do I replace my counter top?
Thanks to Capt Al
(#55 "Kindred Spirit") for the following counter-top
replacement instructions. Remember, these apply to a 1986 C34; more
recent models may vary.
Over the years, improvements in galley counters have been made.
Can we make old look new? The slow deterioration of the old, around
the IceBox...Sink and other areas may require that it be replaced.
In my case the Stantion bolts leaked for years letting water drip
down the sidewall and under the counter and rotted it away.
(Remember I just bought this boat, so it was not my
caulking neglect). Now that I have my galley counter out I was
going to get a piece of Corian and produce a new counter...to my
dismay I can not buy a piece because they will not sell to just
anyone. Now I am looking into Cast Polymer, a SYN-MAR Product that
is a cast polyester resin and stone fillers. It would be poured
around a mold made from my counter top (by the counter shop). It
should be less expensive that Corian...I am told.
Procedure for Removal of C34 Galley Counter Top (1986)
First a description of what the counter is made of. The
sink-icebox-stove areas are a one piece fiberglass shell laid into
the boat waiting to have a top placed on it. Catalina made a
3/4" plywood top to fit, covered it with Formica and added nice
teak trim at all edges except the edge against the starboard wall.
It can be removed without removing any of the draw slide built-in
- Remove all draws from galley area, removing hinge doors around
side and front of sink area would be helpful.
- Disconnect both sink drain hoses at the bottom side of sink.
- Disconnect hot, cold and foot pump water supply to sink....
Remember it is easier to disconnect lower in the lines instead
of up behind the sink.
- Carefully pry sink up and out. Edges will bend!!!!! NOTHING
HOLDS IT BUT CAULK. Shoot the person that sealed it with 5200.
If it will not pop out you can wait and take it off, counter and
SIDE NOTE: #1 While the sink is out is the time to replace
the hot water heater. You would have to remove the draw slide
- Next remove the wood dish fiddle that goes across the counter
by the icebox and stove. It is held in with five screws, Two
through the small bulkhead at the shelf above the settee seat,
two in aft cabin bulkhead wall (in aft cabin) (two horiz
(counter screws, do these now and you will not have to come
back) and two vert (these for dish fiddle)) and one behind stove
up into wood dish fiddle. Feel with your fingers till you find
the screw hole. Tilt stove forward and it can be reached. Remove
dish fiddle and set aside.
SIDE NOTE #2: To remove the wood plugs from the bulkhead
walls ...take a fine threaded sheetrock screw, cut the head off,
put it in your trusty battery drill, aim at the center if the
plug and screw it in. When the screw tip hits the head of the ss
screw it should (with luck) drive the plug out cleanly. Probe
the Philips into the hole, light whack with the hammer till you
find the slot and unscrew the fastener. . If the plugs did not
come out try this: Cut head off wood or sheet rock screw, insert
screw into your drill. Press point of screw into center of wood
plug and slowly screw it in with the drill until it hits the
head of the SS screw that you are trying to get to. Continue at
slow speed to force the plug out on the threads of the screw in
the drill. If the plug fully comes out, stop reading and undo
your screw. If like 9 out of 10 of mine, the screw in the drill
hits the SS screw and just turns, leaving only a hole in the
center of the plug but not removing it, go to next step. Plug
now has small hole in its center. Making the hole a little
larger will make this easier. Use a wood drill bit, 3/16"
or1/4" max, drill to head of SS screw....DON'T RUIN HEAD OF
SS SCREW! Take an ICE PICK (for wood workers, try an AWL) not a
small screwdriver, SLOWLY stick the awl into the plug, chipping
the pieces toward the center hole you drilled. NEVER stick the
awl in and try to pry the pieces of the plug out.....IT WILL
SCAR THE SIDES OF THE PLUG HOLE. Work slow and pieces will fall
out. Remove SS screw.
- Now it is time to remove the screws that hold the counter top
in. It can be done with sink in or out. I recommend, sink OUT.
Location of Philips screws: (you must reach up inside the
fiberglass shell unit to remove these screws...they are screwed
up into the bottom of the counter top.)
