In the pictures you'll notice some of the epoxy is brown and some clear. The clear is 206 slow hardener. The brown is old 205 fast hardener. Apparently 205 that has been opened and not used for awhile (not sure how long awhile is) changes color but the experts at West Systems told me it does not affect its strength. Not as pretty to look at but it will all be buried under trim eventually. In the top photo you can clearly see the shim in place under the final tabbing where I used fresh 206 slow hardener.
Tabbing in the quarterberth bulkhead was difficult. There were lots of small tight spots with changes in direction horizontally and vertically. This area was completly open to the cockpit locker along the top edge when the headliner served as the bonding point for the bulkhead.
This was my first serious tabbing effort and though some came out nicer than others I was generally pleased with the results. I am quite confident the bulkheads are as strong if not stronger than they were from the factory where they were simply bolted through recesses in the headliner. Each bulkhead is now tabbed on both sides to the underside of the deck with four layers of 17oz biaxial cloth. At some point, I intend to though-bolt the tabs to the bulkhead as well. Additionally, I tabbed the underside of the bridge-deck to the transverse bulkhead below it. Originally the fiberglass headliner that ran below the bridge-deck rested on the top of the bulkhead but was not fastened to it or the bridge-deck. Now it is much stronger.
To cut down the bulkhead I used a long straight-edge clamped in place at the top and held in place at the bottom by a single screw. I used a circle saw to make the cut from the top to about 4" from the bottom as that was as far as the saw could cut. I finished the cut off with a saws-all. I then ground the remaining lip of the glass tabbing down with a 4 1/2" high speed grinder. I was loath to use the grinder on fiberglass because it makes a world class mess. But there was no other way to clean the edge up. However, I lessened the mess by having the hose on my shop vac, with the wide mouth attachment on it, pushed right up to the grinder and basically sucking the dust right in as the grinding was taking place. The mess was very small and quite reasonable. It was a pretty simple event compared to my vivid recollections of the "dark days" last year grinding down much of the interior, soaked to the bone with sweat, grinding away hour after hour in a paper suit and full face respirator. There were a few times back then I thought maybe I had lost my mind.
I will install another bureau/cabinet in the same location as the original and there will still be about the same amount of storage space. How is that you ask? Because the drawers that were installed in this space were only about 10" deep and there was a ton of room behind them.
To remove it I used a heat gun and a "multi-tool" metal putty knife/scraper. It took about four hours. It wasn't unpleasant . . . but then again I am just happy to not be grinding. The boat looks better already. It's always nice to see the changes taking place on the Far Reach. Tomorrow I'll have to figure out how to remove the contact cement residue which has proven to be pretty stubborn.
Once I had removed as much contact cement as possible, I sanded the bulkheads with 80 grit and a RO sander. They look pretty good (see pictures below). There is some tear out where the laminated pulled some of he veneer away but I am not concerned. The bulkheads will be eventually be refaced with v-groove African Mahogany. I have been using my vacuum attachment lately so the sanding did not make much of a mess. Afterwards, however, I noticed the boat is pretty grimy inside from all the grinding that has taken place since last winter. Even though I have swept up and vacuumed as I worked, the boat has not had a good inside scrubbing and wash down. So, in the next couple of days, I'll probably take a bucket of soapy water and some brushes, sponges, and rags to the inside of the hull. But, not until I am pretty confident the majority of sanding to anything fiberglass is completed. I finished off the day by wiping down the teak bulkheads with water and a very soft brush to get the grime out of the grain of the wood. Tomorrow I will sand them.
I was pretty tired at the end of the day but my son has been wanting to go out for a night sail. So, this evening we pushed the Sweet Pea on her dolly down to the neighborhood ramp and left in the fading light of the setting sun and a rare rising harvest moon. We beat down the White Oak on the flood tide bathed in the beautiful light of a silver moonbeam. Thirty some tacks later we reached the turn-around point at the Highway 24 bridge and gybed around for the run home. The moon was up, the stars were out, and the breeze was a perfect 10 knots. It was a relaxing way to close out a long day.
You can see the starboard side radius is not very round. That's because that was all I could cut given that I did not mess with the inboard edge. It was easy to get the radius cut on the portside since I cut 3 1/2" off the end of the bulkhead. I'll cut a little piece for that when I scarf on the extension. Staving will cover all of it anyway.
After measuring for the extension I milled a piece of bald cypress. Once I cut it to the dimensions I wanted I used my biscuit cutter to cut slots to ensure the extension would remain in the correct position for the epoxy work. I could have just epoxied the extension on with the biscuits but it is in a vulnerable place. It will support the aft end other starboard settee and will probably get leaned on and generally knocked about. So, I decided I would epoxy tape both sides for added strength. Since the whole thing will be covered with mahogany staving, the biaxial will have to be flush so the staving will lie smoothly across the width of the bulkhead. A single layer of wetted out 17.7oz biaxial is approximately 1/16" thick. Thus, after cutting the slots and testing for fit, I used the power planer to cut 1/16" deep recesses, just over two inches wide on each side of the bulkhead and the extension to allow a single layer of 4 1/4" wide biaxial to lie flush. The length of the planer causes some limitations with cutting recesses when you don't have unrestricted access to both ends of the wood. I had to start at the top of the installed bulkhead otherwise I would not get an even depth. Using a small fence to maintain the correct width of the cut, I ran the planer down the length as far as I could before the planer bottomed out on the cabin sole. I then planed the extension stopping the same distance from the end so I would have matching recesses on the lower ends. After checking again for fit I pre cut the biaxial.
