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From a Bare Hull:  Interior Basics (Page 2)

Cabin Sole:  Template and Substrate

solecleat.jpg (38856 bytes)Next, I used some corrugated cardboard to create a template of the cabin sole, from which I cut a piece of 13mm Meranti plywood for the cabin sole substrate.  To help support the sole where it met the mid bulkhead, I added a mahogany cleat that I milled to fit; even though the cleat would be hidden in the final result, I took an additional few minutes to chamfer the bottom edge and sand the whole thing smooth.

soletemplate1.jpg (39218 bytes)

soleplastic1.jpg (47012 bytes)The substrate fit closely to the hull at its bottom edge, but because of the curvature of the hull,  the top edge was up to 2" away from the hull.  I decided to fill this gap with epoxy to help cradle the sole and to create more flat, usable area.  Because the angle of the hull was so severe, I had deemed it impractical and too time-consuming to attempt making a beveled cut on the plywood to better match the angle.

soleplastic2.jpg (45150 bytes)To fill the gaps, I carefully and tightly wrapped the edges of my plywood substrate in plastic, securing it with duct tape.  Then, I  temporarily secured the plywood to the floors with drywall screws to hold it in the proper position.  I double-checked the level in both directions.  Then, I troweled thickened epoxy into the gaps, holding the trowel tightly to the plywood to ensure a level screed.  I was surprised at the amount of epoxy that the job took, and had to mix two additional pots to finish the job.  I left the epoxy to cure overnight before carefully removing the plastic-coated substrate to reveal a nicely-molded epoxy edging on all sides.  After removing the protective plastic, I reinstalled the substrate and sanded the hull and new epoxy to prepare it for further steps and to remove any ridges and excess left from the previous day's trowel.

soleedge2.jpg (55572 bytes)      substrate2.jpg (43560 bytes)

solehatches2.jpg (33135 bytes)With the plywood substrate cut and fitted, my next step was to cut a couple access hatches in the sole--one in way of the mast step, and a second one all the way aft, just forward of where the sole intersected the mid bulkhead.  I used a jigsaw to cut the openings after carefully marking them out to ensure they each ended up between the floors.

epoxyundersole.jpg (52036 bytes)When I had each opening cut, I milled some mahogany to use for cleats beneath the sole, which would support the hatches from beneath.  I cut the pieces to fit and installed them on the underside of the sole with resorcinol glue and bronze screws.  As a finishing touch, I use a router equipped with a chamfer bit to ease the inside lower edges of each set of cleats.

paintundersole.jpg (30000 bytes)My final steps before installing the sole once and for all were first to coat the entire underside, cleats, and edge grain with unthickened epoxy.  When the epoxy cured, I gave it a quick sand and then applied a coat of gray Bilgekote paint for added protection.

bilgepaint1.jpg (44842 bytes)Before installing the sole, I applied two coats of the same gray Bilgekote to the entire bilge area beneath the new cabin sole, up as high as the epoxy fillets around the sole edges.  I painted the entire area except for the tops of the floors, since I planned to use some thickened epoxy adhesive there when I installed the sole for good.  Applying the new paint to the bilge was a satisfying job that transformed the raw, ugly fiberglass.   Even though most of the area would be inaccessible once the sole was installed, it felt good knowing that it was all properly painted, and would resist damage from moisture and be easier to keep clean in the future.

solein1.jpg (48755 bytes)Once I had the second coat of paint on, I permanently installed the cabin sole.  I applied a bead of thickened epoxy to the top edge of each floor, including the wooden cleat at the bulkhead, and carefully lowered the sole into position, where I secured it temporarily to the floors with drywall screws (to be removed once the epoxy cured).  Finally, I secured the sole to the hull with a layer of 24 oz. biaxial tape along the length of each edge.

Finish work and final surfacing on the sole won't happen till much later in the project.




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