Headlining Replacement

(2014 onwards)

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  Our Winter Refit really started before decommissioning in 2014 with some long term planning for what is a very labour intensive (and expensive) task.  For some years our headlining was in effect falling down.  The backing “foam” had over the years turned to powder and would no longer do its job.   Further more we could no longer re-adhere it to the hull or head.   It was also falling away from just about all the Timber panels.   It was looking extremely tired and in spite of several years of continuously re-gluing, our efforts failed.  Something had to be done as the saying goes “You only get one chance of a First Look”.

 Quotations from contractors were running into the £14,000 mark and completely out of our pocket.  Some investigation had to be done.  It took several months of intense research with the task expected to run into the next few years but we (the Partnership) decided to undertake the work ourselves.   Being practically minded and having the confidence to proceed I was raring to go.  It helped to have a (local) friend who with his wife was doing just that on their Westerly Corsair and gave us the initiative we were looking for.   For this refit (2014/2015) we decided to concentrate on replacing all the timber panels leaving the harder and more complex task of replacing the vinyl attached to the yacht itself another year (or more). I should add that although I took the lead in all of the replacement generally giving the final approval with the panel planning, templating, cutting and finish covering (gluing) and taking the lead in actually undertaking these tasks, I had the full backing and assistance of my Partners and Volunteers at all times.

   We purchased a supply of material, adhesives, stainless steel staples, etc. and set-up my garage (heated and lit) to be a Home base for Panel covering (my task for the duration).   Two new trestles, an 8ft by 4ft by ¾in  panel of OSB (Orientated Strand Board) and a carpeted floor (for comfort in what was expected to be a long period) and additional heating and lighting. All the 4 mm timber panels were to be replaced with 6 mm Marine Ply using the old panels as templates. This was done by one of my Partners in his own workshop (no heat and very cold).  We also decided to change the foam backed Vinyl to an off-white leather grain finish slightly brighter than the original and use larger matching vinyl covered plastic push-on buttons with stainless steel studs to cover the mounting screws, a distinct improvement and all in keeping with the character of the yacht.   One problem we had was matching buttons to the dark timber hardwood Battens covering the panel ‘joins’ but then Joy, my wife suggested we cover them with matching vinyl and use the now standard matching vinyl buttons.  What a gem.  Our friend gave us a “Demo” with the covering of a large complex panel after which we were off.  This was to be my major task for this refit, shared of course with my other Partners (a very big task) but due to the restriction of space it was limited to just 2. We decided to spend 1 day a week on board and work as much as possible at home but opted to spend a second day on board as soon as we thought we had fallen behind.   One surprise was the sheer number of stainless steel staples I used and all fitted individually by my right hand.

   Of course there is a learning curve and it was not just fast but sometimes unexpected especially when I thought I had mastered a technique.  Cutting through the foam around the edges was very difficult and on several occasions I cut through or just partially through the vinyl which meant starting again.  Also some corner pieces just tore off (probably through a partial cut) resulting again in starting again.  On large panels this worked out rather expensive but it had to be done.  I was learning fast.   As a consequence though I realised just how much of a bond there was between the foam and the timber panels for the old adhesive I had just put on had to be scraped off.   I was obviously doing something right.  Most of it was straight forward but there were some very tricky areas (internal corners and of course holes).   The turnaround of most panels was 3 weeks, first week making a new panel, second actual trial fitting and lastly recovering and install.  Some panels being simple were completed in one week without trial fitting and some were just recovered but most required trial fitting due mainly to the additional work we carried out (new lights, ventilation, wiring, etc.).

   Not only were we replacing the panels but making use of the procedure by replacing all the “hidden” nuts with Nyloc lock nuts (some of the original nuts and washers had literally fallen off).   We also tidied the hidden wiring, converted some of the lights to LED (making “3 LED+resistor” cluster bulbs) and even changed some of the lights and/or their position completely.  It gave us a chance to reassess our lights and plan for new lights to be fitted retrospectively when we have more time (and money).

