Another interesting order was to replace this odd original feature of companionway safety and security, in essence a small pair of ‘French Doors’.
Instantly one can see the number of bad design aspects to this implementation. Firstly, 2 pieces of hook-off doors to be stowed away in a small cruiser. You either had them fitted in place or not at all. There was no scope for a part enclosure to be created.
The major aspect that stands out a mile is the lack of weather-proofness! The doors just fit onto the side of the coach house, no rebates, seals, overlaps etc. As soon as I saw this photograph I knew I had to get them off and go back to a tried and tested, simple and well engineered system of interlocking washboards. With that in mind I set about at my base at Dragon Design to draw out the informationthe customer had kindly provided into a manufacturing format and progress to make them.
The lower wash board would be hinged as the current and flap down into a recess on the deck floor, this acts as a step pad, so as you will see as I progress I’ve coated this pad face in an anti-slip deck paint rather than a varnish finish, this is an InterDeck product.
To begin it was a matter of choosing a material, given we are looking at 3 small rebated 12 mm thickness panels. They need to be light in weight to handle and store and durable in their finish. I have chosen 12 mm marine ply with a bonded edge to all horizontal edges of Iroko.
The bonded ‘lippings’ are better to create the machined rebates and for the top and bottom where there are hinges and a security hasp.
I will fit a closing vent into the top section.
There now becomes a need to produce the channel for the washboards to slot into. This will be created by having a pair of stainless steel rails made up of 316 polished, with a 2mm packer to the back to give us a little more slide tolerance. These are being made by my fabricator in Tredegar.
From the manufacture of the 3 interlocking washboard sections I progressed to sand and finish with a 3-stage spray varnish process to each side. Each stage is also made up of 3 light passes in a ‘wet on wet‘ process. Being in a spray heated cubicle I can do a light pass, leave for an hour or so then do another light pass. After the third pass it is left to cure then a light prep, this followed by another stage of spray passes. When one gets to the last stage each pass takes longer to cure so a full day is set aside for this.
You will note the great advantage of having a 3 section washboard set up. For ventilation when sailing while still stopping sea water getting into the cabin, the top board can be removed. At anchor when needing greater ventilation for cooking or sleeping the second board can be removed.
The lower board in this instance is hinged and folds forward into a recess in the coach roof. This unfortunately leaves the back face of the washboard prone to wear and damage from being used as a step to enter the companionway. I’ve added buffer pads to the fitting kit and finished this face in a hard wearing anti slip paint (Interdeck lightly gritted deck paint) which is then easy to touch up if it gets marked.
My stainless fabricating company has produced two guide rails for the customer to bolt onto the side faces of the companionway. The recess left in the moulding was 11mm. We have the washboards at 12.5 and this is a tight measurement. So as packing legs to the guide rails, I’ve had made two packers at 2.84 mm. This gives us a certain slack to allow for the seals that I’ve bonded to the inside face of the holding strips. These seals protect the high varnish finish on the washboards as they are lowered and removed in a sliding action. The seals also stop the washboards from rattling, again which causes damage apart from being very annoying.
So yet another joinery project completed. Heres the finished boards in place.