Monday, February 17, 2014

More Leaks

I have a bone to pick with the Florida Tourism department.  They call this "the sunshine state" and winter is supposed to be the dry season.  Well, much of the time I've been here it has been cold and rainy.  I guess I can't complain though, as much of the rest of the country seems to be in winter blizzard mode.  But I didn't pack much in the way of winter clothes, so temperatures in the 30's and 40's farenheit have made it an interesting time...I even had to break down and buy a sweatshirt when I was running low on long sleeve clothing.

One thing the cold and rain has done is point out that several hatches and windows leak.  Ironically, the hatch that isn't leaking is the one that the surveyor said probably was. Of course, the problem when it rains and rains, all you can do is sit in the boat and play "catch the drip" with cups and towels. One of the worst offenders is a hatch located above the settee table...aka the dining room table and office desk.  Not a great place for a leak.

I tried taping up the seams where the hatch mounts to the fiberglass to see if I could better determine if it was the gasket that was the problem or if I would need to rebed the hatch.  The tape didn't help the next time it rained, so I started looking for gasket and hinge pins for the hatch. You would think a quick search would yield results, but you would be wrong. This South African manufactured boat used Goiot hatches that are made in France and I could only find one source in the U.S for the hatch parts and they were very expensive.

I was able to find the same parts at 1/2 to 1/4 the price at Budget Marine in St. Maarten.  I thought shipping would be a hassle, but I was given a contact and decided to order from them.  The shipping was a bit expensive, but not as bad as I would have thought for next-day and was easily covered (and then some) by the price difference in parts.  The shipment arrived the next day and all I can say is I'm very impressed by the service received through Budget Marine...I can see why they are the go-to chandlery in the Caribbean.

I replaced the gasket and hinge pins and the hatch seems to seal well.  Of course, the next rain proved that my trick taping the seams didn't work as the leak returned.  I had to rebed the hatch.  We finally had a nice weekend, so I decided to give it a try.

Since I have the butyl tape, I figured I would give it a try on the hatch since it has good properties for remaining flexible and maintaining a seal.  In hindsight, I probably should have used 4200 since the hatches are screwed into the fiberglass without much additional support or backing material that makes compression of the butyl difficult.

To remove the hatch frame, you need to remove the hatch first.  This requires you remove the hinge pins.  As I've learned, they are a simple friction hinge consisting of a plastic cylinder that is squeezed by a screw and nut that each have a hex head.  You loosen the screw and then from the slot in the middle of the hinge assembly on the hatch frame, you can push the hinge out.  Or, if they are as old as the ones I have, you can remove the screw and the plastic disintegrates and the hatch just comes right off...then you push the pieces out.  Taking out the screws on the frame made it apparent it was the source of the leak as half the frame was not attached to the surrounding fiberglass, the sealant had released from the frame.  A thin scraper helped to sever the seal with the other half of the frame.

Once the frame was out, I used a plastic scraper to remove as much of the sealant from the frame and hole as possible.  I then cleaned both with a little acetone and applied the butyl tape to the frame with loops around the screw holes.  I centered the frame over the hole and pressed it into place. Since the screws only attach to the fiberglass, after applying some butyl to the heads and around the base, I very carefully tightened them...and went very slowly.  I didn't get it as tight as I would have liked, but didn't want to risk stripping out the screw holes.  I did consider removing it and going to find some 4200, but after backing out the screws the frame seemed to be stuck pretty well to the hull, so I reapplied some butyl and reinserted the screws.

Hopefully that will resolve the issue with this hatch...of course I'd like the nice weather to hold for a while so, Mother Nature if you are listening, I'm OK with not having to test it out anytime soon.

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