Fabricating the Swim Step

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Pieces of the swim step ready for trimming and joining.

Pieces of the swim step ready for trimming and joining.

In the post “More Sugar Scoop Parts” we saw how to make prefinished gel-coat parts using a window glass surface. With the parts made, the pieces can be joined to make the swim step. The step was made in two pieces as the glass surface was not large enough to make in one piece. The two pieces are sanded for bonding, laid upside down on the glass surface and then layers of glass cloth are applied with vinyl-ester resin as before.

The Step pieces are sanded for bonding, placed on the glass surface and laminated together.

The Step pieces are sanded for bonding, placed on the glass surface and laminated together.

 

When cured, the fabricated swim step is released from the glass surface and cleaned up. The piece must be trimmed to fit the transom of the boat. The gel-coat is about 20 to 30 mils thick, with layers of surface veil, 6 oz cloth and 4 layers of 1708 fiberglass stitched mat. The result is about 6 mm (1/4″) thick and very stiff. Notice the recess for the telescopic swim ladder is molded in using the mold piece mentioned in a previous post.

The completed swim step is trimmed to fit the transom.

The completed swim step is trimmed to fit the transom.

Here we can see how the swim step fits snugly into the sugar scoop cavity. The ladder recess is molded into the swim step. The water line is about 10-11 inches below the surface of the step. When completed, cabinets will reside on either side serving as a step up to a center step mounted on the transom above the boat name. The dead space under the step will be water tight with a small inspection plate added later to ensure the dead space remains dry. Condensation would be the most likely source of moisture accumulation in this area. The cabinets will have opening tops and small drains built in. One side will be fitted with a fresh water shower later.

Custom formed tabs will be bonded to the hull so the swim step can be bonded to the hull by laying it on top of the completed tab.

Custom formed tabs will be bonded to the hull so the swim step can be bonded to the hull by laying it on top of the completed tab.

Custom tabs are made using the swim step as a mold. The tabs will be bonded to the hull and scoop, providing a bonding surface for the swim step. This must be done as there is no other way to complete the tabbing and bonding from within the dead space. Here we see the tabs are fabricated and checked for fit. The next step was to build up the layers of 1708 fibreglass cloth on the inside of the sugar scoop. Six new layers were applied, bringing the total to 9 layers. When the last layer is applied to the bottom, after the step is bonded and the drain hole filled, there will be a total of 10 layers of 1708 with a thickness of 12 mm or about 1/2″.

Top tabs are bonded to the hull to tie in the sugar scoop top.

Top tabs are bonded to the hull to tie in the sugar scoop top.

The tops of the sugar scoop sides are pulled into final shape to continue the contour of the hull using pre-made top pieces bonded to the hull. Once cured, the side is taped to the top piece following the hull contour and glassed in place from underneath. Peel ply was used on the tab surface to facilitate a good bonding surface for the additional side lamination to be done after the step is bonded in place.

Cardboard mock-up of scoop cabinets

Cardboard mock-up of scoop cabinets

This cardboard mock up shows roughly what the new sugar scoop and swim step will look like when completed. The edges will be slightly rounded and the cabinets will open for storage with drains should they ship water.

This entry was posted in Equipment Installation, Fleet of Boats, Hull Maintenance, Second Star. Bookmark the permalink.

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