Lazarette Modifications, Part 16: Final Installation of Cockpit Locker Hatch

The cockpit locker hatch, installed and ready for the reserve battery bank
Having installed the aluminum hatch in the cockpit, it was now time for me to install the plastic hatch in the cockpit locker. You'll recall from Part 2 of this article that I had earlier cut the hole for this hatch so that I could know exactly where to place the shelf for the reserve battery bank. At that time I had not drilled any of the holes for the hatch frame. Later, in the midst of my many other modifications to the lazarette, I took some initial steps towards the installation of this hatch. I began by drilling the holes.
In the tight spots near the bulkhead, I had to rely on my Milwaukee Tools right angle drill attachment. This tool, as I have said many times before, was indispensable to me in the refitting of Oystercatcher.

Even though this hatch would be inside of the cockpit locker and thus protected by the elements (for the most part), I made it a general policy for myself in the refitting of Oystercatcher that I would not allow any balsa core to go untreated by epoxy. As you will read in another posting regarding my installation of a new stove in the galley, I found rotten balsa core even in that seemingly protected space.
To excavate the balsa core between the two layers of fiberglass in the cockpit locker I used my Dremel with a 115 cutter attachment. I had learned about this technique from Maine Sail on his Compass Marine website. See the link to this website on the homepage of my blog.
The 115 attachment has a 3/8 inch head, which fits perfectly between the two layers of fiberglass.

I also, at this time, dug out the balsa around the holes for the bilge pump hoses. The largest of the three holes had long existed. Note that the core in this area contained some rot, probably from condensation on the hose over the years.

After I had finished excavating the balsa core, I taped off all the areas in preparation for filling the excavated areas with thickened epoxy.
I used RAKA brand epoxy with colloidal silica as a thickening agent, just as I had so many times before on so many other projects.
After I had wet out the gaps with neat epoxy, I thickened it with silica to a peanut-butter consistency, and then I packed the gaps, using one of the black plastic stir sticks you see pictured above as a spatula of sorts.

By the time I got around to sanding this epoxy, I had already done lots of other work on the lazarette. You'll notice in the picture below the nice, painted surface. Ideally, I would have completed this sanding job prior to painting the lazarette. I must say, though, that in the refitting of this boat there were so many different projects and sub-projects that it was very easy to leave one sub-project incomplete while attending to other, more pressing sub-projects.
Since the holes that I had earlier drilled were now full of cured epoxy, I had to re-drill them in preparation for installing the hatch.
After I had re-drilled all of the holes, I countersunk each one of them. These countersunk holes would allow the butyl tape, which I would use as a sealant, to form little gaskets around each hole.
After thoroughly vacuuming the area with a Shop-Vac, I cleaned the mounting surface with acetone.
Acetone is not kind to plastics. Therefore, I decided to give the hatch itself a thorough scrubbing with soap and water. It had accumulated a lot of dust during this lazarette project.
Back in the boat, I dry-fit the machine screws that I would use to install the hatch. In some instances, I had to use the drill to widen the screw holes.
As soon as everything was lined up, I broke out the butyl tape and applied it to the flange of the hatch.
I had purchased four rolls of this butyl tape from Maine Sail on his Compass Marine website. I would use all four rolls of this tape, and I would end up ordering two more rolls before this refitting of Oystercatcher was complete.

I applied butyl tape to the heads of the screws as an added measure of protection.
The hatch fully installed.
At this same time, I went ahead and installed the cleats for the reserve battery bank. I had constructed these, as you will recall, out of scrap pieces of mahogany.
These cleats brought everything together.
This ends this posting on how I installed the Bomar brand plastic hatch in the cockpit locker of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

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