Next, I mixed up some slightly thickened epoxy and spread it on the end-grain of the plywood and on the edge of the cypress. I liberally brushed the epoxy in the slots and installed the biscuits. Then I pushed it into place. After that I mixed up neat epoxy and wet out the wood and also the biaxial for both sides of the extension. The temperature was pretty cool so I wet the cloth out in the wood shop where it was warmer. I then rolled the biaxial into place working out the bubbles.
Next, I I mixed up some more epoxy thickened with 407 medium density filler and spread it over the biaxial to fill the weave and the slight gaps around the edge of the biaxial tape.
Last, I set up some heat lamps and cranked up the electric oil heater in the boat to keep the temperature in the high 50s or low 60s.
Next, I traced the pattern onto a sheet of inexpensive 1/4" ply and cut out the template with a jig saw. I used a block plane to smooth up the edges. Then I cut a small hole in it so I would have some way to maneuver it as I checked the fit in the bow area. If I cut too big a hole the template would be too flimsy. The actual bulkhead will have a big section cut out so I can crawl inside the compartment to apply epoxy tape on the inside (Oh joy, I can hardly wait for that fun). I checked the fit and trimmed a few times as necessary till I was satisfied.
Last, I placed the template on a section of 3/4 BS 1088 ply I have been saving for this purpose and traced the outline. But, the light was fading and the kids were in need of some company so I called it a day. Tomorrow I may work on it a little but Sunday is usually family day. Will see if I can squeeze in a little boat time.
Once I was ready I started off by marking off a line 2 3/4" from the edge around the bulkhead with a speed square and a pencil. Next I ran another line around at 1 3/4" from the edge. Now I have two pencile marks that go all the way around the bulkhead. I then ran the power hand planer around the bulkhead using the 2 3/4" line as I guide. I set planer to cut 1/16" deep. Then, leaving the depth set at 1/16" I ran it around again guiding on the 1 3/4" line. I basically had a stepped rabit cut in the bulkhead. This would allow the first layer of 4" wide tape (1 3/4" on the wood and then span the beveled foam then 1 3/4" on the hull). The 6" wide tape would go on top of the 4" wide (2 3/4" on the wood bulkhead and then span the foam, then 2 3/4" on the hull) and the whole thing would end up being flush with the surface of the bulkhead. Normally, I would not care but I need to install the mahogany V groove staving later and I need a flat and fair surface for the staving to fit against. I cut foam for the bulkhead yesterday so it was quick to contact cement it in place along the edge of the bulkhead. Once done I took it up to the boat and test fit it. then I vacuumed (I sanded it the other day) and gave it a thorough acetone wash down. Once the air cleared I reinstalled the bulkhead and used my hot glue gun and a scrap piece of wood to hold the top edge in place. I made up a brace with clamps to hold the bottom end in place. I rechecked to make sure everything was square and plumb. I then wetted out the bulkhead with unthickened epoxy and the hull with slightly thickened epoxy. I wet out the precut cloth tape and laid down the 4" wide tape first, followed by the 6" wide placed in their respective rabbit cuts. I worked out the bubbles and went over the whole thing with a finned roller. I could not do the top edge because the wood block that was holding the top in position would be in the way. I'll do the top edge tomorrow. Later, after I have cut out the opening, I'll crawl inside and apply multiple layer around the inside. This bulkhead is not normally structural in a Cape Dory 36 but the sampson post will be bolted to it so it is structural now and thus has to be really strong. Also, I usually follow West System protocol and lay the widest tape down first except to get the flush fit I needed to lay the narrower one down first this time. I am pleased with how it went. It will be great to start installing the mahogany staving which I should be able to do soon.
Once that was complete I rigged some straight edges with clamps to "frame in" where the bulkhead would go. Then, I built a template out of doorskin strips and a hot glue gun. Per my normal procedure, I placed the template over some 1/2" BS 1088 ply and cut out the bulkhead. I checked the angle of the hull with a bevel gauge and cut a 15 degree bevel along the backside of the bulkhead. I test fit it to make sure it would be plumb and square. Then I removed 3/8" along the back edge to allow for the closed cell foam wedge that would be placed between the outside edge of the bulkhead and the hull of the Far Reach. I power-planed a 1/16" deep cut 2" wide along both sides of the outside portion of the bulkhead so the tape would lay flush with the surface of the ply. Then, I applied a couple of coats of unthickend epoxy to the outside edge grain of the ply. While it was kicking I sanded and performed an acetone wash-down of the inside of the hull where the tabbing would be placed. I precut the 1708 biaxial and set up the table and plastic sheeting for wetting out the biaxial.
When I was ready, it was simple matter to clamp the bulkhead in place. I previously cut a 15" long cleat from Douglass Fir with a 36 degree angle to secure the bottom inside vertical edge of the bulkhead to the double berth. The cleat provided additional help to hold the bulkhead in place. I wet out the surface of the ply, the hull, and the tape. Applying the tape was quick and easy and the job was complete.