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Project Log:  Monday, January 3, 2011

The cabin sole beams were greatly improved now that they were fully tabbed and supported.  It was nice to move around without the beams bending, squeaking, or creaking.

In my habitual way, I washed and briefly sanded the new tabbing to remove rough edges and prepare it for later painting steps.


I coated the plywood center supports with epoxy to seal the remaining raw wood, and then decided to install small bits of tabbing at the base of each leg as a bit of extra strength.  Though the supports, which were epoxy-glued to the bilge, would probably never see undue strain, for 10 minutes' work I thought the tabbing was reasonable insurance.

Now that I'd committed to removing and rebedding the rail, I turned to the U-bolts through the caprail.  I assembled a long extension for my ratchet, and, beginning with the broken U-bolt on the port side, removed the nuts from beneath.  (Tongue depressor for scale)


Access to the nuts with the extension was straightforward, if tight, but with the boat empty it was almost comfortable to lie against the hull, where I could look into the molded recess formed by the bulwarks, and remove the nuts.  The nuts were easy to remove and didn't even require any force to break loose.  The broken U-bolt was easy to remove once the nuts were removed, as I could twist the whole assembly and back it out.


In this manner, I removed the nuts for all eight U-bolt assemblies that were accessible beneath the caprails from the cockpit to the bow.  Two additional pair were located aft, outboard the cockpit coamings, and their removal would have to wait till I'd installed the access ports.

Pleased with how easily all the nuts had come off, I knew that things would have to come crashing down sooner or later.  The U-bolts were installed through aluminum backing plates, which, as aluminum in contact with stainless steel is wont to do, had formed rings of corrosion around the threads that tended to hold the U-bolts firmly in place. 

Oh, it would have been easy enough to break free this corrosion if I'd been able to bang away on the studs from beneath, but with the tight access inside the bulwarks this wasn't possible, at least not with the tools that sprang immediately to hand.

Somehow, I managed to remove two of the U-bolts on the starboard side, though with difficulty.  The rings of corrosion were readily visible on the threads.  (Vice grips for scale only)


Continuing on, however, I ran into increasing difficulty releasing the U-bolts from the aluminum's grasp, and after fighting and banging away for a while on the next two U-bolts on the starboard side, I decided to call it quits for the moment and decide how to proceed.  I'd already decided to replace all the U-bolts, so my first step was to ensure that I could get my hands on the proper replacements (I could, and I ordered the requisite 12). 

I'd try to locate some sort of banging tool first, which would allow me to hit the threads from beneath and release them so I could pull them up from above; if that didn't work, I'd simply cut off the U-bolts from above.  Either way, that'd be for another time.

Total Time Today:  3.25 hours

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