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Old 18-03-2011, 13:34   #1
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Large Cabin Windows - What Would You Do with them ?

(yes this is a cross-post from other forums and my website, but I am trying to get as many opinions as possible)

My boat, a Downeaster 38, has 4 very windows in the cabin and I am at a loss on what to do with them. I removed the old windows and frames which were very cheap plastic, not through bolted, and the glass was cracked/crazed. A slight breeze would probably have collapsed them if it hit at the right angle. They are approximately 13" x 44".

I want to upgrade the windows to give better structural support for the deck, provide better safety for offshore sailing and protection against boarding waves, and possibly enhance the looks & ventilation (if I go with opening ports) of the boat.

So far I am contemplating the following options, in order of my current preference:

1. Glass in the large holes in a similar method as described here. Then replacing them with smaller fixed or even smaller opening ports (replacing all of the small ones with opening ports already).

2. Buy stronger replacement windows from a place like Bomon, as a Downeaster 45 did as described here. They seem strong and look good, but I would still be worried about such large windows and possible boarding waves.

3. Build some sort of supporting frame as discussed here. However, this is way out of my carpentry skill range and I would need to spend some time learning how to do it. Not that it is a bad thing, but I am learning how to rebuild this boat one step at a time and this might derail me for a while.

Other options people have mentioned are to just bolt on some lexan, make an interior trim ring and call it a day. I've also read I could use storm panels, but I haven't looked into how those work yet. Doesn't seem like you could easily throw up storm panels at sea while you need to worry about battening down everything else, reefing, etc.

If you were me and had this boat completely stripped to rebuild, what would you do? Things to keep in mind:

-I'm on a budget, but will not sacrifice safety and quality to save a buck
-I am doing all the work myself. I don't know what I'm doing, but am learning as I go
-I plan on sailing the boat far and wide, but mostly in the tropics. I wan't to cross oceans, so this isn't a coastal cruiser.

I don't have many pictures of them before I took them out, but here are a few so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about:











This is one of the smaller windows, but it represents what the frames were like for all of them:

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Old 18-03-2011, 13:37   #2
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Re: Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

Smoked plexi/lexan stuff and bolts....bullet proof. If you want some more air, add a small opening port in the middle of the plexi.
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Old 18-03-2011, 14:07   #3
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Re: Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

Yes,what sailmonkey said.
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Old 18-03-2011, 14:24   #4
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Re: Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

Plexi and lexan are good choices. Lexan is tougher but scratches easier than plexiglass. For ports that might get scratched I'd use plexi. You can use butyl tape on the edges if the edges are smooth and fair. A few throughbolts here and there and you are ready for trim (or not).
kind regards,
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Old 18-03-2011, 14:27   #5
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Re: Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiprJohn View Post
Plexi and lexan are good choices. Lexan is tougher but scratches easier than plexiglass. For ports that might get scratched I'd use plexi. You can use butyl tape on the edges if the edges are smooth and fair. A few throughbolts here and there and you are ready for trim (or not).
kind regards,
The trim is my concern about just making new windows with Lexan or something like it. Would I need a trim ring on the outside? I figure I'd have to fashion one for the interior. Like I mentioned in the post, that seems like it may be outside of my carpentry skills.
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Old 18-03-2011, 14:30   #6
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Re: Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

Try here for some other hints if you haven't seen in yet.

How to Have Sexy Windows !?
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Old 18-03-2011, 14:31   #7
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Re: Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

I would go through the trouble of completely fiberglassing in the existing window holes. I would then install 1 larger port light (8x18) or 2 smaller where the front windows were. This would leave no openings above the nav station and a rather large area above the stove in the galley to install some cabinets. You could install storage cabinets above the nav station too.

I am very keen on DE38s and have looked at 3 so far. The huge windows are an issue with me and I would definately do something similar to what I describe above. Storing storm boards for those monsters is out of the question.
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Old 18-03-2011, 14:34   #8
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Re: Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

Don't need a trim ring if you do it like the above link mentions. If you want to do a wood trim ring you would need a router, bandsaw and some nice pieces of teak. Practice on 1x2 douglas fir first.

