There are a couple of areas in the boat that did not previously have hull ceiling installed. In one case I made the forward cabin a little larger so I had to add a "rib" to attach the ceiling to in that area. The rest are completely new. Anyway, after considering various options I decided to use some 1/2" Blueboard I had on hand left over from one of the kids school projects. I used a felt tip marker to mark on the hull interior where the ribs needed to go and how long they need to be. Next, I ripped the Blueboard to the necessary width on the table saw and at the same time beveled the sides 45 degrees. After cutting them to length I used contact cement to position them on the hull (for the rib in the forward cabin I had to use double thick blueboard to attain the same "standoff" thickness of the original ribs). I covered them with a single layer of 1708 biaxial. After it cured I scrubbed the amine blush off with water. I ripped some scrap 1/4" marine ply on the table saw and secured them to the ribs with thickened epoxy and held them in place with some self tapping screws. After the epoxy dried I removed the screws. I will coat them with a couple of coat of epoxy later. The ash ceiling will be screwed in to the plywood with bronze oval head screws.
Installing the Ash Ceiling
To the right is a photo of the ash hull ceiling for the Far Reach. When I removed it years ago, I marked on the back where it was located and in what order (Thank God I did that), and bundled it up. At one time I thought I might replace it. It was filthy and had a lot of oil grungy oil the PO applied. But a few months ago I cleaned a strip up with TE KA cleaner. It worked great. So, today, Gayle and I spent six hours cleaning about 150 pieces of ceiling. TE KA cleaner has two parts. Part A is the acid and part B is the neutralizer. After cleaning each bundle we laid it out to dry. I will stay it with stickers between the layers and allow it two air dry for a few weeks. In the mean time we will paint the inside of the hull with Interlux Bilge Kote paint and then start install it. We will oil it with teak oil only.
A small sample of the nearly 150 pieces we cleaned with TE KA cleaner.
Before I could install the ash I had to paint the inside surfaces of the hull. Like much of the US it was hot here all week so the going was slow. I took everything out of the boat--tools, scrap wood, water tanks, etc. I vacuumed the boat. Then I wiped down all the surfaces to be painted with Interlux 202. I was drenched with sweat by the time I finished. The next day I tapped off the edges and then vacuumed again. I decided not to paint the ribs where the ash ceiling will be installed in case I need to epoxy 1/4" ply to them to better secure the ash. The following day I painted. It took about six hours. I planned for two coats but after talking to the Interlux tech rep told me if the there was neither opacity or loss of sheen one coat was fine. That was good news. I pulled the tape this morning and reinstalled the trays, tanks, and beams.
Before I applied the bilge kote paint to the inside surfaces of the hull.
After. The ribs are not painted where the ash will be installed in case I need to epoxy 1/4" strips to them to provide a better surface for the bronze screws to bite into. I won't know till I try to install the ash.
I picked up about 100 feet of 16" wide reflectix foil sided bubble wrap and some Gorilla duct tape which I will use to insulate the hull. The real work was cutting and installing about 25 wedges to help span the gap between the ash ceiling and the overhead panels that are under the side deck. The challenge was how to span the gap created when I did not extend the panels all the way to the glassed-in ribs to which the ash ceiling is attached. The reason for that was I installed the panels before I installed the stanchions and I did not know where the bolts would come through the deck. Also I though some, if not all, of the stanchion bolts, backing plates, nuts, etc would interfere panels if they extended all the way to the hull. So I cut them short. I knew there would be a gap to deal with but decided I would figure out how to solve the problem later. Now, it's later. After considering several options over the past few months the best solution was to cut some wedges about 1" thick and 7 1/4" long and epoxy them to the fiberglass ribs using a simple jig to keep them aligned. The wedges cause a slight tumblehome but based on the mock up I made yesterday I don't think it will be noticeable. Also, I can use a smaller more bendable piece of trim to conceal any alignment issues between the ash and the overhead panels. Anyway, it solves the problem and allow room to run wiring if I chose to install it under the side deck.
The last couple of days have been focused on applying tung oil to the ceiling and installing it. I installed the ceiling for the pilot berths and the quarter berth. After I installed the insulation I drilled and installed 30 1/4" bolts with fender washer and SS aircraft nuts through three more of the main bulkheads that I had not previously reinsforced. The bolts are additional mechanical "insurance" to keep the bulkhead in place should the tabbing to bulkhead bond every fail. Once they were installed (it took about an hour) I went to work on preparing the ash ceiling for installation. We previously cleaned the celing with Te-Ka cleaner. Click here to learn more about how we did that project.