   We were making progress and by mid February we had completed the Saloon, some 16 panels with 4 matching battens and it was looking very professional.  We started on the Starboard cabin but found much dampness with some of the timber battens very wet.  Further investigation showed that it was nothing more than condensation but we had to find a cure.   We decided to install several (total 8) white matching plastic “vents” either side which opened the almost stagnant cavity to the atmosphere where we hoped the through draught would keep the area dry.   We also reviewed the lighting and made provision for additional LED (same as Saloon) lights to be installed later.  It was certainly looking good although the existing Foam-to-Hull headlining was appalling but we would have to wear that for another year.   By the end of the month all 4 panels with 2 matching battens were complete.  Our work continued on with the Port Cabin and finally the Heads.

   Unfortunately it was about this time that our at least 20 years old Webasto heater decided to cease working (for the second time over this refit).  In the past we had enough knowledge to repair the ancient heater but at this time we had no knowledge of the fault and even less time to spend on investigation especially with the 100% time spent on Headlining replacement (our top priority).  A quick Partners meeting and I called our service agent (Keto Ltd) to arrange a visit.   Bad news as they had finally called it a day on this heater especially as it had been superseded not once but twice and no spares were available.  We decided to go the season without a heater (we had a portable 2 kW electric heater of course).   Opting to buy new at the start of our next refit (November) we found that our old heater’s location (forward) was wrong and we faced a complete new installation with the heater aft.   Much planning (and expense) has to be done before November.

  By middle of March we had finished all the removable panels, a total of 24 and replaced 4 ‘flip-type’ Saloon lights with LED. We also changed 2 ‘flip-type’ lights in the Heads for 1 matching LED central light and purchased (for later installation) one more each for the Starboard and Port cabins making a total of 7 new lights.  That was completion of our Headlining task for this refit (2014-2015) however our work continues throughout the Sailing Season with what the yacht was made for (with just a little time taking notes for November).

2014 (November) Workshop set-up for bonding new timber panels to new vinyl foam

New head panel weighted until bond cures (24 hours)

New Saloon (centre) panel awaiting fitting

Detail of Lighting and Switch

Close-up of matching Vinyl covered Button with Stainless Steel Stud under

Saloon panels and Support battens with Studs & Matching Buttons

2015 January.  Work in progress on the Starboard “Loft” and Panels under the Cockpit

Old Flip-type swivelling mirror light with Halogen bulb

New matching 22-LED replacement lights for Saloon, Heads, Port & Stbd Cabins

New lights fitted and panels installed

Dark Timber matching Vinyl covered Button with Stainless Steel Stud under

Port side Saloon Rear Berth complete with new LED light installed

Starboard side Saloon Rear Berth complete with new LED light installed

 Starboard Cabin with new Vents (outboard)

 Starboard Cabin, Detail of Headlining & one vent (8 fitted in total)

Starboard Cabin Entrance (additional new matching LED light to be fitted later)

Port Cabin, Headlining with Spare Berth supported by 3 quick release straps

Port Cabin, Detail of quick release Berth support

Port Cabin, Entrance Headlining with old style light (to be replaced with matching LED type)

Heads Panel with new single matching LED light installed
All Panels now complete

  We delayed starting our work of Headlining Replacement for this refit due to the installation of a new Central Heating system and of course removing all of the old system, that’s fuel supply; hot air hoses; cold air supply; electrical cabling and exhaust through the hull.  The latter being blanked off with a polished stainless steel disc fitted with mastic and through bolted.  December 2015 we started with installing 2 new LED lights, one each for the Port & Starboard cabins.  Replacement of the headlining on the Hull, just the areas with no attachment to windows and now with the new heating of course in the warm was delayed until January 2016. Due to our Survey and other circumstances we limited sights for this season’s headlining replacement to just the Forepeek.   Should we have time over then a judgement would be made on other areas.   We all had to “cut our teeth” on a very large and complicated area but with time pressing it had to be done.   This type of work was very different from bonding headlining to removable panels in my garage at home as we did last season.

