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From a Bare Hull:  Interior Basics

Forward Cabin Support Structure
Forward of the forwardmost bulkhead, I planned the traditional vee berth, which is easy to install, versatile in use, and expected in just about any sailboat.  The forward bulkhead was approximately six feet aft of the chain locker, and during its installation I had determined the eventual height of the vee berth platform, which corresponds with the height of the horizontal cut on the bulkhead.  

With that as a guide, I set up my inexpensive laser level (which was proving to be an invaluable tool--especially for $19.95 on Ebay) and used it to mark a series of reference points at an equal, and level, height with the bulkhead.

vfoam2.jpg (53831 bytes)With a number of reference points marked on each side, I cut a piece of foam to the proper length, and beveled the bottom at 45 for ease of fiberglassing, and then, using a bevel gauge against the hull, determined the proper bevel at which to cut the top edge so that it would be level, providing good support for the plywood vee berth.  I cut the foam appropriately, and glued the strips in place with hot glue.  Before continuing, I used some thickened epoxy to fill in the slight gaps at the forward and after ends of the foam strips, where they met the transverse bulkheads at either end.

vfoam4.jpg (59652 bytes) To secure the strips, I fiberglassed over them with a single layer of 6" wide, 24 oz. biaxial tape and epoxy resin.  This provided ample strength and support for the vee berth platform, which I expected to be supported from beneath by these small ledges, and tabbed to the hull above.

Later, when the resin was cured, I sanded the new fiberglass to remove any rough edges and prepare the area for eventual painting.

More on the vee berth platform will be coming soon.

Floors (Cabin Sole Supports)
When I installed the forwardmost bulkhead, I also determined the general height of the cabin sole; the inside (towards the centerline) edge of the bulkhead ends at the point where I expected the sole to go.  Using a level, I marked some rough locations forward and aft of that point to demark the height of the cabin sole.

To support the sole, I planned a series of floors (transverse structural members in the bilge).  Looking over the area in question, I settled on a spacing of 18" between floors.  The floors in this instance are nonstructural and designed only to support the cabin sole above--and, since the sole will be 1/2" plywood substrate and a finish surface of hardwood plywood or hardwood lumber (not yet determined), the floors are only strictly necessary to prevent flexing, not for strength.  Therefore, I decided to build the floors with a foam core encapsulated in fiberglass, and then tabbed to the hull.

floors1.jpg (45199 bytes)I didn't want (nor did I need) the floors to extend all the way to the bottom of the bilge, so first I settled on an overall depth (6" for three of the four floors, and 3" for the smallest, forwardmost one) and cut some strips of foam to the proper size.  Then, after marking out the floor spacing on the hull (18" apart, beginning at the amidships bulkhead and extending forward), I held the foam rectangle in place, leveled it from side to side, and used a scribe to transfer the shape of the hull onto the rectangle.  I set the scribe at 6", since I wanted the floor to die out to nothing at the edges and be full height in the center.  With the scribed form, I used a jigsaw to cut out each piece, and fine-tuned the fit as necessary with some rough sandpaper.  Using the foam sure made the job easy, as it was so easy to cut and shape.

floors2.jpg (53161 bytes) As I built each section and moved on to the next, I ensured that the top edges of each piece remained level both in the transverse and longitudinal directions, as well as level with each succeeding form.  Once each one was built, I marked its outline on the hull for future reference, and removed them from the boat. I left the top edges of each form slightly more than 1/2" lower than the marks on the hull, to allow for the thickness of the fiberglass and then the cabin sole substrate.

floors3.jpg (27838 bytes)The next step was to encapsulate each form in fiberglass.  I wrapped each piece in a double layer of 10 oz. fiberglass cloth, covering both sides and the bottom, and then covered the top edge (which will support the cabin sole and therefore required more thickness and strength) with a 6" wide piece of 24 oz. biaxial fabric, wrapped over the top edge and down the sides.  I left the narrow edges uncovered, as these will be against the hull once the forms are tabbed in place.  To cover both sides at once, I covered my bench in clean plastic, and placed each form face down once I had covered the first side, and then finished fiberglassing the second side.  When the fiberglass cured, I could pull them off the plastic without any problem.

There was a substantial amount of excess resin on the floors that I had to deal with once I pulled them away from the plastic.  Basically, far more resin had pooled beneath the pieces than I had expected, and the slight wrinkles and contours in the plastic had allowed some interesting ripple-y shapes to form in the cured resin.  I sanded these areas as smooth as I could, but in order to get the more or less smooth finish I wanted, I had to apply some filler to the low spots, or else I would have had to sand for hours--cured, unadulterated epoxy is very hard stuff!.  This slowed me down, as I had to leave the pieces overnight for the filler to cure.

floorsin2.jpg (67158 bytes)After sanding the fill smooth, I continued by gluing the floors in place inside the boat.  I temporarily secured them with hot glue, ensuring that they were level from side to side, evenly spaced fore and aft, level with each other, and plumb up and down.    With the hot glue holding them in place, I mixed some epoxy filleting material and formed fillets around the edges, between the floors and the hull, making a smooth curve that I would be able to glass over easily.  

When that was done, and while the epoxy was still curing, I fiberglassed the floors in place with a single layer of 24 oz. biaxial tape, glassing both sides of each section.  I left this to cure overnight.

floorsin3.jpg (62206 bytes)When the tabbing was cured, I spent an hour or so sanding the new fiberglass smooth to remove bumps and raw edges.  At the same time, I also sanded the fiberglass over the vee berth supports forward, since I hadn't done that previously.  After cleaning up the dust and washing the fiberglass with acetone, I added a double layer of 10 oz. cloth to the top portion of the transition between hull and floor, to finish off that area and fully encapsulate the foam core.  I hadn't used the heavy biaxial material for this because it tends to be too difficult to lay down over a complex shape such as these areas.

floorsdone1.jpg (48273 bytes)



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