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Project Log:  Friday, December 31, 2010

Yesterday's patches had cured overnight, so I went through the usual steps and water-washed, dried, and lightly sanded the new fiberglass to remove sharp edges and otherwise prepare the surfaces for whatever might come next.




With the focus turning towards the most essential (in the truest sense of the word) of interior structures, it was time to literally start from the bottom up and work on the transverse cabin sole support beams in the main cabin. 

Three transverse beams spanned the width of the boat to support the sole, along with an additional beam (but technically a cleat) secured to the forward and after bulkheads that defined the space, respectively.  These wooden beams, roughly 2" square, were secured to the hull at each end with one layer of polyester-soaked fiberglass mat.  Over time, the fiberglass had released from the wooden beams, and with no other means of attachment the beams creaked, groaned, and squeaked horribly when trod upon, and flexed significantly in their unsupported middles.  These features were completely unacceptable.

The wooden beams themselves were in serviceable condition, and my initial thought (formed during endless hours of mind-wandering sanding elsewhere on the boat) had been to leave this basic structure as untouched as possible while improving the beam-to-hull connections at the ends, and better supporting the beams' centers.  To this end, I'd imagined that I might "inject" some epoxy adhesive (using the long mixing tip supplied as part of this product's caulking gun-like application tool) into the spaces beneath the ends of the beams to secure them, then retab as needed.

Of course, as soon as I made myself comfortable inside the boat with this action in mind, I realized it wouldn't be enough.  The old tabbing was, frankly, junk, and within minutes I'd already removed a couple sections by ripping it free of the wood--and then the hull--bare-handedly, sometimes with the entire section of tabbing coming off intact and still holding its original cured shape.


Beneath the tabbing, the beams were supported on smaller, ancillary blocks of wood, rather than the beams themselves extending all the way to the hull.  I've no idea why things were built this way, but the end result was a sloppy, loose fit that was clearly going to loosen further, fail, and then creak and groan itself into oblivion.  Not wishing to completely rebuild this area with new material, and since the existing bits and pieces were all reusable, I elected to retain the odd bits of wood spacer.  Sorry, I didn't seem to take any photos of this.

Before moving too far along, I used a marker to outline where the beams and blocks landed on the hull at each location, so I could easily reposition them and keep everything level (I'd leveled the boat according to these beams--and several other criteria--during her initial placement in the shop). 

With the locations duly marked, I scraped and sanded away the remains of the old tabbing and other residue, and thoroughly cleaned the mating surfaces of the wood and hull with acetone, after which I repositioned the various pieces and checked for level in both directions to ensure proper placement before once again marking the hull around each beam end to aid in alignment when I reinstalled them. (These illustrative photos were taken before I'd cleaned up the area.)


With everything ready, I secured the beams (and their little end blocks) to the hull and each other with epoxy adhesive, and left things to cure overnight.  The next step would be to install wide fillets and new tabbing to secure the beams at their ends, and to build and install supports at the center of each beam to prevent sagging.  Then, I could install a new, permanent working cabin sole.



Total Time Today:  3 hours

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