From the Boatshop click here to read or make an observation about this  article

by Ron Magen (along the shores of the ever improving Delaware) Philladelphia, Pennsylvania - USA

“Thinking Outside the Box”
(But what if you WANT to build a box?)

The ‘end of the season’ is official when one of the Club’s four “All Hands Days’ is to pull the moorings. Shortly after that Joanne decided to put down new ‘tiles’ on our bathroom floor. To do a really neat job, the ‘porcelain edifice’ should be lifted. Then again, we {She means ‘me’}should fix the squeaky floor, and since the hopper will already be up we {Now here she means SHE !!} really need a new one . . . and taller, too. And so it began.

[Why am I talking about ‘end of season’ when ‘BEGINNING of season’ is already in the readiness stages? . . . read on, read on.]

I was pretty sure I knew why the floor was making noise and how to fix it {confirmed this with a quick trip to the library}. It would have to be done from the top - the bathroom is on the second floor. Plus the ‘facility’ would definitely have to be lifted - and it was an old 3-gal flush - so why not replace it.

The hold-down bolts were rusted through, pulling it was no big deal. Ripping out the old ‘Linoleum’ tiles was just messy and the water degraded MDF underlayment was expected. HOWEVER . . . the actual plywood floor was soft, ‘punky’, and even rotted out in places !! This wasn’t the entire floor - just the cramped area between the tub and the hopper. Just enough to make it the most difficult area to do a ‘sectional’ replacement. So much for this being a ‘quickey job’.

Like ‘surveying’ a wooden boat, I started probing the area with an awl; to find the extent of the damage and where there was ‘solid’ wood. As I did this it occurred to me, “Why not FIX it like a wooden boat as well??!!” In this case I couldn’t saw out the damaged area. Getting my epoxy ‘Travel Kit’, a container of Denatured Alcohol, and a few other items, I got to work. After cleaning out and plugging the ‘Hole’ with an old {and disposable !!} towel, I brushed the area clean of all the loose particles and ‘dust’. Anything that was a recognizable chunk or sliver that fitted anywhere I kept, the rest was trashed.

Mixing up a small batch, I diluted it about 30-50% with the alcohol. Using a 1-1/2 disposable BRISTLE brush, I soaked the effected area and a little beyond. As the wood absorbed the ‘solution’ I added more, fitting the chunks & slivers into position. I kept adding & ‘flooding’ the area with the diluted epoxy. Then left it to cure overnight. The next day there were still some areas that seemed ‘dry’ and others that needed ‘filling’. I used some scraps of ‘glass cloth, finely shredding for filling and overlaying with slightly bigger pieces, as required. A very small batch of epoxy was mixed & diluted about 25% with alcohol. Using the brush, this was ‘flowed’ onto the cloth scraps and the ‘dry’ areas. It was allowed to ‘set up’ for a couple of hours. Then a batch was made at about 10% dilution, and MILLED FIBER {glass} was added. This was ‘flowed’ over everything and left for 24 hours. The next day the area was level and looked like polished glass !! Taking a chunk of ‘1x6' and a hammer, I slid the wood all over the floor - repeatedly hitting it with the hammer. NO DIFFERENCE in sound or feel . . . ANYWHERE !!

After allowing several days for a more through cure {NO WAY was Joanne going to keep using the ‘alternate method’ I had arranged }, I primed the entire floor with two coats of B-I-N. Did the same with the Tempered Masonite underlayment.[just like I do when lofting, or laying out a part drawing] Then IMMEDIATELY put in the piece where the hopper went and installed THAT !! The rest I could do at a slightly more leisurely pace - gluing & screwing {with SS boat screws, of course} everything down - SOLID. That WILL take care of those damn squeaks.

Now Joanne did ‘her thing’. She had picked {and did I say BOUGHT - before I even looked at the floor} a nice ‘Wood Parque’ tile. It went well with the SLAB of ‘2x ‘ Mahogany she had me make into a base for the sink pedestal - “We’re both tall, you know.” While she is laying the tiles, she is also looking around . . . and thinking . . .

Why am I writing about this now ? . . . between Then and Now . . .

  • “Some of the ceramic ‘tub tiles’ need re-caulking.” . . . No, the drywall BEHIND them has completely rotted away.
  • “While you have the tiles out - why not replace the entire faucet/spout manifold/fixtures - with cross or ‘paddle’ ones - I can’t really tighten those old round knobs”
  • “The tiles are always going to need re-caulking and the rest of the grout will really look bad compared to the new . . .”

I’m just finishing up the new, solid, 3-piece Acrylic, ‘Tub Surround’ {which turned out to be another ‘Good-Thing-I’m-a-Boatbuilder’ fiasco}. This time I’ve gotten a little bit smarter {more wary?} . . “OK - what ELSE is rattling around in that head of yours?”

“Well . . . there is the ‘New England Beadboard I want to go up to here”, holding her hand about half way up the wall. “Of course there is the cap molding for the top edge of the tub surround - there is a ‘plastic’ one that has a ‘rope’ edge. It will go well with the new nautical shower curtain hooks . . .


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