The disadvantage is that they won't be opening ports. That's a real disadvantage in tropical ports but northern waters it wouldn't be too bad except in the summer.

kind regards,
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Old 18-03-2011, 14:41   #9
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Re: Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

Look out of them.

But on my old spat, I carried emergency covers in case off breakage, U had 3-2'x3' windshields opening hinged at the top, 1 each side 30'x40' opening sliding windows. the windows were 3/4 " or 1" bullet resistant material.
You just have to make preparations far any emergency..
You will miss them if sealed..
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Old 19-03-2011, 11:02   #10
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Re: Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

I would bolt on 3/8" plexi. It will bend a bit for the curve of your cabin sides. You can dress up the outside with a trim ring made of sections of stainless steel plate cut to your pattern. It's not too much $$$ if you find a small job machine shop rather than a marine specialist. You could also use aluminum which is cheaper and can be buffed up a bit or painted. That can be DIY with a jig or band saw. If you want to get fancy you can tap the trim ring in a few spots to mount a storm shutter if you are concerned about the strength of your windows but the plexi is pretty strong.
I have this arrangement and it seems satisfactory although I'm a coastal cruiser so your needs or opinions may vary. Good luck!
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Old 19-03-2011, 11:13   #11
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Re: Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

See my reply to you on SN.
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Old 19-03-2011, 11:35   #12
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Allow for expansion. If you through bolt slot the lexan. Otherwise it will fracture at
As it expands or shrinks
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Old 19-03-2011, 15:15   #13
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Re: Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beersmith View Post
2. Buy stronger replacement windows from a place like Bomon, as a Downeaster 45 did as described here. They seem strong and look good, but I would still be worried about such large windows and possible boarding waves.
It's nice to have some light down below to avoid the uboat feel. Traditionally large windows were frowned upon, and people had storm boards at hand and so on. Many modern yacht designs have large (presumably thick and strong) plastic windows, most probably without stormboards, I should think they suffice.
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Old 19-03-2011, 15:38   #14
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Re: Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

I would use 5/16" or even 3/8" Lexan, and a "nuts N bolts" port installation. If done correctly, it is stronger than the cabin! IF you have a cored cabin, I would dig out the core for an inch back all around, prep the surfaces, and fill the space with a much denser epoxy / microballoons mix. It is waterproof as well. I will cut & paste these previously posted instructions... Ours have never leaked in 15 years, and taken tremendous impacts from breaking waves!

The trick is that Lexan expands at an extraordinary rate compared to a wood or fiberglass hatch. If it is in a recession, so it is flush on top, make the plastic at least 1/4" smaller than the recession. (= 1/8" space MIN all around) This is for expansion room.

We called GE "who make Lexan" for bedding recommendations, and they suggested "and sell" SilPruf silicone. Back then... It had to be be ordered by the case of 12, so you need to go in with several others, so you don't get stuck with excess. It comes in colors as well and has about a 2 year lifespan. These are unfortunate, but it is still the way to go! It cleans with Isopropol alcohol, which will not hurt the Lexan.

They glaze huge panels of Lexan in commercial applications with this stuff, and the most remarkable thing is the 35 or 40 minutes of good work time, VS only 5 minutes with most caulks.

Assuming you will mount it on top, like I did in the photos, VS in a recession...

Leave the paper on both sides, then cut out the plastic and round the corners. (optional)... Then if you radius and fine sand the edges, it it's a nice touch.

If you put in a couple of cross bars underneath, like mine pictured above, then 1/4" thick is fine. If there will be no cross bars, I'd go with 3/8", which will be HEAVY! It is not about strength, it's about limiting flex which will work the joint.

I would try to avoid screws, but instead, use through bolting, as this allows the VERY important fine touch in tensioning. I use SS Phillips, Truss head, #10 machine screws on the outside, and Phillips, truss head, barrelnuts on the inside. These look like a screw from the top, but are a cylindrical nut, they come in SS and chromed brass. (I prefer the SS, but either will do) Truss head fasteners have a low profile but large dia. head, so need no washers.

