Re-creating the headliner
Our first project was to repair the headliner since it was winter and we could attack the repair in the relative warmth of the garage. Our first step was to remove the foam and vinyl from the headliner. The idea was to keep the pre-cut vinyl and preserve the foam in order to minimize the project to cutting a new balsa backing.
Luckily, the steel staples used by the folks who made the panels had rusted completely through. This made the removal of the vinyl a lot easier albeit a bit more hazardous. Given the cheap boat construction in general, I am not surprised that Prout Catamarans went with plain steel staples instead of Monel.
But even in a dry boat, these staples will rust and disintegrate over time. The minimal additional cost of using high quality staples would have prevented the brown mess we encountered once our headliner spilled over.
It illustrates the much larger follow-on costs that Prout Catamarans customers face when they discover that repairs Prout Catamarans claims to have completed successfully turn out to be band-aids that do not fulfill their function.
We carefully removed the vinyl/foam from the headliner for later reuse...
...but had to remove the foam from the vinyl as it had disintegrated.
So now we didn't just have to recreate the balsa panel but the underlying foam as well. It may sound trivial, but try finding a source for a specific thickness of foam in the right width to fit this application...
This is when you discover that the project is not as trivial as you expected it would be. Furthermore, making the foam adhere evenly to the balsa is non-trivial as well.
Here you can see our assembly table with the new and old covers. The old plywood serves as a template for the new section that was cut with a jig-saw, covered with foam and finally covered with the vinyl we were able to save. Each layer was individually glued in place and the vinyl was stapled with Monel staples.
If the section ever wets again, removing the staples will be a bit more challenging than prying off completely rusted leftovers! The now dry original Prout Catamarans headliner can be seen leaning against the far wall. The glob of glue that was used to attach the warped headliner to the roof after the first Prout repair is plainly visible next to the square hatch cut-out.
Best Estimate for Time Required:
|Remove vinyl from headliner||2 hours|
|Remove foam from vinyl||2 hours|
|Buy balsa, foam||4 hours|
|Recreate headliner using old one as template||4 hours|
|"Upholster" headliner with foam, vinyl||1 hour|
|Reinstall headliner, lights on boat||2 hours|