Companionway Step

When you step into the boat through the companionway the first step is retractable and hangs above the sink.  It is through bolted through the cockpit seat right in front of the companion way and it has a metal bar that you can move which allows the step to swing up and out of the way.

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I have always felt like the way the step was secured was a bit flimsy and worried about the two bolts that hold it in place.  I also needed to clean this area up and paint it so I went about removing the step.  Here you can see the two holes where the bolts go through the cockpit seat.

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I sanded down the area a bit and drilled two oversized holes where the two smaller holes were.  The cockpit here is balsa cored and of course it was never protected from water intrusion.  Luckily none of the balsa was rotten but to protect it for all time it is important to seal the area around where bolts pass through the fiberglass with epoxy.  This makes it impossible for any moisture to get in and damage the wood.

 

Once the holes were drilled out I taped the bottom with some duct tape and mixed up a batch of epoxy to fill the holes and saturate the surrounding balsa core.  Using a syringe I injected the wood with un-thickened epoxy and let it soak in.  I then thickened the epoxy and filled the hole completely.

 

After the epoxy cured fully I drilled out the hole one size smaller than the bolts that I would be using.  I then counter sunk the hole to provide a little cone for the future sealant to rest in and protect the channel from water.

 

Once the hole was prepared I found the proper tap for the size and thread count of the bolts that I would be using to hold up the step.  I then tapped the fiberglass for the bolt.

 

Once the fiberglass was tapped I grabbed some butyl tape and prepared the bolts.  I put one small ring around the head of the bolt and then slid the washer on.  I then put another larger ring of butyl on the bottom of the washer to fill the small cone that was drilled out.

 

After the bolts were in place I re-installed the step and I am happy to say it is quite stable now.  🙂

 


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