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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

I have a 22' 1984 Laguna, and the windows have been leaking for a while. I tried a patch job with silicon, but as many others have pointed out, there's only one proper way to fix it, and that's removing the windows and rebedding it. I've removed the window and cleaned it up along with the fiberglass cutouts. Now comes the bedding. I've read a lot about this (mostly on this forum), but I haven't been able to find any good info about what to use when the window is just set in place. By this, I mean there are no screws in the frame that hold it to the fiberglass on the boat. There is a piece of trim that attaches to the frame inside the cabin, but it doesn't play any role in keeping the window in place. As far as I know, the boat was manufactured this way.

So butyl tape isn't really an option, as it doesn't really have any adhesive qualities (but I really love it and use it everywhere else). Even silicon (something like Boatlife's Lifeseal) might not have enough adhesion. On top of that, the frame is plastic. I'm leaning towards 3M 4200 (as I'm sure one day I'll have to replace the acrylic), but I wanted to find out what you guys think. Here's a pic from the inside. Please forgive my old silicon work - I got excited and just wanted to sail!

https://photos.app.goo.gl/tJEOT82jvDyAwt2R2

PS yes, I know the acrylic is very crazed. I'm not sure I can replace it without destroying the frames. Next year!

Thanks!
Tyson

https://hidefromthetide.blogspot.ca/
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Excellent tip, thanks! I see that guy was using 4000UV rather than 4200. I wonder if they're the same with a UV protector in the 4000? In this case, I'll be attaching the plastic frame (I'll have to check if it's PVC or something else) to gelcoated fiberglass. Seems like Dow 795 would be a great choice, I'll check it out. thanks!
 

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Here an article from Don Casey (sorry Old Salts, I am a copy and paste sailor):

In every Marine Center you will find an array of different sealants and caulks sufficient to make your head spin. With so many choices, how do you know which one you need?

It is not as difficult as you might think. Virtually all modern marine sealants fall into one of just three types, each with specific characteristics that make it the best choice for some jobs and unsuitable for others. Selecting the right sealant is essentially a matter of identifying the materials you are wanting to seal--specifically if any component is plastic--and of determining the likelihood of ever needing to separate these components.

If neither component is plastic and if you want to preserve your ability to disassemble the joint, use polysulfide.

Polysulfide is the most versatile of marine sealants. It is a synthetic rubber with excellent adhesive characteristics, and you can use it for almost everything. As a bedding compound it allows for movements associated with stress and temperature change, yet maintains the integrity of the seal by gripping tenaciously to both surfaces. It is also an excellent caulking compound since it can be sanded after it cures and it takes paint well.

However, the solvents in polysulfide sealant attack some plastics, causing them to harden and split. Specifically, you must not use polysulfide to bed plastic windshields or plastic portlights--either acrylic (Plexiglas) or polycarbonate (Lexan). Don't use it to bed plastic deck fittings either, including plastic portlight frames. Plastic marine fittings are typically ABS or PVC, and polysulfide will attack both. If you know that the plastic fitting is made of epoxy, nylon, or Delrin, you can safely bed it with polysulfide. Below-the waterline through-hull fittings are in this group, but when there is any doubt, select an alternative sealant.

Polysulfide adheres well to teak (a special primer improves adhesion), and is unaffected by harsh teak cleaners, making it the best choice for bedding teak rails and trim. The black caulking between the planks of a teak deck is invariably polysulfide. For this application, a two-part polysulfide gives the best results. Polysulfide is the slowest curing of the three sealant types, often taking a week or more to reach full cure. Because it will adhere to almost anything, polysulfide has a maddening propensity to get on everything, so neatness is called for in using this sealant. Polysulfide sealants will have polysulfide printed on the package, or sometimes Thiokol--the trademark for the polymer that is the main ingredient of all polysulfide sealants regardless of manufacturer.

Think of polyurethane as an adhesive rather than a sealant. Its grip is so tenacious that its bond should be thought of as permanent. If there seems to be any likelihood that you will need to separate the two parts later, do not use polyurethane to seal them.

Polyurethane is the best sealant for the hull-to-deck joint. It is also a good choice for through-hull fittings and for rubrails and toerails, but not if rails are raw teak because some teak cleaners soften it. Like polysulfide, polyurethane should not be used on most plastics--acrylic, polycarbonate, PVC, or ABS. The cure time for polyurethane is generally shorter than polysulfide, but still may be up to a week.

For bedding plastic components or where insulation is desirable, silicone is the default choice.

Calling silicone a sealant is something of a misrepresentation. It is more accurate to characterize it as a gasket material. If you accept silicone's adhesive abilities as temporary, you will find it is the best product for a number of sealing requirements. It is the only one of the marine sealant trio than can be safely used to bed plastic. It is an excellent insulator between dissimilar metals--use it when mounting stainless hardware to an aluminum spar. It is the perfect gasket material between components that must be periodically dismantled--beneath hatch slides, for example.

Silicone retains its resilience for decades and is unaffected by most chemicals, but it should not be used below the waterline. Because it depends upon mechanical compression to maintain its seal, silicone is not a good choice for sealing hardware on a cored deck. Exposed silicone is a magnet for dirt and repels paint, so never fillet with silicone, and don't use it on any surface you plan to paint. Silicone sealants typically set in a few minutes and reach full cure in less than a day.

For an adhesive seal of plastic components, select a silicone/polyurethane hybrid.

