Inspection hatch to improve engine access - SailNet Community

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Old 08-17-2012
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Inspection hatch to improve engine access

The access to the engine on my Bristol is horrible, especially to the top and rear where the heat exchanger and transmission are located.

I'm thinking of adding an inspection hatch to the cockpit floor, to improve access. Has anyone gone down this route? How did it work out?

Surely a 1ft square opening won't weaken the floor excessively?
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Re: Inspection hatch to improve engine access

I don't know how much it would weaken the floor. Maybe an overlapping lid, that is bolted down (with a gasket)? Cover the whole thing with a wood grate. Could reinforce the lip a bit.
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Re: Inspection hatch to improve engine access

I just did the same thing to access my rudder stuffing box (you'd need 6' long arms otherwise). I used an 11"x15" T-H Sure Seal hatch. After making the cutout I sealed the core with epoxy then used 4000 to seal around the hatch. The hatch functions fine; it's double-gasketed, I haven't noticed any leaks down below, and it's fairly low-profile so there's no toe-stubbing. My only complaint with it is that it flexes when I step on it. It seems tough (flexible-tough). I'll let you know when I fall through it. Good luck.
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Re: Inspection hatch to improve engine access

I would just buy one of the many "hatch kits" on the market and no, one foot square shouldn't weaken the floor. Most of those kits have a relatively wide overlap on the surround so it will be fine.

Not a good place to go the "lowest bidder" route, but with a quality product, you'll be glad you did.
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Lightbulb Re: Inspection hatch to improve engine access

Since Capital Yachts put frp hatches in the cockpit sole of hundreds of Newports, I would say to go ahead and design one out.
You'd likely need to reinforce the flange a lot.
For the new sole dover, use balsa or honeycomb or coring to keep the weight down, because you'll need adequate layup ( top n bottom) for the abuse (and potential water fill-up) that a cockpit must withstand.

Gasket material and design is very inportant. A friend of mine has a Willard 9 Ton, and the whole surface of the cockpit sole can be unbolted - one large pan head ss bolt on each corner - and removed.

I believe that Butyl Tape would be good. You'll want to be able to remove it once in a while, so the stronger adhesive sealants would be a bad choice.

This still does not address the issue of an easy-to-remove smaller access hatch.
There are plastic versions, but I am unsure as to whether they are strong enough. The cast aluminum ones are wonderful, but you'd need to see if there's room, as they stand proud a little bit.

It's a very worthy goal, but some planning and designing will have to come first.
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