[ Home Page ]    [ History ]    [ The Project ]

Project Log:  Sunday, December 18, 2011

The adhesive securing the side panels in the pilothouse had cured sufficiently overnight, so I removed the clamps and repeated the process with the three small panels lining the windshield, using plenty of clamps to secure them.

Next, I turned to the overhead in the living spaces.   I didn't plan to emulate the original overhead construction, which featured thin, vinyl-covered plywood panels secured directly to the underside of the deck with screws. My basic pan involved short support cleats to which I'd secure painted plywood panels, leaving an open space above for insulation and, if needed, wire runs for overhead lighting; the panels would also allow relatively easy access to the spaces in the future, as needed.  I'd been postponing installing the support cleats for some time, focused as I was on some of the more "fun" aspects of reconstruction, but now seemed like the time to get a start on the overhead.

Before I could begin the layout for the cleats, however, I had to think about ventilation hatches.  From the beginning, I'd planned on installing two small deck hatches in the main cabin, one directly over the galley for good ventilation and additional light there, and another on the opposite side above the dinette.  I had to think about where I'd put these hatches so I could plan the cleats around the openings.

After looking at the offerings from several manufacturers, I didn't make any clear decision on the exact hatches, though I knew they'd be the smallest size available to fit in the given spaces on either side of the wide raised center section of the coachroof. 

I didn't really want to buy the hatches just yet; in fact, I didn't even plan to cut the openings yet, but I needed to know where the hatches would go, and how large the cutouts would be.  So I based my measurements on the largest overall size and cutout dimensions of the several hatches under consideration and made two square plywood templates to represent the cutout (10-3/4" square max) and outside dimensions (13-1/4" square max), for ease of current and future reference and layout. 

Working from above and below decks, I determined a possible hatch location.  I wanted the hatches to look good and be appropriately symmetrical from above, while being placed in the most advantageous location to actually ventilate the cabin as desired.  My first thought, as seen in the first series of photos, was to align the hatch with one of the molded handrail bases, and centered in the deck between the handrail and the raised center section of the coachroof, and a few feet forward of the pilothouse.


This actually positioned the hatches a little further forward than I wanted, and completely out of whack with any semblance of conventional overhead cleat layout and spacing, so eventually I moved the proposed hatches aft by several inches, which placed the starboard hatch almost directly above the galley stove (where I wanted it) and brought the openings into better alignment with possible cleat spacing.


I chose to layout the overhead cleats on 16" centers, a standard convention that would fit well with the nominal dimensions of plywood to give me the most efficient options for the eventual panel layout itself. Logical and even spacing was also aesthetically important, since eventually there'd be wooden trim along these cleat lines to hide screws securing the overhead panels themselves.

Beginning at the main bulkhead forward, I laid out and drew in the cleat positions, using a 1" wide template cut from 1/4" plywood (as I planned 1" wide cleats).  This allowed for four support cleats along the length of the overhead running aft, and ending a bit forward of the pilothouse area.


At the aft end, the molded pilothouse projected into the main cabin space a bit, and the overhead would have to span this opening and run all the way to the aft bulkhead.  Using a stiff steel rule, I transferred the basic shape of the overhead aft to the bulkhead, making a series of marks on both sides of the companionway opening.

Continuing forward from the main cabin and working off the main cabin's cleat spacing, I laid out additional cleat locations in the passageway.

Finally, I laid out cleats in the forward cabin, beginning with marks all around the existing molded overheat hatch opening and creating a logical and aesthetically pleasing layout for the athwartships cleats in the space.  In this photo looking directly upwards, forward is towards the top of the photo.

From some leftover 12mm meranti marine plywood, I cut a series of 1" wide strips, which I then cut, fit, and installed in the main cabin, using polyurethane structural adhesive to secure them.  I used small temporary screws to hold the cleats in place while the adhesive cured.  Much earlier in the project process, I'd sanded the overhead, so all I had to do was lightly wipe the bearing surfaces with acetone before securing the strips.

Fortunately, the fiberglass overhead was flat and relatively smooth, without extreme camber and (most fortunately) without unevenness and bumpy, messy laminate.  This made the cleat installation easy, as I didn't have to worry about scribing to fit or other heroic efforts to achieve a fair line once the cleats were installed, and the plywood bent easily into position and stayed there without much help.  Where there were minor undulations or hollows, I let the cleats naturally span them, creating a fairer line; I filled the small gaps with additional adhesive.


Sometime later, once I decided upon the actual hatches I'd use in the main cabin, I'd cut the openings and install additional cleats around them as needed.  This would be straightforward.

At the aft end of the cabin,  I installed the final cleat (on the bulkhead) a bit differently. In the process of cutting the 1" cleats for the rest of the cabin, I'd ended up with one piece about 3/4" in width, the leftover from the plywood scrap I was using.  This was perfect for the aft end, as I could secure the thinner strip through its width directly into the bulkhead while easily conforming to the curve required.

Using a full-width section and temporarily spanning directly across the companionway opening, I dry-fit the cleat to the layout marks, which marks I'd confirmed and fine-tuned as needed once I had the other overhead cleats installed.  I secured the cleat with screws, predrilling a hole through the plywood large enough for the screw shank to avoid splitting the wood.

Once dry-fit, with all the screws in place, I removed the cleat and then reinstalled it with glue, using my usual waterproof wood glue this time.  Once the cleat was installed, I cut out the portion across the companionway.


It'd be relatively quick and easy to cut and install the remaining short cleats in the passageway and forward cabin on another day.

Total Time Today:  5.25 hours

< Previous | Next >

The Motorsailer Project
Site design and content ©2010-2015 by Timothy C. Lackey.  All rights reserved.

Please notify me of broken or missing links or other site issues.
You can always find every day's project log links on The Project page.

Questions and comments | Home Page
V1.0 went live on 8/26/10