Port side pilot berth. The trim will be installed later.
When I originally removed the ceiling I had the good sense to mark on the back of each piece where it came from and in what order it had been positioned. This was a huge help. I sorted all the pieces in stacks. I measured how many pieces each area would require (they would each need less since I modified the boat) and worked with just the pieces I would need. I sanded each strip with 150 grit then 220 and finally 320. It did not take that long--about 45 minutes for enough strips for each berth. I vacuumed the strips then wiped them with alcohol to remove any remaining dust. Here is where it gets interesting. I thought I was wiping them down with "tung" oil since that is what it said on the can--Formbys Tung Oil. Silly me. Turns out it is not really straight tung oil but a wiping varnish (which it says in very small print and which I did notice till much later) containing and unknown amount of tung oil. Of course, good varnish has tung oil in it. Nonetheless, it went on easy, dried hard, and glossy, and looks great. I applied it with a 2" foam brush and let it dry over night then hit it again. I did both sides. Looks like varnish only much glossier for the couple of coats applied. But, it is supposed to be easy to touch up . . . just scuff it lightly and wipe on another coat. Varnish of course has to be stripped and reapplied if the surface gets damaged all the way to the raw wood. If I wanted, I am sure I could just varnish over it this tung oil finish, but, that defeats what I wanted to do which was to apply an easy to wipe on and maintain finish. I wanted to use Tung oil as it dries hard unlike many other kinds of oil that stay tacky just attract grime. I am not complaining though. It's done and it looks very good. Time will tell how it holds up. Once the finish dried I took a half dozen strips into the boat at a time, staged them, and went to work. I have seen ceiling installed several ways. The way that looks best to me is to follow the line of the sheer. So the ceiling in the quarterberth is barley angled down to the forward end. The ceiling for the pilot berths is angled up just a little. I used a bubble angle gauge on the sheer to get the measurement and basically matched the rise for that part of the boat.
Since these were the original ash strips I was limited in what I could do. I had to use the existing holes and though they were not perfectly aligned they were good enough. I used 1" bronze oval head slotted wood screws. I redrilled each hole with a bit large enough to accommodate the shank of the screw. That way, the screw would force the ceiling against the rib. It worked fine. Getting the first strip started was the most work. I had to notch the first ceiling to accommodated chainplate bolts, etc. After that it went pretty fast. After I started installing the ceiling I noticed there was plenty of room for more insulation. Since I have plenty of 1/4" blue board I cut some more and placed it against the double reflectix and blue board sandwich panels I previously installed. I now have close to 1 1/4" of insulation which should be more than enough for anyplace we want to sail. The job is not really finished as none of the trim is installed. But, its rewarding to get off to a good start on this project.
The remaining ceiling will not work well for the rest of the boat (galley, nav station, forward cabin) as I have modified all of those areas and the holes do not line up with the ribs. So, this afternoon I went to my wood supplier and bought about 45 BF of 8/4 x10' ash. Ash is fairly inexpensive. It ran me about $2.85 a BF so this was not a big investment. Tomorrow I'll plane, edge rip, and router the edges in preparation for the forward cabin and galley area.
I bought 45 BF of 8/4 ash to complete the ceiling installation on the Far Reach. Ash is fairly inexpensive. It ran me about $2.85 a BF so this was not a big investment. Today, I milled the wood.
Instead of rigging a bunch of infeed and outfeed tables I decided to take the ash over to the Camp Lejeune Hobby Wood Shop. I don't go there often as I would much rather use my own tools. But, this particular batch of ash is thick and heavy and a little bowed along the edge . . . I needed a long jointer to do it right. I could do it on my 6" jointer but I have to cobble together a Rube Goldberg contraption which works fine for light 4/4 wood like mahogany but not with heavy hard to manage wood like this. The wood was already in the trailer so it was an easy decision. Thirty minutes later and I was there. Some of the planks were bowed and I would have lost a lot of wood had I jointed the surface down flat. On those planks I cut them down to reduce the bow and save wood. Since I took a drawing with the dimensions of the areas requiring ceiling it was not hard to sort the wood and cut it with plenty of margin for error. I would rather mill full length as it gives me more options but you have to work with what you have so that step was necessary. I started by jointing one edge and then followed by jointing one surface. I then ran the planks through their 20" planer. Done. Another 30 minutes to get back home.
