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Project Log:  Monday, March 3, 2014

Thinking ahead to (yes, this again) the new work in the cockpit area, which I'd successfully managed to put off for about three years longer than I should have, got me thinking about the pilothouse door.  At some level, I'd been expecting to install this door later, when the new construction and paint work in the cockpit was complete.  But with a constantly-evolving timeline and project priority list, my thoughts changed, and with a free morning on my hands, somehow installing the pilothouse door seemed like the perfect job.

The basis of my thinking was this:  having the door in place sooner than later would make it easier for me to totally isolate the boat's interior from the messy cockpit structural work, and would also be one less thing standing in the way of a shakedown season.  There was no reason I couldn't, or shouldn't, work around the door, and anyway, I was tired of it cluttering up the shop floor.  Plus I wanted to make sure it fit.

I uncrated the door and carried it to the cockpit on my shoulder.  Then I couldn't remember exactly where I'd stashed the keys, so before I proceeded I put my hands on those, lest I lock myself out.

During the specification and ordering process long ago, I'd made some general reference marks on the back wall of the pilothouse based on what the door manufacturer told me the clearances were--this to ensure that the door would fit around the after pilothouse window, and beneath the overhang above.  So I had these marks already in place to help me with a trial fit of the door.  I removed the masking paper from the aft window so I could clamp through the opening onto the door frame as needed.

Starting by just holding the door in place more or less on my lines, I determined that I'd have to go a bit higher in order to clear the window frame (which I'd traced on the bulkhead during that earlier specification stage too).  Measuring the thickness of the top rail of the door, I made a new, level mark in the proper position.  Holding the door was hard, not because it was that heavy, but because all the weight was on one side; to ensure proper positioning the door needed to remain closed and locked till it was bolted in place.  So to help me, I hot-glued three small blocks in place, which would allow me to align the heavy corner.

With the alignment blocks in place, and with some effort--but now at least possible--I held the door in its proper position and managed to drill a pilot hole for one screw in the top right corner.  I lowered the door and tapped the hole for the 10-24 machine screw I planned to use to secure it.  Once I got this screw in place, I could clamp the left side of the rail through the window opening, holding the unit in the correct position.  Then I checked the frame for level and plumb.


Satisfied with the position, I drilled all the remaining fastener holes, and, with the door removed, tapped them for the machine screw threads and milled the usual small countersinks at each location to provide additional room for sealant right at the fastener penetration.

The door would be installed using butyl tape, which I wrapped around all the mating flanges, and I added additional butyl on the bulkhead itself, at each fastener hole, plus in the countersunk holes in the door frame itself, to seal the screw heads.


Once I got a pair of fasteners in, while juggling the door and trying not to mess up the butyl tape, the remainder of the installation was straightforward.  I installed all the fasteners into their tapped holes, then, from inside, added fender washers and nuts to fully secure the door.

The raw door opening was far from square or straight--thanks to the original builder for that--but despite that, the door covered what it needed to.  At some later stage, I'd add trim around the inside of the opening to finish it off.



I cut off any excess fastener length inside, flush with the nuts, since most or all of these fasteners would remain exposed.  While I was at it, I trimmed off the excess fastener length from the bow mooring bitt, and on the head discharge seacock.


Total Time Today:  3 hours

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