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Old 01-20-2014
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Fixed Portlight Reset Advice Needed

I am in the process of resetting the leaky fixed port lights of my 1979 Pearson. The aluminum frames are in two sections (top and bottom), with the halves held in place by a metal tab on each side affixed to the frame with two small screws each. The glass is a tinted safety glass. The silicone and vinyl channel material had degraded over the years to allow water to seep around the glass during heavy rain events. I am considering using either West Multi Caulk or 3M 4000 UV in the channels to adhere the glass to the frames. (Both are a polyether, and I will be using black for cosmetic purposes). The West site recommends its own product to adhere glass to metal, but it does not appear to have UV resistant qualities. The 3M product does, but the 3M website seems to indicate that it is better suited for adhering plastics such a Lexan, to metal. I am hoping that in doing this project properly this first time, I will not have to re-address the leaking around the glass for many, many years to come.

Has anyone utilized either of these products for such an application; and what advice/recommendations can you share?

Also, I am considering resetting the frames with butyl bedding. I replaced the opening ports a couple seasons ago with that material, and have been very satisfied with the results. However, those ports are held together by bolts, whereas, my fixed ports simply set into the cabin top holes, and are then held in place from the inside with a flange attached to the port light frame by screws. It looks like the frames were held in place by an adhesive tape from the factory. Any concerns readers may have about this resetting of the ports is also appreciated.

Photographs and a good description of the project can be found at

Thank you in advance for your input.
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Old 01-20-2014
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Re: Fixed Portlight Reset Advice Needed

I took one of the port lights out of a Cal 20 and plan to do the same. Would be very interested in hearing the comments you get....

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Old 01-21-2014
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Re: Fixed Portlight Reset Advice Needed

Just did one port light and a hatch with Boat Life Life Seal with great results. Very easy to work with but requires absolutely clean surfaces before recaulking. You should lightly sand the lexan/plexi where it will contact caulk and do not touch surfaces after cleaning.
"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
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Old 01-21-2014
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Re: Fixed Portlight Reset Advice Needed

Most here will tell you to use Dow795. I've used lexel with huge success. Kind of messy.

There's much to like about butyl tape for bedding deck hardware. It takes a bit longer to apply, but it's easy, relatively mess-free, and the job is finished as soon as the nuts are tightened — no waiting for the sealant to cure. It's the best choice for framed portlights, but should be avoided where it may come into contact with chemicals. It does not cure, so butyl tape properly installed should remain watertight for decades, yet it's also the easiest to dismantle.

If you can't find butyl tape or have more faith in a curing sealant, Boatlife Life-Calk polysulfide, applied as described in the article, "Re-Bedding Deck Fittings", will be your best choice for bedding metal and wood (but not ABS or Lexan) because of its excellent chemical resistance and emphasis on sealing rather than bonding. The polyethers accommodate movement better than the polysulfides and have better UV resistance, and 3M 4000 UV is even compatible with plastic. But the stronger bond will be problematic if disassembly is required.

Sikaflex 295 UV polyurethane is another alternative to polysulfide. A combination of superior UV resistance, liberal elongation, and compatibility with plastic (in concert with a primer) makes this a versatile sealant. Its advantage over 3M 4000 UV and over all of the other polyurethane products is its lower strength, which makes future disassembly/removal easier. You can, of course, use any of the other polyurethanes, but unless your intent is to bond rather than seal, these are choices you may come to regret.

The alternative for sealing framed windows, if you skip butyl tape, is silicone sealant. Bonded windows require a structural glazing silicone such as Dow 795 (or Sikaflex 295 UV polyurethane protected with a special primer). Beyond portlights and specialized uses, you'll save yourself grief if you keep silicone sealant away from the deck and hull.

Don't just pick up any tube of marine sealant from your favorite chandlery and set to work. If you want to make sure that leak doesn't come back, take the time to select the best sealant for the job. While it may not be as much fun as playing with drills and bolts, choosing the right sealant is every bit as important as the proper technique to make that fitting watertight.
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Old 01-21-2014
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Re: Fixed Portlight Reset Advice Needed

quoted from boatus by the way

Boat Sealants - BoatUS Magazine
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Old 01-21-2014
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Re: Fixed Portlight Reset Advice Needed

I've replaced fixed, plexiglas portlights on 2 occasions. The first time i used caulk recommended by a fellow boater and they leaked after 2 years. The second time I used GE Silpruf, which is what the glass shop (where I got the replacement plexiglas) strongly recommended. They haven't leaked over the past 8 or 9 years.
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Old 01-22-2014
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I cannot comment on the products you cited. But I did a very similar job with four portlights a couple years ago and was very happy with the results.

Each portlight consisted of an upper-half and lower-half aluminum u- channel frame that bolted to the boat, perhaps fifteen bolts around the perimeter of each 2-piece frame. Removing the old plexiglass and cleaning out the u-channel was an ugly job but i wanted to re-use the frames. I had new plexiglass cut the same shape as the old crazed glass and used Dow 795 to bed the plexiglass into the frame's u-channel. This product takes a day or so to cure but then holds and seals very well.

Key to this step was to get the spacing between the upper and lower frames of each port light just right so the perimeter bolt holes align with their matching holes in the boat. I did this by making sheet aluminum spacers for the frames and dry-fitting before bedding the plexiglass.

After the Dow 795 set, it was simply a matter of mounting and bedding the assemblies into the sidewalls where they had been removed. Here I used a thick layer of butyl tape, and i used aluminum rivets in place of the previous bolts to eliminate stainless bolts against aluminum frames. I have had zero leaks.
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