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Date Posted: - Monday - 03/17/08 - 4:08am
Author: Randall ()
Subject: REPORT #8, More on slats; Gluing up the bulkhead
In reply to: Randall, M31, Murre 's message, "Aft Cabin Bulkhead Replacement" on - Monday - 01/21/08 - 9:56pm

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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Last edited by author: Thu April 03, 2008 22:06:23   Edited 4 times.

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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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