The portlights on Sloop Du Jour had become badly clouded in the 30 years since they
were first installed. My initial thinking was that I would remove the portlight frames and
replace the lenses with Lexan from a local plastic shop, then rebed the frames.
However, when the first portlight was
removed it quickly revealed the flaw
in my plan. The frames were welded
plastic and not designed to come apart.
A complete replacement would be necessary.
Fortunately for me, Rudy Nickerson at
D & R Marine was able to supply replacement
portlights. Not only the same type I had, but he
also had dark tinted portlights available. I chose
these to cut down the amount of light and heat entering the cabin, while still allowing
good vision to the outside. This would also allow me to do away with the curtains inside
the cabin, which would no longer be needed to keep out the sun.
My overall plan for the refurbishment of Sloop Du Jour is to work from bow to stern, but I
made a detour in the case of the portlight replacements. I did this because the portlights
needed to be done before I painted the cabin sides, to avoid damaging the paint during
the portlight removal and replacement.. So I removed the four portlights in the main
cabin and sanded down the area around the openings to prepare for bedding the new
portlights. (The aft cabin portlights were deferred until I work my way toward the stern.)
Before caulking the portlights and mounting them, I did dry-fitting to make sure there
would not be any problems, and there were problems. As sometimes happens with
replacement parts, the dimensions on the new parts didn't exactly match those of the old
ones. I suspect this is because of engineering changes during the production runs of a
particular boat model, or it could be that the manufacturer of the replacement parts isn't
using the same molds or doesn't have the exact dimensions of the original parts. In the
case of the portlights, the new interior trim rings were a fraction of an inch thicker than
the old ones. Although this made the trim rings a bit harder to mount, I was eventually
able to do so with a little elbow grease on the mounting screws.
For a watertight seal on the new portlights, I ran two parallel beads around the inside of
the frames using a caulking gun loaded with Boat Life's Life Seal sealant. This is a
one-part polyurethane/silicone with the flexing qualities of silicone but more
adhesiveness than a pure silicone sealant. Each portlight frame was carefully inserted
into its opening and mated with the corresponding trim ring. The mounting screws were
inserted and slowly tightened all around the window, but not tightened all the way. The
sealant needs some time to set up, so final tightening was done the next day.
Refurbing - Portlight replacement
The old portlight frames were
welded, preventing lense
replacement. Note the heavy
The new portlight frames are also welded.
These dark-tinted lenses should be good for
another twenty years of cruising.
Here is one of the new portlights after installation. The
cabin top around the portlight has yet to be refinished.
Reader comments about this page
From John Renocki on 02/08/07 --
I was looking at your refurb page. I also have a 32 CC, 1977. I am on your web page. I
replaced the main cabin windows with lexan and then polished the aft cabin windows with
stainless steel polish (from a car shop). Guess what: The glass is as clear as can be
and looks like new. It is worth a try if they are crazed. I put 3/8" lexan on the outside of
cabin and throughbolted it. I filled the cored area where I throughbolted with epoxy filler
to stiffen it.
From Morgan Banks on 03/21/07 --
Just wanted to drop you a quick note thanking you for your piece on replacing the
portlights. I also have a 32 CC (a 1977 ketch) and I am in the process of bringing her
back to the living, and just got D&R to send me some new portlights. (I took off one of
the forward portlights a couple of weeks ago and it disintegrated in my hands.) Anyway,
just wanted to say thanks.