Refurbishing Cockpit Bolster Pads

PFB1769

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This winter I refurbished the cockpit bolster pads (replaced the covering) on my 1993 Grady White 226 Seafarer. After 13 years the vinyl material had become discolored cracked and damaged. I keep the boat in excellent condition and this was the most worn looking part of the boat.

I first removed the pads from the boat by removing the wing nuts and washers behind the wall by reaching up from under and behind the pads. The area is pretty tight and although the wing nuts were on tight all but three unscrewed easily. The three that were difficult to remove I was able to get off first spraying the screw with WD-40 and then by holding the screw with a pair of pliers (careful not to damage the threads) and getting the wing nut loose with channel locks. (there is not a lot of room to work back there especially with the rear pads).

By searching the internet I was able to find the exact same material (Chalk colored Seaquest® Roll ´N Pleat Marine Vinyl) from a number of suppliers. FABRIC WAREHOUSE http://fabricwarehouse.com/marine/seaquest.htm
had the best price but they sell it in yard lengths only and I needed a little over 2 yards (so I had some extra in case I screwed up) and Stainless Steel staples from Beacon Fabric http://www.beaconfabric.com/vindex.html?cat79.htm.

(hint: keep one of the bolster pads together to use as a guide when installing the new material)

Next I removed the old covering by removing every staple that attached the vinyl to the back of the board with a flat head screwdriver. I then inspected the foam (which was fine) and the wood. The wood had some rot in one side board where there was a hole in the covering. This made the board week and in danger of breaking in two with all of the handling I would be doing during the repair. I fixed this by glueing a couple of pieces of thin wood shim to the board over the hole. This both covered the hole and gave the board more support.

The flat backing vinyl was still in good shape so I just cleaned and reused it.

I unrolled the new material and layed the old covering over it and traced the outline onto the new material. It was very easy to cut the new material with a pair of good heavy duty sissors. I layed the new material face down on a long table covered with a cloth and placed the foam pad and then the board on top. I folded the covering around the board and tacked it on to the board with the new staples. (I used a Stanley electric staple gun for this. It cost about $30 at home depot. It would have been impossible with a hand staple gun). I placed the backing covering on top board and the folded corner of the new material. (The hardest part was getting the corner folds right. This took a couple of trys and some additional slits to the corner of the new material. This is why I recommend keeping one of the bolester pads together to see how the corner is folded).

I put twice as many staples as was origional on the pads but still only used 1 box of staples.

When I had finished all four pieces (two sides and two back pieces) I would say I put about 10 to 12 hours total into the project but after reinstalling the pads onto the boat they look like they were ordered directly from the factory.

I hope this post helps anyone thinking about recovering the bolster pads on their boat.

If you have any questions I will be glad to help.
 

MrPat

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WOW!!!!

Thanks for the very complete information! I just looked at my 11 year old bolsters. I made a note to get them fixed. Now I'll save a few bucks and do it myself. :D

What size staple did you use?????
 

PFB1769

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I used the 1/4" staple because it is used in the Arrow T-50 staple gun (which uses T-50 staples) and the Stanley electric staple gun I bought also is for use with the Arrow T-50 staple.

I not sure if a longer staple can be used in the Stanley gun ( you would have to check the specs on whatever type you use) but a longer staple would be better since it would godeeper into the wood board.
 

jim

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Make sure you use monel staples. I can't stand rust :(
 

Reel Soon

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thanks for the post

I just wanted to thank you for this post. I've been looking to replace my bolsters on my 98 Tigercat. Now I can save "Gas Money" by doing it myself! :D
 

greyg8r

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Excellent post!!! I am going to print this off for when I replace my bolsters.
8)
 

BobP

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Good post, need more of these -

When mine were shot, wood turned to rubber and was rotted from water going down back side. For new ones, I caulked back along top and sides before securing against gunnel. Still perfect 5 yrs later.

I use the vinly cleaner and treatment regularly. If you get any holes from say hooks, just use a spot of clear caulk to be sure no water.

FOAM
Does anyone know where to get the denser foam, not the stuff that you can feel the wood through. I would prefer more density to mine. How about the SOPAC closed cell stuff West Marine sells? Has anyone used it?
 

