Mak­ing short work of it...

Practical Boat Owner - - Ask The Experts - John Stubbs Liv­ingston, West Loth­ian

Qi have a dory Pi­lot 460 boat and want to shorten the cabin to make more deck space. Can you ex­plain how to go about this or if it can be done? i want to cut along the line of the dark blue rope (shown on the lower pic­ture) and re­move the bulk­head. Will it be easy or too dif­fi­cult? Tony Davies replies: Well John, it all de­pends how good you are at hands-on work. Yes, it is a straight­for­ward job, but it needs to be done prop­erly to en­sure there is no loss in the strength in the boat. If you are fa­mil­iar with fi­bre­glass­ing tech­niques then you should not have any prob­lems. If this is new to you, how­ever, then you’ll need to learn.

If I were do­ing this job I would def­i­nitely use epoxy resins rather than polyester for the far su­pe­rior strength it will give the job. I sug­gest you look on the Wes­sex Resins web­site and down­load (for free) all the guides you need to do the job.

Ba­si­cally you have two choices. You can chop the boat up and re­in­force it us­ing tim­bers screwed through the fi­bre­glass from the out­side to sup­ply the strength. Ob­vi­ously this will look aw­ful and you’ll lose any re­sale value but it will do what you want it to do.

Al­ter­na­tively you can give your­self a crash course in epoxy work and make a pro­fes­sional job of it. In this case I’d care­fully cut off the moulded sec­tions and re-use them to fin­ish the ar­eas where you cut the cabin away. To en­sure a great fin­ish you will need to paint the su­per­struc­ture as try­ing to match the gel coat to the orig­i­nal is a chal­lenge for even hard­ened pro­fes­sion­als.

Per­son­ally I’d give the top a light coat of epoxy primer, flat it off smooth and then use aerosols of car paint (base and clear coat) to give a high gloss fin­ish. This means you can al­ways quickly re­pair dam­aged ar­eas.

Al­ter­na­tively you can brush on stan­dard ma­rine paints or, as I have also done in the past, use Du­lux ex­te­rior house paint which will give sev­eral years of use be­fore need­ing any re­paint­ing.

The choice is ul­ti­mately yours: do a cheap and nasty job that serves the pur­pose, or go for a pro­fes­sional look­ing job at rea­son­able cost that will give you the added sat­is­fac­tion of a job well done.

Can John stubbs shorten the length of his Dory pi­lot 460 cabin eas­ily?

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