Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's Really Coaming Together

Lame yes, but it's true.  With the tiller project completed and moved onto the varnish department it was time to get back to the cockpit coamings.  The reason I jumped from the coamings to building the tiller over the weekend was not because I wasn't excited about getting the coamings done (I was), it was more about me forgetting to order the stainless steel bolts to fasten them until the last minute.  Fortunately, the interwebs shipping department is really fast these days and a lot of the suppliers that I deal with are in the New England area which means that if I order in the morning, I generally have the part(s) the next day.  Beats spending $50 in gas for my truck to drive to a marine hardware store.

So the 1/4" - 20 x 4" bolts and finish washers arrived yesterday so I got started right when I got home from work.  I prepared myself for an unpleasant job, because I recall that the coamings were one of the first things I removed from the boat back in January of 2010 and I remember it being stupidly difficult.  The bolts were corroded and they were virtually impossible to access.  Once I removed them there some sort of hardened sealant that adhered the coamings to the cockpit sides. I thought to myself, if everything is this difficult will I ever finish this thing?

I marked out the location of the 9 bolt holes on each coaming and with the coamings still jacked into position, I drilled through the coamings and the cockpit sides.  I'm fastening a bit differently with the new coamings; I'm not going to countersink and bung the bolt holes, I'm simply going to use a finishing washer with an oval head bolt so I can potentially remove the coamings in the future if I need to re-varnish over the winter.  I haven't decided what sealant to use on the back, but I suspect it will be something along the lines of boatlife or sikaflex (not 3M 5200 or silicone based anything).

Once all the holes were drilled, I ran a 1/4" x 20 tap through the holes (slightly undersized) to have a good mechanical bond and threaded in the bolts.  I was expecting a horror show when I attempted to put the nuts on the back side because of the tight access in the cockpit lockers but it all went smoothly except for one nut that gave my son and I a bit of a hard time.  It's amazing how your perception of difficulty changes after being in the 'trenches' for several years.  On the grand scale of sucky-ness, this barely registered.

My decision to try and reuse the old combing blocks was a good one because they fit pretty closely to the new combings and with a little bit of work on the block plane and sander, they will be pretty seamless.  I drilled the new coamings to fit the blocks and screwed them home.  The only thing that will be a bit of a challenge is on the starboard side, there is about a 1/4" gap between the combing block and cabin trunk, but I expect some brute force and big screws from the cabin interior (where they were originally mounted) will cure that.

Once everything was fitted and in place I used both the jack plane and block plane to trim the top edge of the coamings (I cut a bit proud initially) to the mounted coaming block.  Since I was having so much fun I decided to take everything off to take back to the shop for final sanding and a lot of varnish.


  1. Nice work, where do you find the time. This is the single biggest worry of mine with my upcoming Alberg 30 refit...time!

    Keep it up

    1. Ha, it has been crazy lately. Juggling work, family, and boat is quite the challenge. If you go back through the blog you'll see that I haven't always been so diligent. Right now I am pushing because I want to get in this year and the truck will be coming for the boat at the end of July whether I'm ready or not. Yikes, I have to get to work :)