Join Date: Jan 2011
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just do it
I say go for it. I've installed two large hatches in the cabin top this summer and with a bit of work it's certainly possible to make the resulting structure stronger than the original.
A steel frame was mentioned, though a plywood frame wrapped in and attached with three or four layers of fiberglass mat wetted out with epoxy would work fine also. Some of the aluminum hatches are probably strong enough by themselves to take up the loss of tension and torsion stiffness of the cockpit sole.
I would very strongly recommend to avoid the plastic hatches unless they are meant for use in a vertical surface that does not need any structural support and is virtually never subject to standing water.
1964 Ericson Alberg 35