Hello All,

As promised, here are the details (and pictures) on my headliner project on my 1967 42 Commander.  

First, two pictures of what the headliner in the salon looked like when we purchased the boat...
You can sort of see by the pictures that the headliner sagged a bit.  It was evident that it had been replaced, but not done right.  I had decided at that point I wanted to have access to the ceiling in the event I wanted to run wiring, add lights, check for leaks or whatever... things that you can't easily do when you have a traditional headliner installation.  Here's what the ceiling looks like without the headliner in place (looking forward):

I decided that I would divide the ceiling in two halves using a centerboard, That, along with trim that would go across with width of the boat, as well as trim on the outside (next to the valance), would hold the panels in place.  At this point I need to give my dad a shout out... I provided the mahogany, and he provided his shop, piles of talent, and his time to create all of the trim I wanted.  Thanks dad!  Here is a picture of the raw centerboards (two to make up the length - with the break being right where the vent for the mast will be):

Armed with the exact size of the centerboard, I now had to figure out the size of the panels.  For this, I used nails and string to mark the centerboard's location, and to visually see where the panels would be.  This told me that I would be moving a staple board (boards going from port to starboard that the original headliner was attached to), and adding another.  The string made it easy as well to measure the size of the panels, and be sure that things were as square as I could get them.  After that, I transferred the measurements to paper:

Because I was using panels a long with trim (2" wide "ribs" from port to starboard, 1 1/2" edge trim), I didn't have to have exact panel sizes.  This is good because I can imagine the madness trying have exact measurements  After the panels were put to paper, it was time to start with the physical stuff... installing the centerboard, measuring again (measure twice!) and cutting the panels out.

Above: Centerboard in place, as well as the extra "ribs" - natural colored mahogany vs. the gray originals.

Above:  A couple of things here... in the foreground is one of the original ribs that had to be planed so it matched up nicely with the staple trim along the edges.  Note that I did not disturb the wood used to secure the grab rails.  I would use the staple boards and these ribs to attach the wood trim.  In the background a bit you can see that I used some wood blocks where necessary to shim the new ribs into place.

Above:  This is the one rib that I had to add to be able to install the trim to secure the panels in place.  You can see the centerboard already installed in the background.

Above:  A close up of the centerboard.  Note that while the bottom is 6" wide, the top is only 5" wide... this gave me 1/2" on either side to slide the panels into - and a much needed squared up edge.

On to the panels.  As I said, using the string allowed me to take rough (but too rough) measurements.  I purchased eight 4'x8' 1/4" plywood panels and had them cut in half for easier transport.  Again, due to how I laid the panel sizes out, nothing was more than 47.75" wide... 

Above:  The rough cut panels laying on the dock with our 42 in the background.  Never mind the hillbilly windows in the aft... nothing to see here... 

Above, The rough cut panels installed after their final fit.  As I mentioned the measurements were pretty close and only required some minor adjustments to have them all fit in nicely.

Above: Get your kids involved.  My son lent a hand writing down measurements in order to make the final cuts and finishes to the mahogany trim pieces.

With all the trim cut to fit it was time to take the panels home and finish them... 

Above:  Get your First Mate involved!  This is definitely a two person job...  First, I pained the "bottom" of the panels black.  I wanted to use traditional headliner material so that the boat kept the classic look.  So, the black made the panels appear as there would be "nothing" above the headliner.  After that, it was a coat of polyurethane on the "top side" to seal them up.  Once the prep was done (including holes drilled for new LED lights as you can see above), We used 3M 90 spray adhesive - prep with coats on both the headliner material (seen in the background), as well as on the panels themselves (foreground).  There's not a lot of work time, but enough that if you hustle, you can get them done.  In all, it was about 2.5 hours to put the headliner material on the 11 panels that make up the salon ceiling. 

 After the panels were prepared, it was back out to the boat... now to prep the lights.  I used the original light circuit (77) for the LED lights... Due to the lower voltage of the lights, I didn't have to modify anything other than adding more wire.  to make panel removal easier, I purchased some waterproof connectors pictured below, along with a picture of the lights wired in place and ready for the panels...

With all the prep work done, it was time to install... First the prep of the trim - countersinking the holes

Above:  "What If... we had a ceiling in the boat after 12 years of work? Better yet, what if I had more hair???"

And... the final results... 

With the sun out, the lights aren't really showcased well, and I didn't take a picture at night... but they work great, and provide a good amount of light.  We may change how the lights are segmented and switched on (for now they are all on the same three-way switch), but this will be a pretty easy job considering how easy it will be to remove the panels and access the lights.

Overall, I am very pleased with the results.  If you are looking to replace your headliner, I'd seriously consider looking at replacing with panels.

If anyone has questions about any other details, let me know.

1967 42 Commander
"What If..."

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Looks very nice. Well done!

was it as complicated as it appears?

Hello Charles,

I wouldn't say it was overly complicated, but it took some planning.  I would argue the fact that the woodwork was the hardest part.  My dad is a pretty talented guy, and he milled all of it... albeit to my specifications.  I don't have the tools, and he's about 2 hours from me now... so not so easy to be there with him working on it when I'm trying to complete other projects in the boat as well.  That being said, if you can get past the wood part, the rest is pretty straight forward...

- I used string and nails to layout the panels for the ceiling... Having a 'centerboard" made sure that in a boat that has no real even angles (see my measurements picture above), I had something that was square. 

- Choosing the materials... not so difficult either.  I used 12v LED lights easy to purchase through a number of retailers.  Traditional headliner material, black paint, and  spray adhesive.  I also used Reed-Prince fasteners (www.classicboatconnection.com or www.tnfasteners.com)... pricier but I wanted the silicate bronze look rather than stainless.  To finish the wood... Velvet Oil (warm cherry), Epifannes (wood gloss and rubbed effect), and foam brushes, and some good sandpaper in between coats. 

- I would say the cost of the project (salon) was in the neighborhood of $700.  (i'm estimating this based on the fact that I purchased materials for all three ceilings... salon, aft cabin, and v-berth.

If you are DIY inclined, it's not too crazy of a job.  If you have any specific questions, let me know... I'm glad to help!

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