  First task in the Forepeek was to strip all the old headlining off.   This left a combination of powder and old foam most of which was barely stuck to the hull.  This all had to be removed and all the surfaces cleaned using a Grinder fitted with a face-off disc, a portable drill with another type of face-off disc and a small triangular Sander fitted with an 80 grit pad for the corners.   Then the whole area hoovered clean after which a damp cloth was used to remove the last of the dust (no chemicals) and all this before templating could start.   Fortunately I had little to do with this task.

  The first area in the Forepeek to be covered was the face you see in front of you when entering the cabin then another section forward of that.   The latter was achieved with two of us laying on our backs getting high on the glue.  A lesson learnt was to add far more ventilation in future.  It wasn’t as perfect as I expected but I was happy that any flaws would be covered by the adjacent panels and at the same time I was gathering invaluable knowledge and skills.   The next panel was the most complicated and biggest yet at nearly 9 feet long.  So long that I couldn’t accurately cut it on the ships now extended and purpose built table.  I took the Port side panel home and used our dining room table but even with both extensions inserted the panel still overlapped.  After it was cut I “folded” over and glued some of the edges (a finishing edge) leaving one edge to the fitting/glueing stage as it was so difficult to judge at that stage.   This stage with 2 of us took nearly all day (and a lot of hair pulling).   It was by far the most difficult yet and worse, I still had the Starboard side to do and that had even more complications.   One advantage was that we could use the Port side template (reversed) and modify as required.  With more help on hand the Heads roof was templated (Chris) and I cut the panel (at home to save time on board).  Also the Starboard deck locker drain (shown below the old heater exhaust) was thermally insulated and covered in the same headlining material.

  The next area to be templated was the Starboard side.   When I was satisfied with the template I rough cut the headlining to be accurately cut at home as the Port side.   With time to spare we fitted the Heads roof panel.  Fortunately this had no folding finished edges as they were all tucked-in and concealed by timber.   Just to complicate matters, we had to make a start on our new roll of headlining but had been stored open to the atmosphere for several months and moisture had left its mark on the foam making it too damp for bonding.   It would have been impossible to dry out 25 Metres either on board or at home so each new panel was taken home for drying.  Over time the roll thankfully dried.   The starboard side was bonded satisfactory (another full day).   This just left those finishing areas to conceal joins and cut-outs where required and most importantly could be undertaken at a later date.

  The last panel to complete the Forepeek was the roof and was the most complicated yet with a rolled edge on each side, an internal rolled edge and a deck hatch in the middle to contend with.  With two very large panels (sides) and two very difficult & awkward panels completed so far with no (serious) mistakes I felt I could confront this panel with sufficient confidence (and with my fingers very much crossed).  With Roger’s assistance we took our time in the Templating stage struggling sometimes with just the two of us but a rough cut of the headlining material was eventually taken home.   By now our Saloon was almost bursting with Headlining & Templating material, their off-cuts & Rough cuts of proposed panels but we were progressing and gaining much needed experience and skills.  The roof was positioned and bonded in middle areas as per the Guide however the trimming very much became a problem in that the panel was just a little off centre.  With these glues there was absolutely NO movement or adjustment.  When bonded it was STUCK!  Fortunately I made allowances for just such a predicament and there remained enough headlining to cover up my mistake.  It was certainly a 2 man task and much thanks to Mike for his help working together we completed the main body of the roof.   I was not going to be the next on board so it was all down to Mike and Chris this time to finish off the ‘challenge’ of the edges and take the credit of completing the Forepeek.  It wasn’t as perfect as I would have liked it but I realised I couldn’t have made a better job myself and that any irregularities would be concealed by furniture.

  It was time to replace all our rigging meaning our mast had to be un-stepped.   That gave us the advantage of replacing the headlining around and more importantly, under the Chain Plates in both Port & Starboard cabins making a much better and cleaner finish.  This meant even more work & pressure in removing the old headlining in these additional areas, cleaning, templating and finish cutting the material in readiness for when we dismantle the Plates (after the mast was un-stepped).  This soon came round and I completed all 4 areas.  Not only that but on an extra day on board I completed the Starboard Cabin Clothes Locker, another Result!    And that was completion of our very much shortened Headlining task for this refit (2015-2016).   Not as much completed as expected but an awful lot of experience gained.

