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Old 24-12-2007, 23:52   #1
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Plastic windows on dodger need cleaning

HI all. Looking for some advice once again!

The clear plastic windows on my dodger have this brownish-red crust on them (from salt water and sun, Isuspect). How can I clean them without damaging the plastic? They seem tuff as hell....
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Old 25-12-2007, 03:36   #2
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The “brownish-red crust” indicates that the clear vinyl window has likely begun to break down from UV exposure. It usually becomes brittle, brown/yellow, opaque, and cracks easily, especially in cold weather.
You didn't say how old, or what brand it is.
The life expectancy of most thick (0.40" gauge) clear plastic (it's really vinyl) is around 5 years in the tropics (longer in temperate climes). Yours may be thinner (0.20 - 0.30" gauge), which would have a shorter life span.

NEVER use any kind of regular window cleaners, detergents, abrasives, petroleum based products, or alcohol on vinyl windows. Use only complete fresh water rinsing, followed by the mildest soap solution, then re-rinsing, and drying with the softest, cleanest towel you can find.

Strataglass® (brand clear vinyl) is treated, at the factory, with a special protective coating which (if maintained in accordance with their recommendations) will last the life of the fabric and prevent the chemical leaching which is the cause of problems for the untreated fabrics.

If you have Strataglass® windows on your dodger, I suggest going to their website at
Strataglass Care & Maintenance
Clear Vinyl Curtain Alternative - Strataglass - Strataglass Care & Maintenance
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Old 25-12-2007, 06:26   #3
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Quote:
The “brownish-red crust” indicates that the clear vinyl window has likely begun to break down from UV exposure.
No not likely more like actually. Our boat came with it too. We tore off the dodger to get the boat home. There is no recovery program at this stage other than a proper dumpster. Transparency is a primary requirement for dodgers. It's the UV that makes them go bad but the processes is aided by using any strong cleaners over it's lifespan. Ammonia is probably the worst possible chemical. Any product that ends in "ex" as in Windex or Rainex are very bad. They are for glass not plastic.

The Strataglass brand products are the most transparent made, last the longest, and cost the most by a significant amount. Never clean them with anything other than the product they suggest - period. I have it in the new dodger but not for the enclosure curtains mostly because of cost. You can leave the dodger glass closed all the time because it is so clear.

The next option includes pressed or extruded poly and the traditional products you can still get. They are not as clear but can be easier to roll up and store. If you don't use side curtains all the time you mat not require the longer lifespan and higher cost so one of these is a better choice. You can get various thicknesses and depending on the application the thinner is better but not stronger.

Cleaning other plastic windows I'm not so sure all the Strataglass cleaners are as significant. There are plastic cleaners and polishes made by other companies. Spray "Pledge" furniture cleaner used to be a popular suggestion probably back when the materials used were not the same as now. It was cheap and because it appears to work short term. Over the long term it speeds the cloudy condition that is terminal. West Marine carries some Meguiars plastic cleaner and polish products that work well. I would not use them on Strataglass. It is a different material with a different coating. It also voids the warranty.

These need to be applied on a cool cloudy day so the product does not dry out too quickly. If the glass is not milky or cloudy these products can remove scratches and restore the clarity quite well. A lot of rubbing may be required and you might want to remove the canvas to do a better job. Once it starts to become cloudy there is nothing you can do and it's shot. You will start to see wrinkles in the thin glass as they age but before they turn cloudy. You can't get those out either. The canvas itself usually has also shown severe UV damage as well.
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Old 25-12-2007, 10:08   #4
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Thanks! As usual, one or more of you guys on this forum has the answer! This is the first dodger I have owned (just moved up from a Catalina 27 to an O'Day 32 CC).

I think I will just look into having the clear plastic replaced. I don't know what brand it is, but I am sure a competent canvas person can replace it!
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Old 25-12-2007, 11:23   #5
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I think I will just look into having the clear plastic replaced. I don't know what brand it is, but I am sure a competent canvas person can replace it!
I would look at redoing the whole dodger. Once the glass goes the canvas is sure to follow. All the thread would be suspect too. Given the cost to resticth the dodger plus replace the glass get a cost for a new one. Compared to the replacement cost of the glass it may surprise you. A good dodger is just too valuable to not have one in top condition. They do take a lot of abuse (so you don't).
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Old 25-12-2007, 11:30   #6
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White Vinegar can work, worth a try, no loss if it doesn't work.
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Old 25-12-2007, 12:20   #7
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Mequires, Mothers, and 3m make plastic polish for plastic windows. I've had some success with all three, though it really is a two person job. One to support the inside, the other to do the polishing!

