Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rebedding The Salon Windows...or Not

The weather finally improved on Saturday and was supposed to be nice for several days, so it was time to get one of my bigger projects started.  Leopard catamarans have a near 100% failure rate on the sealing of the salon side windows on most of their boats, and mine was no exception.  With all the supplies I think I needed finally gathered, it was time to start.

I started by trying to wipe the dew off of the boat in an effort to help it dry faster.  I needed to do this in order to put down the construction paper and masking that was recommended before starting the project.  I had been told that removing the old sealant was a messy task and masking off a large area would keep me from spending hours cleaning black goo out of the nonskid on the deck.

While waiting for the deck to dry, I went inside and removed the shades from the window. The morning sun was apparently in just the right spot to light up every crazing crack and scratch in the window.  I hadn't realized it was as bad as it was.  This got me thinking about the whole "should I replace the glass as long as I was re-bedding the window" again.  I had originally decided that the glass wasn't in that bad of shape and since I wasn't finding any information on replacement options I would just rebed it...but now I'm second guessing that decision.

After the deck was finally dry enough, I put on enough masking to clean up a crime scene...or so I thought.  I covered the entire side of the boat in the vicinity of the window with construction paper. I put up thin plastic masking on the inside of the boat around the window to help prevent any possible mess from migrating inside the boat.  It took a lot longer than I thought it would, between waiting to dry and masking everything it was now 11 am and I'm finally ready to pull the window.

Since the window was already popping out in places, I decided I would just try to pull it off by hand.  I stuck a couple suction cups I had bought from Harbor Freight to the window and gave it a pull.  The front lower edge and side came right off, as did the back edge.  I used a knife (also picked up from Harbor Freight for the window replacement) to cut the four foot of sealant that was still attempting to hold onto the window, and out it came.

Scene of the crime, with the sealant "bead" partially removed

With the window out, the problem with the seal became obvious.  Black paint was put on the back side of the window to black out the mounting surfaces.  Unfortunately, the blackout paint, failed to adhere to the plastic window.  The result is the sealant was holding onto the paint and the boat, but the paint wasn't holding on to the window.  No wonder they have such a high failure rate with this.

While removing the window was easy, removing the giant bead of sealant was more of a chore.  It came up easily where the paint was applied to the opening, but wherever there was bare gel coat, it was very persistent in hanging on.  I would pull on the giant bead trying to slide the razor knife between it and the gel coat to cut it loose.  In some places, small chips of gel coat pulled off the boat with the sealant.  And if you pulled the bead of sealant apart, you found a gooey center like the sealant in the middle never cured.  When the wind would kick up, it liked to take little bits of the sealant and blow it all over the boat...so I guess I should have masked off the whole boat.  It was a messy process and took the rest of the day to clean the opening up to the point I could install the window.

Of course, in the middle of cleaning up this mess I decide I really should replace the window.  With all the pain of taking this thing out, I certainly don't want to do it again anytime soon (well, other than the other salon window that needs this same treatment).  Now that I had the window out I know it is 3/8 inch Plexiglass (acrylic) and best I can tell it was originally just a flat piece that was slightly curved during install to fit the boat (information I had tried to find before I started all of this, but was unsuccessful).  I asked my wife to try and help me locate someone that had tinted 3/8 inch acrylic and could cut the window, but it being Saturday, there wasn't an available option to be found in Brunswick or the surrounding area.

So, it looks like I'll have plastic covering a big hole in my boat until at least Monday, when I hopefully can find someone to cut me a replacement window.  Keeping my fingers crossed that the weather forecasts are accurate and it is supposed to be nice and dry for the next several days.

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