  Late April I had the chance to Template the various “trim” areas in the Forepeek giving me the opportunity to make and cover some additional pieces of 6 mm plywood (as used in all other areas). In May I had the opportunity to fit them making the Forepeek finally fully complete.

 New matching LED lights fitted in Starboard & Port Cabins (Starboard shown)

Condition of old headlining in Forepeek (removed to gain access to old Heater exhaust)

Fore peak with all furniture & old headlining removed and all surfaces cleaned of any loose material

After templating, first two panels fitted

Underside panel in progress in the cramped space on board

Port side thoroughly cleaned

Port side Templating started

Port side cut showing 9 feet length (longer than home table)

Port Side fitted, a day’s work and looking good

Heads roof panel fitted
Heads now complete

Starboard side fitted, another full day’s work

Templating the last section the roof, the most complicated yet

Finish cutting the Roof from the Template on Table at home

Saloon Table with new Headlining Roll (now dry)

Aft berth covered with Off cuts, Templates and Rough cut Headlining

Forepeek with all furniture fitted (apart from “trim”)
Forepeek now complete

Port Cabin, Chain Plate area headlined (around Chain Plate)

Port Cabin Locker, Chain Plate area headlined (under Chain Plate)

Starboard Cabin, Chain Plate area headlined (around Chain Plate)

Starboard Cabin Locker,
all headlined
Locker now complete

Forepeak Side Wall & Roof “Trim” unfinished

Forepeek Starboard Side Wall “Trim” headlined (with shelf)

Forepeak center Roof “Trim” headlined

Forepeak Roof  “Trim”  headlined
Forepeek fully complete

  With un-stepping/stepping the mast, a new Mast Main Sail Track (with Roller Carrs), Fully Battened Main Sail, many halyards being replaced or cleaned, New Lazy Jack system, completion of Stem Ball replacement, Re fitting the Mast Tannoy and Deck Light and fitting of additional Mid-Ship Cleats with Fairleads, many other minor but required tasks and I mustn’t forget our 50th Wedding Anniversary holiday (see HOME page), little time remained for any further work on the headlining so a decision was taken to just remove what was left of the old headlining in the Starboard cabin (worst effected) and cleaning the areas where effected.  That was where the old powdered foam was showing and presented itself as a hazard.
We have always had a minor condensation problem in the Starboard cabin roof directly under the starboard deck locker and minimal as it was we decided to do something about it.   The condensation was limited to Winter build-up when ambient temperatures outside were very cold and our heating on the inside created that extra condensation above the head panels especially where the heat couldn’t penetrate.  It didn’t pose a problem but we knew it was there and we wanted to do something to rectify or at least limit it.   The new roof panels came down for inspection very easily as designed and still showed signs of past dampness so we decided to bond insulation in the form of polystyrene to the roof and roof side panels which would be covered by our Headlined panels.  This was completed by my Partners whilst I undertook “other” duties.
Then with some spare time, since the Head panels were down (for fitting the insulation) and all the equipments available we thought we could tackle at least some work in the Starboard cabin especially as we now had a “clean” area.   One of my Partners suggested that he would undertake some headlining whilst I was absent on my Anniversary Cruise.   It was great news as this cabin could possibly be completed this year and knowing that whatever we could start, he would complete and that was just the motivation I wanted.   I started the headlining templating 3 weeks into January and since there really is only enough working room in that cabin for 1 person or 2 at a squeeze, that would leave others to complete the remaining tasks for this refit.  All the internal wall templates were completed ready for a real start on the first week of February.   Wouldn’t it be so good before we launch to be able to say “Starboard Cabin Fully Complete”! I was now raring to go.  The following week full of enthusiasm those four templates were headlined (a long day but well worth it). Not only that but in preparation for headlining the outer hull, the window retaining trims (covering the headlining) in both Port & Starboard cabins were removed but unfortunately some of the fitting screws had broken and the Port window had to be completely removed and taken to the “Thread Doctor” for professional removal.    We both planned to work double days at least for the next week so the overnight heating would dry out any condensation giving us an early start on the second day but unfortunately domestic matters interfered and our plan was postponed. The broken screw from the Starboard window trim proved too difficult to remove but I was not finished with it and was resolved for a second look.   The outer lower panel was soon templated and covered and the upper outer panel was scrubbed clean leaving just sanding when dry.  With just 2 panels to go I was determined to complete that cabin.  My next visit was for 2 days but with a bombshell.   The Thread Doctor failed to remove any of the broken screws and we couldn’t source another matching window (even second hand).  We could purchase new windows that we could fit but that was a rather expensive option (even with my discount).  After much discussion and telephone calls I decided to grind all four broken screws flat, centre punch and drill out using a stainless steel cutting fluid and a sharp drill.  I  then opened the holes up to 0.250 inch diameter and taper reamed them for an interference fit of the Nuts. The Nuts were then coated with Duralac (anticorrosive jointing compound), press fitted then the area immediately cleaned.  Since this operation required several pairs of hands, I am forever grateful to my able assistant (Joy).
With ample assistance, the Starboard cabin was soon completed.  I was due to start my 50th Wedding Anniversary Cruise (see 50TH WEDDING CRUISE page) and one of my Partners volunteered to continue the Headlining tasks with the Port Cabin, Saloon and Galley whilst I was away.   He managed the Port Cabin wall panels (lower & upper) leaving the roof panel and the Clothes Locker to complete, then moved on to the Saloon starboard side outer seat panels and templated parts of the Galley before time ran out and our launch date forced a stop.

