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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. 

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