A nautolex deck by Gary

Gary Kramer >>  A Nautolex, plywood, rear deck replacement, offers the following for anyone wants to hear thoughts on this process. 


    We bought a 32' last summer that needed a deck. Over the winter I looked at a variety of options including a product that is used on commercial ship decks. It is similar to the lining they spray in truck beds. I looked into gel coating a deck fixed in place. I really wanted to figure out a better drainage system. But we finally opted for the traditional look. I looked at exterior AC plywood, MDO board (Ed Note MDO is a durable hardboard used for road signs) and decided to spend the $61 a sheet for 5/8 marine ply. (Ed Note: It has to be 5/8" plywood, not 1/2 inch or 3/4. Buy it in the sizes that minimize additional cutting,)  My theory was that if the Nautolex went to hell, ripped, etc, the decking would still be sound and could be covered with one of the new urethanes. 


    I took the old pieces out, stripped the Nautolex off and used them as patterns. Then I did a trial fit of the new pieces. I coated all the edges and several inches in on each piece with West Epoxy. Most of the old rot was around the edges so that's why I just coated this area. The rest I primed with oil base primer. Using the old 'Nauti' as patterns, we overcut new pieces, coated both sides with adhesive and applied. My wife smoothed and rolled with rags and paint roller while I pulled the edges and stapled underneath with Monel staples. The adhesive was tough to work as the temperature was in the low 50's when we worked in our garage with the doors open. We did the starboard panel first, then matched the stripes to the middle 12' sections and then matched them to the port panel. It was harder to get the hatch stripes to match. The problem was that the split between the starboard panel and the 12 inchers was in the middle between black lines. That was OK but that roll was enough to throw off the spacing on the hatch lines. It's not much and really not noticeable when you get the hatch trim on but it might be better to have that first joint happen on a black line-I'm not sure. It is fairly petty, but we try to do good work. 


    Unfortunately, when we fit the panel back in they were slightly too big and wouldn't lay flat without a slight bow. So I unwrapped a couple edges and trimmed them down and reglued. All my floor trim had come off nicely so that was not a worry. The BIG hassle was re-screwing the panels. We installed a gennie (Ed - generator) on the forward end of the rear area and with the tanks, fuel lines, mufflers and a ss exhaust box for the gen I almost literally couldn't get to a couple screws to get them out. Some how I did but to reinstall I used a combination of tools. 12V drill for some, hand screwdriver for some and a right angle compact drill for some. I had my wife stand on top as ballast (although I kept telling her she really wasn't much ballast) and I worked under her. I drilled some pilot holes and others just ran in. I stripped the heads on some as they didn't run in straight and without pilots just wouldn't go. So lock on with vice grips, remove the stripped screw and try again. I had a couple bruised, or broken ribs during this time and paid a price. I think if I did it again, which I don't want to, I would look for more positive drive heads, like Torx or box for some of the tough ones. 


    (Ed Note: See my note on the use of Screw Grab in the tips section.)


     Because of the reach I had with the clutter I have down there, I also could have used hex heads and the run them up with a ratchet and a breaker bar for an extension. But we got it down snug, then sealed the edges with silicone like it was (currently caulked?). It wasn't originally siliconed in, but circa 1986 Boat Life or something that was a cross between dried out caulk and aluminum. (Ed Note, I am not impressed with Boat Life as a caulk, stick with 3M Silicone, or for 50 year permanence 3M Polyurethane which can be toweled.) 


    I decided against 5200 (Ed- a 3M polyurethane caulk), in case the deck had to ever be taken out again. I laid the hatch trim out, taped it down, ran a couple trial screws in the hinge and made sure all was 'go' before I installed it all. 


    Another problem occurred when the new decking was slightly higher than the aluminum deck at the front corner and where the slider channel and screen channel but up against each other. I made some shims from vinyl to slip under the screen track. They were almost up to the door track. Then I laid a good bead of silicone caulking on the seam between the panels and the alum, laid the shims in place and let the silicone set up for a while. Then I was able to slowly take the screen channel down to level out with the door channel. I may build up the corners a hair just to make sure there is a pitch toward the back. 


    The retaining ring on the bottom of my drains was trashed so rather than buy new ones, I am using two different washers, of different sizes, to lay against the tightening nut and then cut new rubber gaskets to snug up against the bottom with a thin bead of silicone under the exposed part of the drain. I used silicone in every screw hole on the hatch trim and hinge. I am also going to use either the commercial, small rubber rain gutter or some vinyl channel I have found at the lumber yard to run around the interior of the hatch. 


    I will pitch it all toward a back corner and then run a drain line to the large drain hose, cut a hole and silicone the little line in. I hope that helps get some of the water that is bound to sneak down there. I will also use silicone on the bottom of the hatch trim, let it set up a while and then put plastic down before shutting the hatch and weighting it. I hope that makes a very thin sealing gasket on the underside without raising the trim much off the deck. 


    So there is my story - I don't claim to be an expert. But that's the story of how I did it and I am sticking to it.  It's past time to get it in the water and I still have to finish the new seating bench for the bridge. That's another DIY, custom, maybe wacky design. Hope this helps - my ribs still hurt.
Gary Kramer
Sittin Duck
P.S. In next month's issue of Heartland Boating, St. Louis, there will be my article on how I rebuilt the sanitary system on the boat.