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Project Log:  Sunday, February 13, 2011

After sanding yesterday's new work as needed, I spent quite a bit of time considering the ends of the pilothouse, and how things would come together.  My general plan was to build a removable laminated beam across the aft end of the space that would provide the support for the sole, and which would support the interim beams to support the sole panels. 

At the forward end, I'd install a cross beam on the bulkhead as needed to perform the same functions, but since this beam would attach directly to the bulkhead, its conception was much simpler.  I'd wait on the forward beam for the moment, as I'd need to buy additional material before I could build it anyway.

Because the sole hung down several inches past the cockpit/aft bulkhead molding, I thought the removable beam could be handy, as it would improve access to the spaces beneath when necessary.  Removable or not, the connection of the beam to the longitudinal side bulkheads would require brackets of some sort.

To better determine the location of the beam, I temporarily installed some scrap 1/4" plywood to the aft bulkhead  (this being the intended final covering for this area when the time came), letting it hang down below the level of the sole, so that I could see where the aft bulkhead would ultimately land, allowing me to locate the beam forward of that point to keep it removable.  The temporary plywood also gave me a place to strike a level line across the boat just to confirm that the aft ends of the side support beams were level with one another (they were, and should have been, but this wasn't a measurement I'd specifically made during their installation).


At the ends, there was an inconvenient nut protruding right where I wanted the beam to land--something I could have thought of when I built the side supports, but hadn't.  I'd have to incorporate those nuts in the design of the beam, which would be easy enough as long as I aligned the beam properly.  Since I planned to build the beam from several glued-up layers of 18mm plywood, it'd be easy to cut one of the layers just short to allow it to slip over the nut.


At length, and with the basic measurements and concepts determined, I prepared the blanks for the beam.  For strength, I planned to use four laminations of the plywood, each 4" deep, with a fifth section floating on its own at the aft end to support a small section of semi-permanent cabin sole where the aft bulkhead would land.  (Maybe.  The separate 5th piece was an idea that might go by the wayside.)

In the second section, I cut out a section of the beam to accommodate the nuts as described above.  The little notch would allow the beam to slip over the nuts.


To start, I laminated the first two layers together with epoxy and bronze screws.  The next two sections would incorporate notches for the interim support beams that would run between the forward and after ends of the pilothouse, and since I didn't yet know where these would land I left the last two laminations for another session, once I determined the size and location of those beams.

To hold the ends of the beam on the side bulkheads, I built a pair of support blocks from four layers of plywood, incorporating a notch where the beam would rest.  The four layers allowed the blocks to be deep enough so that the notch was flush with the outside of the side supports.  I glued and screwed the blocks together and set them aside, calling it a day.


At some point overnight, I realized that I'd erred in the design of these blocks:  I'd made the notches too long (in the vertical dimension), since the blocks would be mounted beneath the existing side supports.  I'd built the notches so the cross beam (as mocked up in the second photo above) would sit flush with the top of the support block, but in reality it needed to project 2" above the top in order to be flush with the side beams when installed.

This would be an easy enough fix, but I was disappointed in the error nonetheless.  To fix it, I figured I'd install two small pieces of plywood 2" tall in the bottom of the existing notches, and perhaps cut one more piece of plywood in a U-shape to cover this and then project up onto the side beams themselves, tying it all together.  In hindsight, this actually seemed like a good idea anyway, so this worked out for the best.

This would all make itself clear once I moved on to the installation in the near future.

Total Time Today:  3 hours

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