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Old 30-07-2016, 10:36   #1
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Clear deck inside opening hatches

I have two approximately 18 by 18 overhead deck hatches. They are old and even though the hinges and other hardware are in good condition the once clear top is, due to UV, just barely translucent, verging on opaque.
I had in mind to replace them, but the usual suspects, West and Defender want an electrifying $600 dollars. Replacing the opaque plastic looks very difficult to do a non-clunky job.
Does anyone have a good source for complete replacement or good ideas on how to replace only the top panel in an workmanlike fashion.

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Old 31-07-2016, 13:16   #2
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Re: Clear deck inside opening hatches

Depending on the brand, there are a couple of companies that specialize in reglazing hatches. About 1/2 the price of new. Google and you will find them.

Reglazing them yourself is not an overly complicated job. There are LOTS of discussions here and elsewhere on how to do it (and how NOT to...).

When I did ours, I used the old plastic as a pattern and used a standard woodworking router to make an exact replacement. Some care is needed when drilling, as it is highly recommended to use bits designed for plastic rather than standard drill bits (or modify standard bits.) Again Google will be your friend.

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Old 31-07-2016, 14:20   #3
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Re: Clear deck inside opening hatches

Thanks I have a router and experience with it. I didn't know about special plastic drill bits. Who sells them? What kind of plastic is best to use?
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Old 31-07-2016, 15:28   #4
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Re: Clear deck inside opening hatches

You sharpen them yourself. It is mostly just removing the sharp edge from a regular drill bit, however a unibit is the best by far if you have a pilot hole.
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Old 31-07-2016, 15:35   #5
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Re: Clear deck inside opening hatches

On aircraft windshields I have had bad luck with the special plastic bits, the difference is the angle of the cutting end.
But as Guy said a unibit won't break the plastic, what happens is just as the bit breaks through, it catches and pop goes the plastic.

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Old 31-07-2016, 15:41   #6
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Re: Clear deck inside opening hatches

I watched a pro skipper replace the glass. It looked easy.

He removed the old glass and then a garage company cut new glass out of a sheet material. Then the guy attached the new glass with 3M tape and filled the perimeter gap with a special sika glue/sealant.

He used plenty of masking tape and left the film on the glass till the end.

The hatches looked new when he was done. He did four in a lazy two-day-half-a-day style, while I varnished his boat.

The original glass (acrylic or similar) was clear but the guy used smoked for replacement. I would do the same for overhead hatches. (tropics)

Level easy. Probably one of the jobs we fear only to find them fun later.

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Old 31-07-2016, 17:06   #7
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Re: Clear deck inside opening hatches

You should be able to replace the old lenses fairly easily. I found a 26x55 inch scrap of smoked acrylic, toted it and one hatch to a local shop with a CNC table that cut out new lenses for table time (less than an hour). Hatches were prepped, painted and new lenses bedded in 3M 1800UV. After rebedding to the cabin top, the hatches look like new and considering it was close to $1000 to replace each w a comparable hatch, rebuild cost was less than $250 for two 24x24 hatches.

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