Section 3 - Progress Report - Bulkheads, Cabin Top Stiffeners

Progress is speeding up quite nicely in the current section.  Most of the work has been cleaning, sanding surfaces for paint prep, repairing dings, filling in unused holes, and so on.  The first major project in this section was replacing the rotten anchor locker bulkhead.  I followed the same procedures I laid out in my first bulkhead replacement, and with that experience I moved quickly on the anchor locker.  In addition to the anchor locker, the bulkhead that separates the v-berth from the head, as well as the primary bulkhead separating the saloon from the head needed replacement due to rot.  These were a bit trickier, as I needed to make a pattern for the rotted away section using the tick-stick method.  It worked out great, and will continue to use the method where necessary. Before I installed the v-berth/head bulkhead, and before I even removed the primary bulkhead I needed to figure out what I am going to do about cabin top stiffeners.  I've decided to re-use the molded fiberglass stiffeners that came with the boat, but beef up their usefulness by actually glassing them in.  However, when I removed all of the stiffeners and some bulkheads, the cabin top began to sag in areas.  So before stiffeners and primary bulkhead can be replaced, I needed to shape the cabin top.

This weekend I had some friends come help me with the cabin top project.  We devised a method of shaping the cabin top that allowed me a lot of flexibility to adjust and fine tune the shape.  First we would cut two temporary beams and place one on each side of the center-line.  A backing plate between the beam and cabin top was put in place, and the beams were rested on car jacks.  The car jacks served the purpose of allowing us to fine tune the cabin top shape by cranking them up a little at a time.  I would get on deck to observe the shape while someone else would crank them until I was satisfied with the shape.  We overcompensated on the shape as the top will most likely come down some after the stiffeners and bulkheads are in place and the beams are removed.

The method worked wonderfully and we were able to shape the entire cabin top on Saturday.  The only area that proved trouble was the top over the galley.  This is where the cabin top was sagging the most, and the two-beam method proved problematic by interfering with the sliding hatch.  The solution was two laminated beams set up in a T, with each end pressing on the lowest/sagging points.

With all of the beams erected and the cabin top supported, I figure it was time to take out and start making the primary bulkhead and compression post.  The primary bulkhead was difficult from the start, as it was originally put together in two pieces, but the larger of the two was 4 feet long (obviously 1 sheet of plywood).  However, there is no way to get a 4 foot long piece of plywood on or off the boat (obviously installed before the cabin top was put on), so we had to make a decision on where the new bulkhead would be split so we could get it out.  I made a tick-stick pattern for the rotten out area that didn't exist anymore, and we decided on the cut line for the new bulkhead.  Once all remaining screws were out and the fiberglass tabbing peeled back, we were able to remove the bulkhead with relative ease.  We measured and cut our line, and got the whole mess out of there.  It was a big moment, as it was the last remaining piece of rotten wood on the boat, and it seemed to kick and scream while being removed by spewing rotten wood all over the place.  No more of that for Windsong!!

Now with the beams up I will continue working on getting all of the stiffeners and bulkheads in.  The bow section is nearly complete for paint prep, and I will move on to the saloon next. Picture time!

Original anchor locker bulkhead:

Rot:

Removed:

Ready for new:

Glassed in place, pre-fairing

V-berth/head bulkhead removed.  Notice the mess these rotten bulkheads leave:

New one getting cut, old one in view:

Removing the main bulkhead:

Measuring our cut:

Showing the cabin top support beams.  v-berth/head bulkhead dry fitted.  Main bulkhead removed:

Same picture without the bulkhead in place.  Very open:

Looking aft:

Galley T beam:

Bonus: We loved the way the boat looks without all the bulkheads.  It makes it look huge and roomy.  When asked why we couldn't keep it that way, I answered that besides the structural implications, being able to see this wouldn't please too many guests:

Note:  I chuckled to myself on Saturday as I was talking to my friends about the list I put together last week concerning the most useful things for the boatyard.  In one day's work, we put 9 out of 10 on that list to good use.  The only one we didn't have to use was the grinder, but we had planned on using it if we had time to grind out some thru-hulls that I am plugging up.