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Old 06-02-2003
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replacing bulkhead

I pulled off some plastic laminate from the bulkhead just ahead of the galley in my boat. The laminate was hiding a multitude of sins: insect damage and various haphazard attempts to patch the bulkhead. I think the only thing to do is to replace it outright. It seems fairly straight-forward, but any advice from those that have done it?
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replacing bulkhead

sneuman,

Guess you need to determine what structural loads the bulkhead is supposed to handle. For example, does it have chainplates for standing rigging attached? Was it tabbed to the hull and/or deck?

Many 70''s era boats are experiencing bulkhead failures which have lead directly to demastings. A number of boats represented in the Sailnet Lists are experiencing similar failures (I know the Cal forum for one has excellent archives containing a lot of good "how to''s).

Once you know what it is supposed to look like, the actual work is labor intensive.

If you need directions in the forums, give a shout.

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replacing bulkhead

It is "tabbed" to the hull, i.e., there''s a lip at the bottom that the bulkhead fastens through. There is a chainplate that is attached to a fiberglass extension inside the hull, but not directly to the plywood bulkhead. Yes, any direct toward the forums would be helpful.
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Old 06-03-2003
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replacing bulkhead

Even a badly damaged bulkhead will often be holding a boat in shape. It is important that before you remove the existing bulkhead you take all loads off of the hull and deck in this area. That means unstepping the mast and carefull placing the jackstands so that the hull won''t get distorted.

Before you remove the bulkhead, you should take careful measurements and make a cardboard or plywood template that you can later use to check that there hasn''t been distortion of the hull and deck.

Many times bulkheads are installed before the decks are put on and so in some boats you cannot install a replacement bulkhead in the finished boat. In those applications you may need to build the bulkhead in pieces. The technique that I have used in that situation is to build the bulkhead in several pieces. Bacically I made two bulkheads each half of the thickness of the finished bulkhead (in my case two layers 1/4" thick). Each lamination of the bulkhead was cut hoizontally so that the bottom could be put in place and the top sprung back in above it. The horizontal joints were staggered roughly a foot. The process consisted of sliding the taller of the two lower half bulkheads into place, buttering up the shorter bottom bulkhead half with slow cure epoxy and sliding it in place. Buttering up the longer half of the upper bulkhead and putting it in place and then installing the shorter upper bulkhead. They were clamped with small sheet metal screws that were later removed and the holes patched.

All sides of the bulkhead were sealed with multiple coats of epoxy before assembly and strips of rubber were used as a spacer between the new bulkhead and the hull. When cured the new bulkhead was tabbed in.

Marine surveyor firends tell me that this issue of rotted bulkheads is becoming ''the blister problem of the 21st century'', meaning that it is becoming extremely common to find older boats with plastic laminate (formica) on their bulkheads masking serious rot. Once rot begins behind plastic laminate it is free to spread un-noticed until the bulkhead is shot. The plastic laminate actually contributes to the rot by not allowing the bulkhead to dry out as quickly when it does get wet.

Good luck
Jeff
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