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  #1  
Old 05-03-2008
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bulkhead beam material

1973 Cal 2-29....I'm still staring at a main bulkhead replacement after main chainplate water damage has taken it's toll, I poke a mirror down and saw a rusted beam that supports the bulkhead base and supports the compression post for the stepped mast has a large rusted portion....the following website shows exactly what I'm looking at.

Wilkie's Sailboat Page

stainless steel replacement....or aluminum. I'm up here in Alaska where a good stainless steel job is really, really difficult to arrange...however there are a great number of aluminum welders able to fabricate a new beam. How does one make a decision such as using aluminum versus stainless steel?
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Old 05-03-2008
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I suspect that rust is the reason that plastic boats traditionally use foam-filled fiberglass beams/frames instead of metal ones in the bilge.

If you use aluminum, many alloys have no tolerance for salt water--so make sure of what you are getting. Stainless disintegrates in anaerobic water, so it can also be unsuitable unless you keep the bilge dry. Either way, you'd want to prime, coat, galvanize, epoxy coat...protect the hell out of the finished piece before installing it.

Personally I'd rather build it up from fiberglass, or something impervious like Delrin or UHDPE (UHWMPE).

Adequately built, properly protected, and regularly inspected--and any of them will do the job fine. Wouldn't even need stainless, plain steel will work if (again) protected & all. Epoxy-impregnated wood, too.
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Old 05-03-2008
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His looked to be Aluminum..
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Old 05-04-2008
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Thanks guys! Yes...protect and inspect.
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Old 05-04-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillraining View Post
His looked to be Aluminum..
... except that he clearly states it's SS .

JB: this site looks like the how-to manual for your problem. I'd agree with the others that aluminum needs to be protected and sealed in the bilges.. if that's all you can reasonably have built, if you encapsulate it you should be fine.

Wilkie really has the quintessential "project boat"... anyone contemplating such a thing can clearly see here just how much work it can develop into!
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Thanks Faster!

Hey, I'll be down your way in a month or so... taking my second course with Marco of Lands End Sailing School over at Bowen Island. Love BC!

Yes, either you look at a project boat as inspiring...or like me, who bought the boat with optimism and lack of knowlege....without a real good survey...discover issues and just deal with them as they come along. I really can't sell a boat with such structural issues anyway, so I'm stuck with repairing it and learning. As long as there's a bit of foresight and direction...I'll really learn a lot about sailboats as the payoff....I'm really trying not to think of the price for this operation and right before sailing season! Oh well.

Thanks for the support and info. My brother-in-law can weld aluminum...he's a commercial fisherman and pretty handy. I can do the demo and take the cabinets out....put back in the bulkheads and beam and get the standing rigging up and running and worry about the interior once the fall hits and sailing slows down.
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Last edited by jbibb; 05-04-2008 at 06:24 PM.
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Old 05-08-2008
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Jbibb;

If I recall correctly there are a few pulp mills up your way. Where there are pulp mills there are jobbing shops that work with stainless. It doesn't look like a complicated fabrication, especially if you have the old piece to pattern after. If you can find a jobber to do it, specify 316/L stainless. 304 does not have any molybdenum in it and less nickel and does not do well in stagnant salt water. There are exotic stainless steels that are almost impervious to the chlorides in the salt but they are expensive, and in your neck of the woods probably rare as hens teeth. I would be a little nervous of using aluminum in that application considering there are fasteners in direct contact with the aluminum and any salt water in the bilge and you have created a voltaic cell, with aluminum being the sacrificial anode. If you have to use aluminum, use one of the 50 series marine alloys like 5056 or 5083 although the later does not do well if forming is required. Try to insulate it from any dissimilar metal fasteners etc.
Last choice might be to use carbon steel like the original and have it galvanised, or give it copious quantities of cold galvanizing coating, or seal it completely in epoxy as suggested above.
Sometimes I think it was a shame that the designer used that beam but he was trying to achieve a goal and that seemed like the thing to do at the time. After all the boat is no spring chicken and it has lasted up till a few years ago.

Feetup

P.S. If you are down near Vancouver for your course you could pick up a few pieces of stainless and a little welding rod and have it sent to your welder in AK. Or, if you could bring the piece, or a drawing down you could have one made down here and have it shipped up. The shop I work for is near where you are going and we do stuff like that often.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillraining View Post
His looked to be Aluminum..
If you look at the photo closely you will see discoloration of the heat affected areas. Aluminum does not do that, stainless turns a rainbow of straw yellow to purple blue wherever there is welding heat

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Thanks Faster!

Hey, I'll be down your way in a month or so... taking my second course with Marco of Lands End Sailing School over at Bowen Island. Love BC!
Send me a PM when you're here if you like... maybe we can hook up.
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Old 05-09-2008
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I wouldn't make the beam out of stainless steel. First, a hard edged beam like that up against the hull is going to cause a hard spot where the fiberglass will flex and fatigue. You really don't want to do that as a general rule to fiberglass....especially across the boat.

I would recommend building a bulkhead beam of marine plywood that has been laminated and then glassing it to the hull. It might have to be a bit thicker, but it wouldn't cause a hard spot like the steel beam will. It also won't rust or deteriorate any time soon if the wood is properly fully encapsulated in fiberglass and epoxy.

Another advantage to doing it in marine plywood is that you can do all the fabrication yourself.
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