or something.

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Next came preparation for the glassing of the exterior and refastening of the interior slats. I had originally intended to ditch the slats in favor of more glass, but a local boatwright down a few slips from me who was doing a teak deck with nothing but West and colloidal silica (“I did my first 15 years ago, and it’s still going strong) has changed my mind. Luckily, I’d not only saved the slats, even the outer ones that were destroyed, but had marked their positions carefully. I laid them out like puzzle pieces on the new bulkhead.

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There are a couple oddities to slat configuration you may find on your boat as well. Notice in the first photo that the coloring of the top of the slats indicates that all slide under the deckbeam, EXCEPT the two just to the right of the porthole. These had small spacers inserted between beam and bulkhead. Also notice that at the far right, one slat describes the outside edge of the vertical bulkhead-to-cabin-side joining piece but the other one does not.

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More or less the same on the other side. Here slat “D” does not extend into the deckbeam (there was a spacer instead), and what is not very clear in the photo is that slat “B” and “C” only go as far as the joining piece. The rough pieces in the photo, the slats under the joining piece, are separate slats, except for “A”, which is one slat above and below the joining piece.

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Not all mysteries are to be solved, and it matters little, so I moved on, spending the rest of the afternoon prepping the slats for gluing. On the back side, one or two were very heavily gooped up, like the slat right above the sander. But most were like the slat above that, lightly coated, and buffed to a nice yellow in less than a minute.

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Now all the various pieces are in the garage—bulkhead, slats, epoxy, and glass. I want to see if I can get the front and back of the bulkhead set before next weekend.

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[> REPORT #7: Glassing and Slatting -- Randall, - Monday - 03/10/08 - 2:50am

“I was beginning to wonder where you were,” said Mark.

“Family stuff last weekend,” I said, panting, setting down a large box of supplies, my third load. Murre is at the end of the dock—my truck in the parking lot, so far away. It amazed me how much stuff I’d needed to take home for the glassing stage—tools and resin and glass and tape and sand paper and a respirator and a bag of plastic yogurt containers and gloves and rags and more tools and don’t forget the bulkhead or the slats, and …

“How’s your project?” I asked.

“Good. Now that it’s stopped raining I got the windows in—go figure! And as you can see, I’m building stairs. I find some of my friends won’t visit me if I make them board using a regular old ladder.

Mark has the end-tie next to Murre, and he lives on a massive ferro-cement sail boat bare of any hardware having to do with locomotion. “I’m turning it into condos,” he told me on the first day. The boat is a good fifty feet on deck and the freeboard is at least ten feet if you count the massive cabin. Still, his use of the plural, “condos”, made me smile.

“Well,” said Mark, looking at my glassed and slat laden bulkhead, “keep going on like that and you’ll be out of here in no time.”

“Thanks,” I said, “but there are two more projects down stream of this one. I’ve got plenty to do.”

“That is the way,” said Mark, turning to his stairway.


Before trundling everything home, I had taken a pencil tracing on the bulkhead, this of the deck line and the inside edge of the two splashboard shoulders. I wanted to cover the bulkhead exterior in more than one layer of glass, but couldn’t afford to thicken the ply too much inside the splashboard groove or below the deck as it would throw things off at the coach roof beam. In this photo the bulkhead is laid out, and you can see the line made again with a felt pen.

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I intended to cover the bulkhead in one layer of 18oz roving and one layer of 1.5 oz mat. The roving would cover the entire exterior, the mat just those sections above the tracing. Here the roving is being cut. Note the very large scissors, bought at a fabric store just for this job. On previous jobs I’ve had no end of problems cutting heavy glass, but these functioned perfectly.

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To cover the cut separating the two pieces of bulkhead and to help lock it in place, I created a small rectangle of glass to be set aside and added after the bulkhead is glued-up. The rectangle is entirely above the deck line and extends six inches each side of the cut. I’ve taped the outer edges of the rectangle so as to help the roving retain its shape, but I wouldn’t be surprised if removing the tape at some future date destroys it. It can easily be remade.

If the rectangle looks lopsided, remember that the cockpit deck slopes upward at its ends.

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Next came laying out the 1.5 oz mat. With the roving cut and set aside, it was easy enough to pick up the black felt pen tracing on the bulkhead and trace that onto the mat. I also traced and cut a line 7/16” in from the companion way hatch (not visible here). Given the way I’d separated the old bulkhead from the companionway hatch, some of the internal grooving on the frame had been lost. Thus, building up the bulkhead with the roving was admissible, but not roving and mat.

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I did one side at a time and because I was only using two layers of glass, I went very heavy on the resin.

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Here is a detail shot of the bulkhead below the companion way hatch and with both layers of glass on. Unlike roving, mat holds its shape well during both the cutting and epoxy phases, and so is the proper glass if “precise” lay-out is necessary. Note the groove left for the companion way hatch frames and the empty space left aside for later.

