Bilge Covers


This past season I found the two bilge sump covers over the keel sump were becoming somewhat warped and therefore they did not sit flush with the rest of the cabin sole over their entire length. After careful examination I discovered that not only were they a bit warped, but there was some minor delaminating setting in to the 1/2 in. plywood substrate that the 1/4 in. teak veneer plywood was attached to. At first I was going to shoot some clear penetrating epoxy between the laminations. A little further investigation revealed that I could remove the 1/4 in. teak veneer plywood from the 1/2 in. plywood substrate by judicious use of a sharp chisel.

After separating them with the chisel and mallet, I gave the underside of the 1/4 in. teak veneer ply a sanding with 80 grit sandpaper on my random orbit sander. Using a piece of 1/2 in. marine plywood, I cut out pieces for both bilge covers. I coated the 1/2 in. ply and the underside of the teak ply with a coat of neat West System Epoxy. Once this had reached the green cure stage I mixed another small batch of epoxy and thickened it with some West System #406 Colloidal Silica. After applying a modest layer to the 1/2 in. ply, the pieces were aligned and then mated. I used several clamps with modest pressure and after cleaning the squeeze out, I set them aside for overnight cure.

Once they were cured I sanded the edges and bottom of each bilge cover and gave them 3 coats of epoxy to seal them to any moisture invasion. Two coats of Captains varnish were then applied to the edges and bottoms of the bilge covers. Then 3 fresh coats of Captains varnish were applied to the top (teak surface). I now have bilge covers that should outlast me with no problem.

The following photos show one of the refurbished bilge covers:


Material required:

1 pc 1/2 in. marine plywood 29 in. x 7 1/4 in. (on hand) 0.00

1 pc 1/2 in. marine plywood 16 in. x 7 1/4 in. (on hand) 0.00

West System Epoxy (on hand) 0.00

West System Colloidal Silica (West Marine) $9.00

1 qt Captains Varnish (West Marine) $21.00

5 ea 1 1/2 in. chip brushes (Hardware store) $4.00

3 ea 1 in. foam brushes (West Marine) $ .45

5 ea 1 1/2 in. foam brushes (West Marine) $3.45

Assorted Sandpaper (on hand) 0.00

Total cost: $37.90

Tools Required:

Table saw

2 in. Wood chisel


Random orbit sander

This project required approximately 5 man hours to complete


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