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Old 01-31-2021, 09:42 PM   #1
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Access to aft wall of forward head in Helmsman 38

Is there a trick to accessing the back side of the aft wall of the forward head on the Helmsman 38/Mariner 37? I am planning to install a grab rail towel bar and need access to the back side to tighten the nuts.

There may be space between the aft wall of the head and the forward knee area in the pilothouse, or there may be access beneath the "floor" of the chart "drawer" on the port side of the pilothouse. Sure would love to know before getting too aggressive with that beautiful wood.
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Old 02-01-2021, 07:18 AM   #2
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Post photos when your done. I might like to do the same.
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Old 02-01-2021, 08:47 AM   #3
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Will do. There is a factory bar on the aft wall of the shower, but I believe that back side is accessible from beneath the pilothouse helm instrument riser. Hoping there is similar access on the port side.
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Old 02-01-2021, 09:14 AM   #4
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When I installed a couple extra grab rails, I put nice stainless backing plates and through bolted the rails.
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Old 02-01-2021, 09:46 AM   #5
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That's my approach too, but I am hoping to learn how to get to the back side to fit those backing plates without tearing into wood first.
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Old 02-01-2021, 09:58 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by HeadedToTexas View Post
That's my approach too, but I am hoping to learn how to get to the back side to fit those backing plates without tearing into wood first.
I have 4 polished stainless backing plates, 2 per grab bar, in my head because I wanted 2 sturdy grab rails in the pilot house.
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Old 02-01-2021, 11:32 AM   #7
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Ahh, you mean your pilothouse and head share a common wall so that the backing plate is in the head and the grab rail is in the pilothouse? That makes sense.

My boat must have some space between those walls as they are different material. The pilothouse is wood and the head is fiberglass. The shower is the same way and the backing plate on that grab rail is in the space between the walls. Hoping the head has the same amount of space. I am trying to figure out where and how to access that space.
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Old 02-01-2021, 01:07 PM   #8
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Ahh, you mean your pilothouse and head share a common wall so that the backing plate is in the head and the grab rail is in the pilothouse? That makes sense.

My boat must have some space between those walls as they are different material. The pilothouse is wood and the head is fiberglass. The shower is the same way and the backing plate on that grab rail is in the space between the walls. Hoping the head has the same amount of space. I am trying to figure out where and how to access that space.
I had to use 'not too long' machine screws. I drilled for grab rails in the pilot house, through the empty space and through the head wall mounted the stainless backing plate and used a fancy cap nut on each of the machine screw.
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Old 02-20-2021, 04:25 PM   #9
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Still hoping to find access to that space. The currently leading idea is through the opening created by removing the port side drawer in the forward pilothouse bulkhead. Fingers are crossed.
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Old 02-20-2021, 05:06 PM   #10
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Keep us informed of your progress.
You could dill a very small pilot hole, leave the bit in then go down and look for the protruding bit.
Of course, the drill bit my be a bit short so you will have to go up to a larger and longer bit.
Good luck on your 'improvement'. SMILE
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Old 02-20-2021, 06:47 PM   #11
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If there is a common wall between the head and the cabin your options are endless. Anything from a carriage bolt or finishing washer to a S.S. plate or something to hide the bolt head like a picture or a nautical theme thing "The captain is always right" etc.

If it is a hollow wall you may have to cut a hole into the wall to see what you are dealing with.

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Old 02-20-2021, 08:31 PM   #12
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If there is a common wall between the head and the cabin your options are endless. Anything from a carriage bolt or finishing washer to a S.S. plate or something to hide the bolt head like a picture or a nautical theme thing "The captain is always right" etc.

If it is a hollow wall you may have to cut a hole into the wall to see what you are dealing with.

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Pete, I made no attempt to hide the backing plates, I just explain them. I have 4 polisher SS backing plates in the head area. Yes, I had dead space between the walls. I just used longer machine screws.
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Old 04-05-2021, 01:48 PM   #13
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So I finally got up to the boat to examine a few possibilities, and struck out with all of them. I had hoped that there was access to the space between the head and pilothouse walls through the port side drawer in the pilothouse "chart table," but the entire drawer pocket is finished with solid wood with no removable sections. Same with the fold up top of the "chart table." The storage space beneath that fold up top is solid throughout with no removable panels.

The head has two mirrors, one on the aft wall in question and another on the starboard wall above the sink. Both mirrors are very securely mounted to the fiberglass wall. Any idea if there is a hole behind them or how to remove them gracefully?
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Old 04-18-2021, 09:13 AM   #14
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Greetings,
Mr. HtT. The most apparent thing that jumps out at me is make a hole inside of the drawer "pocket". If you use a multi-tool you can make plunge cuts and re-use the piece you remove. Still, unless you have VERY long and multiple jointed arms I can't see how you would access the towel bar location from the drawer area...
Edit: I would try Mr. OD's suggestion of probing with a small drill bit first.
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Old 04-18-2021, 09:20 AM   #15
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Not knowing any better, I am probably going way too far to rule out the "easy access." If the mirror does not come off the wall, probing through that drawer pocket is definitely the least destructive way in.
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Old 04-18-2021, 10:35 AM   #16
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Check the wood frame for counter sunk and refilled screw holes
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Old 07-23-2021, 04:16 PM   #17
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Good call, Dan. There are six neat wood plugs covering what I hope are screws holding that mirror frame to the wall. Also hoping they weren't just holding it in place until the 5200 cured! How do Taiwanese craftsmen usually attach wood framed mirror to gel coat wall? What is the best way to take those plugs out without destroying the nicely finished wood frame?
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Old 07-23-2021, 05:17 PM   #18
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It depends on how they glued the plugs in. Sometimes they use varnish as a glue and they will come out pretty easily. They may have used epoxy and they will come out and rip up the surrounding area. I take a drill and drill a small hole in the middle and then use a screw driven into the plug. The screw will hit the covered screw and start to back the plug out. Go easy and see how it is progressing. I then use a S/S decorative washer to trim the screws when you put the mirror back on. That way you can get it off again without having to remove plugs.
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Old 07-23-2021, 05:35 PM   #19
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Thanks Dave. That advice makes perfect sense and sounds really familiar. Forgive me if it has taken me hearing or reading it twice to finally jump into action. I've added it to my to do list for our next time aboard. Fingers are crossed.
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