Bulkheads

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:

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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:

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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:

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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.


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