Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hanging Locker, Part Deaux

[Editor's Note: Check out the hair!] The picture to the left is from two Aprils ago, when I was right in the same spot as below. Back then I was removing deck hardware; including the above-the-deck part of the chainplates and having a Bad Boat Karma Day. This last time I was working on the part of the chainplates that was inside the hull.

Clutching the valence at the top of the hanging locker [that's closet to you landlubbers], I gingerly placed one foot onto the small floor that curves with the starboard side of the hull. Lifting my self a bit, I swung the other foot up and into the small opening. With both feet inside I shimmied one hip in, then the other and sat down. After one shoulder at a time, I wriggled my arm in from behind me. The multifunction oscillating cutter and the safety light were already inside the locker waiting for me. Some surgery was needed.  First up, I had to cut a larger hole in the cabin liner to access the area against the hull.

I am replacing the stock through-the-deck chainplates on my Cape Dory 28 sloop with stainless steel strap on the outside of the hull. I'm copying several ideas from Fred Bickum's Fenix. Cape Dory Yachts embedded a metal structure inside the fiberglass hull to support their chainplates. Next Spring, when I drill through the hull to bolt on my exterior chainplates, this gangling structure will likely be in the way. A chainplate is the connecting structure for the shrouds and stays. The shrouds and stays are the wire ropes that hold the mast vertical on a sailboat.

The chainplate is attached to the hull with a layer of fiberglass cloth and resin. The cloth must be cut loose and then the chainplate pulled out. Cape Dory's version of a chainplate is somewhat unique. On many boats, a section of stainless steel bar stock projects out of a deck. This type of chainplate is problematic because the chainplates are bound to wiggle where they come through the deck which ultimately causes some leakage. Cape Dory attempted to prevent this leakage by eliminating the projecting bar stock. A die-cast pad eye is bolted through the deck and into a piece of angle iron. Welded to the bottom of the angle iron are three “J” hooks made of re-bar. The J's are glassed against the hull with the angle iron is glassed up into the corner where the deck meets the hull. I was concerned that the angle iron was inextricable.

The broad round blade of the multifunction cutter made quick work of uncovering the re-bar. A small amount of water actually came out from under the forward “J” on the starboard side. At least one sailor on the Cape Dory Board had reported water collecting under the fiberglass. The mild steel re-bar was not in bad shape actually, but I was glad to see it and the water go.

As I struggled to keep my feet awake and ignored my zafu wracked knees, my perch inside the hanging locker led me to decide the angle iron was not coming out. There are three chainplates to port and starboard. The angle iron ran along the gunwale on each side for four feet and connected all three “J” hooks together. The angle iron ran above and behind both bulkheads – neither of which I intended to remove. After some pondering though, I realized everything was fine. Next Spring,
the drilling will only need to avoid those J's. I could leave the rest right where it was. All I needed to do was two things: uncover the rest of the “J's” and cut out all six with a grinder.  In order to do the port side I would have to sit on the toilet side-saddle – backwards.

Grinding off the metal hooks in the hanging locker was a little scary. There was nowhere for the sparks to go but against the fiberglass hull and then ricochet all around in the closet. Several times I stopped and lifted the edge of my double filter mask to smell if anything had caught on fire. Even the backward side-saddle grinding went fine on the port side. The various sprawling metal structures that were in my way were gone. Next Spring, before I attach the exterior chainplates, I will put a couple layers of heavy glass cloth inside the hull to reinforce the area. I had to grind the inside of the hull smooth for the glassing.

It was a wonderfully sunny fall weekend; such a pleasure for late season boatwork. It was a little cool, especially in the mornings, so lucky for me I had layered up. So when I got back in the small space of the hanging locker, to grind the hull smooth, I was wearing long sleeves. Grinding off the chunks of fiberglass left by the J's, the dust had nowhere to go but to swirl all around ME! It was like working in a snow globe.  I was glad
to have had my arms covered.  Enough itchy dust did find its way under my wrists cuffs and under my hat to remind me for the rest of the week what a great day of boatwork it was; a Good Boat Karma Day!