After a winter of record snow and record cold, yesterday it reached 12 degrees. It was amazing. Motorcycles on the streets, people wearing shorts, and the snowbanks, now all black and gnarly, poured into storm drains. In a post from last year, I listed some of the items that were projects for over the winter to get Hurry On ready for the sea. I put a dent in some of them, most, however, were just too cold to tackle. One of the projects was making a replacement for the rotten companionway door. The bottom of the door had degraded to such an extent that it sunk more than an inch and a half in the grooves leaving a large gap at the top allowing rain in.
Our last boat, Indefatigable, came with a door problem as well, but once a piece was was replaced, it was better than new. This was starting from scratch. The original was a single sheet of half inch marine plywood, with a teak block for a handle. For the replacement, I was thinking 3/4″ oak and mahogany, on account of teak being impossible to find here, not to mention out of our budget.
I made a lot of mistakes building these doors, and even scrapped it and started all over, so hopefully if you take on a similar project, you can avoid these pitfalls. If I had to do it all over again, I simply would have cut out a single piece of Lexan, and sanded the edges. That being said I am quite happy with how this turned out, but it took along time. My first mistake, was assuming that the companionway opening was square. Obviously its is not a square, it’s a trapezoid, but it was not a ‘right trapezoid where two sides are exactly the same length, and the other two sides are parallel. This assumption led to many problems down the line, and many wasted hours.
On the second try, I cut out a piece of cardboard to fit the opening exactly and used this as a template for the new doors. I would have done this the first time around, bet the old door was missing the bottom, and I foolishly thought that as long as I had the angles, the lengths would take care of themselves. Onward.
My plan was to make these doors the same as the doors on Indy, as this was the really the only style that I have known. These were made up of two horizontal pieces (oak in this case) and two diagonal pieces (mahogany) that would make up the edges. I should also mention I don’t know if I would have been able to do this with out my father’s wonderful array of tools, and word-working know-how.
The first step was to cut a tongue and groove joint for both pieces of oak for each door. This was done with Da’s shaper. The pieces were clamped and glued with Gorilla Glue, which so far has never let me down,
The shape of the door was then cut out, taking into account 4″ of mahogany that would make the edge, and the 1/4″ tongue that would be needed to make the joint. The mahogany was then fitted with a groove, the oak got the tongue.
Once the edges were glued on, the were shaped so that they would nicely fit into the companionway opening grooves where the 1/2 plywood once sat. Where the two boards met, there was a rabbet cut into each piece, so that the top overlapped the bottom to keep out the rain. The proper angle was then cut into the bottom of the bottom board. To find the exact place to cut the top piece, I slid the boards into the opening and marked where it met the hatch, and made the cut conservatively. I then sanded the top until the hatch slid closed.
It was probably wrong, and I haven’t heard of anyone ever doing this, but I oiled the doors, then varnished them. I did this on the Indy’s wood three years ago, they they still look new. If you can tell me why thissis just adding work, or pointless, please do, but I have had fantastic results with this. After two rounds of teak oil, I applied three coats of Cetol Marine by Sikkens which seems to work great.
Added a few little vents that I picked up on our last trip to Halifax. I used a sealant on the top and sides of the vents to keep the water out. I applied the sealant, and screwed them in almost all the way, after 24 hours, I screwed them in the rest of the was after the sealant had dried in order to create a gasket effect.
Next on the agenda, tackling the ol’ sole!