In the middle of working on the cockpit teak fix project, we were having lunch and brainstorming how to remove some of the very tricky side planks without destroying them. “What if we left the teak plank in place and just removed the screw and filled the hole with epoxy ?” hmmm.. “What if we did that approach for the entire rest of the deck?!” Click went the light bulb in both of our heads. We checked this idea with Phil who mulled it over and gave it the green light.
Now, this approach would not work for every teak deck. If your teak decks are in very poor shape with planks lifting off and such this will not work. But in our case, our teak planks are very solidly glued to the fiberglass as we learned the hard way in the cockpit. I did some research online and could not find anything related to our time-saving approach though I am sure others have done it as well. Here is the revised and greatly simplified approach we used for the remainder of the teak decks. It met all of our goals including plugging all of the existing screw holes, keeping the teak plans and joint compound while making the entire deck one step closer to a complete removal should we or the future owners of Leela decide to do so.
Teak Deck Process:
- Step 1: We removed all of the screws by first drilling down through the teak bung to the top of each screw head. Since most of our screws were flat head we then needed to use a very fine Dremel bit to remove the little bit of epoxy that had filled the flat head notch when they originally glued-in the teak bung. While doing this we found 2 screw holes that went artesian on us. That means water started flowing out of the screw hole and leaking on the deck. That’s pretty incredible (in a bad way). We used a shop vac to suck water and moisture out of those holes for hours on end.
- Step 2: We then countersank each screw hole with a 1/2″ countersink bit to ensure the epoxy used to fill each screw hole would have a greater surface area for adhesion. We then let the whole deck sit for 2-3 weeks to dry out as much as possible from the 900 plus holes.
- Step 3: Each screw hole was cleaned with acetone using a Q-tip and GFlex epoxy was inserted using a syringe. At the same time, a new 1/2″ teak bung was inserted in the hole. We waited as long as possible before inserting the teak bung as we wanted to make sure the screw hole was done “eating” epoxy. We found some holes needed many injections of epoxy before they were happy. Don’t worry about epoxy dribbling on the deck as it’s very easy to sand off in the next step.
- Step 4: Once all the epoxy has set we purchased a bulk quantity of 80-grit sandpaper pads and I went to work on sanding all the teak bungs flat with the deck using an orbital sander. I used this opportunity to sand areas of the deck that were stained with grease and such. I think this step took about 4 back-breaking hours. I recommend your favourite music in very good earphones to drown out the orbital sander and vacuum cleaner.
Important notes: We used 1/2″ drill and new 1/2″ bungs throughout. If you try and use a common 1/2″ drill bit to drill down to the top of the fiberglass you will rip chunks off your teak deck. We learned this the hard way and it hurt our feelings very much to learn this. What you want is a Forstner drill bit. These guys make perfectly beautiful cylinders down through your teak. Also, sometimes the screw head is so shallow below the teak or at the surface of the teak that you won’t be able to get the Forstner bit going. This is when you need a countersink bit with a pilot guide. These two tools are the key to a successful project where you don’t tear your deck to shreds. We didn’t know this. Phil pointed us in the right direction. But only after we tore chunks off the starboard front area of our teak deck.
For those contemplating a similar project total expenditures including GFlex epoxy, hardware, bungs, etc was approximately $500 including new joint sealant for the cockpit. You can read Part 1 of this project here.