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Old 12-01-2021, 08:20   #1
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Portlight replacement -spacer material?

I am seeking info or recommendation on material selection and fabrication of some spacers.

Our 35 yo portlights, no great shakes to start with, are giving up the ghost. Lord only knows their make. Some are heavily corroded and compromised, they need to go.

I found Vetus units (PM-141 CE-A1) that fit this cut out, but the cut out is a bit rugged. I am not sure of the tolerance requirements for the Vetus lights but have read (on CF) they want 1 mm tolerance. The new units have a narrower bezel and do not bolt through the steel. This means the old bolt holes will be partially exposed. Inside there is a 1/4” ply backer to the steel. The corrosion took place where the inner ring touched the wood. They cabin wall is 4mm thick, the lights will accommodate up to 1” thickness. The lights clamp to the hull, no drilling required. I have 2 lights on order for a trail, should arrive this week. Need 12 altogether. 2+10.

The exposed holes are a problem. I could fill them by welding them shut. PITA. But I could also have a 1/8” spacer made that covers these holes. Tuis spacer would be outside of the hull under the lights rim.

Inside I may need an additional spacer, between the wood and the interior rim. This would give the lights rim a more firm basis to clamp onto.

QUESTIONS:

1: What is the actual, practical tolerance for a Vetus portlight? PM-141 Vetus gives no guidance but says to cut out with an oxyacetylene torch. (Yikes)

2: Comments on the outer ring material. I was thinking first some grey polypropylene because that is what my Porta Boat is made from and it seems totally impervious to UV. Better options? However I could use aluminum, get it CNC cut.

3: Comments in the inner ring material. Similar to above; plastic or aluminum?

4: Do I even need an inner ring would the wood be good enough? I am leaning away from this because of past corrosion where the aluminum contacted the wood.

5: Regarding existing corrosion. I had the lobster guts out a couple of hears ago, cleaned them and rebedded. My only thought is that when I cleaned the inner ring of the existing lights I removed some kind of protective coating (anodizing?) that allowed them to corrode when reinstalled.

Any other comments or advice would be appreciated.

Remember: steel boat, Vetus is the only one (I can find) that marches the existing cut outs.
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Old 12-01-2021, 08:25   #2
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

You could fill the holes with thicken epoxy? Depending how big they are you might need to add a little matt.
I would not use aluminum, it will corrode fairly quickly, plastic or good SS.
Good luck.
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Old 12-01-2021, 08:34   #3
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

Regarding the ring material, I'd recommend against aluminum for corrosion reasons. on your plastic selection for the outer rings, if they show and you're going to paint them make sure the plastic is paintable.

Regards cutting the rings, check out water jet cutting. If you find a good shop the price can be very competitive with other CNC cutting techniques.
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Old 12-01-2021, 09:41   #4
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

Curious about the corrosion comments, the portlights themselves are aluminum, anodized. So it strikes me that the rings would, if anything, be a sacrificial element.

Do you have an alternative material suggestion?
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Old 13-01-2021, 10:28   #5
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

Have you looked at the ports from New Found Metals? All stainless so no issue with compatibility wiht a steel hull. They offer a very wide range of sizes and shapes and have teak spacers if needed for mounting.
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Old 13-01-2021, 10:50   #6
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Have you looked at the ports from New Found Metals? All stainless so no issue with compatibility wiht a steel hull. They offer a very wide range of sizes and shapes and have teak spacers if needed for mounting.
I replaced my old ports with New Found Metals, and I have been very happy with them. In fact, I'm thinking of replacing my old fixed ports (deadlights) with NFM opening ports.
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Old 13-01-2021, 11:13   #7
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

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Originally Posted by AJ_n_Audrey View Post
I replaced my old ports with New Found Metals, and I have been very happy with them. In fact, I'm thinking of replacing my old fixed ports (deadlights) with NFM opening ports.
Same here. Replaced my old plastic Beckson ports with NFM and love them. It was a bit of work caulking the frames in the cabin cutouts with butyl tape but once done they have been 100% dry and leak proof.
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Old 13-01-2021, 12:26   #8
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

Yes I looked at New Found Metals, Atkins Hoyle, Goit, Lewmar, etc. m

The ONLY ones which fit my opening are Vetus.
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Old 13-01-2021, 15:07   #9
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

Portlights are Red, Starboard lights are Green

I believe that a 'Porthole' is the terminology correctly used to describe a sealable opening usually with some sort of clear window, either in the ''Topsides of the Hull' or 'Cabintop' sides...

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Old 13-01-2021, 15:14   #10
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

Naw. Port lights are red, portlights are windows.
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Old 13-01-2021, 20:07   #11
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

another thought about the plastic is the compatability with any type of sealant- i would be worried that the sealant would not bond to the plastic and you are going to need to seal them with the spacer in the mix-- just the clamping action of the vestus lights wont do it- i think your best bet might be stainless steel- make it hefty enough that you can run a bead of butyl tape around it and then clamp the vestus to the stainless- no corrosion and no leaks-- got a hunch it might be pricey but it is a boat after all-- i am getting ready to do my 12 portlights -fortunately newfound metals will work-- incidently they do make some custom sizes if you call them they may have an easier/cheaper solution.
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Old 14-01-2021, 04:31   #12
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

I'd be inclined to isolate the metals as much as possible with an inert spacer--why not G10, primed and painted? You can rough up he back side of the G10 as well as of the steel mating surface so the caulk will bond nicely. It might be a good idea to have a G10 spacer inside as well, instead of plywood, if you can get that out easily.
Wherever the aluminum might touch steel, butter it up with Tef-Gel. Just make sure you don't make a mess so that your caulking will still stick where It needs to go.
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Old 17-01-2021, 15:56   #13
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

Benz,

Thanks, I Missed your reply earlier. Sorry.

Yes to G-10. I have never worked with it but have a sheet on order.

That said, I think I am going to take another route where I, hopefully, wont need these measures.

I am going to use a different portlight but that will require me to enlarge the openings. I may still have a problem with 2 lights, but I think I can make it work.

I really did not want to have to start cutting steel, but it is what it is. The new Vetus ports are pretty inexpensive and CE A I rated. Looked at all the others and in the end these worked beat.

I have a of G-10 on order, just in case.
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Old 17-01-2021, 16:23   #14
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

I suggest King Starboard as a spacer material. I have some on the exterior of my boat that is about 20 years old.

They are used as a spacer under my windlass, a radar mount adapter and a winch pocket frame that covers the fiberglass cutout edges. All of these were done in 2000 and 2001 -all still good.

It can be cut with wood working tools. A plane makes a very smooth finish, No painting needed (or possible). Not glueable but caulk sticks well enough.
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Old Yesterday, 12:05   #15
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Re: Portlight replacement -spacer material?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
Yes I looked at New Found Metals, Atkins Hoyle, Goit, Lewmar, etc. m

The ONLY ones which fit my opening are Vetus.
Several sizes available here...
https://www.spartanmarine.com/ports-screens
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