Friday, June 6, 2008

Rainy Daze

The third day of steady rain. Tomorrow's forecast is slightly better but not much. The day after the temperatures are supposed to shoot up into the 90's with high humidity so I might not be getting that final coat of primer on as soon as I would like. So close and yet so far.

I have consoled myself with some boat shopping, visiting with other crazy boat re-builders, and cleaning up my opening ports.

The more I look at these ports the more I think about simply replacing them with shiny new ones.

As you can see the ports were sealed in with silicone. I hate silicone. When it sticks, it sticks too well. Note the chunks of gelcoat that came off with the port requiring some repair work on the cabin. When silicone lets go, it does it without reason and then you have leaks. To really rub it in, if it is not fully removed (and believe me it sticks tenaciously sometimes) it will mess up your topcoat/paint applications for a hundred years. You can't sand it out. Sandpaper just grinds it into the substrate. I hate the stuff. If it worked better I could live with it but it isn't clearly better than other options so I won't use it. Pearson treated it like a miracle product, and it probably was in the 1960's, and used it extensively everywhere. I have spent lots of time trying to erradicate the evil stuff.

In some places there was an awful lot of silicone in what must have been some pretty big gaps.

The little frames that go on the outside and hold the port were well stuck on too. Note the chunks of gel-coat again. Also note that the frames, being quite thin, and being more than a little corroded, got pretty bent up on removal. Two of the frames were cracked clear through and I will have to replace them. Being an aircraft mechanic by trade I am pretty comfortable working with aluminum and I have the tools to do so but I really have to wonder if aluminum is the right material to use in a marine environment.

I found quite a bit of pitting on the retaining frames. The deep scratch marks are from the original manufacturer. I didn't cause that with my brass wire wheel or gasket scraper. Hardly quality manufacturing practices here.

Finished. Bright and shiny but will I keep them?

The seals are very hard and I am scared to pry them out for fear of causing more damage. A couple of the dogs that lock the ports shut are frozen and don't work (lucky for me there are two per port and at least one is working on all of them). One of the forward facing ports is cracked through the glass several times. It doesn't leak but it doesn't look great. These ports seemed okay when they came out but installed on my freshly painted cabin top I am not sure they will come up to my 'standards'. I don't know. New ports are expensive and hard to find in the original size and shape. I really don't want to change the look either. Going to a more common and cheaper rectangular shape or a larger oval shape won't work for me. Its a Triton, maybe I have to live with it for now and replace them when the money situation gets better. Maybe something will show up on Ebay.

Okay, time to watch the rain fall some more. I wonder what is happening in the soap opera world these days?...


ariel414 said...

Those aluminum frames look very familiar. I thought about having mine powder coated, but the shop wouldn't touch them because of all the silicone. :(

Have you considered painting the frames? You'd only have to prep and paint the visible exterior portions...

PS. Looking good! Can't wait to see the shiny new < somecolor > colored topsides!

brushfiremedia said...

My awlgrip job on similar looking aluminum ports is holding up brilliantly.

ariel414 said...

Hey Nathan! I see you were launched this week. Hope everything went well. Are you all set for the new season? I also noticed you finally updated your website too. :)

(Sorry Britton, I'd post this on his website, but I didn't think he looked at it anymore...)

FIW, my rustoleum job on my frames is going on season #2.

britton said...

The issue is more than cosmetic. First, I need to make a couple of the outer frames. Then, even though they are looking okay from the outside, I will have suspect seals, broken glass, and a few non-working dogs. At some point one has to wonder whether repair or replacement is a more economical option. I don't know yet.

I got a lot of the silicone off but I can still feel a bit even after some heavy wire brushing. I don't know if it is possible to get it all off.

Paint is an option. I just don't want to throw good effort on a losing battle. New bronze ports are a bit pricey :-(

So Nathan, you painted the small ports too?

Yeah, I am looking forward to the final primer. The near future weather reports are not very encouraging though. We haven't set a real date but I think later in the summer is when the final topcoats will go on. Just the primer makes my boat look better than a lot of the others in the yard here. That IS encouraging.

britton said...

Rustoleum may be the correct match for these frames. Awl-Grip might be like lipstick on a pig. Pretty but a bit overdone.

brushfiremedia said...


Yes, I did all the ports, deadlights and small opening.

From the photos your ports are no worse than mine. I also have some non-working dogs, one or two with cracked glass, and the original hard-as-rocks gaskets. They do not leak.

I've got silver awlgrip topcoat up at Tim's. You are welcome to it as long as you leave me enough to redo my bootstripe. I think that buying/manufacturing new is way too much money for the ROI, but YMMV.


Yes, everything went smoothly. Boat is ready to sail as soon as we get improved weather.

britton said...

Thanks Nathan. Now I just have to get Tim to spray it for me for a reasonable cost... :-)

Maybe just the outer frames. I have spent the last few hours with some scotchbrite, a toothbrush and nothing else to do and they are looking a bit better. By swapping parts around I have four that are decent. Not great but decent.

Maybe I should think of my worn out ports as signs of character and history rather than signs of neglect.

Tim said...

Paint will work wonders on those ports. Get them really, really clean first, though (which it looks like you're doing).

Basic paint like Rustoleum and the like works pretty well and is easy to do, but it won't last as long as Awlgrip, assuming proper prep work. Once the ports go back in, they're likely to be in place for 10 or more years at least (assuming proper installation), so ideally you want a paint that will last that long as well, at a minimum.

Be sure not to listen to Ariel Mike's paint color suggestions, though! (Unless you need a primer coat...) :<)

Peel out those rock-hard gaskets and replace them. Square rubber gasket with a hole through the middle--like that in your existing ports--is still available, though I'd suggest getting the new material in hand before removing the old. I have a source for it if you want.

The glass is easy to replace. Once you remove the seals, there are a few little screws in there that release the back of the port and the glass. Any glass shop can supply the glass as needed. I replaced the glass in one of mine that I accidentally broke a few years ago (thanks to an errant hammer claw). There's no need to live with cracked glass.

I think it's possible to renew the dogs as well, if you take the time to get into it sooner than later. Every one of my opening ports has only one functioning dog; I addressed the ports far too late in my rebuild process to give them the attention they truly needed, so I didn't try to replace or fix the dogs. The single dogs work well enough everywhere but on my forward-facing ports, where the missing dogs happen to be on the low side and used to leak till I just sealed the port permanently closed with sealant.

Port replacement would be nice, but if you can't get the items you need, it's not really an option. Too bad you don't have somewhere to store Triton 385's hull when you buy her in order to get her ports. ;<)

Tim said...

I forgot to mention, as is my wont, that silicone is pure evil.

britton said...

I hear there is a Triton storage facility somewhere in the backwoods of Maine. I bet I could leave it there for awhile.

Good paint suggestions. I will do some thinking. Now that the sun is coming out and my mood is improving the ports are starting to look better again. Funny how that happens.

Come to think of it, buying a derelict Triton with bronze fittings is much cheaper than buying new bronze ports. Economics is a weird science. It just doesn't make sense to me.