Overhead Hatches

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We have two Atkins and Hoyle 23X23 inch overhead hatches.  These hatches are of superior quality and for being so large, are extremely strong.  However, as everything else on the boat, ours are about 36 years old and need some serious love.  The hatches need new acrylic, new seals, and new bedding.  To give you an idea of how bad of shape they are in, when I (Ryan) braced myself to use all my strength, will, and ingenuity to get the acrylic out; I pushed on it and it came right out!!!! That is no good! but I’ll take it 🙂

Here is what the acrylic looks like, these are not scratches or scuffs, this is internal cracking and crazing:

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So, we know what we want: to restore the fantastic hatches and replace the acrylic.  Now how to go about it…  We wrote to Atkins and Hoyle who we truly believe to be a fantastic company with great customer support.  They could replace the acrylic and clean everything up with new seals and ship them back to us for about $1,300 not including shipping to Canada ($650 a hatch including labor).  They guarantee their work for a year against any leaks and we’re sure would do excellent work, after all, they made the hatch in the first place.  They would sell me the needed materials for a DIY job for $500 a hatch.

Then we came across an add in a sailing magazine for “Hatchmasters” which as it turns out is Select Plastics in Connecticut.  We wrote them and ended up talking to Tony, who is in charge of all hatch repairs, on the phone.  We really liked Tony and felt that he would do an equivalent if not better job than Atkins and Hoyle.  His price was better too: $1,000 ($500 a hatch) with a one and a half year guarantee against leaks plus he would throw in some bedding sealant for me when shipping them back.  Pretty cool.  We came so very close to putting those hatches in a box and sending them right up!

Problem is – we really don’t have $1,000!!!

Luckily for us, it was just the time to take a break and on our break we had a lot of time to research what exactly goes into a “marine grade” hatch.  In our research we found a couple key components:

1- Cast Acrylic, it has to be cast, not extruded and it has to be acrylic, not polycarbonate which will sag.  Polycarbonate (Lexan) is stronger than Acrylic but for such a large hatch with no support it would not work.  Don’t get me wrong, it works in some applications, just not here.  In our research we happened upon some information that said the marine industries standard is Evonik Cyro Industries Acrylite.  Works for us.

2- The seal of the acrylic to the metal frame is a science that requires care and know how, the acrylic actually has to float so that it can move around all while maintaining an absolutely water tight seal.  Luckily and by chance we have experience in this from a repair we did to our Catalina which has an overhead skylight.  Dow Corning 795 is an excellent sealant for this application even though it doesn’t have the words “marine” or “boat” on it (nor does it have the accompanying price tag!)

3- The hatch should actually add strength to the deck where it is located.  We are good to go on this – Atkins and Hoyle aluminum frames are rock solid – bonded properly they are going to offer excellent structural stability.

Then it hit us… we can do this.

So here we are, new acrylic ordered from Evonik Acrylite cut to the exact size we need: $200 and in the mail on its way.  New gasket material ordered from Pelland Enterprises for $62 including shipping.  Side note here: the A37 IOA has a great article on replacing the gaskets on the Atkins and Hoyle overhead hatches. Check it out HERE. However “Clean Seal” who makes the cord stock will only sell 100ft + roll.  We only need 15 feet and I couldn’t justify buying the rest.  Pelland Enterprises buys from Clean Seal and sells however much you want with no minimum.  Good stuff.

Its time to begin the real work: cleaning up the aluminum!

2015-11-03 19.09.57

Erin really did not like doing this but she did a good job.  I gave her the hatch without 5200 on it and I took to blistering my hands laboriously removing the 5200 from my hatch base.

This is going to take some time, the metal has to be sterile clean!

2 thoughts on “Overhead Hatches

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