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Old 25-12-2007, 12:24   #8
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We ran a canvas business from our yacht for many years and we have replaced many dodger windows for cruising yachts (as well as built many new dodgers). I used to keep large rolls of Isinglass and Sunbrella in stock.

Once the plastic gets yellowed, it's shot. There is nothing that you can do to reverse it. You may be able to polish out scratches & dirt but the yellowing is in the plastic not on the surface.

It's easy to sew in new windows. The plastic lasts about 1/2 as long as the Sunbrella.

You just lay the dodger on a flat surface and tape the new plastic on top of the old one (using clear double sided tape) from the inside of the dodger and sew it on. After sewing the new windows on, carefully cut the old ones out. You'll be amazed at how easy it is.

If you cut the old ones out first, it is impossible to sew in new ones and keep the dodger's original shape.
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Old 25-12-2007, 12:36   #9
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GREAT IDEA!

Now THAT is a great idea!!! Anyone have a source for the plastic?

Thanks!!!
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Old 25-12-2007, 14:51   #10
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Originally Posted by Kanani View Post



You just lay the dodger on a flat surface and tape the new plastic on top of the old one (using clear double sided tape) from the inside of the dodger and sew it on. After sewing the new windows on, carefully cut the old ones out. You'll be amazed at how easy it is.

If you cut the old ones out first, it is impossible to sew in new ones and keep the dodger's original shape.
Nice trade secret, thanks.

But I guess the real hard part is making the thing from scratch.
You must know a way to make the original one fit the frame.
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Old 25-12-2007, 18:09   #11
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"Anyone have a source for the plastic?"


For plastic and canvas materials try Sailrite. Sunbrella, Sailcloth, Canvas and Sail Hardware

Excellent and fast service.

(I don't have any commercial interest in Sailrite; I have been on the receiving end of their great customer service).

Jan
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Old 25-12-2007, 23:54   #12
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Reading different opinions about dodgers decided to built a hard top dodger with Lexan sides .At the same time that will be my water catchment , boom support and something to install solar panels too .
You can also install grab rails to it and mount you electronics to the ceiling. The initial cost maybe slightly higher ,but there are way too many benefits for having one
T
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Old 26-12-2007, 08:37   #13
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Quote:
Nice trade secret, thanks.
But I guess the real hard part is making the thing from scratch.
You must know a way to make the original one fit the frame.
Normally the plastic is sewn between two layers of fabric. The fabric adds strength to the connection. The thread will rip out of plastic easily. Actually 4 layers are used since the edges are folded under on the front and the back.

Dodger making is really the hardest thing to make out of canvas on any boat. It's cut to fit in 3 dimensions and a wave or two will sort out the construction quality in a second or two. It has to have equal tension on all the material else it will rip or bend the frame at the loose point. The forces at work when a wave hits are substantial. A good dodger design attempts to hide as many seams as possible to reduce leaks and protect the threads from UV.
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Old 26-12-2007, 10:50   #14
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Sailrite makes a UV resistant thread that they guarantee against failure. If the thread deteriorates they will have your "work" resewn at their expense, it is very expensive.

On making it from scratch use polyeythlene sheeting for templates for the different sections. Cut it out and tape it to the support tubing for each of the panels. After cutting the material to fit those shapes plus extra for the seams, sew it all together.

Sailrite has some good "how to" info on their website. They are also very helpful if you if need to call them.
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Old 26-12-2007, 11:10   #15
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Building your own dodger is simple. Sailrite has an excellent book that you can buy that gives you directions for building anything out of canvas. In fact, that's the way that we started our canvas business. We built our own dodger, others saw it, loved it and asked us to build their's,

You build the whole dodger out of Sunbrella first. Then you sew the Isenglass (or whatever) on top of the Sunbrella, then cut the Sunbella out to expose the windows. It seems like a big waste of material but it's the only way that you can keep everything straight and fitting properly.

No cruising boat should be without that book. You can also find instructions on the Sailrite website.
Instructions and Tips
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