Thursday, June 28, 2012

Using Git-Rot Penetrating Epoxy on a Bulkhead

As we were rebuilding the Navigation Station we noticed that there was a section of the bulkhead that had some dry rot in it.  I could push my finger against the veneered bulkhead and while the veneer in this section appeared solid, you could tell it was soft behind it.  After removing a little bit of the veneer we could actually push a finger into some sections of the plywood and it was soft.  (not so bad that it was just falling apart, but bad enough that I was really concerned).

I started to read about scarfing two pieces of wood together and then fiberglassing over them.  This seemed like a lot of work and would still be a "patch".  I considered removing the bulkhead and replacing it all together, however on this boat, the bulkhead is tabbed in under the subfloor, tabbed in along the hull as well as tabbed in on the roof.  This particular bulkhead goes up the port side, across the ceiling in a decorative rounded shape and down the starboard side.    I quickly deduced that this was beyond my expertise and would likely be upwards of $5K at a yard.    So I started to really do some reading on penetrating epoxy and it's use specifically on stringers on boats.  If this stuff was strong enough to form a new "foundation" in the form of stringers, it may really do wonders on this small section of the bulkhead.

So with instructions read, and the web researched, I picked up a bottle of Boat Life's Git-Rot at my local West Marine.  I did notice that there are other brands of penetrating epoxy and some are geared toward home repairs.  I am assuming that these are likely similar in concept but I stuck to the one made for marine applications in this case.  (I don't think it mattered, but don't know for sure).

The job started by refrigerating the whole package of Git-Rot because if you are not applying it in 50-70 degree weather the manufacture recommends cooling it overnight in the refrigerator.  I can assure you at the end of June in South Texas, even with the AC on in the boat, it was warmer than that.

We drilled a series of holes into the bulkhead at about a 20degree downward slope being careful not to drill all the way through the bulkhead.  This allowed the injection spots for the epoxy to go through all layers of the plywood where needed.  Once drilled the product was mixed and shaken for the very exact amount of time (60 seconds) and then slowly squirted into each hole.
I started at the bottom of the vertical area to be epoxied and would slowly fill until the epoxy started to come out of the hole.  I would then move to the next.  I did this through each hole (about 18 of them or so) and as soon as I was done with the 18, I would start over again.  The goal is to keep doing this until the wood won't absorb any more of the solution.
I did this with 3 squirt bottles (about 4 ounces each) on the first day.  I started to really see it penetrating the wood because as I would inject the epoxy in one hole, I would at times see it start to seep into the wood below or adjacent to it.  This was a great sign for me as it showed that it was really being absorbed into the wood like a sponge.

The next day, I came back and repeated the process and it took about another bottle and a half (about 4 ounces each).  At this time, no more was being absorbed into the wood.  After letting it dry overnight, I sanded the surface of the wood smooth where some of the epoxy had gotten on the surface of the wood.

The test was in the "knock"  Before I started I knocked on the bulkhead and when I got to the rotted section it went form a crisp knock sound to a thud.  After using Git-Rot, I could no longer stick my finger in the wood anywhere, there was no "give" on the veneer and the knock test sounded crisp all the way across the bulkhead even over the spots that previously responded with a thud.

I would call this process a success and was glad to have been done in a few days (between applying the product and then veneering over the surface where I drilled the holes) rather than attempting to tear out and replace that bulkhead.

As is the case, if we do a project and don't find information or some good step by step "how to" instructions, we have been recording the progress and then putting them together as a video in hopes that it helps others.  It should be known that I am not doing this because of any product sponsorship and I happened to Choose Boat Life's brand but there are others out there that would likely work the same way.  This is being posted in hopes that if you are attempting a project like this, you find it useful.  It also has the secondary benefit of helping my chronicle the work we are doing on our own boat.  Like most boats, it seems that with every repair, we find something else that we determine we should correct as well.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Galley Cabinetry assembly

The Galley is starting to really come together now and it is nice to see items going back into the boat, rather than out of it.

We put the new laminate surface on all the counter tops.  We chose a laminate rather than granite due to the weight and the desire to ensure we kept the practicality of having fiddle rails on the counters.  If we went with a granite or stone, we were not sure how we would have effectively mounted fiddle rails on the edges.

After the laminate was down, we installed a shelf under the galley sink that has an access panel from above for dry storage. 

