Bulkhead Replacement
In August, 2004 I finally had to deal with the delamination of the bulkhead under the forward companionway.  For years water had been leaking through that hatch onto the teak veneer plywood that formed the after wall of the head.  This is not a major structural bulkhead, but the delamination had gotten to the point where it had to be fixed.

This delimitation was not picked up in the pre-sale survey, although it had been developing for several years before I purchased Sarah.  The leaks became dramatically apparent during our cruise to Bermuda in 2001 when a massive amount of water came through the hatch during a storm passage.  At the time I viewed this as just a hatch problem.  I discovered a small amount of water ingress into the deck core in the corners of the hatch cut our in the trunk cabin and replace the wetted core with epoxy filler in 2002.  I noticed some warping of the teak veneer on the bulkhead under the companionway ladder, but I didn't view that as a serious problem at the time.  The bulkheads appeared to be solid.

While living on board over the winter of 2003-2004 I became aware that the hatch continued to leak with any significant precipitation.  I had a lot of stuff stored under the ladder at the time and didn't really see the effect of this leaking.  I just viewed it as another spring time sealing job.  In the spring I saw the that the bulkhead had been compromised and must be replaced.  This was well beyond my experience and capabilities as a boat wright.  I delayed doing anything about the bulkhead for several months, trying to determine how I could do the job myself.

In the meantime a Boatwright, Bob Devlin, moved his boat to our marina.  Having struck up a conversation with him on my problem I discovered he had replaced several bulkheads in other boats and didn't view this as a major project.  I engaged Bob to work with me on my project.  His job was to replace the bulkhead, mine was to re-finish everything.

 

Day One: The demolition and replacement
Click on picture to view at full resolutionThe pictures on the left and below show the situation before we started work. 
Click on picture to view at full resolutionThe hole in the plywood was produced just by pulling on the veneer with our fingers.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionOn the left I have removed all of the hardware from the bulkhead (primarily the ladder) and we are ready to proceed with the removal.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionBob has now cut through the outboard edge and bottom of the bulkhead with his SawsAll.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionBob is now removing the trim and screws that secured the upper portion of the bulkhead.

 

 

Click on picture to view at full resolutionThe upper portion of the bulkhead has now been removed and Bob is working on the lower portion.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionOn the left the entire bulkhead has been removed.  I now have a walk-through head.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionOn the right Bob is sawing out the delaminated cabin sole.  I got lucky, only the 1/2" imitation teak and holly plywood was decayed. 
Click on picture to view at full resolutionThe 3/4" plywood subfloor was solid.  I will build a box to cover the removed flooring.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionOn the left and below, right the new bulkhead has been glued and screwed in place.  This is 3/4" MDO plywood.
Click on picture to view at full resolution
Click on picture to view at full resolutionThe view of the new bulkhead from within the head.  the head.

 

Click on picture to view at full resolutionI have to deal with how I will cover the bulkhead in a manner compatible with the wallpaper used in the rest of
Day Two: Filling with Epoxy
Click on picture to view at full resolutionWith the new bulkhead material in place I now have to fill all of the voids left in the retained bulkhead where we removed rotted material. 
Click on picture to view at full resolutionOn the right is the area Bob cut out of the bulkhead from inside the head.  This must be filled with epoxy, then sanded and covered (with paint, wood or wallpaper).
Click on picture to view at full resolutionAlthough we mixed the epoxy with lots of filler (mostly low density) to produce a very thick mixture we still had to prevent the epoxy from sagging on the vertical surfaces before it set.  To prevent this sag, Bob cut some battens out of scrap plywood to provide a mold for the vertical surfaces and to retain the epoxy until it set.  Bob covered the inside of the plywood with clear packing tape to allow the plywood to release from the epoxy once it was set. 
Click on picture to view at full resolutionThe plywood was secured with drywall screws.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionLater that day we removed the battens to inspect the set up epoxy.  Tomorrow I will begin sanding the epoxy and fill any voids so that I can get a smooth surface to paint.

 

Click on picture to view at full resolutionI haven't totally decided on the final covering for the new bulkhead material, but initially I will cover it with latex interior paint.  If that looks good I will then cover the seams and epoxy surfaces with Butternut wood battens left over from a project on a previous sail boat.  If I think the bulkhead needs to present a wooden surface I will cover it with the Butternut battens.  I don't plan to cover the surface with teak as there is already too much teak in this cabin.
Day 3, Fairing the Epoxy
Click on picture to view at full resolutionThe epoxy fairing took a little longer than I expected.  I was using the slow hardener because the temperatures were expected to be in the high 80's and low 90's.  It was hot, but either I didn't mix the batch properly or that is really s---l---o---w hardener. Any way it took all day to fair in the voids left from the first epoxy application.
Day 4, Painting the Bulkhead
(Actually this is day 7 since the start of the project.  I shut down work for three days because of the constant rain in this area)
Click on picture to view at full resolutionFinally, all of the voids were filled and sanded.  I then applied a primer base and two coats of latex interior semi-gloss white paint to both sides of the bulkhead.  I expect to have to repaint the bulkhead after the trim is applied as I will likely scratch and soil the finish during that job.  At least this way I will have some idea what the final product will look like when I have attached the initial rough trim.
Day 5, Install Rough Trim
Click on picture to view at full resolutionOn the left and below I have fitted 2"x1/4" Butternut strips as edge trim for the bulkhead in the main cabin.  I am reasonably pleased with the result and will go this approach. 
Click on picture to view at full resolution You can see discoloration blotches on the wood.  Butternut discolors very easily.  This was caused by my sweat dripping on the wood and oils in my hands during the fitting process.  I have worked with this wood before and know the blotches will go away with light sanding.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionOn the left and below are pictures of the rough trim installed on the head side of the bulkhead.  The edges of the butternut trim pieces will be rounded and the wood will be varnished to a satin finish.  After sanding to remove the discoloration blotches and prep the wood for the varnish, I will handle this wood only with latex gloves to keep the wood clear until the varnish has sealed it.
Click on picture to view at full resolution

I still have to re-install and re-wire the lamps on either side of the mirror.  Originally Pearson carved a groove in the bulkhead for the wire and covered it with the wallpaper.  I won't have that option, so at least part of the wiring will be exposed on the surface of the bulkhead.

I also have to cover up the painted area to the right of the bulkhead where we removed a lot of rotted plywood.  I guess this would be a good spot for the signs that tell everyone what can and can't be pumped