An adhesive sealant maintains its seal even when stresses pull or pry the bedded components apart. The sealant stretches like the bellows joining the two sides of an accordion. This accordion effect can be especially useful for plastic portlight installations where the portlights are captured between an inner and outer frame. Although silicone has amazing elasticity, its lack of adhesion means any expansion of the space between the frames is likely to cause the seal to fail.

Either polysulfide or polyurethane would provide a more dependable seal, but polysulfide is certain to attack the plastic, and polyurethane prohibits any future disassembly. The answer to this dilemma is a hybrid sealant--part silicone and part polyurethane. Marketed by BoatLife as Life Seal, this mixture promises a longer-lasting seal for portlights and other plastic fittings where compression of the sealant cannot be assured. Hybrid Silicone/polyurethane would be best for bedding portlights that may not be under very good compression.

Butyl rubber good for compression fitting. More resilient to chemicals. Will not harden. Can be removed. Is more elastic. (Welcome To MarineHowTo.com Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com)
 

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That's the exact same frame type that Mark Plastics sold (perhaps still sells) as original to Islander and others. Their specific instructions were to clean off the old holes in the hull, then use lots of silicone sealant (specifically!) around the portlight and glue it back in. In theory the ribs around the frame give the silicone good bonding and sealing, and it bonds strongly enough to the hull.

Seen it, done it, yes it works but then again...there are better ways to do things. To get you through this season it should be good enough. We had to literally implode the old frames (break out the glazing and collapse the frames) to get them out. When there's that much silicone, even old leaky silicone, it doesn't want to budge.

If you use a better sealant, you may have to literally saw it through, it may not peel off the way silicone eventually will.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Very interesting... I'd probably buy another set of those frames if I could find them. It looks like the frames will be destroyed if I tried to pop them apart to replace the acrylic. The Marks Plastics website seems to be only a photo gallery with about 4 pictures in it, so I'm not sure if they're still around. But I guess maybe next year I should look at getting new windows.

The silicon (or whatever it was) that was used originally (back in 84 I believe) has pretty much turned to dust. It's black (or maybe dark mold green) and very crumbly. I was just cleaning up around the inside of the frame when the first one popped out by accident. No wonder it was leaking!
 

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"It looks like the frames will be destroyed if I tried to pop them apart to replace the acrylic." IIRC, the glazing was permanently fixed into the heavier frame of the portlight, and the whole thing was designed presumably to make a cheap "drop in" portlight unit as opposed to something that would require higher installation time$ and skill$.

I think we found some decent Bomar (real opening) ports at clearance prices from Pompanette. Hazy memory--but if you find something that's just a little bigger than what you have now, it is simple enough to use a jigsaw and just open the hole up a little more to fit it in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That's good to know. I briefly considered it, but it looked pretty permanent. I'm going to look around for some new ones I think...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok, just to close the loop on this, I rebedded my windows a couple weeks ago. I was very carefully able to scrape the majority of silicone from the outside gelcoat with an xacto knife (not a single scratch!), then I used a bit of acetone to clean the rest off. Inside it was a bit harder to get the old silicon out. I mostly just rubbed it off with my thumb, but I needed to use a bit of acetone at the end.

With the window opening all clean, I was ready to rebed the windows. I applied a liberal amount of LifeSeal by Boatlife. I then put the windows in place. As the opening was a bit larger than the windows, I used some painters tape to hold them in the correct position until the lifeseal cured. It was about 25c and full sun that day.

So far no leaks, but I'll post a followup in a few months.
 

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Those look like the frames on my Mark 1 Sabre 28. They were used on a lot of different boats manufactured in the '70-'80s like Catalina, Islander, Sabre, etc. Catalina direct sells a rebuild kit that includes everything you need to replace the plexiglass and rebed the frames. Your picture is missing the internal frame that holds the frame against the cabin sides by self tapping screws that go through the internal trim into the outer frame. Was that an omission because it's gone walkabout or just removed to try and fix the problem??

I just did a rebuild of the ports on my boat using the Catalina Direct kit. The kit includes the flexible beading to seal the plexiglass in the frame and Dow 785 sealant for this junction, the inner trim strip for the channel between the outer and inner frame, and 4200 sealant to seal the frame to the cabin side. It was relatively easy to split the outer frame apart and remove the plexiglass. Took the old plexiglass to a plastics shop and they cut new panels for me relatively cheaply. Most time consuming job was removing the old caulking that PO's had used. There were layers of at least three different caulks, silicone, polysulfide and very liberal use of some unidentified goo that had partially hardened but remained gooey/sticky underneath and had to be laboriously scraped off and dissolved with acetone. Probably had more than 12 hours of work over several days removing the old caulk. Reinstall of the plexi went fairly well but needed the help of my son. Would not try this solo. Squirted the 795 into the seal, pushed the seal onto the plexi and cut the seal to length after fitting the seal/plexi into the lower half of the aluminum extrusion and as we pushed the upper extrusion on. Tried precutting the gasket to length before install but it somehow shrunk during the reinstall and had to abort the reassembky. Fortunately, the Catalina Direct kit had enough extrusion gasket material to redo the install. Once the port was reassembled, used butyl to seal the port to the cabin side using new self tapping screws. The cabin sides on my boat had a slight curve. Started in the middle and worked out to pull the frame into the hull.
The interior trim strip popped into the frame with a bit of force but the easiest part of the fix.
 
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