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Bulkheads offer great flexibility to a swimming pool in terms of allowing different course lengths but also to separate activities and spaces. As a general rule, CH should not accept stainless steel bulkheads unless it is a special circumstance. Stainless steel bulkheads are prone to numerous issues with corrosion and grating failures.  Fiberglass bulkheads should be the standard basis of design.

Bulkheads come in several width – most commonly 4’ and 6’.  Wider bulkheads are preferred where starts will take place on the bulkhead.

Bulkheads should be designed to support 5600 lbs. (that is equivalent to 32 people at 150 to 175 lbs. each) with ½” maximum deflection. The safety factor for all live and dead loads should be at least 10. The bulkhead should be designed for a uniform lateral live load of at least 30 pounds per linear foot and a point load of at least 500 pounds at the center with a maximum deflection of ½ inch. Racing lane cup anchors should be molded into the structure and be designed to prevent pullout at a load of at least 400 pounds each.

The bulkhead manufacturer and the SPC should coordinate travel of the entire field of play to confirm unrestricted travel.

Designer should confirm pool depth is compatible with all bulkhead travel.

Pools that have a bulkhead that parks in shallow water should have a note that reads:  Note: Bulkhead starting blocks not to be used when bulkhead is in water less than 5' - 0".

During construction, Boston University insisted on installing a 0-Meter platform.  The 0-Meter platform was installed on the side of the pool for diving practice.  It is flush with the deck and rollout gutter so officially it is 6” above water level.  It extends to the edge of the pool.   This appeared to block the travel of the bulkhead.  Acapulco Pools stated that the bulkhead can clear the 0-Meter platform if enough air is pumped into the bladder.

For locating on rollout gutter profile, the bulkhead manufacturer should provide anchor plates should.  A 1” thick fiberglass pin plate receptacle is appropriate.  If the contractor is responsible for fabricating the custom anchor plates, they often cut the grating which looks unattractive.

At OSU, the owner was tightening the lane ropes so tight that the bulkhead was rotating on the anchor pin and caused it to bend.

Standard touchpad widths are 60”, 78” and 96”.  Depending upon the lane width the opening in the Stark bulkhead for touchpad mounting may be less than what is required for the desired pad.  Colorado can make larger pads with smaller lips (no additional cost) when the bulkhead opening is smaller than the desired pad width.  Daktronics does not have this option.  Designer should consider bulkhead dimensions whenever specifying touchpads that will mount on bulkhead.  Counsilman-Hunsaker standard is to utilize custom sized bulkhead openings so that touchpads of at least 78” can be utilized.  Custom openings add approximately $5k - $10K to the cost of a bulkhead.  Lanes narrower than 7’-3” will not allow for 78” touchpads.  In this case either smaller (60”) pads can be utilized or custom pads.  In cases where only one side of a bulkhead will require pads, only that side should have the custom openings due to additional cost.

Stark is currently the only approved bulkhead manufacturer.  KDE (George Mason), Avonte (Goodwill Games) are not approved manufacturers.  Two Precision Fibre Structures bulkheads were purchased directly by owner and installed at Pleasant Prairie.  These have received positive evaluation.

The natatorium design should include a double door to the outside to facilitate bulkhead removal/ replacement.

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