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Shelves - aka "things no one will ever care about but me"

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KennethK and I had an email conversation a month or so back about good places to stow things on a 32-III. There are only so many "spots" for things, and one of my laments was that there was no really great spot for things like gloves and hats and things that are rarely used, but that you want to keep organized and dry.

Both of us are using the lockers under dinette- and settee-seats for bins full of tools and assorted gear, so that space is sort of spoken for. Galley drawers and cupboards have galley stuff, the pull-out bin at the nav table has nav stuff. Etc. And both of us seem disinclined to fill up the spaces in the v-berth with stuff, either because it is not easy to get to or because it puts too much weight in the bow. Okay, yeah, that's my racing-brain talking, but that's how I roll.

Regardless, the emails with KennethK got me thinking about my hanging locker. It isn't really big enough to hang a lot of things, in fact a normal-sized hanger won't hang straight in the space, it has to be angled, which cuts down even more on usable space. So my hanging locker has grown to be the spot where odd-shaped things go to live.... the air-pump for my dinghy, the spare jibsheets, etc. Not an optimal use for what is really some pretty prime real-estate.

I mentioned to KennethK in the course of that conversation that I'd pondered the idea of turning the hanging locker into a "cupboard"... maybe fit in a couple of shelves so that I could organize things in plastic bins, and still have space for that oddball stuff. A couple of weeks ago that thought turned into an ear-worm and I thought... what the heck, I'll go play with the space a little and see if it could work.

Grabbed the hot-glue gun and some empty boxes from the recycle bin and, in fairly short order was able to make a crude template of the forward and aft "walls" of the locker.

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Lots of "shape" in there. The outboard edges are obviously curved, but there are hoses and outlet boxes and chainplate bolts and all sorts of other things to plan around. In fact those outlet boxes are at different heights and different spacings from the inboard edge of the locker, and... and... and as it turns out, those forward and aft walls aren't "parallel", either. Pretty much the only straight line in the whole place is the front (inboard) face of the locker where the doors are hung. But.... having spent a day with my head in the locker, it appeared that it *could* be made to work. Maybe. With some creative shelf-spacing...

So I took the crude templates home, traced them onto a sheet of poster-board and took the "mock-ups" back to the boat.

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Interesting. They fit. In fact.... the fit is almost elegant. Guess I can't discard this idea just yet...

I laid out some ideas on the mock-ups for where it made sense to put shelves. I positioned the top of the top shelf so that a roll of paper-towels would fit on it (anyone else have "spare" rolls of paper towels tucked into weird spaces on their boat, or is it just me?) The second shelf I sized for a common size of "snapware" bin, big enough to hold some stuff and small enough to fit easily in and out of the locker doors. And I wanted to have enough room below the bottom shelf that I could still stick that odd-sized stuff into the bottom of the locker.

Before too long the poster-board had been traced onto 1/2" plywood - a nice 2'' x 4' maple-ply "project panel" from Home Depot worked great, as it turns out - and test-fit it with a couple of shelf-supports in place.

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...then used the same templating approach (cardboard and hot-glue gun) to figure out a shape for the shelves, taking into account the curvature of the outboard "wall" and the fill-hoses in the corners. And did I mention that the walls of the locker are neither vertical nor parallel? Hmmmph.

Long story short, I now have a couple of shelves in my hanging locker. The side pieces are held in place by the width of the shelves. They're fit nice and snug, and can be taken out if I need to ... or if I decide I want to use the space for something else. It's a little bit like one of those old chinese jigsaw-puzzles to get the shelves in place, through the locker doors, up into the space, onto the supports and down... but once maneuvered into place, it's a nice solid structure. And as you might know if you've read my blog, I'm loathe to drill holes in the boat if I don't have to, so the whole thing is "friction-fit" in place. No Ericson-installed furniture was harmed in the making of this movie.

In the meantime.... there's room for 4 good-size plastic bins, with a batten in place across the width of each shelf to keep them from sliding around as the boat heels. There's a surprising amount of room *behind* the bins, which I can use for spare sorbent pads, or all manner of other things that haven't quite found a "home" yet. Plus... paper towels! And there's still room at the bottom for the dinghy pump.

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About 100 bucks for materials and maybe 10 hours invested so far, probably another 5 to come once I figure out what I want to do to protect the bare wood against moisture. I'm thinking a layer of CPES to seal the wood, and then maybe a coat of off-white paint to keep the space "light". I haven't figured out whether you can paint over CPES, but I'll dig into that this week. I might even see if I can find some suitable teak trim to dress up the front edges of the shelves.

