Sunday, May 31, 2009

Weekend Report 5/31: Replace the Deckhouse Windows

Another No-Project weekend... we are anchored in Port Madison. Its a little chilly for sitting in the cockpit this early, so I am down below, blogging. Am I addicted or what?

I have to go make a latte to wake up Jane soon, so I thought this would be a good time to resurrect an earlier renewal project. This project occurred in 2003

The 6 large cabin windows which Downeast installed at the factory were of low quality when new, and they hadn't improved over the years.
  • The rim extrusions were too light for the duty - when the attempt was made to conform the windows to the curved cabin sides during installation, the extrusions simply rolled, opening large gaps.
  • The glazing was the standard 1/10", which is way too thin for marine service, especially in such large panels (18" x 36").
  • The rim extrusion groove to hold the glazing was no more than 1/4" deep, perhaps less.
  • The "rubber" which was used to seal the glazing to the extrusion had gone hard, and no longer served its purpose - water was coming in between the glazing and the extrusion.
The thin section of the glazing and the vanishingly shallow retention groove in the rim extrusion represent a safety hazard. Were Eolian to fall off a wave, impact with the water would likely blow the glazing out of the frame.

Because the extrusions had rolled rather than bent, the seal between the windows and the cabin sides had been maintained over the years with an ugly accumulation of silicone rubber.

Finally, the glazing had cracked at most of the rim extrusion joints. It was time for the original windows to go.

We found (finally) a company which could custom make replacement windows at a reasonable cost: Bomon in Canada. Curiously, it doesn't seem that there are any window manufacturers left in the US (like many things I guess).

After the windows were removed, the openings were carefully measured and the measurements sent to Bomon (the guy to work with there is Alain). Then the openings were covered with vinyl held on with long-term masking tape until the new windows arrived.

They arrived on time (!) shipped in a large box, on a pallet. There was lots of padding, and each window was individually wrapped with heavy polyethylene and a padded overwrap. They are *very* well made - the joints between the two ends of the internal trim/clamp ring are so tight that a piece of cigarette paper would not fit between the pieces. True to form, Alain made them to my measurements exactly, including separate curvatures for the tops and bottoms to match the curvature of the cabin sides.

Because my measurements (and the exact fit) were designed to maximize the flange bearing surface, some grinding of the irregular openings was in order. I did this using my trusty angle grinder - exactly the right tool for the job. I learned very quickly that the powdered fiberglass dust went everywhere, so I used the poly overwrap from the new windows to tape over the inside of the window opening while the grinding was under way. Of course, removing the poly without dumping its messy load was kind of tricky, but doable.

Alain was less certain about his ability to bend the windows to match our somewhat extreme cabin wall curvature. His concern was largely unfounded. They all fit tightly, squashing the supplied foam rubber sealant to a thin black line. In the worst case (3/8" drop in the last 8" of the window - I'm not sure I would have wanted him to succeed in bending the frame and 1/4" lexan to this curvature...) the fit was a little open, but a little added polysulphide did yeoman service.

They look wonderful! And the anodized frames are much more attractive on the inside than the old dark brown ones had been. Other than the mess from grinding, this project was much, much easier than I had anticipated.


Anonymous said...

We were in Port Madison this weekend too. Too bad we didn't see each other. It sure was a lovely weekend!
s/v Yare

bob said...

Sorry we missed you!

We go there a *lot*, so I hope there will be other opportunities.

Fair winds!


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