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Old 28-12-2008, 08:45   #1
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Companionway Hatch Turtle Conversion - Lexan/Acrlic Hatch

Hello all,

My boat has a wooden framed, acrylic topped companionway hatch that slides on a wooden track into an open area. I am interested in replacing my wooden framed hatch with a piece of tinted lexan or acrylic mounted directly to sliders. I would build a turtle assemble from fiberglass into which the plastic could slide.

I feel our current hatch is quite unnecessarily bulky. I understand they are to take a lot of impact, but I'm not sure how the frame is enabling the acrylic to be stronger. I've seen many quality boats with only plastic sliding hatches.

What are some methods used in sliders on companionway hatches? I've seen many, but have not other sailboats around to check. I do not have a problem changing my current sliders. What's important is that the hatch slide easily and be strong. Currently, my hatch doesn't slide well and feels somewhat rickety.

Thank you for your time and assistance!

Old photo of hatch:


Cheers,
Aaron N.
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Old 28-12-2008, 08:54   #2
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Old 28-12-2008, 09:38   #3
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I've seen many approaches. My current boat has a pretty good one. Here are some pictures of my hatch before I repaired and revarnished it (previous owner problem).

The "J' stainless slide of the hatch hooks around the flat stainless slide screwed to the companionway. The acrylic is held to the "J" slide by very short flat head machine screws every three inches that go through the acrylic and are tapped into the stainless slide. The wood sides of the hatch are routed out so that the acrylic sits flush. The side wood is not structural, it just extends the water barrier down the side. Caulking is on both the side and the bottom where the acrylic fits into the routed groove.

The combination has been leak free and slides easily. It's very strong. I can walk on it without worry. The full length interlocking stainless slides make it unlikely to rip off. I would guess the challenge to the design is to find or make the "j" shaped stainless channel.

Carl
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Old 28-12-2008, 11:10   #4
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Thats a nice looking hatch...I'm not sure why the SS piece would need to be "j" shaped...seems like the piece down could be flat bar, and the wooden side trim shaped as shown...sort of "c" on its face shape...thats how mine is with out the lexan
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Old 28-12-2008, 12:08   #5
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Another Idea!

Mine has two "L" shaped teak covers on each side of the entry. The slider is a 1/2" Lexan cover with teak sides that go down over the entry wood. Attached on the bottom of the teak is a 3/8" Teflon strip the length of the slide that L's under the teak "L" cover.

This makes for EZ sliding and is plenty strong. I can walk on the Lexan if need be. Some day I plan on changing the teak to SS making it harder to brake into. Right now the entry door is wood but I'll be changing that to 3/8" Lexan.

When I do change the "L" covers I'll be giving the Lexan a little bit of and arch for more strength.

The "turtles", I believe, can be purchased prefabricated.
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Old 28-12-2008, 14:41   #6
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You might want to do a search on Lexan vs. Acrylic too. I"m doing the ports on our boat, and I'm using acrylic...
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Old 28-12-2008, 17:47   #7
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Which would you want for hatches????

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Old 28-12-2008, 19:50   #8
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All,

Thanks for the replies. I'll have to look around for stainless L or J bar; I haven't seen any. I have ideas for local guys; ideas for internet suppliers?

As for acrylic vs. polycarbonate, I've read all about the differences and that video is pretty damning for acrylic. However, 1/2" hatches don't react the same as 1/8" motorcycle windshield. The strength and resistance to shattering increases exponentially with thickness, and there are more things to consider on boats than impact resistance. In 1/2"+ form, both will fit the billet. That polycarbonate can lose 90% of its strength in one year is a major consideration!

I'll likely go with which ever I can get for a reasonable price at a good thickness, with adequate tint, then make a Sunbrella cover for it to help extend its life.

And I'll avoid shooting either.

Cheers,
Aaron N.
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Old 07-01-2009, 06:31   #9
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Hey all,

Has anyone seen polycarbonate hatches with a non-skid pattern molded in? The largest problem I have with the plastic is its slipperiness when wet. I do not need it crystal clear; I just want the clear hatches for light transmission.

It seems like it would be pretty easy to engrain a pattern in Lexan.

Thanks!
Aaron N.
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