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And on the interior of the bulkhead?

I had intended to leave off replacing the slats as they were nothing more than decorative paneling. But I thought better of it … or at least I thought differently. Here’s how the slat game went.

I only had enough clamps to do six slats at a time (thank god this is weeknight work).

So, I first coated the back of the slat with clear epoxy.

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Then, with the companionway hatch frames in place as a guide, I applied WAY TOO MUCH resin mixed with colloidal silica to this six-slat area.

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After removing the excess, I clamped each slat lightly with a very straight 2 x 4 wrapped in wax paper. About an hour later, I unclamped each slat, wiped away excess epoxy that had filled the grooves, and re-clamped.

Learning from projects past, I also wrapped the necessary areas of the work bench in wax paper, this so my precious bulkhead could refuse an invitation to permanently bond with the pine tabletop.

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Next night. Six slats in place; six more being positioned.

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Some of the outer slats were destroyed during demolition; specifically, those inside the splashboard shoulder and below the cabin-side-bulkhead joining piece. These I fashioned out of 1/4” thick red oak as mahogany in anything approaching the right size I could not find at any lumber yard open on a weekend. But even the ¼” oak was too thick and had to be planed down using a loose slat as a guide.

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The final gluing of the run of slats across the bottom of the bulkhead, and then two detail shots showing the exterior red oak slats clamped in place.

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Hindsight is 20 / 20. If I had this to do over again, two things come to mind. One, I’d have held out for mahogany. I’m on a schedule and lost a week due to family issues, but I should have figured a way to find the right wood. Luckily most of the oak is inside the joints. Second, I should have let the new slats run straight. For reasons that baffle me, the original slats describe the curve of the inside of the cabin-side-to-bulkhead joining piece. This has no functional value that I can think of and should have been avoided in the new construction. My mistakes here, if such they are, will matter not at all when strength is considered, and that is my major concern.



Back at the boat and after a good gam with Mark, the fitting begins.

Especially with the addition of the 18oz roving, some planing of the outboard ends of the bulkhead is required.

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And then before installation time was needed for fashioning the spacers—one on the starboard side and two on the port (pictured here). Again, it’s tough to imagine why the slats were irregularly truncated for these three slats, only. There’s no evidence that these were added later.

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And finally, a shot of the bulkhead fitted, just so.

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[> REPORT #8, More on slats; Gluing up the bulkhead -- Randall (), - Monday - 03/17/08 - 4:08am

During the week I grew more and more unhappy with the Red Oak as a substitute for Mahogany. The ¼” prefabricated slats I’d found in a hobby store were the best my area offered—I’d been to four different lumber/hardware outlets the previous weekend without finding a hint of Mahogany in any size. But the grain structure of the Red Oak was too obviously different, and the wood’s hardness meant it took stain differently than the original.

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To add insult to injury, the slats that had been added to follow the curve of the interior frame didn’t slide behind it as designed, but stuck out a tad. The whole thing was a tad too much not right for my comfort.

So I took part of Friday off to explore the lumber yards that weren’t open on weekends. The first was a bust. “No, we’ve not seen Honduran Mahogany here for 10 years,” said the yard manager as he dismounted his forklift.

“But my friend got some here two months ago, and from that bin there marked ‘Honduran’”, I whined.

“Well, I don’t know. Maybe he meant this stuff,” he said, pointing to a pile of very red wood called Tampis.

On a hint from the sales manager, I tried another yard just two miles away. “What you need?” asked a guy named Josh as I rummaged the dark corners of their very cramped warehouse. The further I got into the hardwood section, the less light there was. I was lost.

I handed Josh a slat turned over to show the yellow wood. “Honduran Mahogany,” I replied.

“Oh, Luan,” he said. And then as I protested, “It’s the same species.” He dug out a board from under a pile of teak. It was a tad lighter than my sample, but the grain structure was a direct match.

“I can rip and mill this into five three foot pieces of that paneling you got there. Come back in four hours.”

It was that simple.


So, on Saturday I set to removing the offending Red Oak and another slat or two of the old stuff beside. It was discouraging to have to take a step back, but as the new Mahogany / Luan slats went on I began to feel better about the job.

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Next day began with prepping the bulkhead for fitting—trimming off the new Mahogany edges, cutting out for the porthole, and sanding off the slat’s old stain and varnish.

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And then fitting, again. This time it went well and I also knocked holes for the fasteners while all was in place. Across the exterior top, I used #10 x 1 ½” stainless wood screws spaced about 4 ½” apart. On the exterior sides, #12 x 2” fasteners were used.

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On the inside, I used #12 x 2” stainless wood screws spaced every 5”, this in place of the original ring nails. These fastener holes were knocked deep enough for wood plugs as I’m not sure the covering piece will … cover.

