Anchor, Chain Locker, and Anchor Roller, Part 8, Chain Locker Panel, Part I

The chain locker panel just after receiving a coat of Epifanes Rubbed Effect Varnish
Having protected the mahogany anchor platform with epoxy and varnish, I could now focus on the chain locker panel. This piece of mahogany plywood formed a bulkhead of sorts between the chain locker and the V-berth. There were several modifications that I needed to make to this panel in order to make it functional. After I completed these modifications, I needed to protect the plywood from the elements, not unlike I protected the anchor platform. How I carried out these modifications and improvements on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, is the subject of this posting.
In the picture below, we see the chain locker panel as it appeared when I purchased the boat in 2009. Notice the anchor rode visible through the hole on the lower end of the panel. It appeared that Ericson had put these holes in this panel for ventilation purposes.
I wanted to install deck plates in these holes so that I could seal off the chain locker from the interior of the boat. I planned to use an air conditioner on this boat in the spring, summer, and fall. These large holes would defeat the purpose. The deck plates would still allow me to ventilate the locker if necessary. In short, the deck plates could offer me the best of both worlds.
I found a plastic container that matched the diameter of the small deck plate exactly. I used this container to scribe a circular cut-line of the appropriate size. I should note that it was not necessary for me to cut the lower hole any larger than it already was, because the deck plate that I had purchased fit this large hole exactly.
Someone long ago had covered these holes with a fine mesh to prevent bugs from making their way into the boat. One of the problems with these screens was that it was impossible to access the chain locker from the V-berth without removing the entire panel. The deck plates would allow me access, if I needed it.
For this cut I used a Bosch T101BR reverse cut blade. I've talked about these in many other postings. These blades provide clean cuts by reducing tear-out. This attribute is especially desirable when cutting plywood, which is prone to splintering, particularly when cutting across the grain.
The cut turned out just the way I wanted it to.
Now I flipped the piece over and sanded away as much of the old adhesive as possible. Notice that I protected the finished side of the plywood from the rough surface of the work table with an old cotton sheet.
Some of the adhesive clung so tenaciously to the wood that I had to use a chisel to remove it.
One final sanding removed the rest of the adhesive residue. I used my Rockwell Sonicrafter oscillating tool for this job. It's small, triangular head is the perfect size for work of this nature.
The deck plates that I had purchased were manufactured by Beckson. These were the screw-in type, as opposed to the pry-out type.
I chose black because the Caframo brand DC powered fan that I had installed in the V-berth was black. Likewise, the DC terminal blocks and the AC receptacle that I had installed in the V-berth were black.
Now that I knew the deck plates fit just the way I wanted them to, I could move on to some epoxy-work on the unfinished side of the plywood.
This unfinished side would be facing the chain locker. It would thus be exposed to the wet nylon anchor rode on a regular basis. Without protection, this plywood would soon delaminate. That this plywood had never been protected and had never delaminated in the 40 year life of this boat was good evidence that this boat had rarely spent time at anchor.
I epoxy-coated this plywood at the same time that I epoxy-coated the unfinished sides of the plywood panels for the alcove boxes. I did not anticipate getting water into the alcove boxes. Nevertheless, in keeping with the advice of my wooden boat-building friend, I aimed to epoxy-coat or varnish every piece of wood on this boat - inside and out. Not to do so, especially in the subtropical climate of the Carolina Lowcountry - with its high heat and humidity - was to invite trouble.
After the second coat, the grain in the plywood was filled, and the surface of the plywood took on a glossy appearance.
In my indoor work room I lightly sanded the finished surface of the mahogany plywood. It appeared to me that Ericson had stained this piece of wood and applied maybe one coat of varnish. Much of the grain was still visible.
I decided to start all over and apply the proper sequence of coats suggested by Epifanes.
This sequence begins with the high gloss varnish cut by fifty percent with Epifanes thinner.
Every coat requires sanding before the application of the next coat.
I cut the second batch by twenty-five percent with Epifanes thinner. In an earlier posting in this article I spoke of using various solvents as substitutes for the proprietary thinners for Pettit and Interlux brand stains. Given that this Epifanes is so expensive, and given that it's the finishing touch, I do not skimp on the thinner. I know others don't skimp either.

The third coat I cut with fifteen percent thinner.
For the final coat I used about five percent thinner. Epifanes says that you can use zero percent thinner, but as I said in my previous posting, the varnish it too thick and syrupy without a little bit of thinner mixed in.

High gloss varnish looks good on the exterior of the boat, but not on the interior. There it actually gives the wood a cheap, gaudy look. That's why I, like so many others, opt for Epifanes rubbed effect varnish on top of the gloss. It gives the wood that professionally finished look, not unlike an expensive piece of furniture.
The behavior of the rubbed effect varnish is quite different from the high gloss. It moves quite quickly from a wet look to a dry look. This is good, because it allows you to see holidays, i.e., missed spots, in your brushwork, before it's too late to do something about them.
I've found that one coat is never enough. It never seems to cover every single tiny spot of the gloss varnish. Yes, as you see in the picture below, sanding is necessary for this rubbed effect varnish.
After two coats of this rubbed effect varnish, I could call this little sub-project complete.
This ends this posting on the modifications and improvements I made to the chain locker panel for Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

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