Sunday, January 31, 2010

Building Deck Supports Amid a Frozen Hellscape

Last week I started cutting the top skin off the cabin top in preparation for the recore project, but quickly discovered how weak the underlying bottom skin is once the top skin and core are removed.  I was concerned that if I removed too much of the deck I would distort the shape of the cabin top and weaken it structurally.   I got some good advice on building deck support frames from inside the cabin from a bunch of folks over at and decided that I would have to get this in place before I continued removing the core.   

Unfortunately, the warmish weather earlier this week (35-40) didn't last and an artic cold front moved into the region on Friday.  When I woke up Saturday morning, the temp was -8 degrees F. and the predicted high for the day was under 15 degrees F.  Not really the kind of weather you want to be working outside in.  I loaded up on coffee and spent extra time hovering around the woodstove before I finally got up the courage to get started.   I fired up the salamander heater, but since I was working inside the boat, it didn't seem to do much good.  I probably got the shed up close to freezing, but I don't think I got the interior of the boat even close to that... I had to work fast or my fingers would be a mess.

I started off by cutting a few 2x6 boards to about 55" and then dragged my wife out to hold them up so I could scribe the curve of the cabintop onto the boards.  I used to use a standard pencil compass to scribe, but have since found that finding any kind of plastic circle that has a diameter greater than the arc you need, with a hole in the center that a pencil will fit snuggly in works best (See picture, here I used an old water bottle top).   

Once I scribed the lines to the boards I simply cut out the arc from the board with a sabresaw and cleaned it up with a shinto saw rasp (a most excellent tool).   Next I cut a bunch of 1x4s the length of the cabin I need to support and screwed them to the 2x6s.  I put a few strips of foam sill gasket on the top of the frame so there wouldn't be any hard spots from the frame on the headliner.  

To get it in place I cut a 3 2x3s to roughly the height I would need to wedge them in place and then basically balanced the whole thing on my head while I wegded the 2x3s into the corners.  Once stable I screwed the 2x3s to the frame and cut a few more to provide more support (See pictures below for a better explanation).  

By this time I was absolutely frozen and my fingers were quite numb.  Thats all for this weekend, next week I will provide a few more supports for the forward cabintop (this area is better supported so it doesn't need to be as elaborate as the main cabin).  Then I can go to town ripping the rest of the cabintop off.  I am planning picking up a Dremel Multimax this week to help dig out some of the more tenacious core.  

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