I believe that the hole for the barrel nuts in the hatch, will be 1/4". You center the Lexan on the hatch, and scribe it. The Lexan should be 1.5" larger (on all sides), than the hole it goes over.
After scribing and removal, you have a pencil line all around the hatch's hole, 1.5" out. Now make another pencil line down the middle of this space all around. It will be 3/4" out from the edge of the hole. This is the bolt holes line. The spacing I used was about 2.5" apart, but 3" will be fine. (If you use 3/8" Lexan, every 4" is fine). It is not etched in stone. You can fudge a bit to get even spacing all around.

Now use a NEW or very sharp 1/4" brad tip drill bit, to drill all of the holes you just marked. Always have a backing block of 2X4 or something underneith where you are drilling, so when it goes through, it wont blow out the back of the wood hatch.

Next, reposition the Lexan on the outside, center it, and duct tape it down.
Now flip it over, and using the brad of the brad tip bit, mark the perfect center of each hole that will be in the plastic. (Have the front of the Lexan marked, so it will go on the same way later).

After marking, remove the Lexan, and drill the holes 1/4" with the same bit, being careful to use the back up block like before. (Go slow, or it will melt) You can also drill a VERY small pilot hole, and then drill the big hole half way through from each side. Now take a countersink bit, and just barely ease the edges of the wood and plastic holes.

Your barrel nuts underneath the hatch, should have a barrel shorter than the hatch thickness, and will be pushed in for a snug fit. The outside fasteners are #10 machine screws, which will be HALF the size of the holes in the Lexan that they are fastening down! This is expansion room from "0" F to over "100" F.

The way you will hold it centered in final assy. Is with two 1/4" machine screws, one on each side. They are for assembly only, will be snug on the hatch as well as the Lexan 1/4" holes, and will make it where, when you screw in the Truss head #10s, the screws will go straight down the center of the greatly oversized holes in the Lexan. After fastening is complete, remove the two full sized marker bolts, and replace them with the barrel nut fasteners like the rest.

This is the premise. Before fastening down, underneath the Lexan, scribe the Lexan's paper to mark the caulk down line, which must be removed. Now remove a bit more paper than that with scissors. Next, re-scribe, and tape off the scribed line with 3-M 471 blue plastic flexable tape. (NAPPA) This exposes only the caulk zone. Now, Scothbrite the caulk line until dull.

Mask the hatch also... for 3" beyond the caulk zone, inside and out!

The less clean up later, the better. On the outside, cut back enough paper to expose all of the fastener zone, then re-attach the paper with the same tape. Now you will have very little clean up underneath, and on the outside, just the fastener zone.

This way, the scratches in the Lexan from cleanup, will not be in the area that you look through, it will be in the hatch overlaps.

Try a dry run fastener or two for practice... Now press in all barrel nuts. They may stay on their own. Otherwise hold the hatch vertically.

Quickly goop up the hatch holes and caulk zone on the Lexan and the hatch, in as thin and consistent a way as possible. (Putty knife, foam brush, squeegee, whatever...)

Mount the hatch lens with the two predetermined, 1/4" Marker bolts. Do not snug up!

Now go all around with one person inside, and one outside. The inside person holds the barrel nut still, while the outside person inserts the truss head machine screws and threads them home. DO NOT SNUG YET!

Caulk should have oozed out everywhere by now, even the outer screw holes in the Lexan. Now in opposing fashion, just like torquing down the head of an engine, snug the screws down, bit by bit. Don't do one completely, then the other, little at the time!

This is hard to get, but you don't want the two parts to actually touch! It takes pressure like picking up a butterfly. If you use colored caulk, the second you can see through the caulk, STOP. You don't want to squeeze it out. When it is even all around, BINGO!

Now, use a screwdriver flat blade first to remove excess, then after scooping is done, Use Iso. Alcohol wet paper towels to get the rest. Then remove the paper and get what you missed. Remember, the stuff scratches VERY easily!

You're done! You can walk on it in a few days. If you want privacy, like ours above, sand it with a palm sander and 220 grit.

I have seen hundreds of Nuts N Bolts ports, with either leaks, or cracks at the holes. It is because they weren't done right! The bolts must be half the size of the hole, perfectly centered, and not overtightened. Done correctly, they are as tough as they come!

Mark
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Old 19-03-2011, 17:44   #15
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Re: Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

Here you go: Stella Blue's excellent window replacement

This shows the reduction of large windows to three nice opening ports.
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