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Project Log:  Friday, January 7, 2011

The main cabin sole support system was nearly complete.  To wrap up the work there were a couple small steps remaining, beginning with reinstalling a small section of longitudinal board that fit over the two vertical pipes that formed the table leg bases.  I cleaned up the original board that I'd removed long ago and reinstalled it with glue and new screws, along with a new support cleat at the forward end where the board butted against the cabin sole beam. 

The board's overhang at the aft end looked sloppy and bothered me, even though this was something that would never been seen once the cabin sole was in place, so later, after I took this photo, I cut it off flush with the transverse beam.

I water-washed and sanded the epoxy-coated centerline supports as needed to clean up the tabbing edges and rough up the epoxy surface so it would accept paint later.

Afterwards, I reinstalled the old cabin sole pieces, giving me a flat floor to work on again.  I didn't plan to re-use the old pieces, opting instead to install a permanent substrate with access hatches as needed for the bilge.  Building and installing this new substrate was one of the next things on my list, so I spent the remainder of the morning working up a materials list for the sheet goods needed, not only for the cabin sole, but for bulkhead and cabin side coverings, V-berth support structures and platform, new engine room/fuel tank bulkheads, and other basic interior structural needs.  I'd order these materials forthwith.

Later in the day, with some more time on hand, I decided to try my luck at caprail removal.  Even though I was still awaiting the new inspection ports required for accessing the remaining hardware fasteners at the bow and stern (to ensure cutting the right-sized holes, I wanted the actual plates on hand first, but they wouldn't arrive till next week), the two middle sections on each side were now free of encumbrances since I'd removed the U-bolts.  It seemed a good time to find out what I was in for. 

The various caprail sections (five per side) were conjoined with half-lap joints, the forward section overlapping the one behind in each case, so to remove the center sections without first removing the forwardmost section, I'd have to slip the underlying part of the half-lap out from beneath the top section; I figured I could do this easily enough as long as I was careful.

I removed the bungs covering the caprail screws using a 1/2" Forstner bit (in many places, the screws were barely beneath the surface, making the "bungs" more like veneer appliques), then pulled all the screws on the starboard side, as far aft as the cockpit.  On this side, I found that the caprail boards became loose as soon as the screws were removed, indicative of the poor quality of bedding beneath.  It took very little (or no) effort to remove these two sections, both of which came off with no damage to the wood (other than various cracks and splits that already existed).  Beneath, there were signs of sealant, but it was clear that it wasn't effective. 


I had a feeling the port side would be more difficult.  For one thing, I'd determined earlier that at least the forward part of the port caprail appeared to be installed in more of the same black sealant that someone had used on the port bulwarks, which I'd fought with a few weeks ago.  So I expected part of the port side to be better-adhered to the fiberglass beneath.

Secondly, during my removal of the U-bolts earlier, I'd noticed, when looking out through a porthole at the bulwark, some sharp, stiff strands of something poking out into one of the freeing ports beneath the caprail.  With no understanding of what it might be at the time, and given the strands' appearance and stiffness, it almost looked like some kind of metal mesh. 

Finally, one of these sections included a place where both fasteners that had once secured a lifeline stanchion had broken off during removal; these remaining studs were flush with the top of the wood.  To release their grip on the wood (or vise-versa), and allow the rail to come off (hopefully) without damage, I used a small drill bit to drill all the way around each fastener, creating an air space that ought to allow the caprail to lift off the fasteners.  I'd repair these holes--which would be completely hidden by the stanchion base later--once the caprails were removed.

In any event, I was unsurprised to find that it was harder to remove the two center sections of caprail on the port side.  These rails didn't budge when I removed the screws.  Careful work with a slim putty knife separated the sections where t hey joined at the half-laps, and a variety of prying tools eventually released the bulk of the sealant beneath these rails. 

The "metal mesh" strands turned out to be narrow fiberglass tabbing instead (with ragged, resin-hardened strands which had stuck out into the freeing port); this tabbing had apparently been applied over the top of the fiberglass bonding surface on which the caprails rested, just at the after end of the third section from the bow.  The sealant used to secure the caprails here (the black sealant) was far stronger than the bond of this single 2" width of lightweight tabbing, so the tabbing came away with the wood when I eventually broke the bond.  It was unclear what function the fiberglass was supposed to have, but in any event it was gone now.



The caprail lifted cleanly away from the stuck fasteners at the lifeline stanchion location; now, perhaps I could have luck removing these fasteners (which were corroded into their hidden aluminum backing plates) intact.

Four sections down, six to go.  I'd remove the rest as soon as I could drill my access holes and remove the remaining hardware at the ends.


For a while, I'd been meaning to test-fit a hatch over the forward cabin.  I planned to install a new hatch here, partly because I thought the original was too heavy and subject to finger-smashing during operation, and partly because I needed a slightly larger opening so I could fit my proposed waste treatment system into the forward cabin, since it was too large to fit through the passageway in the cabin.  An earlier mockup of the system showed that if the existing hatch opening were slightly enlarged (as would need to be the case for a larger hatch), the waste tank would fit.

What I wanted to find out was whether I could install a new hatch in an acceptable manner on the existing molded hatch platform, or whether I'd need to start from scratch.  I happened to have an old, damaged hatch of identical size on hand (not the hatch I would use, but with the same footprint), so I pulled that out of storage and set it in place to see how the fit looked. 

The radius at the hatch corners was a bit different than that of the molded platform beneath, but I thought it would work out OK, which suited me since it would save a lot of non-fulfilling work.

Total Time Today:  3 hours

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