- One center of front of sink
- One center rear of sink
- Three portside edge of sink (left of sink for those who
are laying with their head somewhere under the sink.)
- Three right side edge of sink, real close to draw slide
- Three or four above the draw unit to right of sink
- One IN ICE BOX, front..stove side...feel around with your
fingers till you find it. (never thought to look there.)
- If you have done all the above, lift the counter behind the
stove at the rear aft cabin wall, upward, a light tap upward may
free it from the wall. Once high enough to clear the stove,
slide it out. Remember if the sink is still in, that end of the
counter must be lifted to clear the sink.
- After removing from the boat and placing on sawhorses, take a
scrap block (to protect the wood) and tap all the teak fiddles
off from the inside...screws and all. I described above how to
remove the plugs and screws. Good job to do home in the
- Now you have a perfect template to take to your counter top
shop and have them reproduce one with your choices of color and
material. If you are handy, get a new sheet of 3/4" plywood
and new Formica and go to town.
Galley Counter Top Replacement Making and
Items needed for new top:
4' x 8' exterior grade, good one side plywood.
$40 (Watch the number of plys that the plywood is made up of,
7ply is what I used, more is better)
Your choice of Wilson Art / Formica, one sheet
4' x 8' $65
Formica glue, roller, brush and router
Using the old counter for a template, trace out
the exact shape on the new plywood. You will notice that four
inches of the old counter stick over the new wood. (at rear of
stove). To solve this problem, I glued and screwed a four-inch
wide piece of clear pine, 12" long to that corner of the
new plywood. This way the old top can be traced onto full size
wood. Plywood only comes in four-foot widths, unless you want to
pay big $. Trace out the sink and ice box openings also.
Now using a skill saw and a saber saw, cut out
the outline of the counter and the sink opening. NOT the icebox
Measure in 3 inches all around the icebox
opening and cut out this smaller opening. More on this in a
Using a belt sander, sand all the edges to the
template lines. Remember that all the edges are covered with
teak so a little off is ok.
Locate the edge that butts to the hull (back of
stove side!) and with the belt sander grind this surface back at
a 45-degree angle. This will give the counter the relief that it
needs to get a good fit.
NOTE: A modification that I made to the top was
adding 2 inches in width in back of the stove. You must do this
before you cut out your new counter. It will involve cutting the
finish teak to the left of the stove 2 inches shorter before
TIME TO TAKE IT TO THE BOAT AND SEE HOW WELL IT
FITS!!! Is the stove too close to the new counter if you added
on? Remember you have to have room for the teak. In the small
hole that you cut out at the ice box...stick your hand in with a
pencil and trace the out line of the ice box on the back of the
TAKE BACK HOME! Turn the counter upside down so
you can see the outline of the icebox opening you drew. Draw
straight lines 3/8 inch bigger than these lines all around. This
will give you a 3/8 lip all around the box for the lid to sit
Neatly, using a skill saw and finishing the
corners with a saber saw, cut out on this line. Make marks with
a pencil so you know which way to put it back when we use it for
a cover. After the edges of the icebox opening are covered in
Formica and routed, (I will cover this in a moment) I glue 3/8
storm door rubber insulation to the back of the box opening all
around. The insulation has a 3/8 round portion and a 1/4 inch
flat part for fastening. This flat area is what gets glued to
the back of the opening, with the round sticking into the box
opening as a seal. When you look down from the top you only see
the round insulation that the lid sits on. The only disadvantage
is that you will have to cut it off with a knife if you ever
need to replace it. The other method would be to glue 3/8 wide
insulation to the box lip after the counter is installed. Lets
do the Formica before tackling the lid.
Laminating Formica is not all that hard. Using
the counter as a template, trace it on to the back of the
Formica, counter top upside down also. You will have to seam the
Formica somewhere in back of the stove; again 4-foot wide
material was cheaper. Rough cut the Formica at least 1 inch
bigger that your outline to leave room for error and placement
when gluing. Rough cut the small piece for the back of the stove
and belt sand the seam till it fit nicely. Also cut 4-1 inch
wide pieces to perfectly fit the inside lengths of the icebox
opening. Set up a large work area so that you have the counter
top face up and the Formica upside down. Brush contact cement on
the edges around the ice box opening, let dry....all wood
surfaces get two coats of glue. Re-coat opening and coat pieces
that will be laminated there. Let dry to touch and place all
around opening. Tap with rubber mallet to insure good bonding.
