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Old 08-12-2011, 10:39   #1
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Wooden Trim / Spacer Ring for Flat Portlights and a Curved Cabin Roof

Hey everybody,

I have a Pearson Triton which regularly resists whatever maintenance project I have planned. The latest was to install new gaskets in my opening portlights. Instead of working in a twisted position, I thought it would be easier to remove the interior half of the portlight (with the glass) and work on a flat surface. I tried removing the hinge pins which connect the two halves and instead of success, I broke the portlight.

I have a set of six oval portlights, and they're all aluminum, and all seem to be turning to dust. Chalky, dull, etc. I looked at the broken one in my hand and thought: "Well, the rest of them are probably in about as good of shape."

I ended up buying a set of six bronze portlights from a salvage / "nautical decor" shop in Newport Beach. I was extremely happy to find them. What I didn't look at closely enough is the fact that my old portlight has curvature cast into the frame to accommodate the curvature of the cabin roof. (This is the forward facing light.) The new portlight's exterior half sits nicely in the middle but see-saws on either side with about a 1/4" gap between the bronze and the boat.

So, as things always do, the project has escalated beyond initial conception. My first thought was to make wooden spacer rings that would fit to the side of the boat and provide a flat surface for the portlight frame to sit on. The exterior dimensions of the portlight are about 8 inches wide and 6.5 inches tall. So I can't use my jigsaw to make them. I took a scrap piece of plywood and tried hand sanding the profile, but I won't keep my sanity that way - VERY slow. I don't have a belt sander, but I could get one or borrow one to remove the material. It seems like it might be imprecise.

I think the tool for the job is a bandsaw but I don't have one. I've been asking around to friends and acquaintances. I'll need an interior ring as well, so the bandsaw seemed like the perfect solution because I'll get both pieces at once with one cut.

Another thought that passed my mind was to trowel in some kind of filler in the gaps but I don't know how structurally sound that will be.

Has anyone dealt with this, or a similar challenge? Is there another tool that I haven't thought of that will do the job? Any other suggestions or hints?

Thanks.
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:54   #2
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Re: Wooden Trim/Spacer Ring for Flat Portlights and a Curved Cabin Roof

Find a plastics retailer that handles sheet product. Look for "Expanded PVC " Board. You can get it in colors or white. Concider 3/4 " (Kydex? , it is used in signmaking a lot)

Sands easily, Accepts sealants well, paintable etc. Cut out the port size so you only sand/form the min of material. Use a belt sander (Cheap, buy one!) and 36 then 80 grit. 10 min of sanding each should get it done.
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Old 08-12-2011, 12:46   #3
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Re: Wooden Trim/Spacer Ring for Flat Portlights and a Curved Cabin Roof

I'm thinking the filler is the way to go...a quarter inch isn't much...
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Old 08-12-2011, 13:33   #4
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Re: Wooden Trim/Spacer Ring for Flat Portlights and a Curved Cabin Roof

Trying to saw, and maintain both sides of the cut, on a bandsaw is a skilled and dangerous act. Go with James' advice. Tape polyethelene to the hull and fill against it.
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Old 08-12-2011, 14:28   #5
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Re: Wooden Trim/Spacer Ring for Flat Portlights and a Curved Cabin Roof

I do like the idea of potentially less maintenance of a plastic ring instead. There's plenty of wood elsewhere on the boat.

As to filler: Would you guys suggest thickened epoxy? The exterior and interior portions of the portlight will be through-bolted together so I would need something that can stand up to that compression and not squish out the sides. But, if I don't get it right or want to change anything I'd rather not have everything glued together.

If I can get access to a bandsaw I'd temporarily attach some guide blocks to the piece so I could lead the wood with plenty of distance between my fingers and the blade.
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Old 08-12-2011, 16:52   #6
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Re: Wooden Trim/Spacer Ring for Flat Portlights and a Curved Cabin Roof

The plastic reforms at 240. You can make a form of the shape from curfed plywood and veneer then take the preheated port and lay it over the form (as they did from the factory). Allow the plastic to heat slowly (progressionally) and at least 30 minutes. Don't force as it may tear.
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Old 08-12-2011, 18:06   #7
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Re: Wooden Trim/Spacer Ring for Flat Portlights and a Curved Cabin Roof

I would say take the port, wrap the part that goes through the opening with poly plastic sheet, then apply vaseline to the back side, and finally mount it with a couple of greased bolts through to hold it in place. Then take your fairly stiff thickened epoxy mix and apply it to the gap. Use a tongue depressor to make up a nice fillet. Once its hard, gentle persuasion with a block of wood across the back and a mallet should pop it back out for final mounting and sealing.

Have a look at the West System book for the section on mounting winches on an epoxy base to see a better description.
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Old 08-12-2011, 19:03   #8
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Re: Wooden Trim/Spacer Ring for Flat Portlights and a Curved Cabin Roof

Quote:
Originally Posted by SabreKai View Post
I would say take the port, wrap the part that goes through the opening with poly plastic sheet, then apply vaseline to the back side, and finally mount it with a couple of greased bolts through to hold it in place. Then take your fairly stiff thickened epoxy mix and apply it to the gap. Use a tongue depressor to make up a nice fillet. Once its hard, gentle persuasion with a block of wood across the back and a mallet should pop it back out for final mounting and sealing.

Have a look at the West System book for the section on mounting winches on an epoxy base to see a better description.
This is the normal proffesional method for mounting hardware that doesn't quite fit. It is called "potting in place", as in to pot in a part. I do a lot of this. Packing tape can be great, but I really like Partall Paste #2, which is a heavy industrial mold release paste. It can be found at most fiberglass supply sources. It has never failed me through some big and complex releases. It is not a finish release wax for mold use, but specifically for potting and other potentially tough release scenarios. Pot them in to the epoxy mixture of choice, then release the ports and sand and paint the pads to match. If you make your fillet nice and do just a little final fairing before paint it'll look factory. After paint install as normal. They'll fit perfectly every time.
I wouldn't do this for much more than 1/4" though. For thicker fills use cabosil in epoxy, even though it very hard to sand afterwords. It won't crack. Remeber to sand well for prep so the paint doesn't make the fit too tight and to leave a hair of room for bedding.
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