Tag Archives: porthole

Replacing the Windows

It has been a busy summer, so I’m not catching up on the blog posts!  This was from a few months ago, sorry!

The windows in Hurry On upon receipt were a sight.  Fogged, cracked, and keeping very little water out.  They needed replacement.  When I started this blog I hoped it would be a useful resource to those in the same figurative boat as myself, and perhaps some useful ‘how-to’s here and there.  I didn’t think of it at the time, but my mistakes, and false assumptions, may also provide a valuable insight; A ‘how-not-to’ if you will.

The following is a ‘how-not-to’.

The windows on Indy were nice, small, with easy to manage aluminum frames.  Hurry on, and all C&C 27 Mk5s are what are known as ‘floating’  They are basically held in place by adhesive only.  A number of owners I had read about used screws to hold them in, but I decided to go the purist route.  According to common convention one of the most important bits of this job is getting the surface clean.  This was the worst part of the job.  The old adhesive was like concrete, which couldn’t be scraped, or cut away, and was very stubborn when met with a palm sander.  I finally borrowed a Dremel-style rotary tool, and the powerful little sanding drum chewed through the old stuff, but it was still a very laborious task, and the drum ate through fiberglass just as easily as the hard glue, probably easier.


window openning

The opening with the glass out. The old adhesive, as well as some old caulking

After the openings were cleaned out the area around the window was masked with frog tape.  I love that tape.



I had new pieces of Lexan cut out at Island Auto Glass using the old windows as a template, although beveled the edge myself.  This was easily done with a hand router and a 45° bit.

I should mention that up until this point, I think everything was done correctly.

I read about many people singing the praises of Sikaflex 295UV so this is what I went with.

MISTAKE 1 – This is a two part system.  Sikafex requires a very expensive primer which in my infinite wisdom decided not to use.

Whenever my brother is in town visiting, I always put him to work.  I got him to rough up the edges of the Lexan.

MISTAKE 2I got him to pretty much take some sand paper and basically take the shine off the edge.  I now realize the sticking power would have been greatly increased, had we done a proper roughing up with a rasp.

Ray deftly cutting the plastic edge off

Ray deftly cutting the plastic edge off

I filled the frame with goo, and stuck the panes in.  Then the mechanical supports were put in place which were pieces of 2X4 strategically notched and angled. They were then weighted down with sand from the kids’ sandbox.


When someone is going to be taking pics of a project you are working on, I can not stress the importance of wearing a belt.

I then took my finger and wiped off all the excess from the outside, Ray got the inside.


MISTAKE 3 – I removed the supports after a few hours.  I really should have let it cure while supported for a few days.

I’m not going to lie, after the clean up, the new windows looked goddamned incredible.

It was less than a week, I could see air pockets starting to form.  The real bugger about windows from the C&C27 Mk5 is that they are curved, not straight.  So the forward and aft sides are constantly trying top pull away from the corners.  After a few months (tonight) I went ahead and screwed them in, admitting defeat.


Leave a comment

Filed under Projects

Window Pains

I am 36 years old.  One learns much about ones self after 36 years.  Yet somehow, after 36 years, I am still astonishingly able to under estimate how much time, elbow grease, frustration and cursing will go into any given project.  Astoundingly, I am able to look at a job and consistently tell myself “Shouldn’t be too bad”, and believe myself, despite this having never been the case.

There is a certain amount of hyperbole here, but changing Indy’s foggy, leaky windows would fall into this category.  The only difference being, I was expecting this to be a tough job.  Once again, my expectations were exceeded.

Many people with 30 year old sailboats with original windows, will tell you they look like this.

Foggy, leaky, scratched and freaky

Foggy, leaky, scratched and freaky

All of Indy’s windows looked like this, opaque, with a crusty grey spline, and water marks on the inside where the rain and sea had made its way in over the years.

Before removing all of the windows, I thought I would test out my process on the front port side window.  It came off quite easily, and was easy to see where the water was getting in …everywhere!

Dirt and Caulk

Dirt and Caulk

A knife with a fresh razor blade was able to get rid of the old sealant, and a quick rub with some sand paper to clean up any residue, and get a nice rough surface to which the new sealant could adhere.

The foam adhesive strip had perished and was pretty easy to pop the old pane out of the frame.  The strip was a bit more difficult to remove from the frame, but a few blasts with the heat gun, and it pulled off by hand cleanly.

cleaned up porthole

cleaned up porthole

Popped out pane

Popped out pane


A disintegrated strip


There is going to be a lot of caulking on the inside of the frame, try to cajole an assistant into scraping this stuff off.