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I have no photos of the next several hours, the gluing phase, because it was a sprint to the finish line.

The sequence went as follows:

1. Wash all appropriate areas with fiberglass solvent.
2. Dress all contact surfaces with straight clear epoxy.
3. Mix a large batch of epoxy with colloidal silica to peanut butter consistency and, using a 10 oz tube and gun, squeeze into area between splashboard shoulder and anchoring frame. Use a putty knife to thickly coat all interior surfaces. Mix more and reapply if necessary (it’s necessary).
4. Mix another batch of same, thick but less thick, for all other surfaces: the deck beam, the coach roof beam, the coach roof overhang, and have another go at the corresponding surfaces on the bulkhead. This seems overkill, but the goal is to have epoxy oozing out of all joints—and waste be hanged.
5. Fit the bulkhead pieces in place starting with the port side (no fasteners yet). Pull the bulkhead out and repeat gooping phases as necessary, especially in the splashboard area, if the desired oozing seems a bit shy.
6. NOW fit the companionway hatch frames (no, no fasteners yet!). In removing the old bulkhead from the companionway joints, much of the original sizing will have been lost, so lather these frames with a thick mixture of epoxy and colloidal silica. Be very generous. If you like peanut butter, think peanut butter on toast that’s spread with a spoon. If you don’t like peanut butter, think of something else that’s laid on way too thick for one’s own good.
a. Place the bottom frame first and then the starboard. The small area of bulkhead on this side means it will be difficult to pry out in order to make room for the frame. Use something like a chisel or a screwdriver to wedge in between bulkhead and coach roof. Have a hammer at the ready for thwacking the frame down and to starboard and in place.
b. Next insert the port frame. This will place much more easily because it’s easier to flex this part of the bulkhead.
7. Once the frames are well placed (and just because they snugged up nice in the dry fit stage don’t mean they will now … don’t lose that hammer), insert all fasteners.
8. Grab a few rags and a spatula and begin cleaning up oozing epoxy. Remind yourself that this huge mess of rapidly kicking glop is exactly what you were aiming for.

One of those choices that hung in the balance today was whether to use slow or fast hardener. Yesterday was cold (about 50* and windy); today was sunny and warm, but what if the overnight temp dipped too low? I opted for fast hardener, and the result was a long, nerve wracking race against time.

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And suddenly it’s well past sun down.

I knew Joanna was waiting for me in the parking lot with the car running. She’d already done the week’s grocery shopping, she’d got gas, and she’d had dinner. I’d called twice with another delay, “I need another 45 minutes,” I say. She didn’t get upset, even at the second call. “I have a good book,” she said, but I knew she is playing solitaire. How do I account for this patience on her part and who do I thank? I just needed to get one last thing done … the glass over the cut dividing the bulkhead.

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Last edited by author: Mon March 24, 2008 21:19:19   Edited 2 times.
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[> REPORT #9, Fairing and moving on -- Randall (), - Monday - 03/24/08 - 3:02am

Maybe this is a truism, but there comes a point when a long project ceases to be fun. As this is only my second “full winter” endeavor, I hesitate to suggest there is a predictable interval at which this transition occurs, but I will submit that when the weather changes, when happy, laughing people dressed in shorts and flip flops and carrying cases of beer begin to invade the dock, heading toward boats THAT THEN UNMOOR—no boat in this marina has done that for months—and proceed slowly but with great anticipation down that glassy, sun drenched road to the bay, it causes one to sigh more than a little and wonder at the wisdom of owning a “classic” boat.

“You knew this would happen,” I tell myself as the sander whines so loud as to wake the dead, and this on an Easter Sunday morning, “but two weekends on the water and you’ll forget this trouble. That is the magic of memory—it forgets.” I also note that the good weather is untimely. It’s not even April. Surely there’s more, welcome bad weather between us and this summer’s day.

___

Spent most of the early afternoon sanding up the bulkhead in preparation for fairing. I had failed to tape and paper the cockpit deck before last week’s messy round. When I did recall, it was too late—the epoxy was kicking. The spill sanded off without too much fuss, but I hadn’t liked to be that sloppy, so I took special care for the fairing round.

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I used the “finger pad” accessory for the Fein Multi-Master to sand under the companionway hatch and was pleased with how it turned out.

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Quite a lot of epoxy had gone into the “trough” between the bulkhead and the leading edge of the deck, but the depth had turned out uneven, so I used the “grouting” tool on the Multi Master to make an even depth of about a half inch and to remove the epoxy blush. This area will later be filled with black LIQUID Life Calk.

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Several coats of Smith’s on the porthole's exposed edges.

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After a wash with fiberglass solvent, the whole exterior was coated lavishly with West System 410 Microlight fairing compound.

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And next day I ground most of it off with a large orbital sander and 80 grit paper.