Use belt sander to finish these strips around the opening flush
with the counter top. Flip top over and sand flush with bottom
also. Now we are ready to laminate the top.
Make sure all surfaces are clean. Coat counter
top with contact cement. Roller made for this works best. Brush
is difficult but ok.
Let dry. Coat top a second time and also coat
back of Formica. Place long CLEAN sticks on top of the counter
so that the Formica can be laid on top of the counter WITHOUT
touching it. 3/8 inch round dowels, 3 feet long are perfect for
this, but almost anything small and long will due, including
something metal. Line up the Formica on top of the
counter....starting from one end, pull out the spacer and touch
the Formica to the top. Once touched it will not come loose.
Work your way one spacer at a time, rubbing out any air
bubbles as you go. No spacers needed for the small piece behind
the stove, just push the seams together first as you lay the
piece down. Take you router with a ball bearing Formica bit and
cut out around all edges. REMEMBER that the rear edge is a 45
angle so router will not work on that face. Use the belt sander
there. Poke hole at icebox and sink and route around those
Sand edges of Formica smooth around the ice box
opening using 120 sandpaper on a small wooden block.
Refasten teak fiddles all around counter and
plug screw holes.
Teak plug re-installation: Before installing the
piece again, Use a 3/8" plug recess tool to clean the hole
for the new screw and plug. (Just like if you were doing a new
screw hole). Once you have replaced the SS screws, purchase
3/8" teak plugs. Place wood glue around the plug, line up
the grain and lightly tap, till the wood plug hits the SS screw.
Wipe off any glue and let dry over night. Take a very sharp wood
chisel and tap the top of the plug off about 1/8" above the
finish surface so that you can see which way the grain is
breaking on the plug. It will break off like a ski slope. The
low side is the side you should be finishing with the chisel to
the finish surface...a little at a time from the low side. Sand
flush and oil or varnish.
ICEBOX LID: I used the same 3/4 ply that came
from the opening that I cut. WHAT TO DO WITH THE SMALLER HOLE IN
THE CENTER?????? Fill it with 3/4 inch solid foam!!!!!! We need
more insulation. Important to remember here that the lid needs
Formica all around its edges. Some sanding before Formica may be
needed to get a good fit. Also if you are using this cut out
that the inside edges have to be recessed for the insulation or
the cover will sit to high. Cover the top and edges with Formica
screw on the inside foam insulation and you have your lid.
Cutting down the old 1/2 inch lid and recovering with Formica
will also do. Another change I made here is to hinge the top.
The only thing I do not like about this is it hits the upper
shelf not allowing us total access to the opening of the icebox.
INSTALLATION: Place the counter top on a few
dabs of silicone and screw up from underneath as before. I did
not like being on my head so much so I put the sink in, outlined
it in light pencil and removed it again. I noticed that the sink
overlaps well over an inch. On that overlap I did my screws from
the top down. Drill/countersink 8 screws spaced around sink.
Replace the two screws thru the aft cabin bulkhead. Place the
teak dish holder on the counter behind the stove, mark with
pencil its width and remove.
Drill/countersink 2 screws under this teak to
fasten counter. Fasten teak dish holder in place as before Put
lots of silicone around the sink, set sink in place, plug drain
fill with water to hold sink firmly in place till dry.
Important: The opinions expressed here are
those of the individual contributors to this page, and not those of
the Catalina 34 National Association or Catalina Yachts, Inc.
Additionally, this material has not been reviewed by Catalina
Yachts, Inc. for technical accuracy. This page's maintainer cannot
guarantee the accuracy of this information or the desirability of
suggested modifications or upgrades. Please obtain assistance from a
competent marine mechanic or boatyard prior to making any
significant modifications to your vessel.