I am deep into the construction of my new cabin-top stiffeners. These stiffeners have been one of the toughest projects and I've gone through many variations on how to proceed with them. Finally, I believe I've finally found the end solution. I hope to have most if not all of them finished by the end of this weekend and will post a project report once finished. However, like the refrigeration, I have to make some decisions on my windows soon. The reason is that I need to shape and bed epoxy in the window/portlight core before I proceed with cleaning and painting the boat. Shaping will be the usual storm of fiberglass dust with grinding, and boring out the core will be a big mess.
I should note that my LEAST favorite thing about this entire restoration so far is fiberglass dust. I am doing everything I can to get to a point where I no longer have to grind fiberglass in the cabin. The dust gets everywhere and is nearly impossible to get rid of without a full washdown of the cabin. Every time I enter the cabin without long sleeves (and that doesn't always help) I come home feeling like I have a thousand needles in my arms. Even after a long hot shower, it is still there and never goes away until I roll around in the bed all night. My high priority now is to get all the work done that causes this mess and be done with it.
A while back I posed the question of what to do with my large cabin windows here. I posted the same question on various forums and received many good answers and suggestions. In the end I believe I will be following the instructions posted by Mark Johnson on Cruisers Forum. Most people suggested going with thru-bolted lexan and that would provide a bulletproof and strong solution that is a great improvement over the stock windows. Other Downeasters have done similar modifcatinos, and it ends up looking like this:
Pretty nice if you ask me.
I haven't sourced where I will buy the lexan or how much it will cost, but I know it will be much cheaper than getting custom windows made and much much less of a hassle than glassing in the entire area and adding smaller ports.
As for the smaller ports on the boat, I will be replacing the old deadlights with opening ports:
From much research and suggestions through forums and other articles, I have decided I will be purchasing from New Found Metals who have a great reputation and satisfied customers. In the perfect world, I would be getting their Stainless Steel frame opening ports:
However, the stainless (or bronze) ports are a bit out of my price range. If the ports were the only project I had at this time, then I'd consider splurging on then. But I have dozens of other things I need to buy that costs boat bucks (BOAT: Break Out Another Thousand), and I need to save some money here and there.
The compromise is the New Found Metals Tri-Matrix ports. These are self-sealing, UV resistant plastic with stainless steel fittings, and are much more heavy-duty than plastic ports from other brands:
While they aren't as pretty as the stainless ports, they are well built and will do the same job.
The cost difference between the two is pretty big. 6 Stainless ports with tinted glass and bug screens would cost approximately $2,100 total; 6 Tri-Matrix ports with the same options would cost $1,200. The $900 difference is very hard for me to overcome, and I do not think there is $900 worth of value in the stainless ports.
I am open to opinion though. If anyone can give me a compelling reason go to with the stainless ones, I'm all ears. I just feel like the advantage of the good looking metal, and marginal strength does not match the $900 price difference. I don't think a boarding wave will shred apart the Tri-Matrix ports, and the plastic frames are formulated to last with UV pounding them day in and day out. What are your thoughts?
I need to figure this out soon so I can order the drill and routing template for these windows and get the shapes cut out before painting.