Back in my own shop, I started by ripping the ceiling strips from the milled planks. I set the table saw up for a hair under 3/8". It took about 90 minutes. What is nice about this wood is the planks were all flat sawn so when I edge ripped I got all nice straight grained quarter sawn strips. Next, I ran all the ceiling strips through my planer, to eliminate the saw marks from ripping them, taking them down to 5/16" which is the same thickness as the original ceiling. Gayle helped with this so it went pretty quick. Next, we set up the router table with a 1/4" round over bit. I used a feather board to hold the ceiling down flat and a feather board to push it against the fence. Rounding over both edges on one side took about 2 1/2 hours. Though it was repetitive work (not my favorite kind) it was reasonably pleasant with the doors open and a cool dry breeze blowing through the shop. I finished up by stacking the ceiling in preparation for follow on work tomorrow.
After milling the ash I spent some time cutting it more or less to length, adding an extra inch or so due to the length changing as the hull slopes and curves inward. It has been an interesting geometry lesson in how curves can really change the shape of what one might think would be a straight line. Also, there are a couple of ways to install the ash regarding its orientation, e.g. the ceiling follows the sheer line or is level throughout the boat. I have even seen ceiling installed from the bottom up and then angled pieces cut to fit the rise of the sheer over the level ceiling. To my eye, it looks best when it follows the sheer. That means the ceiling orientation changes slightly throughout the boat as one move from the aft end to the forward cabin. This, the ceiling over the quarter berth has ever so gentle a downward slope towards the bow, the nav station and galley areas are level, the pilot berths a very gentle upward slope, and the forward cabin has a more aggressive rise. I basically measured the angle along the sheer and matched it best as I could with the ceiling.
Anyway, the original ash that I reinstalled over the quarter berth and pilot berths was "finished" with a couple of coats of Formby’s Tung Oil Finish. I described that step in a previous post. The wood came out great . . . a luxurious finish. I couldn't be happier. However, a couple of things occurred when I started applying the tung oil finish to the new ash. First, it rained and was super humid every day. The finishing work slowed down. Second, the appearance of the finish was not the same. It had a kind of "too-shiny" look . . . almost plastic. I think it is due to the new wood or maybe the humidity. The old wood is darker and the new wood is lighter so that may have and effect. I sanded and applied everything the same. Hmmmmm. Anyway, it did not look bad . . . others might not notice at all, but I could tell. Maybe as the wood darkens with age it will have a different look, or I could wipe on another coat of the low gloss finish. Something to think about. Nonetheless, I filed the info in the back of my head and pressed on with the forward cabin.
Working in the forward cabin was a major PITA. I had to crawl in, out, and over the bulkheads. Eventually, I came up with a system that was not too difficult. I used my sliding bevel gauge to miter cut the ends which I did with a small inexpensive Japanese pull saw. I sealed the ends that I cut with some shellac and kept moving right along. I fit each piece, marked for the holes I needed to drill with an indelible pen, then drilled the holes, and installed it with #8 bronze oval head slotted screws. Nothing to it. Just tedious.
I still needed to apply one more coat of tung oil to the ceiling for the galley and nav station area. I lightly sanded the pieces for the final coat. But, I hesitated. I was not happy with the tung oil finish in the forward cabin. It was OK, but just not that same luxurious look the original ceiling had. The weather cleared and was sunny and dry. The time was now. I moved the finishing tables out on our deck in the shade and whipped out some Epifanes High Gloss Varnish--the same stuff I have used every where else--and brushed on one unthinned coat over the 3 coats of Formbys Tung Oil Finish. Wow! Mo better. I left them to dry and went to work on the kero tank (see entry below).
Today, I installed the varnished galley and nav station ceiling. Because there was very little curve to the hull where they were installed I was able to pre-cut to exact lengths before I applied the finish. So, it was just a matter of marking for holes, drilling and installed. Easy day. I added some additional insulation along the area at the top of the hull along the inward turning deck flange. I used very flexible closed cell foam that came in a 50' roll about 6" wide. My hope is it will provide a little insulation along the hull deck joint and keep the hardware fasteners from condensing water into the interior of the boat. Can't hurt and it was easy to install. The ceiling insulation is now complete except for the area along the hull above the sitz tub.