Arrrrrrr me hearties! Welcome aboard for more fun and frivolity with Dread Pirate Biff. In today’s installment we start the chain-plate project.
This project is enough to break the heart of lesser souls than Dread Pirate Biff. The chain plates are fastened to the outside of the hull with carriage bolts (you can’t put a wrench on the outside) and nuts that have been hidden on the inside by some fiendish knave.
That would be challenging enough, but the satanic fiends who created this have only just started! To add to the fun, the top most bolt is in the bulwark which is about 2 1/2 inches wide. This means that you need a loooooong wrench to get on the nut. And you can’t get your hand up there to replace it.
That would be challenging enough, but NO! The satanic fiends who put a carriage bolt & nut up in a bulwark consulted with the demons of the darkest and foulest depths of boat building hell and decided to fill the bulwark with foam insulation.
That would be challenging enough, but BELAY THAT! The twisted master-mind put the nuts of the middle chain plate behind the bulkhead! (WT?)
That would be challenging enough but FORSOOTH! The minions also determined that it would be best to install the ceiling first and THEN all the cabin furniture. So the wet locker, chart table, shelving is all installed over top of the ceiling. That means if you decide to remove the ceiling you pretty much have to gut the boat. Not gonna happen. Dread Pirate Biff is bigger than all that.
That would be challenging enough, but NAY! The minions of the darkest places put a nice finishing touch on the whole evil package – they covered it with tongue and groove ceiling (I’m not sure why it’s called ceiling when it’s on the side of the boat. It should be called siding)
The way to find the nuts is by measuring. But in order to measure you need a place to measure from. I determined that the best measuring point would be one nut. So in the hanging locker I removed one piece of ceiling and found a nut. From that one, I measured to find the second. From the first it was just a matter of going up the side of the hull to find the 3rd & 4th nuts. The second chain plate is outboard from the bulkhead so the nuts are behind fiberglass, but they are marked. The aft chain-plate is the most worrisome. It is in the saloon and behind ceiling. I don’t want to make a mess of this one!
Someone suggested I use the same approach I used on the first tang I took off; grind off the bolt head and then drive it through. This is a miscalculation. What I expected to happen was the bolt to fall inside between hull & ceiling leaving me a place to drill through the ceiling. In theory: sound. In practice: fail. I ground off the bolt but when I tried to punch it through I realized two things: 1. the bolt is held in place by foam insulation. 2. there isn’t enough room between hull & ceiling for the bolt to move.
On the upside, the grinding heated the bolt which warmed the ceiling wood. I was able to feel where the nut was. I then did some measuring and with bated breath drilled a test hole. I was off about 1″ but I found the bolt. The rest will be relatively easy to locate.
The nuts up in the bulwark proved too troublesome to get to, so I drilled holes in the bulwark that I’ll have to repair. So be it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Dread Pirate Biff prevails! Have a look:
Fair winds, following seas, and God’s blessings