[ Home Page ]    [ History ]    [ The Project ]

Project Log:  Sunday, February 26, 2012

One thing I'd known I'd have to do eventually was make some minor modifications to the forward end of the pilothouse sole hatches, since the helm console would overhang part of the port and center hatches and therefore would require these hatches be cut, and the new, shorter sections supported by additional understructure.  At the time of sole construction, it was easier to ignore this issue and deal with it once I was ready to build the console.  That time was now.

Originally, the boat had some additional cross beams and some such that had accomplished this, and I intended to stick with this general simplicity and make my required modifications as simple as possible.  In the area beneath the console, I'd also have to provide ample room for wiring and cabling runs, and other things.  The section in question is at the top left of the photos.  I'd need to shorten the port support beam and provide a new means of support for it;  cutting the plywood substrate to fit would be the easy part.

Photo showing the original structure
taken on 8/28/10

Photo showing the newly-built structure
taken on 2/20/11

To determine where I'd need to make these cuts and support changes, I needed the helm console.  Happy with the general configuration of my second helm area mockup, I used that as my construction guideline; I'd saved the console and dash mockups for this reason.

To begin, I glued up a panel from solid cherry planks; the side of the console required a board 9" wide, but nothing I had in stock was that wide.  I used an 8' long board cut in half to give me two pieces about 48" long, with related color and grain structures.  After straightening the edges of the boards, I glued them with waterproof glue and set the panel aside for the glue to cure.

While I waited for the panel to cure enough to continue, I worked on some layout.  Using the plywood mockup as a guide and for some basic measurements, I determined where I wanted to locate the side panel and marked a plumb line on the bulkhead.  I'd already noted much earlier that the nearby companionway opening was not plumb; that problem would solve itself with trim later.  But the new console layout would all build off this one plumb line.  From here, I installed a hardwood cleat to support the solid wood console side.

For guidance, I placed the top section (the dashboard section) of my helm mockup in the cockpit for easy reference.  I'd refer to it throughout the next several layout steps.

After marking a plumb centerline ( in terms of the console width) on the bulkhead, I laid out the cutlines required for the recessed electronics box.  As rough as the plywood mockup was, it was invaluable in terms of making the layout easy; though I didn't use it for exact measurements, the basic configuration gave me the starting points needed to fine-tune the layout on the actual dashboard. 

After marking the inside limits of the insert, I used a scrap of 1/2" plywood to make another mark outboard of the first lines; this would be the actual cutline, so that the face of the panels would be where I wanted them according to how the mockup was arranged.  I confirmed the measurements several times against the mockup, and, more importantly, to ensure that the layout was centered and symmetrical according to the new helm.


By now, the cherry side panel had cured enough, so I unclamped it, trimmed it to length and proper width, and cut the angled top edge and toe kick recess to approximate the mockup shape; I enlarged the toe kick to better accommodate foot height.

With a 1/4" spacer on the plywood sole substrate to keep the new console off the plywood, I secured the side panel temporarily with screws to check its fit, and to transfer some critical layout marks from the bulkhead.  Before securing the panel, I'd traced its shape on the port pilothouse bulkhead to simplify installing support cleats there later; no side panel was required on this side since it faced the bulkhead.


The space directly beneath the shadow of the console was where I'd need to make the changes to the sole support structure.  I made some reference marks on the plywood for later.

For now, I removed the side panel and focused instead on the dash insert.  After confirming the layout marks once more, I cut out the opening along the prescribed lines.


To me, the easiest way to build the actual insert was to construct it piece-by-piece in place.  Beginning with the back (well, forward, really) panel, I measured the width and required angles, and cut an oversized piece of cherry plywood to fit.  I left the bottom edge hang low for now, but the top edge was where I wanted it, 4.5" above the dash surface, the final height of the insert.  I secured it to the plywood dash with screws for now, and held it at 90° to the surface with a couple braces clamped to the back face.


Next, I measured and cut the two side panels.  These panels would later require a stepped cut on the sides, but for now I kept them full height all the way to the after bulkhead, as the position of the electronics mounting panel would eventually determine the location of this cut.  I faced the "good" side the plywood out, as this would be exposed.    The inside faces would either be hidden within the box itself, or covered with another material later.

Any exposed plywood end grain would be trimmed out later; it occurred to me partway through that I could use solid cherry for this construction, but that would lead to a lot of waste product, substantial thickness planing (as 3/4" would be too thick for these pieces), and simply more work than I thought was necessary.  With lots of plywood scraps on hand, it seemed easier to go this route and just cover the edges with trim where necessary. 

For the moment, I held these in place with some tape; later, I'd cut some cleats to secure the angles at the forward end, but that would be for another day, as the afternoon was growing long and it was clear that making fussy compound angled-cleats was not the right task to tackle at the moment.


For reference, these photos of the mockup, from January 21, 2012, show the basic thing I was now creating for real.


Total Time Today:  5.75 hours

< Previous | Next >

The Motorsailer Project
Site design and content ©2010-2015 by Timothy C. Lackey.  All rights reserved.

Please notify me of broken or missing links or other site issues.
You can always find every day's project log links on The Project page.

Questions and comments | Home Page
V1.0 went live on 8/26/10