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Project Log:  Saturday, October 17, 2009
Home Page > The Project > Project Logs > 10/17/09

It was exciting to actually start work on the boat.  I'd looked forward to it all week.  I spent the first part of the day collecting various tools and gear I thought I'd need for the interior removal:  angle grinder with cutoff wheels; reciprocating saws and blades; impact driver and various hand tools; safety equipment; prybars and hammers.  Earlier in the week, I'd set up some cords and work lights inside; the "beginning" had been 5 years in the making, so I guess I was ready.

I was already sick of the fiberglass forward hatch and lazarette hatch, so the first thing I did was remove these; this was easy, as the hinges were secured to the deck with only self-tapping screws.  Then, I removed the companionway slide and the copper or bronze tubes on which it slid, and set these three hatches aside.  I didn't anticipate reusing any of them, but for the moment they went to what was to become a startlingly small "save" pile.

         

Onwards.  The next thing I did was to remove the remaining countertop inside the companionway, the one containing the galley sink, and the old companionway ladder.  This structure was so weak that I didn't want to even have the opportunity to step on it and kill myself on the way in or out of the boat, which I'd been gingerly doing over the years when I'd come into the boat for one reason or another.  Out it went with virtually zero effort; for the moment, I installed a 6' stepladder in its stead, though soon I'd build a construction ladder to use for the duration of the project.


The badly-burned overhead liner was bugging me, as every time I walked through the interior the spidery, dangling threads of fiberglass mat would brush my head in an irritating manner.  So I decided that at least the aft section of the overhead liner had to be the next thing to go before I continued removing the other interior components.  I used an angle grinder equipped with a metal cutoff wheel to quickly cut the liner into manageable pieces, and pulled it down.  It came away easily, revealing a soot-blackened mess of ugly liner adhesive, melted wiring, and the expected raw glasswork.  In four sections, I removed the entire liner as far forward as the doghouse bump, taking care of the nastiest portion.  The "snow" in the air in these photos is airborne dust reflected by the camera flash.

         

         


After opening the large shop door to evacuate dust from the liner cutting, and to dispose of the pieces and parts I'd removed so far, I continued work on the galley, and removed the countertop and cabinetry on the port side, along with some of the wooden trim on the pilot berths and settees.  This all came easily.  In the midst of this, my friend John arrived to help with the demo--he'd been as or more excited about this process than I during the past several hears, and had enthusiastically volunteered to help out.


I moved on to continue removing the settees and pilot berths while John cleaned up more of the debris on deck and unfastened the remaining ceiling slats along the hull in the main cabin.  To continue the settee removal, I had to buzz some more tabbing where the plywood was secured to the hull, after which the assemblies came apart with relative ease.  I completed first the starboard, then the port sides; water had accumulated in the space beneath the settees, and ran out once I released the tabbing from the hull with a chisel; the secondary polyester resin bonds securing the tabbing and interior components were as tenuous as one would expect, and once a section was started, it was typically possible to rip the remainder away by hand, or with minimal chisel intervention.

         

    

With the settees and pilot berths out of the way, I cut the tabbing on the port galley bulkhead and removed it.  The bulkhead was 1" fir plywood in very good condition--as were all the remaining bulkheads.  One simply cannot find fir plywood of this quality today.  If I'd wanted to keep the original layout of the interior, there would have been no need to remove these bulkheads.  But I planned on a clean slate for the project, so out they came.


Then, I moved on to one of the more humorous parts of the day:  removing the icebox.  It was funny to start to pry the plywood away from the molded tub unit only to have large volumes of popcorn-sized bits of styrofoam pour out in steady streams, burying the cabin sole in a foot of the material.  The entire molded fiberglass liner tub was surrounded by this loose stuff, which showed no signs of ever having been a homogenous mass.  I imagined that one probably could have literally watched a block of ice melt before one's very eyes with the poor quality of the insulation.

    

I removed the front (inboard) panel and tried prying the liner tub loose, but the bottom supporting panel was rotted and all I did was break that when I used a prybar.  Clearly, I had to remove the starboard galley bulkhead--which formed the forward end of the icebox unit--in order to remove the tub.  So I cut the tabbing on the forward side, after which it was quite easy to rip the bulkhead free, releasing an avalanche of loose foam.

          

With the bulkhead gone, it was easy to rock and rip free the huge icebox tub, which turned out to be secured to the rotted platform beneath with two massive blobs of resin mixed with what looked like a week's worth of shop floor sweepings or something.  These were amusing, and I felt I needed to save them for my personal museum of amusing boat construction parts.

    

I was surprised and pleased to find that the molded tub could pass through the companionway in one piece; I was concerned I'd have to saw it in two, but it just fit.  With this huge assembly out of the way, I filled three full-size trash cans with the styrofoam bits, though a lot of them found their way into the bilge.

