Bow locker floors/hawse pipe replacement project recap

Thomas Kleman

Since so many of you offered me great guidance in the two threads my project spawned, I thought I owed everyone a quick update (and of course about 100 beers).

About a month ago while working in the port bow locker, the floor buckled (plywood separating from the fiberglass) and my project began. While we all know Amels don't have design flaws, a few "undocumented system features" emerged that I wanted to address. Specifically:

1) Bow locker floors needed to be robust and glassed on BOTH sides
2) There needed to be access for a normal sized person into the chain locker, because....
3) There also needed to be access into what I'll call the chain locker bilge, the glassed-in grating next to the bulkhead where all the rust, mud, and other things accumulate from the chain and clog the chain locker drain
4) The hawse pipe needed to be corrosion proof and not terminate next to unprotected wood
5) The back starboard bolt on the windlass needed to be accessible (vs. fiberglassed over) and the rusted out steel flange needed to be replaced by something corrosion proof as well.

I'm aware that others have had some version of this problem and looked at it differently.....some don't have this problem at all. Nevertheless this was my design criteria.

After the demolition phase, I chose 3/4 inch marine plywood and double-glassed both sides as well as the ends. After leaving a 2 inch fiberglass lip (the underlying plywood fell off just by pulling), I used two cardboard templates. The wood was cut with a taper to conform to the hull angle (or better said, an attempt was made to do this). After glassing the wood panels (each floors were made from a single piece of wood- the port floor barely fit through the opening) the access door was cut into the center of the port locker floor. The locker's remaining fiberglass lip and 4 inches above it were sanded to bare fiberglass. The floor was placed on top of a thick resin mix resting on the lip. Then gaps were filled and filleted. Finally, the floor was tabbed to the locker wall.

The hawse pipe header was constructed out of molded resin and grinded/dremeled to the shape I needed to hold 4 inch PVC pipe, and to serve as a plate to hold the back starboard windlass bolt. It was then glued/screwed under the windlass; the bolt was accessible, but barely. The bottom of the PVC pipe was fitted with both a flange (to hold in to the bottom of the floor) and a protective ring of 1/2 inch star-board over the flange to take any chain impact. The paint is drying in both lockers as I write this.

What would I do differently/what did I learn along the way ? 

1) The port locker floor cutout is tricky. Amel glassed the top side of the plywood after they laid it down. On SM #422, this gave it a subtle curve. When I double-glassed both sides of the form I made, I created a super rigid 2- dimensional structure. Fitting it on the lip (which conformed to the curved non-glassed plywood) was quite challenging as it weighed quite a bit and I was working mostly alone. About 90 pct of the floor is flush against the lip (the other 10% has a slight gap that I had to fill between the lip and the wood from underneath). This was less than pleasant.

2) I used 3 gallons of resin on this project. Along the way I got a lot better at knowing when/how to thicken the resin for different applications. 

3) I also fabricated the hawse pipe header myself (after one "mulligan"). This is a super useful skill I wish I had learned years ago.

Anyway, I have a few loose ends to tie up. I understand that Amel does this for $3,600 or something like that. I think that makes my wage rate about $1.55 per hour after materials are subtracted. All in all, a great learning experience and I'm satisfied that the boat is better now. And once again thanks to all for the advice. I used (and needed) almost all of it.

Thomas Kleman
SM2K #422
Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

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