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The bulkhead will require another pass with fine paper before painting, but beyond that, it’s ready, so have moved on to other projects, namely the starboard side divider between the cabin and the engine room where a quarter berth might have been.

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On Murre this divider (it’s not really a proper bulkhead at moment) is a mere 1/2” and very chewed up with rot. So the battery switch and other electrics were easily removed.

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The Multi Master made easy work of the tabbing on both sides of the divider. Interestingly, on the forward side (visible here) the tabbing was simply a very light layer of cloth over the hull insulation, while on the aft side the tabbing was something like 18 oz cloth and laid into the hull. For 18 oz cloth, one could have wished for a slightly more substantial piece of plywood.

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Of course, we soon ran into the ubiquitous ring nails, used to fasten the top and inboard side of the divider to its frame. Because of these nails, I ran a cut just outside the vertical inboard frame in order to free the divider, and then came back with the Multi Master, chisels and large pliers to clean out the ply and nails left behind.

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Here the divider is out and the area is in its first stages of prep. Note two 1/4stripes running vertically along the hull. The one on the right is the remainder of the thick cloth tabbing that held the divider in place from its after side. To the left of that I’ve cleared about a 3” swath of the hull’s insulation because I intend to tab heavily on both sides of the new divider, which, once in, I will call a bulkhead.

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[> [> Oil based stain for the slats vs not -- Randall, - Monday - 03/24/08 - 3:26pm

Mark, Bruce,

You both mention using oil based stains for renewing the slat color. Is there an advantage to oil based stain vs what's more easily available?

I've been experiemnting with Minwax stains and have a pretty good match with two parts Colonial Maple (222) and one part Sedona Red (223).

Any reason I should hold out for oil base?

RR

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[> [> Oil base stain -- Mark, (Aeolus), - Monday - 03/24/08 - 6:35pm

Randall, once again I envy your drive, the project looks great! The only reason I used an "oil base' was 19 years ago in '89 IT was the most easily available. I'm no expert but for the interior I think you'll be fine.

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[> [> [> Staining Iterior Slats -- Bruce, - Thursday - 03/27/08 - 3:19pm

Oil based stain blends much better with varnish, and can be thinned out with brushing thinner prior to application. I used a mixture of Zar dark mahagony and red cherry with some brushing thinner mixed in and got a very good match.

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[> REPORT #10: Installing the "quarter berth" bulkhead -- Randall (), - Monday - 03/31/08 - 2:10am

Rule 27: once started, any job will take much more time to complete than was originally planned, even if this rule is taken into account during the planning stage.

I don’t know why, but I just can’t correctly judge how long a particular stage will take to complete. For example, this weekend I planned to install the new “quarter berth” bulkhead, cut and fit the interior pieces above the ice box, and have time left over. As it turned out the bulkhead dominated the weekend. The jobs attacked and completed were more or less what I’d envisioned the previous week; there weren’t any major hitches or do-overs; it’s just that each element of this weekend’s work took much longer than planned.

Maybe this is a coping mechanism. If I knew how much time the entire project would consume, how many weekends in this cave of a covered berth (when it’s storming, this berth is heaven; when sunny, it’s hell), I may never have started.


The old divider of ½” ply was plenty beat up, but it had come out easily and so was in good enough shape to use as a pattern. The new wood was the same I’d used on the aft cabin bulkhead, 5/8” Okume.

It was good as a pattern of shape, but not good as a guide for width. I’d cut the divider out of its inboard frame (and then circled back later to clean the frame groove—by now a familiar process).

So, instead I used the tiny top frame (pictured on top of the old divider) that had held the original in place. It too was rotten and chewed by disassembly something fierce, but it had held its original length exactly.

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Rewards too come calling on occasion. The new bulkhead fit the first time.

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The new top frame was cut from the same Santa Maria we’ve been using for framing on all projects since 2003. It’s heavy and dense and reassuring. This one matched the deck beam for width and was about 1 ¾” deep. Fasteners were stainless woodscrews, #12 x 2 ½”.

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And more glass. On the aft side, a layer of 18 oz roving and 1.5 oz mat on top of that; on the forward side, the same regime but with the addition of 1 oz roving as the final layer to help smooth things out. Note the black felt pen line in the first photo across the top of the bulkhead. This is the aft side and I’m only applying the 18 oz to the area under the frame so that the jointing parts of the bulkhead still fit.

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Trimmed, lightly sanded, washed with fiberglass solvent, and ready for installation.

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And the hull has been ground clean and washed as well.