Starboard Cabin roof anti-condensation insulation (with Roof Panels removed)

Stbd Cabin Internal panels stripped and cleaned

Stbd Cabin forward panel headlined

Stbd Cabin internal panels headlined

Stbd Cabin Lower panel headlined

Port Cabin Window Retaining Trim removed

Typical Broken Screw

Barrel Bolt Nuts fitted to Port Window

Outer Starboard Window

Outer Port Window (with nuts)

Stbd Cabin Upper panel headlined

Stbd Cabin Outer Roof panel headlined

Starboard Cabin with all furniture fitted
Starboard Cabin complete

Saloon, Stbd side, Outer seat panel headlined

  This year we have NO plans to step the mast (thank goodness) so we can concentrate on other matters.  Also this year mainly due to the recovery of my Rotator Cuff operation and that it would have been my 4th year working on the headlining alone, I will not be undertaking any further Headlining tasks (there are other tasks I wish to undertake). One of my Partners would have continued this work however he undertook the ARC followed by knee replacement surgery.  All is not lost though as we have plans for a big “push” in October 2018.  The overall plan is to hire a contractor to complete, or nearly complete all of the remaining headlining.  It will be expensive in cost but its psychologically the removal of a very big & time consuming task.  This is planned to be undertaken at the same time as work on the Topsides both requiring removal of the windows thus reducing the overall cost.

  No headlining was undertaken in the first part of the year however by the end of October we could see an end to this huge and time consuming task.  By mid September I was deep in organising our planned work outage at Northney Marina fine tuning the details.  The outage was purposely designed to merge 2 individual main projects over the one period followed by another after completion.    Externally were are having the hull re-gelcoated and correcting the indicated waterline. For more on this see Gelcoating section.  At the same time another contractor will be completing all the remaining Headlining, sharing the removal & replacement of the Windows which is the main reason for dual contractors.  Should the Headliner not finish in the planned 3 week period then he will continue when we are established on the hard at Wicormarine.
Before any of this work started we removed all items that the Headlining contractor would need to allow him to complete in time and of course reduce the overall cost.  This took several days and the contractor removed even more when he started. Most of the berths were removed whilst on our mooring at Wicormarine and stored at home but it was thought easier to remove the many other items when we were on the hard at Northney but as can be seen, our problem was storage room on board.

