Headlining

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The Westerly Droop

Vinyl headlining with a foam backing has a life of aproximately 20 years after which the foam turns to powder. On some Westerly yachts (eg Centaur) the lining was glued direct to the grp using a contact adhesive. Eventually the foam turns to powder leaving the contact adhesive still attached to the GRP. The vinyl then sags producing the appearance of the inside of a "Bedouin Tent" or the so called "Westerly Droop". It should be noted that this problem is not confined to Westerly's; many boats of this era (Beneateau, Sadler, Jeaneau, Nicholson etc) used the same approach and suffer the same problems.

Over the years several different techniques have evolved to deal with this.

Try to stick it back

Usually this is unsuccessful or at best only partially satisfactory. The powdery surface behind the vinyl is difficult to stick to and at the edges the vinyl may no longer be sufficient to cover the space.

If you insist on proceeding with this method, you have to clean off the vinyl in your bath using bleach and a dishwasher tablet in hot water solution and use a scrubbing brush. This is successful. However trying to refit it in the heads of a Renown you quickly realise that this isn't like putting up wallpaper where you slide the fabric to the edges. Contact adhesive is just that. As soon as the fabric hits the glue surface it sticks solid! Also with a large sheet of vinyl in a confined space it flops all over you and becomes unmanagable. Having progressed through all this and obtained a semi reasonable refitting you'll then find that the vinyl has become transparrent and your glue patterns and colouring if using spray-on glue shows through. Whilst this might be acceptable in the heads, it is definately not suitable for the main public areas.

Support it with Lathes

If the vinyl is in reasonable condition this can be quite an effective "bodge". Thin lathes say 0.5" wide can be sprung into a bow that supports the vinyl across the roof. The ends of the lathes can be located in notches in the curtain rail support battens on either side of the cabin and two thicknesses of lathes can be used to give a multilayer spring effect in the central region. The effect can look quite pleasing and is effective for supporting the central area of the vinyl however the edges may be a problem and eventually the vinyl will become too soiled to make it worthwhile.

Rip it all Off

Eventually the time comes, when your Westerly is betwen 20 and 30 years young, that a headlining refit is called for. Be careful to use an industrial mask when removing the old lining to avoid breathing the dust which is very possibly toxic. After brushing off and collecting the remains of the foam dust clean the glue from the GRP using rotary "face off" discs in an electric drill. The "face off" discs are very effective at removing the old layer of contact adhesive (much more so than solvents) and used intelligently they don't damage the grp. Depending on the recovering method to be used it may not be necessary to remove all the old adhesive but it may be easier to clean it all off to start with than have to come back and clean bits that have been missed. If you are putting on new foam backed vinyl, this will cover minor imperfections, I found the glue to be either quite dry in which case it will scapre off quite easily or still tacky in which case I tried removal with discs but gave up and left it there.

Foam backed vinyl material glued to the grp

As the original Westerly fit glue foam backed vinyl direct to the GRP with contact adhesive. Probably good for the next 20 years. This can either be done DIY using pre-sewn kits or there are firms that will do the whole job for you (see WOA magazine for advertisers). However foam backed vinyl has an open foam structure that is not particularly good at insulating. Some condensation may still be experienced. The methods below provide better insulation especially where a closed cell foam is used.

Vinyl clad 4mm marine ply panels

This has the advantage that it is removeable and wires can be concealed behind the panels. Later Westerly models used this technique. Additionally thin silver foil backed bubble wrap can be installed behind the panels to give better insulation.

Wood

Thin tongue and grooved planks or veneered ply panels. Ply panels painted white or cream look good too. If framed with teak or stained softwood a "traditional" look can be achieved.

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Marine carpeting

Backed by a closed cell foam for insulation carpeting gives a very warm feel.

Other materials

Such as Bamboo matting (occasionally available from Lidl's).

Bamboo saloon headlining example here

Resources

Glue here: The Glue People

Headlining, carpeting and insulation here:

KaoSpruce

Hawke House Marine

Toomer and Hayter

Trafalgar Yacht Services

R H Nuttall Birmingham. Tel 0121 359 2484 (Self adhesive EPDM closed cell foam/ 2m by 1m sheets 6mm thick with double sided or single sided adhesive)

References

Fulmar Headling example here: Inadee