Continuing forward, John worked up in the v-berth removing ceiling strips and other small pieces while I attacked the little drawer unit and hanging locker on the starboard side opposite the head.  I found as the demolition went on that there was a strange inverse relationship between the structural importance of a certain piece and how securely it was attached to the hull and adjacent interior structures:  the less important the structure was to the strength of the boat or rig, the more securely fastened it seemed to be.  I worked harder to remove foolish shelves and non-structural panels than I did to pry away structural bulkheads.


I was bemused to note the lackadaisical structures to which the mainmast chainplates were secured:  the aft lowers on each side were secured through a thick teak spacer block to the bulkheads on each side, which blocks were deteriorated from moisture--yes, even though they were teak.  The stainless steel bolts were sound enough, but the overall installation was certainly not confidence-inspiring.

Similarly, the main support knees for the cap shrouds--that is, the main support for the rig--were an abomination of cringeworthy craftsmanship and reflected a minimalist attitude towards strength.  Replete with ragged and sharp overhanging edges of dashed-together woven roving tabbing, these knees were hideous, though I suppose they certainly worked well enough for 45 years.  But apparently pride in workmanship was not a salient quality for an Allied fiberglass installer back in the day.


Next, it was time to attack the head.  John was very anxious to see this area cleared out; by now it was about 1700, and I was growing weary from the day's efforts, but John was an enthusiastic motivating force that could not be denied, so I ripped the old toilet out, releasing a small amount of questionable material into the bilge.

         

Then, I squeezed myself into the ridiculous space (people actually used this space?) and, with effort, tore out the various cabinets, which in keeping with the Allied Inverse Structure Theory were extremely well tabbed to every available adjacent component and fought every attempt at removal and proper access thereunto.  Eventually, I managed to remove enough clutter so that I could get in with my angle grinder and cut at least most of the tabbing securing the huge main bulkhead to the hull; we couldn't tell how the bulkhead was secured to the underside of the deck.

After cutting the tabbing on the head side, I moved out into the saloon and repeated the process on that side of the bulkhead, and also used a reciprocating saw to cut through areas where I couldn't get the grinder.  Meanwhile, John unfastened a piece of aluminum angle that was helping to secure the corner of the transverse bulkhead to the longitudinal bulkhead that formed the inner wall of the head, as well as the main support for the mast step above.

    

We soon discovered a need to cut the bulkhead just below deck level, since it was still secured there, so I used the saw to make that cut, after which we were able to pry the bulkhead free by making one vertical cut to saw it into two pieces.  Triumph!  John was very excited and proud of the success at this bulkhead's removal.

    

The next obstacle to a clear, empty boat was the massive, 2" thick plywood longitudinal bulkhead beneath the mast step.  The tabbing was for the moment effectively inaccessible in the depths of the bilge, so instead we just cut the plywood at door sill height, and at the top of the doorway.

    

Next:  the final bulkheads, at the end of the V-berth, and the berth structure itself.  With John's continuing enthusiasm for an empty boat as a motivating force, I passed the Sawz-All torch to him and let him make the saw cuts required to remove these pieces, which he did with alacrity, and before long the boat was empty (for all intents and purposes).  We found two cast iron trimming weights, each about 50 pounds, loosely stowed in the lockers beneath the V-berth, one of which had been poised for who knows how long periously close to (and uphill from) the intake seacock for the head, one good wave away from potential disaster; the shadow of the port weight's location is visible on the hull.  We also found a bronze pipe with bronze cap protruding from the boat's centerline somewhere beneath the old V-berth, of unknown origin and unknown use.

         

    

The small, separate piece of overhead liner that had been in the head was becoming annoying quickly.  All that was still securing it was the through-bolts from the handrail on deck, so while John was sawing out V-berth bits, I went on deck and sawed through the fasteners securing the handrail, after previously determining that they spun from beneath when attempting to remove the nuts.  I didn't plan on reusing the old handrails anyway.

With the bolts cut, I could remove them--and the piece of liner.  There was a huge space between the liner and the actual cabin trunk--about 2" worth, which space had been bridged with more blobs of resin and floor sweeping.  One of these blobs seemed to have ended up right beneath the opening for the molded Dorade box above, causing me to wonder how well that vent had worked over the years.


After a brief cleanup to collect the worst of the demolition debris, it was time to sit back and marvel at the cavernous, volumetric space.  The boat looked better already; ahead I saw challenge and limitless opportunity (relatively speaking, of course).  I'd finish up the overhead liner removal and other bits and pieces in the near future.

    

Hundreds of hours of installation labor at the factory was reduced to a couple large debris piles outside in a fun, satisfying day's work.

         

Total Time Today:  15 man-hours (9 hours Tim; 8 hours John)

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