Aluminum Hatch Replacement
This project is one I did not want to have to do, but circumstances forced me into it. I had replaced my leaky wooden hatches with custom aluminum hatches manufatured by Bomon in 2004. This project is covered in the Wooden Hatch Replacement section of the Construction & Projects web page.
I had thought these custom hatches would solve my leaking hatch problems, but they did not. These Bomon hatches were nice hatches, but did not stand up to the offshore environment. As soon as a wave came on deck, the water would squirt into the boat between the top of the hatch and rubber seal around the base. This was real obvious when we were offshore sailing in the Regatta de Amigos in 2004. This adventure is covered in the DREAM AWAY Update of June 21, 2004.
You can see from these two pictures the difference between the tops of the two hatches. The first picture is the Bomon hatch, and the second is the Lewmar Size 60 Ocean hatch. The difference is obvious
I decided to replace the three Bomon hatches with Lewmar Size 60 Ocean hatches. As with any project, the decision to do the replacement was the easy part. Now I had to get three Lewmar Size 60 Ocean hatches. And of course the size of the cut out for the hatches was different, so that will be an issue.
First item on the list was to go into my eBay account nd generate a saved search for the Lewmar Size 60 Ocean hatches. Over a period of three years I was able to purchase three hatches, all used and in excellant condition for under $200.00 each. I was even able to get a broken hatch for under $50.00 that I kept for spare parts!
The cut out for the Lewmar Size 60 Ocean hatch is smaller than the Bomon hatch. To solve this problem, I decided to use a product I had used on many other projects on DREAM AWAY. This is the Strongwell Extren fiberglass plate. It has been used in the forward deck box construction, the head bulkhad replacement project, and the anchor windlass upgrade project.
I ordered three pieces of the Strongwell Extren fiberglass plate. I had the outside dimensions cut to fit over the hatch base molded into the deck of DREAM AWAY, and the inside dimensions cut so the Lewmar Size 60 Ocean hatch would just drop in. I saved the pieces that were cut out of the center of the plate, and used them on other projects.
Now the fun begins in earnest. I am replacing three hatches with this project. The forward cabin deck hatch, the mid-cabin deck hatch, and the aft cabin aluminum deck hatch. As it is with Taiwanese built boats, none of the three hatch bases built into the deck were the same size!
Before starting to work on any of the hatches, I would tape a heavy duty trash bag to the inside of the hatch base. This was used to keep dust and dirt from falling into the cabin and living space during the replacement process. Next I removed the Bomon hatch. The deck base where the hatch was screwed down had to be scrapped clean of any residue. When the deck base was cleaned, the deck base and the base plate were both sanded smooth in preparation for the application of fiberglass mat and polyester resin.
Now I cut the two layers of fiberglass mat and dry fit the pieces to the deck base. When I am satisfied with the fit, I gather wood and weights to have them handy to put on the base plate once it is glassed to the hatch base on the deck. I then build masking tape dams around the inside and outside of the deck base to keep the resin from running out all over.
I now mix up a batch of the polyester resin, lay out the first layer of fiberglass mat, and wet it out. I then apply the second layer of fiberglass mat, and make sure it is throughly wetted out. When I am satisfied with this process, I lay the piece of Strongwell Extren fiberglass plate on the wetted out mat. I then put a couple of pieces of wood across the base plate and then put weights on the pieces of wood. In this particular case, I used a plastic bucket and filled it with water. Now we wait for the chemical process to kick in and bond it all together.
Now we have the base plate glassed down to the deck base, we start the finishing work. Here again is a lot of sanding, but once the really rough surfaces are smoothed out, we can apply the filler putty. I get my mixing board and put several globs of the filler putty on the board. I only mix in the cream hardner when I am ready to use each glob of the filler putty, that way I do not have it kicking off before it is applied to the hatch base. I apply the filler putty to the hatch base, attempting to fill any and all gaps. I then wait for the putty to harden, then start in on the sanding and finishing process.
There are a couple of applications of the finishing putty, final sanding, and then the paint is applied to the new hatch base. When the paint has dried, the new hatch can be installed.
The following pictures show the installation of the new hatches from start to finish. I am writing this update to the web page in November of 2013, after having the hatches installed for four years. I can say the effort was well worth it. The Lewmar Size 60 Ocean hatches have proved their worth. They do not leak no matter how much rain falls, nor how big a wave sweeps across the decks.