Ideas or help on install of hardwood sole in 14' alum. boat

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by WinnMann, May 22, 2015.

  1. WinnMann
    Joined: May 2015
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    WinnMann Junior Member

    I've been browsing the forums for a while and i can't find much information on redoing my old rotted plywood sole with some type of cleated planks. The best information relevant to my situation I've found was from a senior member on this site named Alan White. Someone was asking about the normal plywood reinstall, and he responded.
    "Why plywood at all? Why not cedar, fir, or pine boards cleated together? They can be painted with polyurethane porch and deck enamel, assembled, and they will last well if fastened with bronze screws or nails.No, stains are poor protection and costly. That applies to decks and to boats as well. Two coats of polyurethane paint without primer works nicely. I don't think plywood is best for fiberglass or aluminum cockpits unless you're willing to put on three good coats of epoxy. Edges too. But then you're sealing moisture in below the ply. That's why boards are better. They can have a slot every 3-5", 1/8" wide. The bilge gets much-needed air. The wood lasts because it can dry out. Plywood can get damp and stay damp."
    His next post mentioned
    "Nails can be bent over on the underside to lock all together." and "I neglected to mention that those cleated together sections should be removable. Lift them out and wash the bilge out. For years, all open boats used boards for a sole, and better setups had removable sole sections."
    I love the idea of building the sole out of 3 removable sections made out of cleated boards. I like the idea for the beauty of it and the accessibility it gives me to the hull. I'm just confused on how to install the sole to the bottom of the boat. Should i build a small light frame underneath, or install it directly to the aluminum that the old plywood sole was installed to? I'd like to just bend nails over on the underside to lock the 3 pieces together like AW said, but i must not understand the concept on how that would keep the sole stable in the boat. Also, what thickness deck boards are recommended, because I know i don't want to weigh her down too much. I already have the old floor out and all cleaned up. Now I'm just itching to get going on the new one, but i want to make sure I do it right. Here's a couple pictures of where I'm at with her right now. The two small bench seats are missing at the moment because I had to remove those to get the old rotted floor out. I'd love to hear your guys opinions or tips on this matter.
     

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  2. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Do you want slats that go sideways or lengthwise?
     
  3. WinnMann
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    WinnMann Junior Member

    I was imagining lengthwise, but I mean if one way is better than the other than I'm definitely not choosey.
     
  4. rasorinc
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    rasorinc Senior Member

    Are you going to install leveling blocks so you have a flat sole?
     
  5. WinnMann
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    WinnMann Junior Member

    I didn't consider that. How would i go about doing that?
     
  6. WinnMann
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    WinnMann Junior Member

    I was thinking if I ran the wood over the stringers like the original plywood was that it would be level. Is there a better way of doing this?
     
  7. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Plywood is the obvious solution, who cares if it rots eventually, you just buy another one, an 8x4 sheet spanning the gap between the thwarts. I'd be more worried about dissimilar metal objects dropping down between your slats and corroding holes in the bottom.
     
  8. WinnMann
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    WinnMann Junior Member

    You make a good point. Maybe I've just been over thinking things. If I do something I like to do it right the first time, so I figured making the slats would be my best choice because they would last longer, make things more maintainable, and look better in my opinion. If I did go with plywood should i just go with cheap exterior plywood and some kind of deck or porch paint for wood just use some sand as a non skid finish. I kind of want to stay away from carpeting seeing as that seems to introduce moisture issues sooner.
     
  9. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    It probably depends on where you keep the boat, out in the weather or under cover of some kind, but if the latter, exterior ply sealed with some linseed oil even, sprinkle some sand on while wet, after a couple of coats, then a light coat over the sand to keep it from wearing off too quickly. But an acrylic paint suitable for direct application to timber would be easier, and less smelly ! Have to be a dark colour or will show the dirt, especially with the sand.
     
  10. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Slats should be soft wood like cedar or fir or maybe phillipine mahogany or Spanish cedar.
    I still think slatted sections are better. You have good ventilation, good looks, no epoxy needed, Cost is really low, materials available everywhere.
    I think we tend to copy factory methods where there is nobody to make nice joints. The problem is that factories have methods of construction and finish that fit in with the idea of high assembly speed at almost any aesthetic cost. To me, carpet in a boat is gross. I think some people like it a lot, so that's fine too.
    Hardwood is not a good idea for a sole exposed to weather. It pulls and checks more often. Only a few expensive woods like teak do well exposed like that.
    How thick? Depends on the wood species. A softwood will be a bit thicker or must run a shorter span. I usually base spans on what you would see on a porch (or a bit lighter)--- some flexing is okay--- made the same way. 1/2" solid softwood should span no more than 12"---13" or so, so to be practical, a good compromise would be 5/8" thickness running 16" or less. Over that and 3/4" will work up to 20" or so.
    And you can take the slatted sections out over winter and store them indoors and paint them in the garage during cold weather.
     
  11. WinnMann
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    WinnMann Junior Member

    I really like the last sentence you posted "You have good ventilation, good looks, no epoxy needed, Cost is really low, materials available everywhere." I guess my question to you is how should I attach the slats, but yet keep them so they are removable? I read in one of your previous posts from years back you said to bend nails on the underside to hold it all together. I don't think I fully understand that part.
     
  12. WinnMann
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    WinnMann Junior Member

    And also thank you for the feedback Mr. Efficiency, its appreciated and I'm going to keep that in mind.
     
  13. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    I have seen the inside of quite a few open alloy boats over here, some professional fishos, etc, never seen slats, always ply, I guess you could use checker-plate alloy, but a bit expensive and maybe hard on the feet.
     
  14. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Nails bent over? I must have been talking about how to attach the sole boards to the cleats which run at right angles underneath--- one or two bronze boat nails through from above and bent over to neaten up.
    It's a good idea to run the floor boards fore and aft and the cleats underneath should be placed at half-span of the boat floors (same spacing). This will add strength where the boards are weakest making the sole stiffer.
    The slatted sections, then, will set by gravity where the plywood would normally set. Sections should be small enough to easily remove. It's the cleats underneath that tie the sections together.
    Mr. Efficiency---- you are right, almost all boats use plywood soles. I am only responding to WinnMan because he seemed to like the look of a slatted solid wood sole. I agree, so I am showing him how I would do the job.
     

  15. WinnMann
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    WinnMann Junior Member

    Thanks you very much Alan for the wealth of information you've provided to me. This is my first boat and I really appreciate you helping me to build it the way I hoped to. I'm pretty sure I understand now. So to clarify, I'm thinking to run some foam board underneath, say the pink stuff. Than I'll build the slats with 1/2 cedar or fir since I'm building the sections in smaller runs than 12' to aid in removal, and of course painting with a polyurethane porch and deck enamel before assembling with bronze screw or nails. Than the slats will be seated as the sole by gravity? You mentioned the cleats underneath tie the sections together. That's the one part I'm not sure I quite get. After I build the slats and set them in there, should they be secure enough to be sea worthy? Also, should I use a good marine caulk on the faying surfaces of the already painted boards and cleats as you mentioned in a previous post, and if so, is it available at Lowes or do i need to go to a marine shop for it?
     
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