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A note on voids. If you pull up the insulation on your Mariner, you may find “bubbles” in the resin. Back in 2006 when I was installing a bulkhead at the aft of Murre’s cockpit, I noticed voids under the insulation I had removed for the bulkhead’s foot. After finding the same during this project and being worried again, I contacted a builder I know who has taken his fiberglass boat down to the bare hull (inside and out). His response: voids in glass, big problem; voids in resin (as here), no big deal. Very likely the resin was laid on extra thick in the final stages so as to act as adhesive for the insulation. As the insulation was applied, the resin “drew up” just as it does when one applies wax paper as a smoothing agent on smaller jobs. One can see the “bubbles” under the paper, but one cannot see through insulation.

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The bulkhead fastened and glued in place. I used #10 x 1 1/2" wood screws along the top, just glue along the inboard side, and...

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I secured the hull end of the bulkhead with two layers of biaxial tape fore and aft. It took a tremendous amount of massaging, mostly by hand, to get the tape to "wet-up" the resin. Not pictured is a small bead of 5200 in the gap (intentional) between the bulkhead and the hull. The gap was left to avoid the development of a hard spot. So, all the strength of the joint is carried in the biaxial tape.

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And that’s the weekend.

Well, not quite.

As a PS, I was inordinately pleased with this solution to a problem. The mahogany spacer that surrounds the inside of the aft cabin portlight like a washer had broken during the disassembly process, and then it broke again during the sand-the-old-varnish-off process, such that I was left with three pieces of a circle and no idea what to do with them.

So, in a fit of (unusual) brilliance, I glued each piece to a resined circle of mat, thus:


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Last edited by author: Mon March 31, 2008 21:50:15   Edited 6 times.
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[> [> Thanks Randall -- Steve Burge, - Thursday - 04/ 3/08 - 10:30am

I just wanted to say thanks for the posts of your projects. I appreciate the experience and have printed all of the pictures and comments so I can have a better understanding of the process when I get to the cockpit rebuild. Keep em coming!


Steve

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[> [> More than welcome! -- Randall (), - Sunday - 04/ 6/08 - 11:17pm

Glad you find the articles useful, Steve.

It is unlikely anyone on this board will learn much from my approaches to carpentry, but watching me go through the process may give others a sense of what's under a Mariner's hood and in that way may save time and heartache.

Good luck with your project. And don't make me the only one to post progress pictures!!! :)

RR

Last edited by author: Sun April 06, 2008 23:18:12   Edited 1 time.
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[> REPORT #11: Small Ball -- Randall (), - Monday - 04/ 7/08 - 2:09am

“Opening Day is April 20,” Mike says as we pass on the dock.

This is the third such remark from him in as many weekends and it’s confused me each time. I know for a fact that opening day is tomorrow, April 7.

“You gunna be ready?” he asks.

I am definitely not ready, I think to myself. I’ve been looking forward to baseball season for months, but spring training for the Giants has been … well … calling it “small ball” is being kind. There is nothing that speaks to the promise of summer better than baseball, but the long, long season ahead does not look bright for us at moment.

“Yachting season,” says Mike, interrupting my thoughts.

“Oh, no, I won’t be ready for that either,” I say.

---

This weekend we focused on small jobs in preparation for staining (which I’ve been avoiding for fear of making a mistake that will require starting again) and other final touches.

First we glued the wooden portlight spacer so cleverly resuscitated last weekend. The portlight itself was used to guide and guarantee placement.

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And then we reattached the port grab rail. The old fasteners (#14 x 3 ½”) came out cleanly on this fixture and so were reused. Epoxy was the adhesive, and the piece went right up like it belonged. Didn’t have any spare fasteners in that length for the starboard side (whose fasteners all broke coming out), so it will need to wait.

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Built out the “electric panel” piece, here being dry fitted only. To get it to slide in place requires that its fiddle, and the fiddle next to the sink, be removed. They pop up easily as they are only held in place with a little glue and very old brass brads.

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Please don’t tell Joanna that I bought a new tool this weekend. She would not understand in the least why someone would spend just shy of $100 for a piece of equipment solely for the purpose of making a few round, wood cutouts that could be bought for a couple bucks at a store. I have no hope of explaining this to her, so please, it’s best we just keep this a secret.

Plugs were put in with epoxy.

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Then on to the sides. As originally fabricated back in 1972, the bulkhead was a single unit extending all the way out to the hull and, thus, was installed prior to the deck, at least, and possibly also the cockpit splashboards. I had no such luxury on this job, and in fact, during the deck job in 2003, we’d replaced the very rotten outboard ends of the bulkhead with half inch spacers.

This time around I refashioned the outboard sections. Given the frame of the food locker on the port side, it took three small sections of ply to cover this space, and my carpentry here reminded me of the great precision employed when putting up dry wall. None of these little pieces is relied on for structural strength.

Note the third fastener added to the food locker frame at top. This was to pull the small plywood backing piece flush with the frame, which angles forward at this point.

The starboard side was easier—one big piece.