All hull Windows covered

All Window frames removed

Heads roof removed

Removed Heads roof from inside

Heads roof stored in Saloon

Saloon head removed and Galley cleared

All shelving cleared

Grab Rails removed

Loft panels and Grab
handles removed

Port cabin panels removed

Panels etc stowed in
Port cabin

Panels etc stowed in

   The Headlining contractor spent the first week & half on removing the windows (for access) with additional furniture and it was soon realised that at least 4 windows (Windscreen and Transom) would have to be replaced.  Details on this will be covered in the Gelcoating section.  Time was also spent with sewing edges of headlining material so it was somewhat disappointing that no progress could be seen.  Our contractor made sure that all cables were secured before concealed behind any headlining.   Also he found that one window had leaked for many years, possibly since new resulting in a small “rotten” section of the Heads roof, an unseen corner.  Fortunately he was able to make good (with our help) by sealing and filling the area and we continued resulting in an almost invisible repair. Within a few days however much of the headlining had been fitted and with such rapid progress I wondered about the quality.   I shouldn’t have as it was indeed First Class,  something worth while waiting for and a boat to be proud of.   What a change!  With just over a week to go before our booked launch date the emphases will be completing the window areas so that the work can be finished back at Wicormarine.  Within the final week the water level windows were replaced as well as the important furniture and fittings removed by the contractor and by the 2nd November she was ready for launch and a passage back to Wicormarine. Even though the contractor had further work to undertake he left Adat in a very tidy condition leaving us little to do to make her seaworthy.

Starboard side Saloon Window area headlined

Starboard side lower locker

Port side Saloon
Window area headlined

Port Cabin Window area headlined

Port cabin Locker area headlined

Port cabin Clothes locker
Port Cabin complete

Saloon Wet clothes locker

Cables adhered to roof before headlined

Starboard side Lower
Saloon complete

Starboard side Lower
Saloon complete

Starboard side Saloon showing sewn edges

Rotted corner of
Heads timber roof

Rotted corner of
Heads timber roof

Starboard side Nav area (awaiting window frames)

Windscreen complete (awaiting New windows
and frames)

Windscreen Corner complete
(awaiting frames either side)

Port side Lower
Saloon complete

Transom complete (awaiting New windows & frames)

Central Saloon complete
(both sides)

Upper Saloon complete
(both sides)
Saloon complete

   December, back at Wicormarine and now on the hard we reinstalled as many of the panels and fittings we could (with some minor changes).   We were now awaiting manufacture of some new windows and wouldn’t be able to complete our reinstallation until these were fitted making us reliant on working in conjunction with the Headlining contractor awaiting his completion.  When the windows were ready for installation both contractors were informed however that’s where another problem started.
The Headlining contractor stated that is spite of agreeing to complete his work when we were established on the hard at Wicormarine he would not be available until May 2019.  It was clear from his manner and language that he did not want to complete his contract.   This of course was most upsetting, would render us unable to continue most of the remaining Winter Refit tasks and could lead to a costly delay in our Sailing Schedule for 2019 although we would indeed bend-over-backwards to prevent this.   Not to be delayed any more than necessary with our own Refit tasks we first decided to out-source the remaining contractual work.  This was almost impossible at short notice.  I must reiterate that the actual headlining was completed and is first class however peripheral items the contractor removed to allow him access were not replaced EG the Frames of 7 windows, the Heads roof, Capping of screw fixing holes, etc.   These tasks require the specialist knowledge that we assumed our contractor had especially as it was he who removed the items.   In retrospect he admitted that in spite of spending 2 visits and several hours on board inspecting, measuring, etc he would not make any money from this project and had not investigated all the work involved nor had he investigated the additional Contractor fees he encountered at Northney Marina, all before quoting for the work.
We have now considered this hopefully the final phase and completion of our educational and time consuming (but enjoyable) Headlining project.   Any further ongoing work will be covered under the ADAT section for 2019. See ADAT 2019.

And one last look showing the finished headlining of the Rear berth