New cockpit flooring for Larson Cabrio 240.
My boat was commissioned in 2004 and fitted with cockpit carpets, marine grade with press studs to hold them in place. I bought the boat in 2007 and the carpets, although serviceable, were beginning to look a little tired. By the end of 2009 season they were definitely looking the worse for wear with many of the press studs pulling out..
I considered replacing with like for like but at several hundred pounds for a limited service life this didn’t seem like good value for money. Real teak was out of the question so I started looking at the look-a-like products, Flexiteek, Aikona, Permateek, Tek-dek etc, theses were all pretty expensive. I had a couple of quotes but the boat wasn’t worth spending that amount of money on.
A friend suggested that I talk to a shipwright who dealt with a product called Atlanteak. The shipwright let me down but I got talking to the manufacturers who also make the Treadmaster range of products. They are called Tiflex Ltd and are based in Liskeard, Cornwall.
Although initially I was not confident about a DIY job the guys at Tiflex were very helpful and pointed me in the direction of their online help; http://www.treadmaster.co.uk/
As time was passing me by I decided to have a go at fitting the material myself.
I had a sample of the material from Tiflex and noted that the joint line is quite deep, 1.6mm out of a material thickness of 3.1mm. I asked Tiflex if this could be reduced. As the groove is cut on a router this was quite easily achieved although it came out very slightly narrower as the cutting tool is a flat vee shape. This does not look at all out of place.
All through the process Tiflex were excellent in the communication and approach, I cannot praise them highly enough.
The first stage is to make templates of the panels, Atlanteak is made up in sheets, like lino rather than the plank strips of the other products. I decided to keep the panels manageable by following the areas of non slip surface formed in the GRP deck. This meant that the largest panel was in the order of 1.2 x 1.2 metres.
I used heavy duty brown paper for the templates, a 20 metre roll was about £7 on eBay. These were sent off to Tiflex by post. They scanned my templates and produced a price which once agreed was followed by them producing a set of paper templates with all the joint detailing marked on. These were sent to me for final checking and making any necessary adjustments, there were a couple of minor tweaks to be made.
Once the templates were agreed Tiflex make the final sheets for dispatch together with the requisite amount of two part marine epoxy adhesive.
One of the preparatory stages is to key the GRP surface. The non slip GRP surface was initially dressed with an orbital sander. It is not necessary to remove the surface completely, just give it a decent key. It is then cleaned with a solvent. I used acetone.
I stuck the first small panel on at home, this was for a removable step, I thought it a good idea to try it out in a controlled environment. This was quite successful.
Having watched the video on the Treadmaster website, the guy mixes up a whole pack of glue and spreads it over several panels and then lays them one by one. I thought that I would follow suit, big mistake. The glue was mixed successfully and three small pieces and one large piece were spread with the adhesive. The large one was the bathing platform section which is long and narrow, the only place to glue it up was upside down where it was to be laid. I had chosen a very blustery day to tackle the job, too windy to get out on the water so I had to do something useful!
As I lifted the bathing platform section to turn it over a strong gust caught hold of it and slapped it against the transom. Like a piece of toast and jam, always jam side down when you drop it, the result was that there was glue every where. I managed to lay the section in the right place and started cleaning up the glue. Before it goes off the glue is quite easily removed using a cloth soaked in methylated spirits, however there was so much glue around that it took the best part of an hour to clean it off. The small pieces were quickly laid afterwards, the glue hadn’t gone off as it was spread thinly and the heat generated was readily dissipated, however the half tin of glue left in the pot had turned into a rapidly expanding golf ball. The glue in larges masses seems to go off from the inside outwards as the heat is generated within and can’t easily be lost. From then on I only mixed up enough glue for one piece at a time. This may have been slightly wasteful as it is difficult to judge how much you need for each piece.
Also when working with the remaining larger pieces I made sure that I had an assistant to help turn them over, I also didn’t do any more on a windy day.
Once the glue has cured the material is like the proverbial s**t on a blanket, it will be one hell of a job if I ever want to remove it.
I am very pleased with the final result, it is difficult to get a good photograph of the overall floor area so it appears in sections at the end of the article.
All that remains is to see how hard wearing it is over the coming seasons.
If anyone is contemplating a similar exercise I would strongly recommend having a look at doing it yourself with Atlanteak.
The material including glue was £600 plus a few quid for paper, spreaders and meths etc. The area is about 4 square metres so about £155/sq metre excluding labour.
If any one is interested I would be happy to discuss with them, the Tiflex website also gives lots of useful information.
Larson 240 Cabrio "JORIDA", Saxon Wharf.