Sunday, May 6, 2012

Removal of the Portlights

     The work on hull #667 on Saturday, May 5th had a bit of semblance to that same day in May, 1862 in which the Mexicans, vastly outnumbered, overcame a much more powerful French army.  I, too, felt a bit outnumbered: one man versus 80 2" bronze screws, nuts, and washers to battle in order to remove the 10 bronze portlights.  Alas I was victorious, overcoming the odds, but without a nice victory meal of mole con pollo from the great town of Puebla - no doubt a lot of mole was consumed yesterday!! 
     The Westsail 32 has a total of 10 portlights:  6 in the main cabin (3 to port, and 3 to starboard), with 8" openings, and 4 forward with 6" openings. The portlights are as heavy as they look, being cast from bronze, and are as sturdy as the Westsail itself.  A couple of the portlights' glass will need replacing, and the gasket material for all lights will need replacing.  For now, they are going onto the storage shelves...looking forward to the day that I dust them off and begin to prepare them for re-installation.

     Each portlight has a flange that is place over the full-circumference "eyebrow", with the 2" bronze machine screws securing it to the cabin sides.  The cabin sides are sandwiched between the flange and the main body of the portlight itself.  Bronze washers and nuts are secured to the machine screws from the interior.  

Seen at left, each portlight has 8 bronze fasteners.  The process for removing the fasteners was pretty straightforward, though time-consuming by working alone.  I secured locking pliers onto the nuts from the interior (3 at a time), climbed out onto the deck and unscrewed the machine screw until the locking pliers, holding the nut, came free from the machine screw.  I then placed my fingers over the washer and carefully continued to back-out the screw until the washer was free to remove.  Finally, I continued to back-out of the machine screw.  Repeat 7 additional times per portlight, and then remove the exterior flange.  Last step was to rap on the exterior eyebrow a few times with a hammer to "loosen" things up a bit, and then head down below to work the main body of the portlight out of the opening. 

The cabin sides are solid glass, and will require solvent washing to remove the old caulking - which remained flexible in all but one of the portlight installations.  The area covered by the exterior flange will get the same sanding treatment as the balance of the topsides in preparation for painting - 80 grit, moving to 120 grit. 

As I removed the portlights, I re-assembled with the flange, machine screws, washers and nuts.  I labeled the portlights to keep track of their location in the cabin sides.  In the original installation, I noticed that the machine screws were installed and then the excess length cut-off from the interior.  Since the screws contained ample amounts of caulking, I will most like replaces the screws and opt for ease of re-installation. As the current screws are all similar in length, I plan to come back with a length that will not require trimming on the interior.
All portlights accounted for, and will now be set aside for later rejuvenation.