When I first got this boat, I thought maybe I'd put a low deck in the middle and remove the middle bench and then build a casting deck in the bow. When I dismantled the benches yesterday, it became very apparent that the structural integrity of the boat is 100% dependent on having the benches in-tact, I think the hull became about 2 inches wider after the last bolt was removed, and was fairly easy to flex back and forth... flexing aluminum and rivets are NOT good friends.
So, the project of the day is to remove the rotten wood, keep the Aluminum bench 'skins' and re-install. Original bench with the foam and bench base removed.
Aluminum Bench Skin - This will be the only part I'll save. No splinters if you rub this bench the wrong way...
I bought 1x6 to fill the gap in the Aluminum Bench Skin, and used P.T. 2x4's to add enough rigidity to the bench. I would have liked angle iron or similar, but the 2x4 works just fine and may be a benefit if I add a low deck later on.
Under each of the 2 benches I built today there is an area that works out to be .5 cubic feet... Worth filling with foam? I'm not sure it will make much difference but I'm not sure what the boyancy of .5 cubic feet is.
Here's where we are right now... 2 benches rebuilt and installed. The bow will be handled differently - not sure exactly how yet but I'm going to be reading alot of threads for ideas.