After pulling our teak cap rail and finding that the hull to deck joint was not sealed and that it is solely held together by aluminum rivets that are now over 35 years old I had some decisions to make. I really like the teak cap-rail and have no interest at all in fiberglassing over the hull to deck joint. I know that’s a popular option for a lot of people but its just not the aesthetic of the A37 and its not my personal aesthetic either. Aluminum rivets are great and hold up for a very long time – they just aren’t very strong and I found several that had started to fail. Teak is expensive. Teak is very expensive.
So – after much research and thought I have decided to carefully remove all the teak, clean it up to its former glory and re-install it. While the teak cap-rail is off I am going to seal the entire hull to deck joint with 3M 5200. Not only will this offer a small amount of structural strength it will prevent any leaks from occurring in the foreseeable future. Any rivet that shows signs of weakness is going to be drilled out and replaced with a through bolt – any rivet that looks good is going to be filled with 5200 to prevent any leaks in the future. I found out most of our leaks were coming from the rivets, only one leak was coming from the hull to deck joint. Putting new rivets in would be a heck of a lot easier and would probably be just as good as a through bolt but I really like the added strength of steel and I really really like the ability to pull metal and inspect it. I am dead serious when I say that I will be able to sleep through my off watch when hove to in an offshore gale years down the road because of the through bolts. Not only will there not be any water dripping on my dry bunk but I will sleep soundly knowing how strong our she is.
Here are a couple of pictures of the method I have found works best for removing the teak:
Using two painters multi-tools (amazing tools!) I part the wood from the fiberglass by cutting through the sealant. This takes some generous hammering but you can easily tell when your through the sealant and bottom out onto the wood molding ridge. This thicker ridge isn’t held down by much sealant so you can just use the sharp part of the multi-tool and cut into it with a few strokes. Leaving the first two buried, I then tap in a second tool next to it and repeat the process. Once it starts lifting I place a screwdriver underneath to keep upward tension. It is not fast work. In fact it takes all day out in the blistering 100 degree (37 C) sun. It works however, and it does not damage the teak or the fiberglass 🙂
The sealant that is left behind is pretty nasty and poses its own set of challenges. I mainly hand scrape this stuff off using the multi-tool. Its much harder work than taking the teak off. I have to find all the rivets and make sure not to scrape a rivet head off. The aluminum is very brittle given its old age and if you accidentally scrape one it just comes right apart. That just means more through bolts later so I am pretty careful 😉
After a strenuous scraping things start to look pretty good:
After all that the 5200 is applied into the seams. There is the fiberglass of the hull, the fiberglass of the headliner that makes up the “ceiling” of the boat when your inside, and then finally the fiberglass layer that is the deck. As you can see there are gaps in between the layers at some points. I am forcing 5200 into these gaps and then smoothing out the bead to create an even seam that will not get in the way of re-installing the wood.
I took all the teak home and will sand it down, clean it, and varnish it all at home before re-installation.
Anddddd…. Just in case you don’t believe me about this good ol’ southern heat down in North Carolina this was the temperature inside the boat: