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Project Log:  Saturday, March 17, 2012

I spent most of the day working on the dashboard and companionway trim.  What initially seemed a straightforward task of cutting and fitting turned into a little more, but ultimately for the better.  Sometimes, how one expects things to proceed turns out to be wrong. Ideas and expectations are continually under advisement and subject to changes.  Most would prefer you not know about it, but to me this is the most instructive and realistic part of the process. You, dear reader, get to share in the entirety of what a job like this entails from time to time.

Having already learned lessons from the single piece of the dashboard fiddle I'd installed last week, this time, instead of laboriously notching the trim over the couple obstructions in its way (the side of the helm console and the starboard side bulkhead), I chose to simply cut down slightly these obstructions so the trim could pass unimpeded above.  The angled helm console side was simple to cut with a Japanese-style saw, and I just notched out the plywood bulkhead with saw and chisel in the appropriate place.  This made fitting the trim much simpler.

The problem, as it were, was the 90° corners leading to the companionway opening.  As I started to lay out the first piece, leading from the helm console towards the companionway, I realized I didn't want a typical miter joint with its resulting sharp corner there.  This brought the process to a halt while I considered what to do instead.

Eventually, I decided to  build some solid corner blocks, into which I could incorporate a large radius that seemed better suited to the location.  Then, I'd simply butt the fiddle trim into the corner block.  This was simple enough, but building the piece required a number of milling steps to properly size the blank, round over the outside edge, and notch out the unseen inside portion so the piece could wrap around the corner as needed.  I left the dimensions of the corner blocks just slightly larger than the fiddle trim, so the blocks would stand a little proud and look intentional.  "If you can't hide it, highlight it".

With an overlong blank of the trim held in place, I cut the adjacent pieces of fiddle to the proper length, then cut off the trim to the proper height.  This revealed a new problem:  there was an empty square hole formed behind the corner, where the corner trim was notched out and behind the inside corner where the two pieces of fiddle met.  Sigh.  I was flummoxed. 

My solution was to cut the corner trim a bit short, then add a solid wood cap that I milled with a rounded profile and intentionally left high of the surrounding trim to create to tiny pillars (or maybe tiny newel posts).  Trying to incorporate all these pieces into a smooth, organic, nearly seamless transition could have been possible, but was beyond my level of interest.  In the end, I was actually quite pleased with the result, so perhaps I should have suggested this was my bold intent all along.  Alas, the secret is out.


With the too-complex simple corners complete, the remainder of the companionway trim was quite straightforward to install, though carefully fitting of the various pieces, all of which met at various mitered angles through the inside corners of the opening, required numerous trips up and down to cut and fit each piece properly.  Where the fiddles met the round corner block at the compass location, I allowed the trim to angle down and die out at surface level.


For the rounded section, I needed to curve some wood around to cover the plywood end grain.  I planned this trim to be flush at the top edge, partly because creating tall, thick trim like that of the surrounding fiddles seemed a complex problem, and partly because the flat area, with the compass set back 1/2" from the side, would give me a space to more easily clean out the dashboard; such openings in fiddled surfaces are crucial for sweeping away routine dust, etc. with less frustration.

To this end, I cut a slim piece of solid cherry that I thought I could soak in hot water and bend into position.  After soaking most of the afternoon, I found I could bend the trim into place quite easily.  Initially, I planned to temporarily screw the wet trim into place, to hold it while it dried--and did install a screw in the center--but I found that the as-yet-untrimmed bungs at the ends of the nearby fiddles made perfect wedging locations to hold the ends of the curved piece in place, obviating the need for screws.

Depending on how the piece acted when it was dry, I thought I might cut and soak a replacement piece and wedge it in this manner, avoiding the use of fasteners at all.  More on this when it happens.

I prepared some trim blanks for the top edges of the longitudinal plywood bulkheads on each side of the pilothouse, and was well into the process by the time I discovered that one of the pieces had a split at the end that extended too far into the blank for me to cut out and have enough length remaining.  I decided against continuing for the moment, and instead decided to prepare some holes in the deck for new hatches in the main cabin.

Earlier, during my layout for the overhead support cleats, I'd planned out the locations for these hatches, though at the time I'd not yet decided on the exact hatch I'd use, though I knew they'd be the 12" square variety.  In the time since, after looking at all the hatch options available, I selected Vetus Magnus hatches, which seemed a fine combination of good appearance, strength, features, and price.  I wanted to cut the openings and dry-fit these hatches sooner than later so I could install additional overhead cleats as needed, and also to determine if I needed to build any risers to support the hatches (depending on whether the deck was curved enough to require it).

Photo from 12/18/11

Armed with a cardboard template I made of the hatches, I started from below and centered the template in the rough square I'd laid out during the overhead cleats' installation; I'd marked out a square that represented the maximum overall size of the hatches under consideration.  The Vetus hatch was a bit smaller than this maximum, so with the template aligned to the center marks of the rough layout, I drilled a pilot hole through the center of the cutout square so I could locate the hatch from on deck.

Thusly marked, I returned to the coachroof and used the center pilot hole to align the cardboard template and trace around for the cutouts.

Finally, I cut out the rough openings with a jigsaw and a carbide blade. The decks and core were in excellent condition in this area; later, I'd dig out the core around the edges of these openings and replace it with solid material. 


Note:  the hatch has protective paper over the acrylic lens.


Total Time Today:  6.75 hours

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