Moving Fiberglass Bulkheads???

I have heard of people having there bulkheads moved. Sounds like a hard thing to do, but apparently is possible.

I am interested in possibly having this done. I don’t have any glass kayak repair shops around here, but I do have a very good fiberglass boat repair guy who works on sail boats, etc.

Do you think this is something that a competent glass worker could do…one that has no experience with sea kayaks?

How much do you think that a job like this would / should cost?



Bulkheads are easy. Lay up the blank on a flat surface. Cut the shape out and then tape them into the hull. A new bulkhead will have to be fabricated and there’s a bit of sanding, so you’re looking at a couple hundred or more dollars.

Moving Bulkheads?
Be aware that the people who build these boats design these boats and place the bulkheads in a particular spot for a reason. I would talk to the people who build the boat first. VF

Try posting at also
Go to their building page. LOTS of great info there, lots of repeat boatbuilders with serious glassing time. Even though the section caters mainly to wood boat builders, they can probably help answer your question.

beg to differ
if you order your boat custom they will put the bulkheads where ever you want.

Doing it yourself
If you’re doing it yourself, here’s the start of how I built fiberglass ones in my latest kayak:

It’s pretty easy to do yourself if you have some fiberglassing experience.

Easy for any comp pro
I’d say a great job could be done in a day of two bulkheads. Hourly rate + materials… Less than $500 300-400 depending on shop for superb pro job.

Moving forward is easy…
…since if you’re careful when cutting out the bulkhead, you can typically reuse it farther forward, since the boat is smaller there. Moving a bulkhead back usually requires fabricating a new bulkhead, but it’s a simple matter to make one. All you need to do is to lay up several layers of 6-9 oz cloth on a flat surface covered with plastic, then cover the layup with another layer of plastic, a board and some weights (water or sand in buckets works well). Once it’s cured, cut it to shape with a hand-held hacksaw blade, as fiberglass will dull normal steel saw blades. Tape it in place in the boat, then glass it in with a couple layers of 9 oz. fiberglass tape.

EZ is…
a relative term.


remember you gotta crawl inside the boat and cut out the old one, a VERY nasty job.

then you gotta crawl inside the boat and install the new one. a gooopy, messy, nasty job.

your call but a couple hundred bucks PLUS is nothing to charge for this ‘experience’ if a pro does it.

steve (who’s done enough of 'em to NOT wanna do anymore!)

b1, I thijnk moving pre-existing bulkhds
…is a fool’s errand. You will damage the boat, regardless. I would personally never [urchase a used boat knowing that anyone other than the manufacturer has removed and installed a new bulkhead. Why you would want to spend–and I personally think with the price of things today, including the sanding, that only one poster above has come up with a reasonable price, and that is the one that said $400-$500 bucks–is beyond me.

Why do you want to remove and reinstal a bulkhead… that is the more pertinent question? Fit?


The bulkhead on my Viviane is WAAAYYYY too far forward. I have a foam bulkhead installed and have about 12 inches of minicell!

What a waste of potential hatch space.

I may just live with it as is, given that the boat already has lot of volume. Just seems like an inefficient waste though.


Do you NEED the extra hatch space?
Matt, you actually got me beat on the amount of minicell padding your front BH (amazing). I have 8", because SKUK got my custom order wrong and put the BH farther forward instead of backward!

The good part is that even so, it’s still less than the reach to a front BH in many U.S. kayaks. In my roto Tempest, there’s a reach of about 12".

Anyway, I knew about this before buying the boat after all, and I got all the measurements before making the long drive to pick it up. What it amounts to is that despite their error, I have more storage room than I do in my T165, and that’s what I wanted. Between it being a foot longer and having glass BHs instead of bulky foam, I gained usable space for my needs.

I would leave it alone, in large part because you may buy another boat for long camping trips anyway. Not trying to make fun of you, just pointing out something that could happen.

