Monday, June 13, 2016

Ratty Port Replacement

One of two failing ratty fixed ports

Last summer while doing gelcoat repair, I mentioned that the ratty fixed ports on Eolian's aft-facing cabin house were long overdue for replacement. Well, now is that time.

Even Plexiglas eventually falls prey to the relentless UV from the sun, tho it lasts far, far longer than Lexan - this port is 38 years old.  If it had been polycarbonate, it would have looked much worse after only 5 years.

Tho there are no leaks (yet!), the bedding is overdue for replacement, as well as the port.
Removing the port was easy.  Back out the screws on the inside, and then push it out.  No, that bedding was definitely NOT firmly holding the port in place.  Tho it was clearly not leaking, there appeared to be no reason for that except for habit.

The next problem was that the new port is a little larger than the old one (well, I guess that's better than the reverse...).  First I taped over the entire area with some white duct tape I had on board to protect it from the vibrating sabersaw table.  Then I used the outer trim ring of the new port as a stencil, and marked a cut line.  My trusty (but crummy - I gotta get a better one) saber saw with a grit-edge blade cut thru the 1" thick sandwich of fiberglass, foam, fiberglass with relative ease.  To constrain the mess, Jane was  inside with a shop vac positioned to catch the dust and chips.

(Note to self:  Next time, just tape some plastic over the inside and clean up afterwards - that will be more effective and easier.)

The new opening port is a little larger than the old one.
Before the final installation, one more step was necessary.  Because we often sit on the back deck and lean against the bulkhead that has this port (and a second one, which will also get replaced), it was necessary to trim the spigot to a minimum projection - for comfort.  So I installed the port, held the trim ring in place, and traced around the projecting spigot with a ballpoint pen.

Then I removed the port and laboriously cut off the extra spigot length with a hand hacksaw (the same one I used to cut the exhaust hose...).  I preferred to use a hand tool for this job because, tho it cut slowly...  it cut at a speed that permitted me to maintain a uniform 1/8" from the pen marking.  After cutting, I used a fine file to smooth off the saw cut markings, and break the resulting sharp edges slightly.

Trimmed and ready for final caulking
Before final installation, I carefully sealed the exposed foam core in the opening with the same silicone that Beckson requires for bedding the port*.  If there was any leakage in the future, I didn't want it to get into the core.  Then I injected silicone into the gap between the port and the deckhouse, and smeared a little on the back side of the trim ring.  Press the trim ring into place, some clean up, and it is done!

Now, one more to go, and then all the fixed and opening ports on the boat will have been replaced, giving us a total of 11 opening ports.

* I hate the use of silicone on a boat, but this is one of the few places that I will use it.  In this case, it is because Beckson specifies it.



Rick said...

Did much the same thing a few years ago with my two remaining fixed ports. Opening ports are always better than fixed!

Actually, I think I used the same model ports as you. You made a neater job of it than I, though. I agree that this is one of the very few legit applications for silicone in a boat.

I am still trying to perfect the technique of not getting sealant everywhere. Even when I take the most oc precautions, I get it everywhere. There are some ways in which klutziness is not curable. I'm afflicted with most of them.

Robert Salnick said...

Hi Rick!

I have the same problem with the sealant going everywhere, whether it be silicone, polysulphide or 5200. And I can now add gelcoat to that list. The only cure I have found is to keep solvent nearby, and a supply of paper napkins (for silicone, just the napkins). Everytime I get near the sealant, I check both hands, every finger, and wipe. And somehow it still gets in unexpected places. Thankfully, for everything except the 5200 and gelcoat, I can usually rub or scrape off any thin film of cured sealant with a finger or fingernail.

Drew Frye said...

Lots of masking tape is the only thing that works for me.

I've been testing removers, and one stands head and shoulders above the rest: DSR-5/Re-Mov. IT doesn't melt it, but it does weaken the bond to wear it comes off easily AND, after scrubbing with soap, all of the residue is GONE. That's always the worst part. I just re-glazed a hatch, and it was great (I was actually testing 6 types for Practical Sailor).

Robert Salnick said...

I've got some tough silicone on the vinyl headliner (think Naugahyde) where the Previous Owner had stuck something... would this stuff loosen the silicone without ruining the vinyl?


Anonymous said...

I second the DSR-5 recommendation. It doesn't eliminate the need for elbow grease, but it leaves a clean surface in the end.

Mike Reed said...

I understand wanting opening ports and complement you on your choice and workmanship. For those who want to replace their ratty old ports with newer versions of their boats style they should contact Mark Plastics in Southern California. They made ports for most of the production boats from the early 70's onward. They can supply you with ports that will drop into the existing space, supply an industrial grade adhesive and provide great step by step details on how to go about the project. I used their ports with the option of tempered glass (instead of clear plexi) on my Islander 36 and the project went very well and keeps the original look that I had hoped for.

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