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Chain Locker Bulkhead Design and Material Issues

Posted on Wed 08 December 2010 in Projects, Systems - Ground Tackle, Systems - Hull

Preparing to make a huge

I’m hemming and hawing a bit on the chain locker bulkhead. I need to make a removable panel that keeps the chain and water out of the v-berth. There probably won’t ever be any substantial amount of water in the chain locker, just the normal mess from brining up the chain.

The bulkhead itself is 1/2” thick. The design seems pretty straight forward. I need to make a 1/2” thick piece that fits neatly into the hole and then another 1/2” piece about 1” bigger than the hole. This 2nd piece will be bolted to the bulkhead. Since it needs to be removable and you can’t get to the inside once the panel is in place I’ve decided it will be attached with tee-nuts and machine screws.

I’ve been going back and forth on a couple of things:

Should the panel be bolted on the outside or the inside?\ \ If the panel is on the outside the bolts alone will have to hold the weight of the chain if it rests against the panel. This could be alleviated by putting in a removable set of panel on the inside to bear the weight. A guy at <<The Yard>> mentioned they have done this before and used starboard. Basically it would look like hatch boards.

If the panel is on the inside thee is NO way you’re going to remove the panel without first removing the chain from the locker. This seems like a deal breaker for inside, but I’m already resolved that I will likely add a small water tight deck plate above the panel for quick access to deal with chain castling or other quick inspection needs.

Should the panel be made out of starboard or marine grade plywood coated in epoxy?

Both materials seem fine and I don’t think the plywood would be much cheaper. Joining two 1/2” pieces of starboard seems impossible. I don’t’ think epoxy alone will hold, it would also need to be screwed together. Epoxying two plywood 1/2” thick pieces would be easy and wood is easy to work with. We (pronounced Dawn) also have pretty good epoxy skills. We could put a layer of fiberglass on the inside surface to protect it even more from chain hitting it. We could put a Formica surface on the outside to match the existing bulkhead.

Another option is to use 1” thick material and basically mill the hatch out of the solid material. This would probably be the way to go with starboard.

I’ve looked at G10FRP4 panels and I don’t think they’d be easy to work with especially since I have never seen the stuff in person. I’ve also looked at aluminum and stainless steel sheet metal, but they are way more expensive.

No real conclusions yet, but I need to make my mind up quickly. I’m going to send this to the Pearson 424 list and see what they think if any of you have suggestions please do use the comments.