Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How to Bed

Summer before last, I was beating in a strong breeze when a puff drove the rail under. I looked down the companion and saw water pretty well pouring in at the chainplates. Guess I put off rebedding long enough.

In two or three posts I'll explain how I undertook the job of rebedding most of Journeyman's deck hardware. It was a hard job, but it's paid off with a dry boat, and it should last five, maybe ten years.

Deck hardware on a boat shifts under strain, no matter how tightly fastened. The theory behind bedding with modern compounds, such as the 3M 4200 which I used and recommend, is to ensure that this highly adhesive, flexible material can adhere well both to the underside of the cleat, stanchion base or other hardware, and to the deck. Thus when the fitting shifts the cured compound shifts as well, keeping the deck watertight. Therefore, as in using any adhesive the surfaces have to be clean, oil and wax free, and roughened up.

I'm getting ahead of myself. The first thing I did was remove all the stanchions, the bow and stern pulpits, and the chainplates. Quite useful in this laborious task were a short throw socket wrench, crescent wrenches and a Dremel tool with plenty of cut off wheels. You will be working at all angles, trying to get the nuts off the underside of these fittings. You want a nice, smooth short throw wrench with ample pawling, the kind sold in auto parts stores, so when you can turn the wrench just 20 degrees or so you are still getting something on the nut.

You want deep sockets for the wrench. These sockets are deep enough to reach the nut even when the bolt is pretty long.

I have seen ratcheting crescent wrenches, and were I doing this project again I'd get one or two in the sizes I most needed.

A Dremel Tool is an irreplaceable tool in so many applications, including in this project. I used one with a cut off wheel to cut off bolts just above the nut, when the bolt ended in an interference making getting the nut off impossible, as happens. This technique saves anguish and rending of garments. You can even use a cut off wheel to split a frozen nut. Use safety glasses - the cut off wheels sometimes go to pieces.

Once I had the nuts off the fittings came up easily, except for the chainplates. These were well and truly stuck. I tried leverage of various sorts, and I finally put an auto jack on the chainplates and pulled them up.

Once the fittings are up you have to decide whether or not to reuse the bolts. I generally didn't. Mine were tired and sometimes a little bent, and with all the time and effort it seemed a poor economy not to replace the fasteners.

(To be continued.)

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