All pieces of ply were well soaked in Smiths before being fastened up. Then fairing and sanding. Luckily, those pieces that required fairing will be painted.

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Then a final touch-up pass with the sander on the “quarter berth” bulkhead and a roughing up of the other surfaces of both lockers in preparation for first coat of paint. For the establishment of a sense of order and security, nothing beats white gloss.

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Last edited by author: Mon April 07, 2008 02:23:50   Edited 6 times.
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[> REPORT #12: more small stuff and staining -- Randall, - Monday - 04/14/08 - 1:37am

There was time enough this weekend for only a couple half days on Murre. Still, we are that much closer to an end.

We started by cleaning up the plugs installed last weekend. Having not done plug work before, I was pleased with the outcome.

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Then it was back to the hatchway grabrails. The new fasteners on the starboard side were #12 bronze like their sisters on the port side. I didn’t try to remove the old fasteners that had broken in place, but rather lowered the rail ¾” so as to get at new wood. As it turned out, this placement matched the general position of the port grabrail better than the original positioning.

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And more plug work. The original plugs had come out cleanly, due in part to my careful attention but largely to the hardness of the teak wood. This enabled me to stick with the original ½” sizing for the new plugs, which snugged right in. One word of caution: on a thin piece like this, be careful not to tap the plug in too deep as it may split the largely unsupported plug hole.

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Next day both rails were easily taken down to bare wood.

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The next step was to get the slide-out navigation table back in place. Here the bulkhead-side frame is being dry fit. Unlike the grabrails, these plug holes were a mess, so I changed up the fastener size from #10 to #12 and rebored for a ½” plug. Before gluing-up the frame, I tested to make sure the navigation table actually fit (I know, silly me).

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Frame installed, plugs faired.

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There is a small shelf just above the navigation table. The original wood for this shelf was in OK shape until I took the area apart—an action it did not survive—so I fashioned a new piece out of ¼” ply, seen here from below. The original was held in place with glue and small brass brads, but given its location and the fact that I was unwilling to take the deck up just to have a good swing for the hammer, epoxy and clamps were the only option here.

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Attempting to install the fiddle at the leading edge of this shelf caused a good deal of consternation. It was too long and simply refused to slide back into its notch at the top of the forward bulkhead. Only after many attempts did I remember that the disassembly of this area came AFTER I’d removed the old bulkhead, and so by rights, the fiddle and shelf should have gone back in BEFORE the new one. This would have been a clever trick as its aft side rests on the above mentioned frame which itself anchors into the NEW bulkhead. (How this piece was originally installed back in 1972 is a mystery.)

In any case, the situation made in necessary to shorten the frame nearly an inch, as shown in the below photograph. A tiny knee on the backside now acts as support where the bulkhead use to. One advantage of the fiddle space is that it allows for easy cleaning of the shelf.

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And then staining. After many experiments (I now own 12 different cans of stain) I stuck with the original Min Wax Wood Finish. I blended roughly three parts Colonial Maple (223) to one part Sedona Red (222). For the new Luan slats at the extremities, I used more Sedona Red to bring them up to the redness of the original Honduras. The color is a pretty good match as it stands (though it could be a touch more orange), and I’m curious to see next weekend how it takes varnish.

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[> REPORT #13: varnish, furniture, and a new battery box -- Randall (), - Monday - 05/ 5/08 - 3:01am

How to bring a job to completion—that is the question.

When one is in the beginning stages, the only thought is of getting to the dark heart of the project. And when in the thick of it, nothing but that battle matters. But as the bigger tasks resolve and one edges toward an end, the end seems ever to dance away just beyond reach.

The strange math of work like this is that if 10% of the project remains, and if you complete this weekend what you think is 5% of that, what you will find next weekend is that 9% remains to be done.

And it doesn’t help that if of four weekends in a month, one is now available to you instead of the promised four. But that is the problem of job and family, which, in truth, we would not be without.


So work proceeds slowly. But it proceeds.

I am very pleased with the varnish work four coats later. I used Epiphanes, for no particular reason than to see how it worked.

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And following that I have gotten side tracked into building a new battery box under the navigation table. Murre’s factory “box” is just aft of the new bulkhead and suffers the disadvantage of being in the heat of the engine room and of being but a box for two banks when what I want is three (two house batteries instead of one).

At 60 pounds each, the batterys' weights are considerable and so care is needed in constructing their home.

I began by building a new sole for the box out of ½” ply covered with 18oz roving, two layers on each side.

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Below the sole I built in a heavier frame than existed originally, this of 1 ½” x 1 ¾” hardwood anchored into the bulkheads and the hull. The forward frame was fastened with four SS #14 x 3” wood screws (the length of fastener was allowed because the frame was on the level with the frame for the settee on the other side of the bulkhead) and the aft with two #14 machine screws. Two photos: dry fitting and fastened up.

