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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Booby Hatch

I know what you're thinking but it's not the place they send people who buy old wooden tugs and try to renovate them all by themselves.  Here's the nautical definition: Booby Hatch - The cover of a scuttle-way or small hatchway which leads to or from a store room, cabin of small craft, crew's quarters, the forecastle or fore peak." In our case it leads to the forecastle or fo'c's'le which we use as our stateroom.  When the Iver was a working tug it would have been the crews quarters with bunks stacked up along the walls.  
 While working on the bow and replacing bad deck planks we removed the booby hatch because the beams holding it on the deck had some dry rot.  

The old beams were removed and new beams were cut and bedded in place.  The orange color is red lead, a primer used to help preserve the wood and prevent rot in the future.  Large galvanized lag bolts hold the beams in place.  

Turned out that the hatch itself had quite a bit of rot also, so Bill decided to build a completely new one using the old one as his pattern. 

He used the old scuttle as a platform to build the new one.  For the new hatch sides he used 3" thick tongue and groove car decking, this material was salvaged from an old house in the Tacoma area.  It's very tight grain old growth doug fir.   It's the same material he planes down to make deck planks.  

Bill uses a jigsaw to cut the curve for the sides of the hatch.

Once the curve was cut, he cut out the openings for the portlights.  Nice tight fit.

The back of the hatch is a curved wall of planks, he needs to cut a rabbet in the edge to set in the planks.  

He used a spline and a bead of sikaflex caulking between each strip to make the curved back water tight.  

The hatch cover slides on wood rails along the top of the hatch.  This is the base for those rails.  To get such a tight curve we had to build a steam box and steam the wood.
About a year ago we noticed a large crate at the side of the road, it was used to ship some sort of shaft.  Bill threw it on top of the car and it's been sitting on top of the workshop just waiting for the day we needed to steam some wood. Bill cut the top in half and put a wall in the middle of the box so the steam box would be the same length as the wood we were steaming, but in the future we can take out the little wall and use the box for a longer piece of wood like a hull plank.  

We already had a propane burner and large pot, (we cook a lot of dungeness crab in the summer).  The top for the pot is a piece of plywood with galvanized fittings in the top and heavy duty hose going out to the steam box.  To keep an even temperature we wrapped the crate with some rigid foam insulation leftover from weather proofing the shop this past winter.  We were able to get an even 210 degrees throughout with this set up.  It's important when steaming wood to keep the temp constant for the entire process.  Since the rails were 1" thick, it would take 1 hour of steaming.

According to the experts you can steam bend any kind of wood, as long as it's oak.  So here's a nice piece of oak coming out of the steam box.  Wood will keep it's shape after steaming but it will spring back a little in the end, to compensate for that Bill built a jig to bend the wood on instead of trying to bend it right on the hatch. The jig has a slightly tighter curve than the hatch.  

First he clamped the wood in the middle and bent it around the jig on either side.  It worked very well and the wood bent easily around the jig.

We needed 4 pieces, 2 on either side of the hatch, to create the rails.  Rule #1 for any wood working project...you can never have too many clamps!  Our neighbor Chuck is always ready to lend a hand.
 The wood was left on the jig for a week.  

Test clamp the rails on, they fit well on the hatch curve.

First rail is attached with short lags and bedded in with dolphinite bedding compound, then the second rail is attached the same way.

Test fit of the hatch cover, goes on easily and slides open and closed like it should.   You can also see the nice detail on the hatch sides.  We really liked the look of the tongue and groove on the outside walls, so Bill put that detail into the inside walls by routering out the seams. 

Now it's on to fitting the doors.  As far as we know these doors are original to the tug. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A little paint, some varnish and a few bits of wood.........

With the interior of the tug finished enough for comfortable living, we started on the exterior.  The easiest fix was to apply a new coat of paint to the cabin and start varnishing all the doors.  The doors are the only real brightwork on the boat.  But there are a lot of them.

I sanded them down to bare wood and then applied 4 coats of Epiphanes and then another 4 coats of Captains Spar Varnish 2015.  They turned out pretty nicely, especially considering those doors were put on this tug in 1925. 

For the exterior colors we chose a barn red (Roasted Pepper to be exact) and a soft white called Bunny Cake.  We stopped painting at the wheelhouse, we plan to replace the plywood exterior on the wheelhouse with tongue and groove.  Also there's a lot of work to be done replacing deck planks and beams, etc. Painting and varnishing isn't just to make the tug pretty, it's important to protect and seal the wood, if you keep up with that, you'll have a lot less problems with rot in the future.
 Since summer was almost over and the Seattle rainy season was on it's way, Bill decided to tent in the bow so we could work on the area all winter.  Also we sleep under that deck and it leaked like a sieve, so.........

After tenting in the bow, we started on the deck.  The first step was to start reefing out the deck seams so we can remove the rotten planks.  (When I say we, I mean Bill) I tried reefing out a few seams but I just couldn't get down to the last layer.  Our deck planks are 2.5 inches thick.
Once the seams are reefed, Bill used a hole saw to remove the plugs from the fasteners holding down the planks and then started removing the bad ones.
Some of the planks were held down with lag bolts, but quite a few had original square spikes.  As you can see the wood was pretty bad in spots, but other areas were like new.  Since replacing the entire deck would mean removing the anchor winch and two large cleats, we decided to just replace the bad bits.  By the way, we knew about this when we bought the tug, we knew we would have to replace the deck and there would be other bits that would have to be replaced, like beams and such, but it's just wood and we know how to work in wood.

After removing the rotten deck beams, Bill found that the beam holding up the wheelhouse was also bad, it was solid when we checked from below but from the top it was all dry rot.  Bill cut out the part of the beam that was bad and put temporary shoring in to keep the wheelhouse upright.

The next step was to cut and fabricate a replacement beam.  Since the beam has quite a curve in it, Bill needed to build it in several pieces.

 He used a bedding compound between the joints and attached everything using carriage bolts.

 Then he slipped the beam in place using more bedding compound and lag bolts.

We also had to replace the beams that support that wheelhouse beam and everything was secured top and bottom.

All the deck beams butt to this beam.  The reason this beam rotted in the first place was probably from standing water leaking into the seam between the deck beams and the wheelhouse.  We will add some sort of flashing to prevent this from happening in the future.

The next project before we could lay down deck beams was to replace a short wall on the starboard side that goes from the side deck to the bow deck.  There was a porthole in this little wall and water had leaked in around the porthole.  A step also goes here so we decided to get rid of the porthole, it was added at some point after the boat was sold by Foss, so it wasn't always there and we just couldn't see a reason to put it back in. 

 Bill cut the beams to fit, there was a unique little scarf in the top two beams, a bit like fitting a puzzle piece.

After dry fitting the beams I put on a couple of coats of red lead paint, this will help keep the wood from rotting in the future.

 Beams go back in and secured with some pretty long and beefy lag bolts.

 Now we can start putting down some new deck planks on the bow.  We are using reclaimed and salvaged old growth doug fir.  All the wood is planed down and cut to the right width and depth.  There's a bevel on the sides for the caulking material. 

My job was to cut all the plugs to plug up the holes over the fastenings.  Then install them all and slice off the excess to make them flush with the deck. 

Then Bill used a door planer to plane the new deck planks down to the level of the old planks.  He came back with a large orbital sander to make it all smooth.

The next step will be caulking (or corking as it's called here) and sealing the seams.  We are also in the process of rebuilding the scuttle that goes from the bow deck to the fo'c'sle.