Clean as a whistle

Those of us with Tanzer 22s will be happy to know that there is a place where you can still get Tanzer parts, despite the fact that the model is no longer being produced.  The folks at tanzerboatparts.com are quite quick to respond to inquiries, and eager to answer questions.  I had asked about replacement foam strip and rubber spline, and was pretty pumped to discover they carried it.  However, for 25 feet, which is necessary for all 6 windows, we would be in the neighbourhood of $140.

Fulfilling my duty, (my duty of being a cheap bastard), I decided to check out the local window and door makers here in Cape Breton to see if they had anything I could use in its stead.  Most told me they see a lot of boat and camper people coming in with the same plight, leaky windows, and could only offer advice on how to caulk it instead of using spline.  As anyone who has ever seen my bathroom can attest, caulking is not one of my strong suits.  The search continued.

Finally, Gary at Cape Breton Glass, gave me a 5 foot piece of black spline to see if I could jam it in the grove enough to make it work.  The problem with most of the splines carried by local shops, was that it was too robust, and couldn’t squeeze in.  It fit! (with lots of pushing and swearing).

He also gave me a roll of adhesive foam stip that was a bit wide, but with some carefully placed slits, it managed to round the curve of the windows.   In the end 30′ of spline and strip cost $14

Next I needed new panes.   Gary told me that since I was going to be cutting the panes with a jig saw as opposed to a band saw, I may need Lexan which is reputed as being virtually indestructible.  Arriving at the hardware store, I found that Lexan cost twice as much as the next brand, so once again, I cheaped out and went generic.  “Frig it, I’ll be gentle”  I remember foolishly telling myself.  90 minutes later I was back at the store buying the Lexan.

I was only a few inches in when I felt the plexi cracking apart under the tape. Lesson learned.

After gingerly setting the Lexan into the frame, I found a comfortable chair, poured a rum and coke, turned on an episode of Red Dwarf, and settled in for what I figured was going to be at least a half hour of grunting and pushing that spline into the grove.  But I was wrong.  It was a full hour.

Passes the rigorous cheek test

Passes the rigorous cheek test

The finished window

The finished window

 Slowly, I’ve begun the process with the rest of the windows, and now half are done.  Unfortunately they will have to wait until the spring to go in.  3M 4200, which is the recommended sealant, needs to be applied in temperatures higher than 4°, which doesn’t happen in December in Cape Breton.  Hopefully the tarp will keep the insides of Indy somewhat dry over the winter.  And hopefully I finish the rest of the windows by April!


Filed under Projects


What many people love about our island, and many others loathe, is our diverse offerings of weather.  Last Thursday, islanders crawled out of their hovels rubbing their eyes and let the sun burn off a winters worth of grime.  They looked skyward and felt the sun hot on their skin and basked in the 25°C (77°F).  Everyone who had anything to do outdoors had one day to get it done, because Friday it was going down to -13°C (8°F).

I was pretty anxious to get the tarp off Indy, and put the teak back on.  Since I had replaced several pieces, I had some scrap teak which was ideal for making some odds and ends that were looking pretty weathered.

Teak Blocks; Old and New

Teak Blocks; Old and New


teak blocks close up

All sanded and smooth

Most pieces of teak are covered in 4 or 5 coats of Cetol Marine, some, like the rails and companionway hatch runners, also have a few coats of teak oil as well.  Is this extra protection?  I have no idea.  But it gave the teak a nice dark colour, and I guess I’ll have to wait for the summer to see if it lasts.  Since putting the teak back on, it has rained (and snowed) a few times, and so far, there doesn’t appear to be and leaks in the cabin (phew).

Teak Rail

Teak Rail

Close Up Teak Rail

Close Up Teak Rail

teak companionway

Teak Companionway Door (now with porthole!)

teak door

Knock Knock!

Tanzer 22

Indefatigable on the hard


Filed under Projects

The Portlight Saga

Whenever I hear the term ‘saga’ I think of the Norse.  Their adventures, victories, and defeats.  Tonight, I sit at the computer with a short fat glass of rum, looking at a shiny brass portlight that took 45 days to transform into its present condition, through spectacular victories, head hanging defeats, and minimal facial scarring.

I’ve been helping my cousin renovate a house he recently bought.  Back in December, after a particularly nasty evening or removing 100 years worth of mouse droppings from flimsy bulkheads, he gave me it.  It was a portlight.  Dirty, with chrome chipping off, and the blue green oxidization of whatever metal was underneath bubbling through its nickel plating.  I loved it.

