Wednesday 15 January 2020

Cockpit Deck | Making The Panels

I started work on the cockpit deck by applying the first coat of clear resin to the port and starboard panels. Here is the port panel curing in the workshop.

A test fit in the hull revealed that some excess needed to be trimmed from the outboard edges to get a clean fit along the sides of the footwell and the centre board case. Here you can see that the panels overlap on top of the centre board case, because they are a little too wide.

I used a piece of scrap ply to scribe a fair line around the edge of the port panel, as here.

I then trimmed off the excess with the block plane and retested the fit.

It was at this point I realised I had made an oversight. If you look at the above photo of the two panels in place you will see that the footwell sides are not installed. Having them fitted would add the thickness of the footwell sides to the width of each deck panel, so I was potentially removing too much material.

Fortunately I saw this in time and dry fitted the footwell sides with temporary screws to finish trimming the deck to size.

I also fixed the deck panels in place with a couple of temporary screws for the final fitting, just to be sure that everything lined up nicely, as here.

This also held the deck firmly in place for marking in the location of the deck frames and centre board case for drilling for the multitude of temporary screws required when gluing it in place.

This is easily done in the cabin area by scribing a pencil line around the cleats from underneath the deck, but the location of the cleats in the inaccessible stern compartment has to be extrapolated on the bench.

Here is the port panel marked up, ready to drill screw holes.

Screw  holes were drilled along all the cleat locations at six inch intervals with a sharp twist bit.

I then started to sand both panels and found that the surface was still too soft. It just gummed up the grit.

I don't know why this was the case. The panels had been in the house curing in the warmth for ages, so they should have been hard enough for sanding.

However, this has happened before and I have given up pondering the vagaries of epoxy resin behaviour.

I know how to fix the problem now and it is very straightforward. The Bahco scraper is deployed with a new blade, and it makes short work of removing the soft top layer. Like this.

This revealed the hardened resin underneath which was easily sanded to a P80 finish, as here.

A second coat of clear resin was then applied and again sanded to a P80 finish. There was no problem with curing this time.

Then the third and final coat was applied, and when cured both panels were sanded through the grits to a P220 finish, nice and smooth and ready for paint.

The panels were then set aside, ready to be installed when the time comes.

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