Kayak bukhead relocation questions

I am getting ready to change the location of the front bulkhead on a kayak, and I would be intersested in hearing from ones who have done it in regards to the following:

  1. How did you get the existing one Out?

    I am thinking perhaps a sabre saw or by hand with a rough tooth hack saw blade

  2. After it is cut out, How did you get the remaining rim down to the hull ? I am thinking a Dremel or sanding drum on my electrical drill.

    3.I can’t reuse the old bulkhead in the new position since it is going in a section of the hull that is larger then where the old is, so what material did you use? I am thinking of about 3/4" high density gray foam

  3. What cement/glue, etc did you use to install the new one? I am thinking of fibreglass tape wetted out

    I would appreciate any help from those if have done it or installed one

    Jack L

It’s not difficult

– Last Updated: Apr-10-14 7:42 AM EST –

The following comments are assuming that you're dealing with a fiberglass bulkhead

1- Multi-tools are ideal for removing bulkheads, but doing it by hand with a hacksaw blade is an inexpensive and safe alternative. If you don't have a handle for it, just wrap some tape around one end, but make sure that it's set up to cut on the PULL stroke. Cut as close to the hull as possible, but make sure that the far end of the blade is not gouging the hull as you cut.

2- Again, a multi-tool is ideal for sanding down the remaining material, but can be done with pretty much any form of abrasive tool. Rotating tools (Dremel, drill) are less than ideal unless the sanding drum is larger in diameter than the tool, which is rarely the case. Smaller diameter drums require you to work at an angle, which can result in grooving the surface.

3- Is the bulkhead going to be structural, perhaps being used as a footrest? If not, foam is fine, but 3/4" is way too thin. Most Minicell bulkheads in commercial kayaks are 3" thick, though you could probably get away with 2". Foam bulkheads should be installed with Lexel or GOOP.

For structural bulkheads, foam is not strong enough.

If you cut the original bulkhead close to the hull, you can probably reuse it. Just wedge or tape it in it's new position and apply fiberglass tape with polyester resin or epoxy around the perimeter to fill the gap. It's also really easy to make a fiberglass panel from which to cut a new bulkhead. You'll also need to create a cardboard or wire pattern in order to get the shape close, then fine-tune the fit before glassing it in.

build up existing BH?
If moving the front BH closer to feet of paddler, have you considered applying correct thickness foam over existing BH? I have done on mine and Julie’s kayaks and also eliminated foot braces.

I’m curious
You are moving the front bulkhead inward? Why?

If you just want less space, you can cut 3" thick solid rigid insulation foam and fill it in that way. If you want to use it as foot brace, just coat it with a few layers of cloth and epoxy. That pink rigid insulation is pretty stiff stuff and weighs nothing.

The kayak was built to her specs which called for the bulkhead to me moved farther toward the cockpit then their standard. They screwed up and did it just the opposite and moved it about a foot toward the bow.

We had a choice of sending it back to be corrected or keeping it and we elected to keep it. However in the past several years it has been a pain in the butt with the front campartment so small for packing for multi day camping trips and now I would like to rectify that.

Jack L

That’s the same mistake…
…someone at NDK made when they built an Explorer LV for me. My dealer spec’ed it with words such as “this is for a SHORT paddler” and “put front bulkhead CLOSER to the paddler” but someone must’ve been drunk or very careless. I had the option of refusing the boat but I took it, then later on sold it.

The funny part was that even with the bulkhead placed farther away from me than their standard distance, it was still closer than the standard distance in an American-made kayak.

When I ordered my next NDK boat, I didn’t take any chances. Standard bulkhead placements.

Relocated Bulkhead
I did this on a CD Gulfstream. The original bulkhead was hard plastic with at lip that was glued in place with Lexel, or something like it. I tried a couple of different things, and ended up hacking it to bits and pulling them out bit by bit.

I found this method by doing a web search:

For the new bulkhead, I made a carboard template. First I took a piece of 14g electrical wire and wrapped it around the outside of the boat where the new bulkhead was going. Then, took off the wire and used it out cut out a piece of cardboard that was a little over sized, and cut it to fit. I used this as a pattern and cut fiberglass and polyester cloth (left over from a skinboat project) to fit and layed it up with polyester resin on a plastic yard bag, and then glassed that into place.

The whole project was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be.

3/4 inch foam = too thin
Will likely blow out from the force of the water in the event of a capsize. Sort of defeating the purpose of a bulkhead in the first place.