We then veneered all of the lower cabinets in African mahogany.  This included the side of the cabinets (one facing the nav station in the walkthrough the other facing the salon, and all front drawer and cabinet panels.  The veneer was put in place using not only the Pressure Sensitive Adhesive that it came with but also the standard contact cement on both surfaces method (like a laminate).  All of the new veneer received a sanding with 240 grit sandpaper.  This will smooth out the surface, blend in the joints and have a smooth surface to put a finish on.

The rear wall of the galley was laminated in Teak rather than Mahogany.  We are trying to keep the bulkhead walls in teak and really like the way it looks   For this we removed the Electric Propane control switch, cleaned the mating surfaces of all dust using a towel dampened with denatured alchohal.  This allows for a fast drying time and allowed us to then coat both mating surfaces with contact cement.  The new wall was cut out of a single large piece to fit the unique shape of the rear galley wall. 

The teak panel is 1/8th inch thick and made installing a little bit of a challenge as you had to cut it with a saw to shape rather than a knife like the thin veneer.  (Tip:  When applying contact cement to an area this large, it was helpful to have 2 people, Deb applied it to the wall and I applied it to the back of the teak panel, this allowed us to install it when it just started to get tacky rather than dry.

A new GFCI outlet was installed at the first plug in the wire chain and mounted back into the face of the pantry. 

New wire was run to the ceiling where insulation (3/4” closed cell foam) panels were installed between the fiberglass and the new pine slat ceiling.  The installation of the ceiling always presents a unique situation in that the roof arches to some extent, additionally the sides are not square so it starts with a single pine slat run fore to aft on the center line of the boat.  It then works outward from that so that the angled cuts to align with the outer curve of the boat can be made.   We have 
decided to install all LED lighting in the boat and wanted to have that light being emitted from the ceiling for general lighting, and then add reading lights at locations that make sense.  To that end, we mapped out how we wanted to control the lights for the common central are of the boat (the Galley, Nav Station, Walkthrough and Salon).  We liked the idea of having control of those lights from a central location near the  companion way.  We decided on mounting 6 switches (3 on each side of the companionway) that each control specifc lighting.  For example the 2 most forward switches will control the led lighting on the salon ceiling lighting on the port and starboard respectively.  The center switch on each side turns on the general lighting across the galley and companionway.  The next switches back control either the lights down the walkthrough, and on the port side control lights to light up the galley including one that shines into the top loading fridge/freezer unit. 

We are pleased with the LED lighting we chose.  They have a brushed aluminum finish, are bright but still a bit warm (not that sterile white from some LED’s) and can swivel slightly to point in specific directions.   They do not each have their own switch on the base which is why we mounted the bank of switches.

When we were looking for LED lights we considered just getting the marine fixtures with LED’s in the, however we wanted a little bit more versatility and selection for our lighting choices.  After speaking to some marine LED vendors at boat shows, I learned that LED’s for marine use are not something special but are typically the same as the ones that you can buy on line that are not “marine” specific.  Armed with that information, we decided to look at all LED lighting options.  We settled on some LED lights from Ikea that came with an adapter that went from 110V AC to 12V dc.  Because the output of the device included with the lights was in the 2-4 amp range, we worried a bit about the potential higher voltage that would be going to the lights.  I have ben assured that the lights will only draw what they draw, regardless of how many amps the supply “can” provide.  That said, I suspect that I won’t see the same life expectancy out of these as someone might on a regulated 2amp output.  So in the end, if I lose 25% of the life expectancy of these, it will still provide some 7500 hours of use.   For the money saved and the selection, I am hoping that I made a good choice.  So far so good but it has only been a couple of months at this point.  We will keep some spares on board in the event we needed to replace these.  Because of that reason we made mounting and replacing them fairly easy if we need to.

After the veneering, sanding, ceiling, lighting, electrical, etc, the sanded molding was all wiped down with denatured alcohol and the dry fitted.  Because the new ceiling is a bit thicker than the old headliner, and because the rear galley bulkhead veneer is thicker than the original, we knew we would have to slightly modify (trim) some of the molding.  We made those minor adjustments and reinstalled all of the trim in the galley and along the new ceiling. 

At this point we still have to build a new fridge/freezer lid with the new counter laminate to match, need to have the compressor serviced (still can’t believe I dripped water on the control panel when taking the sink out), fasten the sink and install the new faucet in the galley.    The next step from there will be bungs in all screw holes and varnish as a last step.