Building Logs

Start on Port Stairwell

Posted by Paul

I need to cut more parts for the starboard hanging closet, and because they are quite large and because I still have some very large panels to cut for such things as the port stairwell, I decided to cut them together so I could nest them in the most efficient way. As with all furniture work with exposed edge core panels, there is a lot of stop start as I wait for back fill to set before being able to sand it (and it must be sanded before being glassed in place) and making it up as I go along (in other words not having a kit with pre-cut parts) it becomes very much stop start because I cant just cut all the parts and backfill them all at once so construction was not so stop start. The side benefit of the stop start nature though is that I move to other jobs and keep the interest level up because I dont get bored on one section of the build.

I have been troubled by the shape of the port stairwell for sometime. As is usually the case I have competing interests that cant both be met. On the starboard stairwell I maintained the angle on both sides of the steps so the width was uniform. On the port hull, the bathroom wall is square to the centreline and the forward side will be angled. This makes the stairs wide at the base but very narrow at the top. The angle I wanted to use was the continuation of the angle on the front of the island bench seat (that I am yet to build) and the same angle as the starboard stairwell. And whilst the width at the bottom step is wider than the stairwell in the starboard hull it is much narrower at the top step I keep that angle. The width of the starboard well is 680mm. The width of the bottom step of the port well with the angle I have is 800mm but the width at the top is only 500mm and whilst there are many companion ways and doorways 500mm on the boat, it is too narrow for the top of the stairs.

So I experimented with a variety of angles until I set upon a solution that works. The most obvious was to just make the opposite wall square to the centreline also and just maintain the 680mm width and this would seem an easy solution, but it just doesn’t feel right for 2 reasons. First it means you are effectively turning a 90 degree corner at both the top and bottom of the steps and this is not only out of harmony to look at, it is difficult at the bottom of the steps to make that corner. Because the hulls are narrow and the height compromised by the angle of the chamfer and hull sides and you ideally want the steps to turn your body for you as you go down them, that is by angling them you have already started to turn that corner as you descend. Ascending is no problem with just about any configuration so it is not really a problem whatever I decide. So parallel and square to the centreline is out. Well kind of.

It occurred to me during the various experiments with my templates that there was no reason the angle of the stairs couldn’t start parallel and wide enough to work and then change to the angled panel as you go down. And bingo, it works a treat. I get my minimum width I wanted (I wanted the steps to be the same width each side so I set my minimum as 680mm). Furthermore I made it possible to get even better use of a sheet of polycore by cutting 2 separate smaller panels that would then be joined at the point where I made the angle change.

So with that decision made and the panel parts cut the decore, fill and wait dance continues. Fortunately (or unfortunately!) there is still so much to do that I can move to other jobs while I wait, but it does mean having to curb the enthusiasm that discovering a new solution and wanting to push ahead with that new and exiting work. But by having different panels setting for different sections on alternating days I am just going to alternate between the port stairwell and starboard bunk. Both sides of the steps into the starboard bunk have now been glassed into the boat, the forward end being the floor to ceiling hanging cupboard wall, the aft step edge being the side of the mattress height cupboard over the chamfer panel. Next step on this job will be to glass in the various shelves and steps to finish the cupboards and access to the bed, leaving only the mast posts and cupboard finishing around that once the mast posts arrive later in the year. I have similar works to finish in the port hull where the furniture is unfinished for the same reason.

And of course there is still a lot of new furniture projects to get stuck into. Its definitely interesting and fun at the moment.

I have glassed the shelves into the smaller starboard bedroom cupboard and the first of the steps up into the bed. I have also cut (and shaped) a panel that will hold the mattress in place. The forward third of the bed is enclosed in by the floor to ceiling cupboard back wall and the aft third is enclosed by the top protrusion of the smaller cabinet that has been built to a height that falls just below that of the mattress, its taller than a normal cupboard for that reason. I have also de-cored and filled the edge of that panel. And also de-cored and filled the edge of the forward stairwell wall which is of course also the side of a cabinet in front of it in the port hull, that cupboard will house the switch panel and inverter, so in other words the power management system. Behind that (on the bridgedeck) will be the fridge and freezer.

So before that can be built and the stairwell side panel glassed in, there needs to be provision for getting a lot of wiring from the batteries to the management panel, and back, and also across the boat to the nav cupboard and also some water movement across the boat. I will glass 3 conduits across under the fridge although I think I will only need 2 over them will be insulation for the fridge and once its all down there is no way to put any more through so better to have too much space than not enough and if some goes unused then no biggie. There is quite a junction of conduits going in 3 directions in this area, some going forward to cross under the port bed to the water tanks, come aft through to the bathroom and kitchen and some across the bridgedeck.

We will also have a dishwasher under the island seat extension on the other side of the fridge so water and power will need to go to it and waste water from it so that extra conduit might help. But for now, I have to wait for the edges I filled today to set. I always fill at the end of a days work as the last thing I do and always try to have something setting. This is especially ture on days I am coving and glassing anyway, as there is always coving compound left over. It is very hard to judge how much to mix in larger jobs so I mix smaller and smaller amounts as the jov nears the end of the days work and use up the left over filling the edges and then able to make up a small mix to finish that edge filling. With better planning I would have more filling done ahead of time but in many cases I am working panels out as I go.

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