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Project Log:  Saturday, May 12, 2012

Beginning the day with an assessment of what I should do next, I decided it was high time that I returned to a job that I first talked about some time ago, but never actually did anything about, as once I got working on interior trim details I simply kept going.  That job was reconfiguring the pilothouse floorboards and support system as needed to accommodate the helm console. Not exactly the most exciting direction to turn, but necessary nonetheless.

This job would have been a bit simpler had I been able to build it as required when I first laid out the pilothouse floor eons ago, but without a firm plan at that time for the console, there was no way of knowing how exactly the are should be configured.  As it was, it wasn't exactly difficult, but with more stuff in the way and more finished surfaces, it required a bit more care in execution.

I already had a scrap of paper with the basic measurements at hand, and after confirming the notes I got started.  My basic plan was to build a support extension off the existing support structure, allowing room for wiring and cabling to pass to and from the helm console and engine room, and providing a new support for the floorboards once I cut out the sections now covered by the console.

This photo from February 2012, at the very beginning of console construction, shows the affected area.

To provide a landing point for the port longitudinal beam and forward end of the port floorboard, I needed to attach the new laminated beam with spacers to keep it away from the existing forward support beam on the bulkhead, as I'd need the passage for wires and so forth.  There were probably other ways to accomplish this, but I chose so install a couple small spacer blocks, which would also form the main attachment points for the whole arrangement.  Starting with the spacers, the whole arrangement would be laminated in place, piece by piece, with plywood and epoxy resin.  Building it in this incremental way allowed various attachments with screws along the way, before the overall thickness exceeded the lengths of my available fasteners.

I prepared the bonding areas by removing the paint from the existing beam as needed, then secured the support blocks with epoxy and screws before attaching the first lamination of the new plywood beam directly to the blocks with more epoxy and screws. 

Here, a minor error, one that I could correct later if needed, arose:  I'd cut the plywood beam laminations a bit shorter than I needed to because when I measured them, I was allowing for a nearby bolt head, but the support/offset blocks moved the whole thing away from the bolt, obviating the requirement for clearance.   I couldn't just slide the beam over since I'd cut it so the inboard (starboard) side would be flush with the support/spacer block.  If needed later (i.e. for additional support), I could easily epoxy a small block into the space to make a final connection with the port side support beam, though offhand I doubted it'd be necessary; I'd never counted on the side beam for support anyway, but seeing the space now brought it to mind as a possibility.


The pocket left over from the longitudinal support beam gave me one more strong attachment point, so I cut the required length off the original beam and epoxied it in place in its original pocket, and screwed to the beginnings of the plywood beam behind.  Immediately afterwards, I added two additional plywood laminations to the first one, screwing them in place to secure them while the epoxy resin between the layers cured.  This brought the aft face of the new beam about even with the bottom of the console toekick.


To complete the beam, I added two additional laminations of 3/4" plywood, leaving a pocket to accept the newly shortened longitudinal beam (which, after all, was the whole point of this exercise).  To support the bottom of the beam, I added a plywood bottom, which I epoxied and clamped in place.  I left the completed arrangement to fully cure.


In the afternoon, I sanded the main cabin varnish, cleaned up, and applied another coat of gloss base varnish.



Total Time Today:  6.5 hours

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