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Old 11-11-2001
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Repairing Hatches

My forward hatch had a minor but persistent leak between the deck and the hatch base, a 20-inch Atkins and Hoyle made of cast aluminum, so I decided to reset it.

But it turns out the hatch was bedded with 5200. Three hours later I had the thing off, somewhat bent. Atkins and Hoyle said I could probably bend it back, and recommended using butyl rope to set the hatch, and then silicone to bed the screws and the outside edge as a water stop. That is not what you seem to recommend. I need to be able to replace the hatch if the distortions I created when I removed it cause further leaks. There is a lesson here somewhere. It was really a pretty minor leak. Can you help me?

Sue & Larry respond:
We think that there’s an important lesson here for all of us. Don’t use 5200 for any application on your boat unless you want a permanent bond! Unfortunately, you suffered the consequences of others who sailed Quickbeam before you, and unknowingly applied the wrong material to seal a leaking hatch.

It’s very easy to choose the wrong material for bedding deck hardware. Let’s say your hatch, or maybe a deck fitting is leaking water onto your bunk below. So, you drive madly to the marine chandlery. "I’m going to seal this damn thing for good," you tell yourself. No, I’ll never need to remove that hatch, or deck fitting again, at least not in my lifetime.

But, the truth of the matter is that most hatches, hardware, and even thru-hulls do need to be removed and replaced by someone at some point in time. We think it’s smart to plan in advance for future removal and replacement of hardware by choosing the correct sealant today.

For bedding hatches and deck hardware, we’d still choose either 101 by 3M, or 291 by Sikaflex. Both of these products provide a high-strength, durable elastic seal while allowing for a relatively simple disassembly and removal of the components in the future.

The problem with using just silicone lies in its poor adhesive properties. It may be possible to achieve a good seal under your hatch by combining butyl rope and silicone, but to us it seems that you’re making the whole process just that much more complicated.

Good luck getting your hatch woes straightened out.

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