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Next came building the box. Actually, two boxes were required.

Two of the three batteries fit side by side and athwardships at the forward end of the compartment, and so a box was built to surround them of ½” ply. The ply was affixed to the deck with biaxial tape; the inside was radiused with fairing compound, and then both inside and out were covered with light roving. (I am followed, in general, the instructions found in Nigel Calder’s BOATOWNER’S MECHANICAL AND ELECTRICAL MANUAL, p. 40).

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The third battery only fits securely in a fore and aft position. I could have forced an athwartships orientation, but that would have left no room for the switch box arrangement to be installed in coming weeks.

One word of warning: as suggested in the above photos, I built the two bank box outside the boat and the second box after the assembly had been fitted in place. This was a happy accident, and I only discovered while dry fitting the assembly with just the one, larger box that if I'd built both outside the boat, installation would have been impossible.

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All metal fasteners are either covered with epoxy or 3M 5200. The deck is fastened to the frame with #14 machine screws (not pictured). Lids and such will come later.


In between glassing and varnishing episodes, I was also able to get the aft cabin bulkhead furniture back in place. This includes the cabinet, Joanna’s prized cup holder and the portlight. As to the portlight, am including a detail shot here of the light undone for those who may be disassembling it in the future. The shot shows the long, threaded neck that passes through the bulkhead from the aft and the exterior framing pieces. I caulked up the assembly with 3M 101 but used a bead of BLACK LifeCalk on the outer edge of the ring for aesthetic purposes only. There was plenty to wipe away before the final coat of varnish.

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And finally, the results of that last coat of varnish.

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Last edited by author: Mon May 05, 2008 11:06:43   Edited 1 time.
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[> REPORT #14: Moving to the Exterior -- Randall, - Wednesday - 08/20/08 - 1:01am

These remarks pertain to work done in the first weeks of June:

It would be easy to imagine from that most previous report and its final photo (an interior varnish shot so glossy as to be almost pornographic) that the job’s end was in sight. And so it was, but only with a fairly powerful set of binoculars and an active imagination.

While I could confidently walk away from the interior, there was plenty left to complete outside the boat.

For one, I decided to seal the bulkhead’s exterior joint with two layers of 6” tape.

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Here, the cabin-top sheathing had been pulled away a few inches to allow the tape and revealed the mahogany ply and putty over the many ring-nail fasteners. Remember, the new bulkhead slides under the coach roof lip, so the graining you see at the joint is rounded off mahogany coach roof wood.



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And sanded.


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And puttied.


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And primer going on.



Late in the game I decided not to re-sheath the entire cabin top. This turned out to be a great relief to my neighbor Mike, who had lobbied me hard not to attack that job, but rather simply to paint and get on with my life.

“But look, it’s springy,” I said one afternoon, jumpy up and down on the coach roof while Mike looked on, “it needs new glass.”

“What the f*ck are you doing?”, he cried, “get off there; it’s fine. I’ve seen boats come in here with holes in the ply, with glass cracked and pealing. It’s not like you’re gunna have a party up there. Paint and be done already!”

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And I followed his advice—this year, anyway. After all, it was already June.


It is strange how much thought can go into choosing a shade of white, or for that matter, how many shades of white exist. I have used “blue glow-white”, “white”, “off-white”, “cream”, and “Hatteras white” on Murre at various times and have not been particularly happy with any of them. Wanting something softer than pure white but not as creamy as cream or Hatteras, I mixed one part Interlux Brightside Hatteras with two parts Interlux Brightside White, and am pleased with the result.

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Next came calking the exterior deck-to-cabin side seam. I had used plenty of epoxy on the joint when gluing up and so had to go back with the Fein Master and dig out a trough for calk. I then poured in black LIQUID Life Calk to just below the deck level, the thinking being that I wanted the calk to fill all the nooks and crannies and to create the essential seal. After that had cured I applied a layer of regular Life Calk as a “top coat”.

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The seam I laid was a thing of beauty—clean lines and an even curve along its entire run—until I stepped in it two hours later, destroying its perfection and tracking black tar all over the cockpit teak.



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The port light had been permanently installed from the inside on a previous weekend. Even so, calking and then screwing the exterior frame into place turned out to be a messy job. I used lots of 3M 101 to create the seal, then turned the piece in place (remember, it screws on like a brass barometer face), wiping up excess goop as I went along. Because of the viscosity of the calk and the mess, getting a bite on the frame for that last turn was a challenge. I put a screw driver against the fastener holes and whacked with a hammer until the frame was tight and even.


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In contrast, the eyebrows were eyeballed in place and went on cleanly, only requiring the courage to drill fastener holes in one’s shiny new bulkhead. The bend in the port eyebrow will straighten out while off the boat, so start fastening at the outboard edge and work your way inboard drilling and fastening as you go. Be VERY careful when inserting the wood plugs at the outer edges of the eyebrow as the wood will split with the least provocation.



