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From a Bare Hull:  Interior Basics (Page 4)

V Berth and Settee Structure (Continued)

Since I wanted to minimize the weight of structure in the ends of the boat, I planned to use 3/8" plywood for the V-berth platform.  This material, while adequately strong, however, is thin enough that it tends to bend when weight is placed atop.  To counter this tendency, I decided to fabricate an additional athwartships support midway along the length of the berth.

vsupport1.jpg (52968 bytes)I chose to build the piece out of fiberglass-encapsulated foam, much as I did earlier when building the cabin sole supports (floors).  As a non-structural piece, ease of construction and lightness of weight ruled the day.  Beginning with a 6" wide and 1" thick piece of foam, I cut it roughly to length and scribed the ends to conform to the contours of the hull.  With first a saw and then coarse sandpaper, I cut the ends to shape, and confirmed the fit beneath a 48" level that I placed across the outboard V-berth supports.

vsupport2.jpg (54200 bytes)Once the foam was dry-fit, I prepared it for fiberglass by rounding over the bottom corners.  I left the top alone, since I planned to later remove a width of the foam for replacement with a wooden "nailer", so to speak:  that is, a strip of wood designed to accept screws used to secure the plywood platform, since the screws wouldn't bite well into just thin fiberglass over foam.  To encapsulate the foam, I applied a layer of 24 oz. biaxial fabric to each side, wrapping it around the bottom as needed.  I could only do one side at a time, so this took two separate days.

vsupport3.jpg (68292 bytes)With both sides covered with glass, I ground off any rough edges, particularly on the bottom side, and then set up my table saw to remove a strip from the top edge that corresponded exactly to the thickness of a strip of mahogany that I had milled.  Then, I epoxied the mahogany strip to the top edge of the structure and clamped it in place overnight.  When the epoxy cured, I sanded the squeezeout away and rounded over the top corners slightly, then covered the wood with another strip of the 24 oz. biaxial fabric.  Since I was anxious to complete the piece, and since it was a hot, sunny day outside, I placed the piece outside the shop in the sun to cure more quickly--my very own post-cure autoclave oven, just like the cool boatbuilders have, but for substantially less cost!  

vsupport5.jpg (59033 bytes)With the hot sun, the fiberglass cured sufficiently to allow sanding in only an hour or two, which allowed me to continue with the construction of the piece more quickly.  I installed a final light layer of fiberglass cloth over the seam between sections of fiberglass at the bottom of the piece, where I had not had sufficient width of the tape to properly overlap during the initial encapsulation.  Again, I turned to my "autoclave" to speed the cure time so that I could continue working.

vsupport6.jpg (51328 bytes)After confirming the fit, I secured the piece in place with hot-melt glue, ensuring that it was level, plumb, and flush with the outboard berth supports.  With some thickened epoxy, I created fillets at the junction between the hull and the support on each side, and then finally tabbed it permanently in place with some 15 oz. biaxial tape.

vsupportblocks.jpg (34998 bytes)The final piece of structure required in the V-berth area was a longitudinal support, running from the chainlocker bulkhead aft to the forward part of the settee structure.  This support was needed to support the centerline seam in the plywood used for the berth platform--something to which to screw the plywood.

longvsupport.jpg (50958 bytes)To support the new longitudinal  support at the transverse beam (above), I epoxied small mahogany cleats on each side, located at the appropriate height given the thickness of the board I planned to use for the support.  Because these cleats were attached to the foam "beam", I used only epoxy to secure them to the fiberglass--no screws.  When the epoxy cured, I cut and installed the wooden longitudinal supports with bronze screws directly into the cleats; I added a third cleat back at the forward side of the settee structure to catch the after end of the longitudinal beam.  

gluevsupport1.jpg (35840 bytes)At the forward end, I ran the new beam beneath the chain locker support bulkhead and epoxied it to the underside of the cleat that was already in place there from securing the bulkhead.  I also drove two bronze screws in from the top to secure it further.

As with all my wooden cleats and structure, I took the time to chamfer the bottom edges and sand all the pieces smooth with 120 grit paper.

vlockerpaint3.jpg (31608 bytes)With that, the structure for the V-berth was complete.  After cleaning the area thoroughly, I continued by applying two coats (on two separate days) of Interlux Bilgekote gray epoxy paint to the areas below the level of the eventual platform.
vlockerpaint2.jpg (24795 bytes)





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