Where to get new portholes....material? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 9 Old 05-14-2019 Thread Starter
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Where to get new portholes....material?

Hello all!! I am doing some work on the boat and I want to replace the porthole windows. There are 3 on each side of the boat...What kind of material should I use? Acrylic? Plexiglass? What will hold up batter, scratch less and not fog? I am thinking I can maybe find a plastics company and take them the 6 pieces and have them duplicate them exactly and then reinstall with some silicone caulking?
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post #2 of 9 Old 05-14-2019
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Re: Where to get new portholes....material?

I replaced my plexiglass portlights with Home Depot 1/4" plexiglass. 5 years and holding up nicely. I cut them myself, which was a pain. Doing it again, I would look to have someone cut them for me and be happy to pay twice the price (I wrecked a bit of material in the process). I bedded them in garden variety clear silicone, wish I hadn't. A few years later re-bedded them with Dow Corning 795 based on a recommendation on another thread here.
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Re: Where to get new portholes....material?

An acquaintance replaced the fixed lights on his boat with automotive safety glass. I've never known another to do so but it seemed to work well -- clear, strong, and scratch resistant.
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Re: Where to get new portholes....material?

Mark Plastics in Corona is the best source for opening ports for boats of that era, if nothing else he's always really helpful over the phone. In the photo gallery under "our work" there are examples of fixed ports on a Cal 25 and other boats
https://markplastics.webs.com/

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Quote:
Originally Posted by capttb View Post
Mark Plastics in Corona is the best source for opening ports for boats of that era, if nothing else he's always really helpful over the phone. In the photo gallery under "our work" there are examples of fixed ports on a Cal 25 and other boats
https://markplastics.webs.com/
Thanks!! I will contact them!

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post #6 of 9 Old 05-15-2019
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Re: Where to get new portholes....material?

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An acquaintance replaced the fixed lights on his boat with automotive safety glass. I've never known another to do so but it seemed to work well -- clear, strong, and scratch resistant.
I once considered automotive glass for portlights and enquired at a large supplier. The response I got was that is was not possible if there were any hinges or locks. Reason was that it was not possible to drill toughened glass and toughening the glass after holes were drilled close the edges (typical) the glass would crack during the process. They could do fixed lights.

Interestingly, Lewmar portlights have as standard, ordinary 8mm acrylic plastic. I recently got a quote from our local Lewmar agent, wait for it, NZ$328 per piece. I draw up the glass on CAD, sent it to a local profiling shop, had eight pieces cut for under NZ$100 (not each, that is for 8)!

Now all I have to do is find a source of new rubbers, local agent wants $78 each (10 times the price of my new window glass).
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Re: Where to get new portholes....material?

Cassidy-
"Yes but."
Once a piece of glass has been tempered (usually by heating it in a particular way and time) it surface hardens, and the "skin" of the glass literally contracts to squeeze the entire piece of material. The same thing is done to automotive brake rotors. If that tempered surface is penetrated in any way, by drilling, slotting, cutting an edge off, etc. you wind up with the equivalent of taking the cap off a toothpaste tube: Something is going to come out. (Shatter from the uneven squeezing, actually.)
There ARE places that have their own annealing ovens, and they can cut and machine glass to your specific needs and THEN anneal it afterwards. Those places are hard to find and usually not cheap. I wanted to replace the glass in a scuba mask because the RX lenses that were epoxied to it (optical epoxy is forever) and replacement lenses are no longer made. Well, there's one shop that specializes in this stuff, they said no problem, they'd cut matching new glass and temper it, they do it every day. Everyone else? Says it can't be done.
So it very much CAN be done. But acrylics (Plexiglass) or polycarbonate (Lexan) are generally going to be way simpler to work with and way stronger. Each of the major manufacturers makes one to three DOZEN different grades of each of these. The stuff in the plastics store is usually cheap, suited for napkin holders. The good stuff, which is designed for exterior structural glazing, has less thermal expansion (so less crazing down the line) and UV protection and scratch resistance. And all of that can easily double or quadruple the cost of material.
What Mark Plastics usually supplies are exact OEM replacements. Which are usually designed to keep out spray and rain. If you consider that on a really bad day, you may have a fully loaded spinnaker pole come stabbing into a portlight...then 1/4" or thicker polycarbonate becomes way more attractive than the typical 1/16" acrylic. You can beat on the polycarbonate with a sledge hammer, it is probably as strong as the hull. The acrylic? Swing a plain hammer from your elbow, it will shatter right through.
Proper cleaning (always with a rinse & moist cloth, never petrochemical or ammonia based cleaners) and using a good plastic polish every year or two, should keep plastic in top shape for a long time.
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post #8 of 9 Old 05-17-2019
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Re: Where to get new portholes....material?

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
What Mark Plastics usually supplies are exact OEM replacements. Which are usually designed to keep out spray and rain. If you consider that on a really bad day, you may have a fully loaded spinnaker pole come stabbing into a portlight...then 1/4" or thicker polycarbonate becomes way more attractive than the typical 1/16" acrylic.
The acrylic “windows” that I had cut are exact OEM replacements as well. Standard Lewmar are cut from acrylic. Other than crazing and linear distortion of the original windows, they are exactly the same as the new ones.

With Lewmar portlights, the thickness of the glass is important in order for the glass to seal against the rubber correctly. Thinner glass doesn’t seal, thicker glass is very hard to close. Unless one wants to start experimenting with different size rubbers, better to keep the glass as original. Mine are as per Lewmar spec, 8mm, somewhere around 5/16”.

I’m not too concerned about breaking windows, never have and hope I never will but in the unlikely event, at $12 a pop, spares are not an issue, 30 minutes to fit. 😊
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post #9 of 9 Old 05-17-2019
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A woodworking hobbyist will be able to cut them.
Check craigslist or a nearby rockler store
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