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Before removal, I had measured closely the location of the propane box, but when it came time for the return, it was obvious where it went. For some reason, hooking up the propane felt like a major step. It cleaned up the “construction mess” considerably and I had the immediate satisfaction of boiling up a cup of coffee.

One didn’t need binoculars to see the end now!

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[> REPORT #15: Glory Shots -- Randall, - Wednesday - 08/20/08 - 1:10am

These remarks pertain to work (and play) toward the end of June:


So the bulkhead job was finally completed, but the masts, wrapped all winter, needed a coat of paint, as did the bum. Those two operations took two more weekends, but being out of the shed—out in the sun and near others in the yard who were working to prepare their boats for the water—was a great relief.

We stepped the masts on a Friday evening and by 2pm the next day Murre was returned to the bird she is, bursting into sail like a phoenix, tugging at her tethers to be off into the summer’s breeze.

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I flew the sails all afternoon at dock while I worked getting ready for the next day’s departure, occasionally (frequently, more like) stepping away to admire their whiteness, their draw, the life they’d put back into Murre.

“She’s really pretty,” said a man from the next finger over. He’d been leaning on a piling, smoking a cigarette, and admiring Murre for some minutes, which pleased me no end.

“Where’d you get such a boat?” he said.

“She’s Japanese built, 1972.” I said.

“Really?,” he said, “that’s kinda old for such a little thing, isn’t it?.”

“Pardon?” I said, preparing to be offended.

“The dingy.” He said. “She’s a really pretty thing nestled against your sail boat. Where’d you get that dingy?”

--

Next day James, Cody, and I motored away from the San Rafael Yacht Harbor crane dock for a “sea trail” sail and delivery of Murre back to Sausalito. James owns Malolo, M31 #14, and had her in the San Rafael yard for a refit. We’d only met a couple weeks before, but it was gratifying to see another Mariner receiving meticulous care. Cody, James dog, is in charge of quality assurance on the Malolo project, and so was a required participant on Murre’s brisk sail home.

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And after an exhilarating sail, and after dropping James and Cody, Murre and I dashed back out to Paradise Cove for an overnight … because for reasons that I can’t quite explain, it’s not just about the sailing, it’s about sailing to a place where one can anchor overnight, and there is something about anchoring overnight that resets the world’s clock to just the right minute.

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The end, by god!

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[> SUMMARY OF MATERIALS -- Randall, - Wednesday - 08/20/08 - 1:30am

WOOD

-One sheet of 5/8ths Okume marine plywood.

*I stuck with the original thickness due to the tightness of fit between the inside of the splashboard shoulder and the inside of the cabin side framing. Also, beefing up the thickness too much would have thrown off the fit, as the bottom and top of the bulkhead fasten on opposite sides. That said, I did install heavy glass on the bulkhead’s exterior, which added a lot of strength without affecting the fit too much.
*After cutting out the aft cabin bulkhead, there was enough left over to make the starboard “quarter berth” bulkhead.

-Random pieces of ½” Okume ply left over from the 2003 deck job, this for the battery box.

-A few feet of 8x4 Santa Maria was needed for the athwartships frame and the battery box.

-One small piece of ¼” ply for the navigation shelf.


RESIN AND GLASS

-Two gallons of resin and equivalent hardner.
*I used West System brand epoxy only because I’m use to it.
*All joints were bonded with epoxy mixed with West 406 Colloidal Silica.
*Both West 407 Low Density and 410 Micro Light fairing powder were used.

-Six yards of 18oz roving and six yards of 1.5oz mat, used to sheath the exterior of the aft cabin bulkhead and both sides of the “quarter berth” bulkhead.

-Five yards of 6” Biaxial Tape, used to lock the athwartships deck beam to the hull and to itself and to secure the “quarter berth” bulkhead.

-Five yards of very light 6” tape, used to seal the aft cabin bulkhead and coach deck joint.


FASTENERS

All are listed in the above text and none were of quantities to warrant purchasing in quantity. Stainless steel fasteners were used throughout, and all ring nails were replaced with wood screws.


PAINT AND VARNISH

Paint: One quart Interlux Brightside White and one quart Interlux Brightside Hatteras blended as per above (this was enough for the bulkhead and cabin top).

Varnish: One quart Epiphanes for the interior (used about half) and Cetol Light for the exterior (eyebrows and hatch frame touch-up only).


SPECIALTY TOOLS

*A very thin, wide and long spatula helps to separate joints with minimal damage to the wood.
*The Fein Multi Master: buy it; love it--I'm not kidding!
*Large tailor's scissors are expensive but make precise cutting of heavy glass a breeze.
*The drill press—I know one can make wood plugs with a hand drill, but I couldn't figure out how.

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