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Project Log:  Sunday, January 30, 2011

I removed the port engine room bulkhead and, down on the bench, made the final cut along the newly-struck level line that defined the final top edge.


With the piece back in place, I tested the overall height to ensure that the tanks would slip over the top and into position as intended, first with the cardboard mockups, and then with the actual fuel tank intended for the space. 


Because the pilothouse door was narrower than the tanks' minimum dimension, I lowered the tanks into the boat through the large overhead hatch, resting them temporarily on a board that I placed across the pilothouse windows; then, from inside, I could lift and lower the tank the remainder of the way.  The odd shapes of the tanks made handling them awkward.

I was pleased to find that the actual tank fit nicely, and fit over the bulkhead with no problem.  Obviously I would have been displeased had this not been the case, since I'd designed and built everything carefully around the tank designs, but despite knowing that things should fit, there was always a certain satisfaction to be had when they actually did.  This feeling never goes away.

Having confirmed the height and location of the bulkhead on the port side, I repeated the overall process on the starboard side, beginning with a support cleat on the existing bulkhead.

The port bulkhead was a close enough fit on the starboard side that I could use it as a general template for the rough-cut starboard blank, which, as before, I temporarily clamped in place, aligned it perpendicular with the transverse bulkhead, and scribed the lower edge to match the shape of the hull.

I made the final bottom cut, transferred the height of the port bulkhead over to the starboard, made the level top cut, and the starboard side was complete.

With the second side clamped in place, I test-fit the starboard fuel tank behind it.  Immediately, I noticed that the tank had more room on this side.

Asymmetry is common--no, universal--in boats, at least boats on which I've ever worked, but somehow it seems to rear its not-so-pretty head in unexpected places.  One takes pains to lay out new structures in careful and measured ways, yet somewhere during the process some oddball asymmetry or another is bound to turn up.

A couple quick measurements between the hull and the bulkhead cleats confirmed what the tanks were telling me:  there was more room between the starboard tankage bulkhead and the hull than there was on the port side--about an inch.  I further confirmed the anomaly by measuring between each bulkhead and the edge of the engine foundation.

I'd done all my initial tank measurements and mockups on the port side only, and had never tested exactly how they'd fit on the starboard side.  I was glad it turned out the starboard side had more room, not less, as I'd not allowed for much clearance in my design.



In my initial layout, some weeks ago, of the new tank designs, I'd chosen a more-or-less arbitrary measurement for where I thought the bulkheads should go, based on the positions of the original structures I'd removed.  I thought the position of the original port pilothouse bulkhead, outboard of the helm, was just about right, and this had dictated the position of the new, the difference being the new bulkhead would essentially extend to the hull--that is, the new bulkhead I'd just installed.

This position translated to a measurement of 3" from the pilothouse wall at the top of the existing transverse pilothouse bulkhead, and it was at this 3" measurement that I'd installed the support cleats for both port and starboard sides.


So what was off:  the pilothouse, the deck, or the hull?  Who knew.  In the end, it didn't matter, though in a perfect world I would have liked all things to measure out properly.  But truly, the most visible aspect of these new bulkheads would be at their upper ends, where the 3" measurement was symmetrical from side to side, so I suppose this was best. 

Around and about this time I also determined that the cuts defining the passageway on the original bulkhead were not plumb either.  I'd probably address that a little later.

In any event, I could and did accept the asymmetry between the new longitudinal tankage bulkheads, and would chalk it up for another good boatbuilding story somewhere down the road.

Removing both bulkheads, I cleaned the mating surfaces with acetone and coated the plywood's edge grain with epoxy resin.  Then, I applied a bead of epoxy adhesive to the mating surfaces on the hull, forward bulkhead, and support cleat, and installed each bulkhead in the adhesive, using clamps and temporary screws to hold them in place while the adhesive cured, and left things at that for the day.



Total Time Today:  3.5 hours

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