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FinallySailing 04-09-2013 10:23 AM

Nincompoop ...
... is a word that my 8 year old unfortunately learned last weekend when he went with me to the marina to have a proper look at "Rockhopper's" forehatch. ;)

Here is the background:

The Mac26S came originally with a simple (I guess) fiberglass foredeck hatch. A previous owner upgraded this by installing a lewmar size 65 low profile hatch. Over the last three years this has increasingly started to leak around its frame. As the admiral does not like "Chinese torture" when she is resting on the front berth I promised her to fix this. I've had a closer look at the way it was put in and started dismantling it ...

The hatch frame was sealed with copious amounts of silicone (initially white, now mouldy black and grey) from the outside. I've removed all of this, it didn't really extend under the hatch frame, so did not form a gasket. The hatch istelf is much larger than the original fiberglass one. The latter had been completely cut out. It looks like the PO then smeared a great amount of Bondo or similar car body filler onto the remaining gelcoat and set the new hatch on top of this. The screwholes extend through to the headliner of the front berth, the bolts that were holding the hatch had been fixed with nuts from the inside and the holes then had been smeared over with probably more Bondo. As such I couldn't remove the bolts without removing these Bondo "dowels" first. At places the hatch frame was only resting on just under 1.5 cms of the original deck. I've managed to loosen most of the hatch off the deck, only two bolts are still holding it in position now. Most of the filler/Bondo under the metal hatch frame is simply coming off the original gelcoat with the help of a small screwdriver.
A complete hack, and yes my little boy has not only managed to add the above beautiful description of a foolish person to his vocabulary but also learned some more fruity German words out of his father's original mother tongue ... :mad:

When I've managed to clear all of it off, I will be left with an unsightly opening in my not completely flat but slightly bent foredeck and hopefull a not rotten deck core (not sure how much marine ply was used there and where but I do not see any wood where things had been cut).

I am wondering what is the best way forward.

My plan so far is:

To clean the area completely of any body filler and silicone residue. Then to cut to size two pieces of white pre-made fiberglass panels (one facing inside and one outside) with a piece of marine ply (covered in resin) sandwiched in between for stability. I'd glass all that in, in place of the Lewmar hatch. At least it should hopefully be waterproof then. I can then later put in a smaller opening hatch into this new panel.

Do you think this is feasible ? I'll take some pictures next time when I am at the marina, they might explain things a bit better.

deniseO30 04-09-2013 10:59 AM

Re: Nincompoop ...
Chance of putting it back to original? Guess you would have to source the OEM hatch

FinallySailing 04-09-2013 11:13 AM

Re: Nincompoop ...
Thanks for the suggestion, Denise.

I think the original hatch was made of fiberglass by Macgregor. Apart from the opening bit it was an integral part of the foredeck.

Here is a picture from above that I just found googling ...

The deck area around the hatch is not quite level but curved with run offs on the deck moulded in front of the front corners of the hatch.

Faster 04-09-2013 11:19 AM

Re: Nincompoop ...
It would help a lot to see pictures of what the current post-cleanup/removal situation looks like. Certainly sounds like a botch job.

You'll need a flat flange surface for the Lewmar hatch to properly sit on.. this could be molded or created with thickened epoxy, then faired and drilled for the hatch reinstall.. I'd avoid using wood if possible.

Aside from the botched install, you can't expect a rigid flat hatch to 'seal' reliably over a crowned mounting base.

CarbonSink62 04-09-2013 11:22 AM

Re: Nincompoop ...
Denise, no pic, but it sounds like the DPO cut out the hatch and the frame to install a larger hatch & frame.

Oy veh.

I think that this project started with bondo and that's how it will end.


My guess is that you'll need to pull off the new hatch & frame; then use thickened epoxy on top of the bondo monstrosity to make a bed that conforms to the shape of the frame as closely as possible; make sure the bed has no holes or voids; then use the proper sealant to re-attach the frame to the bed.

I don't think this will be easy (or fun) but it should be do-able.


deniseO30 04-09-2013 11:50 AM

Re: Nincompoop ...
Yes pics for the arm chair engineers would help! LOL
supposing... you found a donor boat....
supposing... you have dozen sawzall blades....
If a proper and well planned attack on the donor boat could yield up a complete front hatch and oh... about 4" all around the hatch structure... and you did the work to fit it into your boat... you could maybe come away with a seamless replacment.

All the above aside you may be able to make a mold off another boat. spray release wax in the mold and make a new section to replace the hacked up frame.

all allot of work.

TQA 04-09-2013 11:55 AM

Re: Nincompoop ...
Seems to me that you have a good Lewmar hatch.

All you need to do is make a base for it on your foredeck. And not one that uses bondo!

Make a mould that matches the frame of the hatch. I did something similar and used a sheet of glass plus some wooden battens. Lay up a base that is at least 1/2 inch thick 1 inch is better. Epoxy and suitable glass cloth will do nicely.

Now lay that over your deck hole and fair it in with thickened epoxy. When I did this I kept the glass on to keep the apperture flat. Let it set and tidy up the fairing job. Fit the hatch with butyl tape as a seal.

Stand back and look at a PROPER JOB.

Now get someone to play a hose on it and check for leaks! If none paint.

1/2 a day to make the frame. 1/2 a day to get it onto the foredeck. Final fairing time will depend on how neat you werewhen you applied the thickened epoxy.

Ritchard 04-09-2013 01:11 PM

I'm with TQA, keep the hatch. I would add that the better job you do with engineering a mold, the easier the fairing will be, and the better the final results.

Thinking more about it, I might use a piece of premade 1/2" fiberglass sheet as the flat mounting surface for the hatch, cut just big enough to cover the butchered hole left by the previous owner. , Make up a waxed plywood plug mold inserted from inside. Glass in the gap between the new flat surface and the deck, finish and fair w 406-thickened epoxy.

If the gap is small enough, you might be able to do a one-step, or nearly one- step repair by setting the new fibreglass sheet right onto a bed of thickened epoxy. The Plywood mold shaping the inside, masking tape and a deft hand with a soft plastic putty knife shaping the outside. Fair as necessary. Either way, you then remove the mold, cut a new hatch hole and install the hatch.

I was able to shape a lovely curve between right angled surfaces - a large fillet really - this past weekend with peanut butter consistency epoxy and a soft 1-1/4 inch plastic putty knife. It came out perfect with only minimal hand sanding.

It would be a day's work spread over say 5 days, plus paint, the second option could be achieved in one go, or one go and one layer of fairing. Oh, and I guess some kind of interior trim to cover up the PO's creativity.

CalebD 04-09-2013 01:35 PM

Re: Nincompoop ...
Nincompoop indeed! Who ever did the initial install left it Gestorben!

Get all of the silicone and Bondo off of everything. You may need to scrub everything in Acetone. Silicone residue will mess up any future attempts to bond anything in this area.

Pity. The Mac 26 S along with the daggerboard model are actually pretty good sailboats.

MarkSF 04-09-2013 01:42 PM

Re: Nincompoop ...
According to the table I have here, silicone is not soluble in Acetone. It is soluble in chlorinated solvents like trichloroethane, and the gasoline based solvents like hexane. That would make carburettor cleaner the ideal remover.

I'd second the thoughts about keeping the hatch. A hatch in the V berth is very nice to have for 1) light 2) fresh air and 3) emergency escape. No reason for it to leak if installed properly - my 30 year old Lewmars don't.

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