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Project Log:  Saturday, January 29, 2011

Perhaps one of the more challenging parts of a large rebuild like this is the transition points between various aspects of the project:  getting going on a new stage often takes a little bit.  And so it was the past couple days at the shop.

I began the day by wrapping up some parts and materials listings that I'd be ordering soon for some of the immediately upcoming work on the project, and, when I tired of that, I climbed into the boat and washed/lightly sanded the new tabbing on the starboard pilothouse bulkhead patches.


My new focus for the immediate future would be the engine room, specifically installing new bulkheads on either side to accommodate the new tankage, and other work as required to eventually satisfy the ultimate goal of rebuilding the pilothouse sole.  I was weary of climbing in and out of the depths of the engine room to access the remainder of the boat, and looked forward to once again having a platform in the pilothouse.  Also, having the platform back would enable me to better work on the inside of the pilothouse as need be.

As a bit of advance warning, be advised that although I try to explain my ideas for the eventual layout of this space as accurately as possible, you, dear reader, cannot be inside my head (I certainly hope not) and therefore it's likely that you may not be completely clear on what I'm working to accomplish.  Please be patient and allow things to naturally come together on this site over the coming days, at which point any questions should be resolved.  Sometimes, explanations can over-complicate what are essentially straightforward plans.

During earlier mock-up efforts when I designed the new tankage, I'd already determined some of the rough layout and positioning for the new bulkheads, which would be symmetrical on each side of the engine space; the new tankage had been designed within these limits.

From these basic layout marks would arise the new structures. To begin the layout process, I installed a temporary screw eye in the forward bulkhead, choosing a point coincidental with two layout lines I'd apparently marked on the bulkhead during my earlier efforts.  Later, I moved the eye screw down a few inches so that it was even with a reference mark I'd made indicating the height of the original support cleats for the pilothouse sole.  The eye was to allow me to secure a layout string.

Next, I hot-glued a scrap of wood to part of the protruding underbelly of the cockpit molding, allowing the stick to hang beneath the cockpit, and used this as the support for the second end of the layout string; some basic measurements determined a rough location for the stick, which I fine-tuned a little later.   The alignment didn't have to be perfect at the moment, as the string would ultimately be a simple guideline to allow me to template the longitudinal bulkhead's shape.

By stretching the string tightly between the two points, I could use a string level to create a level reference line through open air.  The string also approximated the height of the bottom of the sole (i.e. top of the support cleats).


After some playing around with the cardboard tank mockups (water tank mockup not shown here, as it didn't like to stay in position on its own), I decided that for several reasons it would be best if the initial stage of the new support bulkhead was low enough to allow the tanks to be twisted into position above the bulkhead, rather than my initial thought of building the bulkheads so they'd be even with (or even higher than) the pilothouse sole.

Why, might question the inquisitive mind?  The main reasons were these:

1.  If the bulkhead were taller, I'd have to have both tanks in place behind it before installation, which would complicate things and would also prevent me from being able to tab in the lower edge of the bulkhead from the inside (which I wanted to do for strength)

2.  I didn't  yet have the water tanks on hand (which fitted in the space aft of the fuel tank mockup shown in the photos), and if I could install the tanks later, I could move that much further ahead on construction now

3.  Forward-thinking in construction and avoiding locking the tanks in place in such a way that future removal--should it become necessary for whatever reason--could be accomplished with the need to entirely demolish the interior and structures seemed to be a worthwhile goal.

To this end, the new bulkhead would need to be somewhat shorter than the height suggested by the red string.  To determine this height, I removed the string and held the fuel tank mockup in position at an angle, simulating its installation over an imaginary bulkhead, and made a mark on the forward bulkhead showing the maximum height of the permanent bulkhead.

If this all seems unclear, bear with me through the construction and all shall be made evident.  As of this writing, I wasn't even completely sure how exactly all the pieces would fall into place, but that would make itself evident to me in due course.  What was important now was that I had the information I needed in order to build the first--and permanent--new bulkheads.  This was the thrill and challenge of design-on-the fly.

After restringing and leveling the reference string, I made several measurements between the string and the hull beneath, allowing for the difference in height between the string and the eventual top of the bulkhead, and used these rough measurements to create a blank for the bulkhead that approximated the shape of the hull against which it would rest. 

Before continuing, I milled a hardwood  support cleat and installed it on the pilothouse bulkhead; this cleat defined the edge of both the tankage bulkhead in the engine room and the new bulkhead that would form the inside of the pilothouse (and which was generally in the same position as the original port bulkhead that I'd removed from the pilothouse some time ago).

I secured the cleat with glue and screws according to a layout line already on the bulkhead, plumbed with a level.

I left the new blank a bit tall, and clamped the result in place against the cleat.  With a long square, I held the bulkhead blank perpendicular to the existing bulkhead and made some reference marks on the hull.  With a compass, I scribed the shape of the hull onto the bottom of the roughly-shaped bulkhead blank.

Afterwards, I recut the lower edge to the scribe mark and temporarily reinstalled the blank, this time with some temporary screws into the cleat.  Again I squared the blank to the forward bulkhead, then glued a temporary clamp block near the aft end that allowed me to hold the plywood in place.

I'd still left some excess plywood at the top, as I thought it'd be easier and more accurate to strike a level line off the reference mark at the forward end once the bulkhead was in its final position; this I now did, but left the final cut till next time.


Total Time Today:  5 hours

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