Al & Michele's Catalina 34

Hull #55 "Kindred Spirit"
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Galley Counter Top Replacement, C34 (1986)

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Procedure for Replacement of C34 Galley Counter Top

Galley Counter Top Replacement Making and Installation

Items needed for new top:
4' x 8' exterior grade, good one side plywood. $40 (Watch the number of plys that the plywood is made up of, 7ply is what I used, more is better).
Your choice of Wilson Art / Formica, one sheet 4' x 8' $65
Formica glue, roller, brush and router

1. Using the old counter for a template, trace out the exact shape on the new plywood. You will notice that four inches of the old counter stick over the new wood. (at rear of stove). To solve this problem, I glued and screwed a four-inch wide piece of clear pine, 12" long to that corner of the new plywood. This way the old top can be traced onto full size wood. Plywood only comes in four-foot widths, unless you want to pay big $. Trace out the sink and ice box openings also.

2. Now using a skill saw and a saber saw, cut out the outline of the counter and the sink opening. NOT the icebox opening.

3. Measure in 3 inches all around the icebox opening and cut out this smaller opening. More on this in a moment.

4. Using a belt sander, sand all the edges to the template lines. Remember that all the edges are covered with teak so a little off is ok.

5. Locate the edge that butts to the hull (back of stove side!) and with the belt sander grind this surface back at a 45-degree angle. This will give the counter the relief that it needs to get a good fit at the angled hull liner.
A modification that I made to the top was adding 2 inches in width in back of the stove. You must do this before you cut out your new counter. It will involve cutting the finish teak to the left of the stove 2 inches shorter before re-installing.

6. TIME TO TAKE IT TO THE BOAT AND SEE HOW WELL IT FITS!!! Is the stove too close to the new counter if you added on? Remember you have to have room for the teak. In the small hole that you cut out at the ice box...stick your hand in with a pencil and trace the out line of the ice box on the back of the counter top.

7. TAKE BACK HOME! Turn the counter upside down, you can see the outline of the icebox opening you drew. Draw straight lines 3/8 inch bigger than these lines all around. This will give you a 3/8 lip all around the box for the lid to sit in.

8. Neatly, using a skill saw and finishing the corners with a saber saw, cut out on this line. Make marks with a pencil so you know which way to put it back when we use it for a cover. After the edges of the icebox opening are covered in Formica and routed, (I will cover this in a moment) I glued 3/8 storm door rubber insulation to the back of the box opening all around. The insulation has a 3/8 round portion and a 1/4 inch flat part for fastening. This flat area is what gets glued to the back of the opening, with the round sticking into the box opening as a seal. When you look down from the top you only see the round insulation that the lid sits on. The only disadvantage is that you will have to cut it off with a knife if you ever need to replace it. The other method would be to glue 3/8 wide insulation to the box lip after the counter is installed. Lets do the Formica before tackling the lid.

9. Laminating Formica is not all that hard. Using the counter as a template, trace it on to the back of the Formica, counter top upside down also. You will have to seam the Formica somewhere in back of the stove; again 4-foot wide material was cheaper. Rough cut the Formica at least 1 inch bigger that your outline to leave room for error and placement when gluing. Rough cut the small piece for the back of the stove and belt sand the seam till it fit nicely. Also cut 4-1 inch wide pieces to perfectly fit the inside lengths of the icebox opening. Set up a large work area so that you have the counter top face up and the Formica upside down. Brush contact cement on the edges around the ice box opening, let dry....all wood surfaces get two coats of glue. Re-coat opening and coat pieces that will be laminated there. Let dry to touch and place all around opening. Tap with rubber mallet to insure good bonding. Use belt sander to finish these strips around the opening flush with the counter top. Flip top over and sand flush with bottom also. Now we are ready to laminate the top.

10. Make sure all surfaces are clean. Coat counter top with contact cement. Roller made for this works best. Brush is difficult but ok.

11. Let dry. Coat top a second time and also coat back of Formica. Place long CLEAN sticks on top of the counter so that the Formica can be laid on top of the counter WITHOUT touching it. 3/8 inch round dowels, 3 feet long are perfect for this, but almost anything small and long will due, including something metal. Line up the Formica on top of the counter....starting from one end, pull out the spacer and touch the Formica to the top. Once touched it will not come loose. Work your way one spacer at a time, rubbing out any air bubbles as you go. No spacers needed for the small piece behind the stove, just push the seams together first as you lay the piece down. Take you router with a ball bearing Formica bit and cut out around all edges. REMEMBER that the rear edge is a 45 angle so router will not work on that face. Use the belt sander there. Poke hole at icebox and sink and route around those edges.

12. Sand edges of Formica smooth around the ice box opening using 120 sandpaper on a small wooden block.

13. Refasten teak fiddles all around counter and plug screw holes. Teak plug re-installation: Before installing the teak piece again, Use a 3/8" plug recess tool to clean the hole for the new screw and plug. (Just like if you were doing a new screw hole). Once you have replaced the SS screws, purchase 3/8" teak plugs. Place wood glue around the plug, line up the grain and lightly tap, till the wood plug hits the SS screw. Wipe off any glue and let dry over night. Take a very sharp wood chisel and tap the top of the plug off about 1/8" above the finish surface so that you can see which way the grain is breaking on the plug. It will break off like a ski slope. The low side is the side you should be finishing with the chisel to the finish surface...a little at a time from the low side. Sand flush and oil or varnish.

14. ICEBOX LID: I used the same 3/4 ply that came from the opening that I cut. WHAT TO DO WITH THE SMALLER HOLE IN THE CENTER?????? Fill it with 3/4 inch solid foam!!!!!! We need more insulation. Important to remember here that the lid needs Formica all around its edges. Some sanding before Formica may be needed to get a good fit. Also if you are using this cut out that the inside edges have to be recessed for the insulation or the cover will sit to high. Cover the top and edges with Formica screw on the inside foam insulation and you have your lid. Cutting down the old 1/2 inch lid and recovering with Formic will also do. Another change I made here is to hinge the top. The only thing I do not like about this is it hits the upper shelf not allowing us total access to the opening of the icebox.

15. INSTALLATION: Place the counter top on a few dabs of silicone and screw up from underneath as before. I did not like being on my head so much so I put the sink in, outlined it in light pencil and removed it again. I noticed that the sink overlaps well over an inch. On that overlap I did my screws from the top down. Drill/countersink 8 screws spaced around sink. Replace the two screws through the aft cabin bulkhead. Place the teak dish holder on the counter behind the stove, mark with pencil its width and remove.

16. Drill/countersink 2 screws under this teak to fasten counter. Fasten teak dish holder in place as before. Put lots of silicone around the sink, set sink in place, plug drain fill with water to hold sink firmly in place till dry.

Al and Michele #55 "Kindred Spirit"

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