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Thread: Cabin sole replacement - advice needed

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Seattle, WA, USA
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    51

    Default Cabin sole replacement - advice needed

    As one of my first projects, I'm planning on tearing out the old painted patchwork of plywood (nice alliteration, hey?) with planks - probably VG fir to match some of the other work done by a previous owner. My current plan is to try and run full lengths (no butt joints) leaving an opening for bilge access, and create a simple removable hatch (from the same strip planks) that spans maybe two floor timbers at the deepest area (near the companionway steps). I'm tempted to use standard 1x3 CVG tongue-groove fir typically used for residential flooring, but I could just use regular planks (non T&G). I wonder if the natural gaps (although small) of the non T&G would be better to help the bilge "breath" and manage the dampness better.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Deer Isle, Maine
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    1,515

    Default Re: Cabin sole replacement - advice needed

    sejman,
    It's been my experience with old(er) wooden classic boats that the bilge ventilates up the frame bays and out at the clamp/shelf area. Not through the cabin sole.
    A would tend to use square-edged stock and screw them down for future access. Harder to do with T&G.
    It's your boat, do what you want. It's great that you are taking care of an old classic, beautiful antique. You should be congratulated and encouraged...often!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Padanaram, MA USA
    Posts
    9,420

    Default Re: Cabin sole replacement - advice needed

    PLane and sand it carefully. Douglas Fir can be splintery.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Seattle, WA, USA
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    51

    Default Re: Cabin sole replacement - advice needed

    Thanks Jackster - I'm very excited about taking care of this beautiful old boat. Just acquired her (my first wooden boat) and was very fortunate to have found her locally. The previous owner did a lot of the hard (and expensive) work between 2012 and 2016 but then had to leave Seattle. I just have some fun stuff to do now, like dressing up her interior. With a 70 year old boat, I'm sure there will be some surprises along the way, but I had a good survey done and she seems ready for her next 70.
    1949 Alden Malabar Jr - "Nixie"

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge." - Stephen Hawking

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Port Townsend WA
    Posts
    11,652

    Default Re: Cabin sole replacement - advice needed

    The T&G can have a tendency to stand proud at the seams if the planks a fitted too tight and humidity causes them to swell. Snug but not tight is a good rule of thumb. If your Malibar Jr. is sealed, the sealing should abutt to the cabin sole. This allows a chimney effect to circulate air from the bilge up and out at the shelf and sheer clamp. This convection is caused by the sun warming the hull planking and will assist in keeping your bilge sweet and, hopefully, the planking free of rot. Wooden floor gratings, fore and aft, will allow fresh air to enter the bilge to complete the cycle. The air also needs to have free circulation under the sole fore and aft.
    Jay

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Seattle, WA, USA
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    51

    Default Re: Cabin sole replacement - advice needed

    Thanks Jay - that makes a lot of sense. I'll stick with non-T&G to make it possible to pull a few planks if I ever need access.

    Any advice on finish? I'm thinking just a satin varnish (seems less slick if wet) but would also consider a non-varnish (oil?) finish.

    -Steve
    1949 Alden Malabar Jr - "Nixie"

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge." - Stephen Hawking

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Deer Isle, Maine
    Posts
    1,515

    Default Re: Cabin sole replacement - advice needed

    I'm partial to paint, myself.
    But applying varnish first (all six sides) will give the option of doing both.
    Or even a coat of epoxy to adhere, armor, and seal the surface.
    A good oil certainly will work but does not 'corral' the potential Douglas Fir splinters as well as a hard surface product.
    A non skid surface on the cabin sole of a rather smallish boat is not as important.
    At lest IMO.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Port Townsend WA
    Posts
    11,652

    Default Re: Cabin sole replacement - advice needed

    I prefer "Traffic Wax" as it is not a high gloss and has a soft looking finish. It also is non skid. Takes a few coats to build up.
    Jay

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
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    4,768

    Default Re: Cabin sole replacement - advice needed

    The sole in the cabin of Drake are fir boards with gaps.

    I don't have a good picture, but if you look carefully past the lazy man's legs, you can see the boards.

    I really like them. They are in sections which lift up easy, they ventilate of course, all the dirt goes down there for a vaccum-up once a year, and the gaps help with the grip in bare feet.

    When we got the boat they were all carpeted. I took them all home, ripped off the carpet, took apart the sections, planed them back to bare wood, and gave them many coats of a water-based, Varathane Diamond finish. This has worked very well.


  10. #10
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    Apr 2000
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    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Cabin sole replacement - advice needed


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Tacoma, WA
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    152

    Default Re: Cabin sole replacement - advice needed

    For as many replies on this thread, you will get another opinion. So here's mine...

    For fir I prefer Waterlox, its an old fashioned tung-oil based finish that soaks into the wood. They have glossy and not so glossy finishes and it is super easy to touch up...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    4,768

    Default Re: Cabin sole replacement - advice needed

    Very true about finishes.

    But the point was that old-fashioned slatted floorboards, while not very chic, are very serviceable.

    If they get submersed in spring when you launch, it doesn't matter a hoot.

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