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Discussion Starter #1
I have read most stuff posted here about making holes in a deck and rebeding hardware, including this fantastic howto by MaineSail:

Sealing Deck Penetrations to Prevent Core Rot Photo Gallery by Maine Sailing at pbase.com

My boat seems to have an extra little challenge. Inside the cabin there is a hard plastic head liner which is not laminated to the underside of the deck. Whenever a hole is drilled through the deck, it of course also goes through the head liner. So if the holes were to be taped from below then filled with epoxy, the epoxy would just run inside the headliner.

I can think of a few fixes for this, none very good.

First, I could use a very thin bolt and a very wide washer, and some kind of bridge arrangement above deck, to squeeze the headliner up against the underside of the deck. But now I have a bolt going through my epoxy I probably can not remove without damaging the epoxy.

Next, I could drill the initial hole mostly down but not completely through the deck. Say 7/8 inch if it is a 1 inch deck. Then I could use the Dremel tool to widen the hole below deck as MaineSail explains. I could now fill with epoxy and redrill the hole completely when it cures. I'm sure this is much easier said then done. Unless I get the depth exactly right the epoxy won't bond with the lower layer of deck.

Last idea, use a cork plug of some type to plug up the bottom of the hole before adding epoxy. The cork would separate when removed, but it would leave a void in the bottom part of the epoxy plug. That may not be so bad, as this is getting drilled out anyhow.

I am thinking method 3 is best, but I am hoping someone has a better idea.

Thanks...
 

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I had the same issue potting existing holes when I re-bed my handrails this spring.

I went with the "cork" method you described, but used a squirt of sealant as the "cork" to plug up the bottom hole. I used a small amount and pushed the sealant flush (inside the hole) with the head of a nail. Not an exact science, but effective.
 

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Telstar 28
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Your best bet is to drill the initial holes, prior to the reaming out of the core and filling with epoxy, with a small forstner bit. This should allow you to stop drilling when you hit the inner layer of laminate, prior to drilling through it. You should see a difference in the matter ejected by the drill when you pass the core into the inner laminate.

This should leave the inner laminate intact, with no need to tape over it. :)

Forstner bits:
 

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Irrationally Exuberant
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I've got the hard headliner you describe--it has a gap of maybe 1/4" to 1/2" inch between it and the underside of the deck. But I've got larger diameter holes with plugs whereever bolts come through the deck, which provides some access. I was able, with only a moderate amount of swearing, to position some duct tape up against the deck underside. In some cases I jammed some folded cardboard between the liner and deck to fortify the tape. Are you saying you've got no access through the liner currently? If so, I'd consider drilling through, widening the liner hole to fit a plug, as Jbondy said.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Lots of good ideas everyone, thank you! I am looking for a way to secure some blocks near the base of the mast for a Cunningham and some other stuff. If I can't get a plate under the mast then I'll be mounting blocks, and I'll need a big backing plate for that.

My headliner has only a very small space if any between it and the underside of the deck. Its pretty much pressed right up there. SD's drill bits look like a pretty good idea, and failing that I think I'll have to plug it up.

Maybe some day I'll put some headliner material up against the plastic head liner, to cover all the junk that has been mounted. Right now that includes two deck organizers and two blocks near the mast base (these are for reefing lines). The shiny lock nuts and fender washers don't really look too bad, but as I add more it won't look super. But I have to be able to sail the boat :D
 

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Ah, I get it--there really is no gap, and your washers, nuts, etc have to be on the liner side. One other possible way to press the liner up against the deck: position an extendable boot hook beneath the area, then extend and tighten to jam it in as a support. Maybe two of these?
 

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██▓▓▒▒░&
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Pour some epoxy down a couple of the holes, without piercing the headliner. Now quickly get a bottle jack, lolly column (rented from a home store), or some scrap 2x4 and wedge the liner up against the deck. Let the epoxy set up, and if you wedged the headliner tightly, it is now glued up against the underside of the deck, and the rest of the epoxy that you pour downnew holes won't be able to go anywhere.

The new being, how much glue you use the first time, and how well you press the liner up in place.

You probably could also use urethane glue (i.e. Gorilla Glue) for sticking up the headliner, since that is way cheaper, and foams and expands to fill gaps. Just gob a pint in there and let it set up, way cheaper than epoxy.
 

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My boat seems to have an extra little challenge. Inside the cabin there is a hard plastic head liner which is not laminated to the underside of the deck. Whenever a hole is drilled through the deck, it of course also goes through the head liner. So if the holes were to be taped from below then filled with epoxy, the epoxy would just run inside the headliner.
I'm dealing with this too.

1. If there was already a through hole that penetrated the deck and not the headliner that I needed to pot to protect core (there were a few), I rolled up a little ball of butyl tape and carefully pushed it down to the base of the hole. That stopped the epoxy from dripping down when I potted the hole with hardened epoxy after reaming out some of the core using a sawed off small allen wrench in a drill at low speed.

2. If I needed to drill a new hole, I used as small a bit as would allow me to later ream core, and did not drill through the inner skin of the cored deck (to preserve the outer skin for strength later), and then reamed out the core. Then, after potting with hardened epoxy, I drilled the final hole right through the deck and inner lining, and then down below used a Dremmel to cut away the inner lining so I could insert a fender washer or backing plate and nut. That leaves a cosmetic problem that I will cover with a wood or plastic plate.

Biggest problem is lining up the hardware bolt holes to drill in the deck.
 

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Similar but different

I have a similar but very different problem. I just brought home my new-to-me Oday 25. The lifeline stanchions had been removed and poorly glassed over, so they leak. I'm going to re-install the stanchions, but the fiberglass headliner is constructed to hide the hull-to-deck joint, making access to the bolt holes extremely difficult. I'll post a picture if it helps, but for now here's an ASCII drawing of it.
_______
|/
|

You've got the hull side on the left, and the headliner coming down on the right at an angle to create this large pocket of useless space. The headliner is not attached to the hull side, but cannot be easily pried out of the way.

I was wondering if anyone had any ideas about how to gain access to this area without cutting unsightly holes in my beautiful headliner. Or at least a stylish way to cover the holes once I'm done. I need to fill the old holes and put in new bolts and an adequate backing plate.
Any suggestions are appreciated.
-Tench
 
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