V-Berth Refit 3: Tabbing Bulkheads and Hull-Deck Joint

We completed our first fiberglass job of this refit. The job had two parts. The first was to tab in the V-Berth bulkheads. We removed the original 2 inch fiberglass tabbing when we cut out the headliner. In order to add our own 6 inch tape, we had to chisel the formica off of the bulkheads, so that our tabs could better bond to the wood underneath. 

The second part was to fiberglass the  hull to the deck joint. Brian glassed this joint together from the outside several years ago. This time, we are adding fiberglass on the inside. We removed sections of the original cleats on the sides of the hull to make room for the 6 inch 1708 fiberglass tape. Then we ground down the relevant areas and roughed up the surfaces where the grinder could not reach with a hand file.

The fiberglass will have two roles: to strengthen the boat and to give us a foundation. We will build our frames on this foundation. We have to add frames for a number of reasons. They will be borders for insulation. They will also be shaped to strengthen the deck. Their third function will be to provide a place for us to anchor our new head liner panels. After we add the frames, insulation, and new liner panels, the overhead in the V-Berth will be complete.

We cut fiberglass and set up epoxy stations before diving into fiberglass work one hot afternoon. The thermometer read 98 degrees when we started. First, Brian added thickened epoxy to the 6 inch sections of the v-berth where we would add fiberglass. Then, I started mixing epoxy. I mixed consistently, 3 ounces at a time. Keeping the epoxy pots small helped us manage in the heat. We both worked the station where we added the epoxy and peel ply to the fiberglass. When a piece of glass was ready, Brian installed it in the v-berth.

We had a good rhythm to our work, but fiberglass jobs can be tricky. This job showed how rusty we were, and it did not go perfectly. The thick 1708 fiberglass did not adhere perfectly to the bulkheads. The formica on the bulkheads caused problems. Wherever fiberglass overlapped the formica, the 1/8th inch rise from the bare plywood to formica proved too much. The glass did not take the rise well. As Brian says in the video, we should have known better. But, oh well. What’s stuck is stuck. We’ll make the best of it, grind down what we need to, fair with thickened epoxy where we need to and move on.

The fiberglass work on the hull to deck joint turned out better than the installation on the bulkheads. There is better adhesion along the joint. All in all, both parts of the job went well enough for us to continue with next steps.

The weeks of the refit are rolling on. These past couple of weeks have felt busy. During week 8 we spent a most of our time at the boat, and we were happy to complete this first fiberglass job. Towards the end of the week, we started to focus on plywood procurement. And somehow, we started week 9 in the United States! We drove to California for okoume marine grade plywood! And we found a cargo trailer to transport it with in Arizona. Now, with the plywood on hand, and with a new place to store our tools, we can make progress on lots of projects. But, we’re also making a point to slow down, to take stock, and to reorganize our work site before we move forward. This first fiberglass job was a reminder for us to balance speed with precision as best we can. 

One thought on “V-Berth Refit 3: Tabbing Bulkheads and Hull-Deck Joint”

  1. Complicated project! Your Grandpa Smith would be very interested in and proud of your problem solving skills, Brian.

    Like

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