Lazarette Modifications, Part 5: Dry-Fitting and Grinding

The Lazarette, after extensive Grinding and Cleaning
With the tabbing of the bulkheads complete, it was now time to dry-fit all of the components, mark the hull with reference lines, and grind the hull in those areas that would be receiving epoxy and fiberglass cloth. This dry-fitting and grinding was a time-consuming and thoroughly nasty job - so time-consuming and nasty, that I thought it would be appropriate to devote the fifth part of this eight-part article to it. Often it's easy to overlook tasks such as these when calculating the labor involved in a project. I do this, therefore, as a reminder to myself and to others of the unpleasantness that sometimes accompanies the pleasure of modifying and improving an old sailboat. 

Below we see the lazarette as it appeared shortly after I had completed the last of the grinding. If you compare this picture carefully to the one above you'll notice that in this one there is a thick layer of gray dust everywhere.
Ericson has sprayed the lazarette (and many of the other compartments of the boat) with a gray-colored paint at the time of manufacture. I don't know what type of paint it was, but it was rugged. It had been there for over 35 years, and it still clung to that fiberglass without one thought of giving up its hold. This paint, I suppose, could be a good friend for those who wished to keep the hull exactly the way that Ericson had manufactured it. For those, however, who wished to add anything to the hull, then this paint could easily be seen as an evil foe.
Before I could do any of the grinding, I had to assemble all of the components for dry-fitting them in place. We see below, from left to right, the port and starboard shelves, the house bank shelf, and the two center shelves (that would cover the water tank). We also see the water tank and the battery box for the reserve bank. Disregard the shelf on the right hand side of the picture. That's a counter extension for the galley. Also visible is the Shop-Vac. Many times I had to stop the grinding, crawl out of the lazarette, and plug in the Shop-Vac. There was so much dust generated by the grinding that it was impossible to see what I was doing without taking occasional breaks to clear the hull of dust.
I made a point of purchasing a new set of cartridges for my respirator prior to starting this job. I also made a point of wearing long pants, a long sleeve shirt, a face shield, and ear protection. This protected me (for the most part, I suppose), but it wasn't especially comfortable. It was June in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, and the heat index was well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Why, you might ask, did I not wait until cooler weather came along? Well, if I did, I would have had a very long wait. I had the time, and I had the tools, and waiting several months just wasn't an option.
I could show you how I ground each part of the lazarette, but I'll let this battery box area at the front and center of the lazarette be a representative sample. See the black lines that form the rectangular boxes? These mark the outline of the Douglas fir blocks that would support the battery box shelf. The single black lines beyond the rectangles mark the edges of the shelf. I needed to grind everything in the vicinity of these lines, since I would be applying epoxy and cloth to the hull in much of this area.
Typically, I would grind one part, obliterating a portion of the black lines. Then I would remark this part and then obliterate another part. This step by step approach kept me focused on the correct area, and it kept me from having to dry-fit the pieces and remark the hull.
Below you can see just how much of the gray paint I have removed from the hull on the port side of the hull.
With the natural light coming through the cockpit hatch, it's easy to see the thick layer of dust.
It was during this lengthy grinding session that I also took the time to grind the top of the lazarette. There were some areas that contained jagged pieces of fiberglass. I didn't want any of these snagging any fenders, hoses, or cords that I might store in the lazarette. Some of these jagged areas had provided harbors for black mold at some point in the past. I wanted to make the top of the lazarette as smooth as possible to prevent this from happening in the future.
I also devoted some time to the transom, even thought it might seem from this perspective that this would be a pointless task.
The transom, on the starboard side, was in need of being reinforced.
This was where four of the bolts for the motor mount for the Yamaha 9.9 high thrust outboard would be installed.
To the left you can see four holes, one of which is filled with a bolt. These would support the the lower portion of the motor mount (the upper portion of the motor mount would be supported in the cockpit area of the transom). To the right you can see another bolt. This would support the aluminum plate that would be mounted to the stern. I will discuss this motor mount set-up in another article.
In an earlier posting I described how I installed tabbing along the edge of the bulkheads in the lazarette.
It was now time to dry-fit the cleats that would support the shelf in this area of the lazarette.
In this dry-fitting, I also had to take account of the other components of the lazarette. Therefore, I also had to dry-fit the water tank, the water tank cleats, and the shelves that sat atop the water tank.

You might recall that, in an earlier posting, I described how I had done some initial grinding in the area around the water tank cleats. This picture should give you some idea as to how inadequate that earlier grinding was. Notice that in the bottom right of the picture, in the rectangle that represents the water tank cleat, I have removed very little paint. Now that I was going back and doing this job more thoroughly, I was trying to get a little deeper. I did my best to be moderate in my approach. To me it was better for the surface to be spotted with gray than to be completely smooth. I didn't want to remove too much material. After all, this was the hull.
When it came to the plywood of the bulkhead, I removed every bit of gray paint that I could.
Next, I dry-fit the cleats and the shelf for the port side.
It was somewhat of challenge to mark area around the sides of these cleats, since they were more difficult to access on account of the board that I had permanently attached to the shelf to make it more sturdy for the reserve battery bank that would sit atop it.
Below we see the bulkhead from the side that faces the galley. I drilled two small preliminary holes. These temporarily held the reserved battery bank shelf cleat in place against the bulkhead on the lazarette side. With the shelf cleat in place, I then drilled six total holes through the bulkhead and into the cleat. Into these I put wood screws. After I had tightened them down thoroughly, I backed them all out (and I backed out the small, temporary screws), and I removed the cleat. This pre-drilling and pre-screwing was necessary in preparation for the epoxy glue-up that I would soon do. Disregard the two cleats that you see in the picture. They support shelves within the galley cabinet underneath the stove.
This picture gives you some idea of how challenging it was to trace the outline of those large, wedge-shaped cleats underneath the shelf. I was unable to completely mark the outlines. I soon afterwards completed the outline based upon the lines you see here.
I was important for these lines to be marked as accurately as possible. Any errors and the shelf would not fit properly. I had spent too much time on this for it to go wrong.
Below you see the area around the wedge-shaped cleats after some initial grinding.
Here is the area around the cleats after I had completed the grinding. I ground a little, and redrew a little, ground a little, and redrew a little, until it was satisfactory. To me this was the ideal point to which one should grind. There were spots of gray in the pitted surface of the woven roving, but there was plenty of fresh fiberglass that was exposed for the glue-up of the cleats.
Just as I had done on the starboard side, I ground away as much of the gray paint as possible from the surface of the bulkhead.
After I had completed all of the grinding, I took a series of pictures of the entire lazarette.

Most of the grinding was complete, but there would still be a lot of sanding for me to do after I had glued everything into place with epoxy. Nevertheless, I was pleased. At this point the thought of sanding epoxy was far more enjoyable to contemplate than facing another day doing battle with this stubborn gray paint in these cramped quarters and these hot and humid conditions.

This concludes the fifth part of my eight-part article on the modifications that I made to the lazarette of my Ericson 25.

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