Grog

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Would anyone have the dimensions of the wood for the coaming pads on a 91 Sailfish? They were gone when I bought the boat and I'm thinking of putting on a set.
 

Amigo

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I just finished the same project. This is the second time for my 1988 Sailfish I/O.

This time I replaced the plywood backing. I used 3/8" monel staples and found them plenty long. And I used a manual stapler. I didn't have a problem as long as I pressed down hard with the stapler.

One other thing I did this time - where the front pleated vinyl material overlaps the vinyl backing, I spread some silicone sealant with my finger to seal that joint. And make sure the vinyl backing overlaps the front material on the bottom side to shed water. I also sealed that area with silicone sealant.
 

MrPat

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I am getting close to actually doing this project. I have not taken one apart to see hoe its put together, but I ban see that the pleated vinyl is wrapped on first and then welting is pit on to finish the back. Here is a pic of the welting ....



How did you guys do the ends? They appear to be sewn.
 

Amigo

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When you get the combing board off take some picture of the corners and ends to remind you how the professionals did it. On my first recovering job a few years back I spent to much time trying to get the ends and corners perfect. An extra pair of hands will help when you get to this part.

The process on the back is difficult to explain. Again, take pictures. If you can visualize looking at the combing board from the back side you will (1) start with the pleated material stapled to the bottom of the plywood coming up about 1-1/2 inch from the bottom of the plywood. The pleated vinyl would be hanging down at this point. (2)Then staple the plain backing vinyl with about an 1-1/2 inch over lap over the pleated vinyl. (3) Then staple the plain vinyl material at the top of the plywood. (4) The last step is to then wrap the pleated vinyl around the front, over the foam, and staple on the back side overlapping the top of the plain vinyl.

This will help shed water that will get between the gunnel and the back side of the combing board.

Its not all that difficult when you get on off and look it over from the back side. Nice new vinyl shows off the boat real well.
 

socuban

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Excellent post and good timing!!!!! I was replacing the fuel lines today when my wife popped in on me and asked me why the side "cushions" looked so bad.

Now I know what to do.

Thank you :!: :!: :!: :!:
 

finncrossing

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bolster end welting

Great article. I have a 1997 272 Sailfish that need the bolsters redone. I plan to do it myself but do the others on this string ignoe the welting on the bolster ends, by just folding the vinyl at the corners, or are some of you sewing the welting on the corners, insteaad of folding under the vinyl corners.

Any special sewing machine requirements.

Thanks and Happy New Year

Mickey Finn
 

Amigo

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My original vinyl did not have welting on the ends. It's a 1988 model year Sailfish. It was nicely folded over and stapled.
 

BobP

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When water gets behind the bolster, that's when the rot will occur. I had no holes in my vinyl but the wood was rotted.

On the corner folds, you can use some silicone, or as I suggested to lay a bead on the top edge and sides before securing against the boat. Water seeping between the two will stay there and not dry, and perhaps get into the folds.
 

Fishtales

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I had some pink blotches on mine on and 02 sailfish. On the newer boats there is a single screw underneath on each end and some stainless fingers that tie into a recepter mounted on the glass as I recall. Once you remove the end screws you just wiggle the bolster a little while lifting up and they come off. GW stood behind the product (indicated it was a bad batch of vinyl) and shipped me an entire new set.
Needless to say - awesome Cust Serv.....
Have not had to take them off my boat - hopefully won't for a long while.
 

Fishtales

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BTW - no wood on the newer ones, some sort of plastic that accepts ss staples.
 

fishie1

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I've had pink blotches all over my vinyl and Grady only offered advice on how to clean it. This despite the fact that their recommendations never lasted long as the pink fungus returned in several weeks and while I asked many times never got more than the just clean it with this mixture routine. They even mentioned where I could buy some of the recommended remedies. I also spoke to a factory rep at a boat show and he promised to take a look while the boat was laid up as he was planning on visiting that dealer. I was kinda disappointed to say the least and to this day still have the pink spots appear. This was in 05 & 06 on my 02.

Is the new vinyl impervious to these pink blotches?