Sep 25, 201303:51 PM
Odduck: Adventures in Boat Restoration
Moving Forward in Fits and Starts
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At the end of my last post, I was rehabbing from knee surgery, which put a big crimp in my progress. Then, just as I started to move forward, I slammed a car door on two fingers of my working hand, which required 11 stitches and more time off.
Much of that recovery time came during a period of great weather. That was a loss, as the boat is still not under permanent cover.
I finally got back to work and, of course, the heat indexes rose into the three-digit range.
My focus was on installing new decking. The cabin was a straightforward job, laying in a 1/2-inch plywood panel after just painting it with a porch and deck enamel. I used the original stainless-steel truss head screws driven into the aluminum framing. Those screws have a very low dome for usage where a covering will be used. They were used many places on the boat, and as an aside, I have been pretty much unable to find replacements in the sizes I need, even on the web.
The cockpit, which measures about 85 inches wide and almost 11 feet long before the mid-cabin sleeper box takes up about 52 inches of that length, was a bit trickier. Six individual pieces needed to be carefully fitted together.
The original decking had been chopped off and replaced with poorly attached pressure treated, 3/4-inch plywood. I figured the roughly 3 foot by 6 foot section in the middle of the boat that covers the gas tank should be removable by itself.
I climb onto the boat from a ladder along the port wall, so I started there. I squared off the end of the original decking, then cut a piece that would end over a cross brace, drilled a few pilot holes through the plywood and the aluminum underneath, and screwed it in place. Then, I installed the aft piece on that side that ends at the stern. That had to be notched to fit flush with the engine compartment flange.
The next section was a small piece to cover the area forward of the gas tank area. Again, some notching was necessary. Then, the gas tank section went in, but not before I installed and double clamped all new hoses, the vent line and fuel gauge sender.
The starboard forward section was next, and finally, the small panel to the stern went in.
I removed all of them and coated all the edges and perimeter with a couple coat of epoxy, then painted the center sections with an enamel. The theory is that rotting generally occurs on the exposed edges and not so much in the middle.
I laid panel No. 1 in, put an ice pick in a pre-drilled hole, and from there, ran my screws into my existing holes. Later, I drilled pilot holes and screwed a lot of it down while I searched for a source for truss head screws.
But as I was admiring my work, I noticed I hadn't done a good job re-gluing the carpet to the inside of the starboard gunnel. It had cleaned up pretty well, and as long as it will be covered with storage panels, I decided not to replace it. To do the job right, I had to remove the two starboard flooring panels and, using a $20 can of super-adhesive I got from a good upholstery shop, pulled the carpet off and re-glued it before reinstalling the flooring.
Meanwhile, Tom Lanum, a long-time river-boater and Loop veteran with a specialty in electrical design and layout, had been helping me with my plan for an enhanced 120v and 12v system. It will be fairly basic but needs to be upgraded to include shore power, a windlass, refrigerator, some upgraded lighting and electronics, and maybe a small air conditioner. The problem is finding one small enough, probably under 5,000 Btu. I am still debating whether to also incorporate a small, portable generator. I can't decide where that falls on the nuisance-to-benefit spectrum.
While I pondered that, I started building a frame of 2x2s to mimic what the mid-cabin will look like. I was told it originally was just a 3/4-inch plywood box set in place, but I am consciously trying to curb the boat's weight and that seemed excessive. The thinking was that maybe 1-inch square aluminum could be used, then a lightweight skin could be applied inside and outside.