Original Portlight

I thought!  Wow, a quick rub with a piece of steel wool, and she’ll be shining like new!  Anxious to get home, I wasn’t in the door 5 minutes before retreating to the basement to begin scrubbing.

At first it was great, a swipe here and there, the oxidation came off instantly, chrome chips were flying off, revealing a pinkish brown underneath.  Brass? Bronze?  I’m still not sure.

Then the chrome got a lot more stubborn, and no amount of scrubbing was working.  So I turned to the internet.  “How to remove chrome”  was the query, which yielded a score of different ways to remove chrome.  I tried them all.  And none of them worked.

I shouldn’t say I tried them all.  The way professionals remove chrome is with a process called reverse electrolysis.  Get this, a piece of metal is suspending in a hydrochloric acid bath will a 12 volt current is run through the piece.  Isn’t that nuts?  Who was the first person to try this?

There were many methods on various site on how to remove chrome.  I looked for the easiest, then would move on to the next easiest when the previous failed.  Each of these were found online as a was to get rid of plating.

Soak in Bleach – A lot of times I would use a test piece, including the bleach.  After a few days in the bleach, strange white crystals appeared to form on the test piece.  It was weird, but had no effect on the chrome.

Soak in Coke – We’ve all heard rumours about what coke can do, wash blood off pavement, dissolve a nail in 24 hours, liquify an elephant, etc.  One thing it can’t do, is remove chrome.  No effect, on to the next one.

Soak in Acetone – No effect.

Cover with Oven Cleaner – This had no effect on the chrome but did turn the exposed metal a dull brown colour.


After the oven cleaner bath

Use a wire-wheel – This was the shortest lived of the attempts, about 1.7 seconds.  The instant I started, the wire wheel went through the chrome, and chewed into the metal underneath.  Ugly gouges, great.

Sanding – Here we go, back to sanding.  I sanded one section for a good 10 minutes and I don’t think I made it through.  then went with a 60 grit disk on an orbital sander and it had minimal effect.  There was progress, but the entire project would have taken a thousand year, there aren’t enough flat surfaces to make this a plausible method.

Acid Bath – I saw some say that soaking the item in Muriatic Acid can soften the chrome and eventually dissolve it.  This is where I began to get nervous. because muriatic is basically hydrochloric acid diluted to 33 percent, and if not handled carefully, can mess you up.  I went back to the test pieces.  With gloves, goggles, and mask I poured a bit in a ceramic bowl and let the pieces soak for a few hours.  I knew this was stuff to be handled with care when I noticed that just standing within a few feet of the bowl, could create breathing difficulty.  I left it to sit over night, only do discover there was no impact on the chrome.  I did learn a valuable lesson about handling acid though.  Despite wearing gogs, gloves and mask, if a drip gets anywhere on your clothes, then onto your bare skin, it will make a mess.  I think I must of had a drop on my clothes, which got on my hand and then onto my eye lid and hour later when I was back indoors when I rubbed it.   It stung something fierce and ontinued until i made a caustic solution and rubbed it in.  This was about a month ago, and the acid burn mark still hasn’t gone away, so I guess it’s permanent.  I don’t mind that much, and am actually pretty thankful it wasn’t a lot worse.

what an idiot

It was around this time that I decided to seek professional help.  I had sunk to many hours into this thing to quit, no matter how much I wanted to throuw it in the harbour.  Like I mentioned in previous posts Cape Breton Island is somewhat isolated, and products and services that are readily available in large centres could be a day’s travel away.   There was nobody on the island who stripped chrome.  Nobody on the island could plate chrome.  So, I did what Cape Bretoners have been doing for hundreds of years, and improvised.

I took it to several machine shops, and for the most part, the machinists were helpful and full of advise, but it wasn’t until I brought it to a shop that refinishes wheel rims, did I find someone to take on the challenge.  RimPros was literally a 20 second drive from where I work, so I stopped in one morning to see if they had any ideas.   The owner, Kyle,  told me to leave it there and he would be able to sandblast it clean by the end of the week.   Not having worked on brass before, we was careful not to damage the piece.  A week turned into two weeks, into three weeks, into four weeks.  Every morning I would stop in to visit the porthole like a relative in hospital recovering from hip replacement surgery.  Every morning Kyle would show what he had accomplished the day before, what he had tried, what had worked and what didn’t.  I was amazed that he was still trying!  This portlight was like ‘The Dead Man’s Gun” .  I obsessed over it for weeks, the I pass it on to the next guy who did the same.     On the way in this morning I pick it up, clean as a whistle, and polished to perfection.  It will look great in the hatch doors… once I rebuild them… good grief.


ooooohh aaaaaahh

Leave a comment

Filed under Projects