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Old 01-06-2017, 18:18   #1
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Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

I'm in the process of rejuvenating my portholes. They are cloudy from age, sun, etc... I'm using a sock and toothpaste. Iv'e done one and it looks better, but it's taking forever. There are 17 portholes - well, I stopped counting at 17. Also, I'm in Fiji, so going to the auto parts store for a headlamp cleaning kit or specialty polish is out of the question.

These are gray, acrylic portlights.

Has anyone done this with rubbing compound or wet/dry sandpaper and had a fairy tale ending?

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Old 01-06-2017, 18:53   #2
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Re: Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

To bad they're plastic. You will need to tool up. Lots of those airliner windows you look through have been re-polished..However the window has been removed, then repolished. You will get distortion without removing it from the frame first.
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Old 01-06-2017, 18:56   #3
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Re: Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

The only thing you might have a hard time finding is the clear coat
https://youtu.be/UEJbKLZ7RmM

But unless you put protection on the plastic you're going to end up with the same problem. PS I highly recommend this channel even though it's a car Channel, a lot of things apply to boats. And this guy really knows what he's talking about.
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Old 01-06-2017, 19:07   #4
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Re: Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

Get one of the "headlight" restoring kits from the auto parts store. Works really well. we've don'e about half of our 15 Beckson ports this way.
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Old 01-06-2017, 19:20   #5
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Re: Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

We used regular rubbing compound which should be a lot easier than toothpaste. Very find sandpaper might also work if you can't find anything else. UV will continue to damage the remaining plastic.
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Old 02-06-2017, 10:07   #6
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Re: Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

The "problem" has become commonplace since automobile design made plastic headlight covers pretty much the standard. If there are no auto parts stores in Fiji (I've not been there) where there may be a number of commercial products available, try a Google search (plastic headlight cleaning or similar as a start) for home remedies. I suspect there are many. Generic toothpaste may not be the answer because not all toothpaste is the same as far as ingredients, including grit and chemicals. I would also urge you to consider mechanical assistance -such as drill driven wheel- if available, to perhaps speed the process and maybe improve the result.
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Old 02-06-2017, 10:15   #7
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Re: Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

I used sandpaper all the time to polish acrylic. Used to own an acrylic business and it was common place to sand, then polish.

Depending on how bad they are, start with 400-600 grit. Then move 800, 1000, 1250, 1500, compound (I even used cheap Turtle wax compound). You should be able to make them look like new.

However, be aware that the strengh has probably been heavily compromised. Depending on how thick they are, it might be replacement time.
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Old 02-06-2017, 10:35   #8
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I have reconditioned mine with a soft cloth soaked in ethyl acetate. If you cannot find that see if you can find ladies' nail polish remover. It is made out of ethyl acetate also'
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Old 02-06-2017, 11:01   #9
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Re: Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

There is an excellent youtube video "how to polish cloudy and acrylic port lights" I looked at all of them, he was the best! Haven't tried it yet, but his looked beautiful. On my to do list for next month!
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Old 02-06-2017, 12:23   #10
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Re: Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailon46 View Post
I have reconditioned mine with a soft cloth soaked in ethyl acetate. If you cannot find that see if you can find ladies' nail polish remover. It is made out of ethyl acetate also'
For what its worth
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Some nail polish is made with ethyl acetate, generally labeled acetone free nail polish remover. Most brands however are 75-95% acetone with small amounts of other solvents including ethyl acetate, ethyl lactate and similar. At least one brand is made mainly with n-methyl pyrrolidone.

Not sure how these other solvents will work with acrylic sheet but I believe acetone will dissolve the acrylic. I would try any chemical or solvent on a test piece or non critical part before applying to the port.
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Old 02-06-2017, 12:34   #11
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Re: Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

Best product I have found & use frequently is "GEL GLOSS" . . . a cleaner for F/G tubs & stalls. Also great for a F/G boat too. One cleaner does all! Carried by many different stores, I get mine from Home Depot C.T.C. or bathroom boutique stores.
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Old 02-06-2017, 15:21   #12
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Re: Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

there was an article in the Australian 'Cruising Helmsman' on this subject a few years ago.......worth a search......seemed a very successful fix.....
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Old 02-06-2017, 19:52   #13
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Re: Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

I have Beckson ports that sat unserviced in Puerto Rico for 2 years so you can imagine the condition. Tried several recommend fixes ...none worked too well. Then I tried Meguiers 3 step headlight restoration kit. Fantastic! Not like new but 500% better than they were. I have 12 opening ports with 10 of those having 2 each small fixed sidelights which are crazed. It really improved those also. After finishing the ports I am also going to use it in the 3 hatches. Give it a try.
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Old 02-06-2017, 20:48   #14
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Re: Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
I used sandpaper all the time to polish acrylic. Used to own an acrylic business and it was common place to sand, then polish.

Depending on how bad they are, start with 400-600 grit. Then move 800, 1000, 1250, 1500, compound (I even used cheap Turtle wax compound). You should be able to make them look like new.

However, be aware that the strengh has probably been heavily compromised. Depending on how thick they are, it might be replacement time.
I have done so many cars and big trucks like this. Only go as aggressive as you need to remove the damage. Depending on the condition you might only need 800. Some might be ok with 1500. I normally go up to 2000. Sand in a different direction for each grade of paper.

You are scratching the surface when you sand. By changing direction you can see if you sanded enough to remove the scratches from the grit before. You have to remove all scratches from the last grade of paper before moving on to the next.

If you don't have a orbital polisher to finish it off, go as high as you can with the sand paper. At least 2000. The finer the scratches, the less work it will be to polish them. Make sure you use a finishing polish. If you go to an aggressive polish you are just ruining all of the work you did with the last 3 or so grades of sand paper.

BTW I do this with wet sand paper and a lot of elbow grease. Using a sanding block will keep things flat and save your fingers.

The sun will attack all of your hard work. Some say to spray a clear coat on them to protect them. Another option is to find a exterior grade uv window film.

I suggest picking one window to practice on. Maybe one that you look out the least. Practice and develop a system that works on that one. Each one after that should get easier. By the 5th window you might be hitting up google to price out windows to see what is the better option.

Take your time and have fun.

James
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Old 02-06-2017, 22:20   #15
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Re: Cloudy Portlights - Suggestions?

Here's another thread on the topic, & there are more. Both on here & on Sailing Anarchy Forums. It's good to see this knowledge out there BTW, as this problem used to be one that 99% of people out there would tell you was one that couldn't be fixed. Even less than a decade ago.
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