So there you go. A hanging locker becomes a cupboard... Probably violates some long-standing tradition of the sea, but I'm surprisingly happy with how these turned out. I think they'll be really useful, and (so far) feel like they've turned a catch-all space into something that really "works".

I maaaay, at some point, re-hang the locker doors so the hinges are on the outside edges like a normal cupboard, rather than hinged out from the center stile. Or maybe not. That would involve drilling holes in the Ericson wood. Ugh.

....but either way, I still blame Kenneth.


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Updated 03-19-2018 at 01:06 PM by bgary

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  1. Christian Williams's Avatar
    Very nice. I considered that for this boat, but the curves scared me off.

    Glad to know about test-fitting with glue-gun and cardboard, I just got much smarter for the next project.
  2. toddster's Avatar
    Very nice. Trying to build stuff on a boat is like carpentry in Dr. Seuss land. Looks a lot like my current project in the head, except I'm now on round two of cardboard templates. Unless it's a nice day to sail.
  3. alcodiesel's Avatar
    +1 on the template idea. Thank you, Bruce.
  4. bigd14's Avatar
    Nice work Bruce!

    One item caught my eye: the AC electrical box on the left photo has exposed wires going into it that could chafe (the one on the right has the insulation in place in this area). If nothing else some electrical tape wrapped around it would help prevent more chafe. Just a thought.
  5. Kenneth K's Avatar
    Nice work Bruce. That came out great. I like the cardboard mockups. My usual method is measure once, cut twice--I'd be into $200 in materials by now. Funny, my locker doors are hinged on the outside and close towards center.

    As far as coating the boards, you probably need only moisture protection, not standing water protection. Any good exterior paint should work, but be sure to use a separate coat of primer first. I had ace hardware mix up a custom color-matched "exterior" paint for my locker lids that have peeling edges--it's a near perfect match.

    As I mentioned, I'm tearing the old propane cabin heater out of my hanging locker. Still need to re-bed the water tank fill plates, too--had a bad leak from one. Might want to check yours before you bolt those great shelves in.
    Updated 03-19-2018 at 11:41 PM by Kenneth K
  6. Christian Williams's Avatar
    Regarding those outlets, Bruce, I received this week a message from a video viewer warning me in no uncertain terms that the receptacles on the boat are upsidedown. Goodness gracious!
  7. bgary's Avatar
    (laughing) yes, I've noticed that the outlets on Makana are all upside down.

    I've also noticed that the outlets in hospital emergency rooms all seem to be upside down.

    Not sure what correlation to draw there....
  8. GrandpaSteve's Avatar
    ...why can't the shelf supports be connected directly to the bulkheads?

  9. bgary's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by GrandpaSteve
    ...why can't the shelf supports be connected directly to the bulkheads?
    They totally could. I thought about it, but decided not to for two reasons:

    -- I don't know how much (if any) the boat flexes in that area, and I didn't want to create any "hard spots" against the hull or bulkheads by building a rigid structure, and

    -- more than that, I hate drilling holes in boats if I don't have to. it's a "thing" for me. If I'd screwed the cleats directly into the bulkheads, I probably would have done it with fasteners *through* the bulkheads, and then I'd have 4 big fastener-heads in my view on the cabin-side of the main bulkhead to look at every time I sat down below.

    In terms of trade-offs, I wouldn't have gained anything by being able to make the shelves 1/2" wider on each end, since the working width was constrained by the electrical boxes anyway.

  10. GrandpaSteve's Avatar
  11. GrandpaSteve's Avatar
    FYI, my hanging locker doors are hinged on the outside.
  12. Christian Williams's Avatar
    re-hang the locker doors so the hinges are on the outside edges

    My E38 has the hinges like Bruce's, and I can tape them together to keep them open for air circulation on the damp coats inside. Th Ericson factory must've had warring carpenters.
    Updated 04-01-2018 at 07:25 PM by Christian Williams
  13. Geoff W.'s Avatar
    I don't remember, how did you end up finishing the shelves?
  14. bgary's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Sati
    I don't remember, how did you end up finishing the shelves?
    CPES to protect the wood, and then a coat of exterior latex paint from Lowe's to make it match the inside of the locker.