One of the things on my list of things to inspect durring the initial survey of the boat were the bulkheads, especially the main bulkheads that contribute to form stability. I was a little worried when I saw them, there were black stains leaking down from the top – I thought for sure the deck had somehow been compromised and had steadily injected water into the tops of the bulkheads over years, rotting them to mush. I was so worried about them that I initially budgeted in at least $1,000 to either fix or replace them. Here’s what I saw when we took all the hardware off:
Not too pretty right? This is the one that I thought we’d have to replace entirely. However, we really don’t have $1,000 so if it wasn’t really a safety item then we really shouldn’t worry about how ugly it is. So I went to work and dug out all the bedding which attaches it to the hull to assess the extent of the rot. I was very suprised (and a little confused) to find clean, beautiful wood! So I took out the trusty orbital sander and some 250 grit and went to work:
I could not have been happier to find all of the stains and grime sanded away! After sanding I cleaned the bulkheads with Oxalic Acid all over and Barkeepers friend in the tough spots. After a few treatments, washing with water in between and switching to finer and finer sanding paper I felt like we had arrived at an acceptable finish. I then gave the wood two coats of teak oil and here is the result:
Its certainly not perfect but it is infinitely nicer than what we started with! The two little circles and the line for the table hinges I didnt worry too much about as we will be putting the hardware back in place. I’ve been using a similar treatment to the wood all around the boat. As for the black stains leaking down from the top: the only thing I can come up with is smoke from the heater sooting up the ceiling and then condensation dripping down. Either way, its gone 😉
I think the Oxalic Acid, Barkeepers friend, and sandpaper combined could not have cost more than $20 and will take care of all of the wood in the boat with plenty of Oxalic Acid left over (it was a two pound bag of powder). The teak oil I decided on was from Jamestown Distributors, a part of their Total Boat line and was $20. It will also be enough for the entire boat.