Not so…
Most foreward bulkheads are placed too far forward for most people – this is done to accomodate taller paddlers. A lot of rear bulkheads are placed quite a bit further back than they need to be – I place my rear bulkheads in boats that I build as close to the rear of the cockpit as possible – this reduces the amount of volume (read, water in the cockpit in the event of a capsize) and also makes it much easier to evacuate nearly all the water in the cockpit by lifting the bow of the upside-down boat.

The toughest part will be removing the original bulkhead – and it’s a dirty job. You’ll need some good sharp tools to do the job well. A flexible, thin blade dozuki (Japanese pull saw) works well for getting close to the hull wall but you have to get an opening close to the hull where you can get the saw in place – drill holes will get you close. You will most likely need to make new bulkheads as the ones that you’ve removed probably not fit in the new location.

The easiest way to work on the bulkheads is to suspend the boat upside-down so that when you’re standing up underneath it, your upper torso is in the boat.

Fitting a new bulkhead is not nearly as difficult as the removal. I’ve done some instructions for cutting out nice fitting bulkheads on one of my kayak builds, you can find the start of the process here:

You can use pretty much any stiff, flat material for bulkheads but if you’re replacing them in a fiberglass boat, you may want to build your bulkhead material from laminates of fiberglass (or you could fiberglass each side of some 3mm wood).

Hope this helps,


You don’t have to damage the boat
It’s quite easy to remove the bulkheads without damaging the boat (see my post above). I know a number of people who have moved theirs and unless you were aware that they made the modification, it’s unlikely that anyone would be able to tell.

And I don’t think that there’s much problem in buying a boat if the bulkheads have been moved by someone other than the factory if the work was done well.



Valid point…
You make some good points. I would have to admit that I don’t have to have more hatch space. I have a very roomy boat to begin with.

Just seems that if I could have more at a reasonable price and waste less useable space by filling it with minicell then it would be an improvement.

Likely I will end up selling this boat eventually anyway based on my track record, despite the fact that I do like this boat; however, unless the buyer has a 39 inch inseam then he too would probably want the bulkhead moved back.

The bulkhead in this boat is ridiculously far forward.

Really it all comes down to price and feasibility. If it can be done without compromising the integrity of the boat and for a reasonable price then I’ll probably do it. If it’s going to cost too much or weaken the boat then I can certainly live with what I have.


Moving a bulkhead?
If one is to cut out the existing one. are there tools or steps that make that process easier? Does one cut it out with something like a Dremmel motor tool and if so wouldn’t almost any bulkhead after is has been cut out leave a jagged edge of glass remnants sticking up from the hull and down from the deck? If so does one then sand those down flush to the hull and deck with a power or belt sander afterwards to make that part of the boat a smooth surface again?

There’s another option
I’ve toyed with this idea but haven’t seriously looked into it. You could build sort of a box compartment that is a combination footbrace and storage area. Put that next to the existing BH, and you have both secured storage space and a footbrace.

like I said…nasty job BUT do-able. we have moved LOTS of b/h with no issues, save for a time when the recip saw cut thru the hull…d’oh.

Jerry uses a recip saw and is VERY careful. The sanding/grinding part is a bear and usually isn’t all that finished, due to the PITA that it is. but it really don’t matter how finished looking it is, it’s JUST a compartment.

What I do is pack all my day clothes, extra fleece and emergency clothes in a heavy duty drybag and just wedge it up in front of the pegs. Or a sleeping bag? just wedge it in up there and you’re G2G.

why frick around with a very nasty/messy job like that when you really don’t need to?


I’m with flat.

it really is a good place for a BOB
and with a tether easier to extract if in such dire cirmcumstances…just make sure the tether can’t wrap around your legs.

When I recieved the Q-boat I was much impressed that Valley got the bulkhead placement within 2 inches and supplied a mini cell block to customize those 2 inches…all should be so lucky in what they recieve.