Tricky, isn’t it, Roger? ..I was fed up with leaning deep across the engine to try to adjust fan belt tension, or replace belts (..and I snapped a tendon unscrewing the face-plate of the cooling water pump!..) so decided to cut an access panel below the saloon seat to get straight to the fan belt. At first I wondered if this would spoil a water-tight bulkhead, but then realised that limber holes in bilge take for’ard shower water below saloon floor and into engine-compartment bilge, so realised that it’s NOT a water-tight bulkhead!
(I’ll try to find, and attach, at least one picture of this little hatchway.)
The bulkhead thickness is almost two inches, including metal-faced noise-dampening or absorbent material, so I bought a small, specialist angle-grinder (..from Robert Dyas ironmongers – but can’t now find it on their, or any other, online store..) as I realised I could never SAW through the bulkhead, and thought I’d just SLICE thro’ by pushing the grinder wheel against it. I did, but it took lots of DE-EEP cutting to get through the plywood and the sound insulation AND the metal mesh on the engine side of the bulkhead!
I wanted the cut-out panel to look neat and presentable, so asked the local ship-wright (Steve Parrish) at Ramsgate to make it look nice, and he put some simple 2-inch over-lapping (red wood) beading around the little panel I’d cut out, and with magnetic clips it just plops back into place, and the sound level in the saloon is no louder; the engine noise baffling has not been compromised, and nor has the bulkhead integrity. (I can’t think why the Nauticat factory didn’t do this as standard!)
I carefully measured before cutting, to be sure that the little hatch would be at exactly the right point in the engine compartment ..and I’ve now found the picture and attached it. Enter the saloon down the steps from the wheelhouse, turn left to face seat, lift off seat, and there’s the little hatch below the seat.
I hope this helps! ..Yours, David.