Another Ugly Project

I’ve been avoiding this one perhaps more than the others I have learned to avoid. But, we have had a persistent and increasing leak in the forward cabin and I can’t put this off any longer. The dreaded handrails.

Doesn’t sound like a big deal. But, the first three connections of the rail to the deck leak and when we’re going kinda upwind – as we’ll be doing a lot of on our trip back to the U.S. we bury the bow into the waves a lot. The result is a lot of solid water going over the forward cabin and – yup, right down the loose bolts on the forward part of the handrail.

What makes this project not fun is that to get at the bolts you have to take down the overhead in the cabin, which means unscrewing about 30 screws, pulling the carefully fitted and varnished wooden battens down, then levering the false ceiling off (complete with multiple brass tacks holding it in place). Looks really pretty when it’s all in place. A big pain the the @ss when it has to come out to get at the bolts.

THEN, you have to go topside and drill out the wooden plugs that hide/protect the bolts that hold the darned thing on. After drilling the plugs out you go back down below and tap out the bolts, except when you tap them with a hammer you hear a funny “tinkle” on the deck. That sound is the top of the bolt falling off. Turns out they rust out, which is why they loosen and leak.

Here's one of the three bolts that broke off.

OK, so there’s lots of other detail about putting it back on like like sanding, taping, cleaning, followed by applying the goo that seals it all back up that I won’t bore you with, dear reader.

Once it’s bolted back down after carefully taping, gluing, etc., then down below to put the overhead back together (i.e. 30 some screws, wooden battens, etc) and finally cleanup of all the fiberglass dust and crap that falls onto the shelves and floor that needs to be swept up.

Tomorrow, epoxy and teak plugs get glued onto the outside bolt holes, then when they are dry I chisel and sand them flush and apply several coats of varnish to seal them.

Then… we’re not done, I get to do the same on the port side!

Oh, boat work is such fun!

5 thoughts on “Another Ugly Project

  1. Hi Bob

    Doesn’t look to me as though there was any adhesive sealant between the top of the coachroof and the bottom of the wood foot of the handrail. Can’t be right. Also the bolt holes do not look to have been countersunk slightly to create a wedge of gunk to prevent the problem. Nor do the bolts themselves appear to have been coated in the stuff to ensure the hole is totally watertight. The one in the phote looks a bit too clean, Having had to redrill and bed in 400 toe rail bolts we’ve been through some of the pain! Holes about 0.5mm bigger than the bolt, plenty of gunk round it and a load of rag and meths to get rid of the excess before it sets.

  2. Yes Jon, I can hear the voice of experience from you. Indeed all of the above were true. I enlarged the holes, countersunk them and used lots of gunk to reset them.

  3. Congratulations on getting Ms. C back in the water. Do you break a bottle of spirits across the bow for a relaunch just to ensure the sea gods are on board with you, so to speak? Or do you just drink it as therapy for the aching muscles it took to re-float it? At your age this stuff must be taking its toll. 😀

    And hearty well wishes on attaining all that maturity! Take it from one who’s been there, you might as well enjoy it ’cause there sure ain’t no stoppin’ it.

    Handrail restoration. Think of it this way – you’re getting superb experience that will hold you in good stead if you ever go into the custom cabinet/furniture making biz; especially for houseboats!

  4. We will know who to call when we start putting ours back together-
    at least you are in a fantastic location and not the home port
    soon, soon we say

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