New Found Metal Portlight Replacement (Install Experience)

Discussion in 'Main Morgan 38 Sailboat Forum' started by mpearson, Nov 25, 2018.

  1. mpearson

    mpearson Mark Pearson Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    406
    Home Port:
    Portland, OR
    Our Zia is desperately trying to become the most spoiled vessel on this forum. Being horrible 'enablers', we promptly replaced her existing portlights with brand new New Found Metals (NFM) stainless steel and tempered glass portals. This made her very happy and closer to her goal.

    IMG_0471.png
    All 4 portlights on starboard side.

    IMG_0406.png
    After installation of the smaller 4"x14" Portlight

    IMG_0396.png
    This is the 'Before' picture, complete with Silicone Caulk 'improvements' done by a previous owner.

    The following is more detail than most folks would want unless they are considering a similar upgrade. I'm going to include my step-by-step directions and some Tips that I would have appreciated knowing when I started.

    But first, here is some basic anatomy:
    Portlight Headon.png

    The Spigot is pushed through from the inside, and it screws into the Ring (which comes from the outside) to hold the assembly into place. The majority of the Portlight including the glass window, is attached to the Spigot.

    Here is a side view (cross section):
    draw up a better view of spigot, ring, drains and insert here!

    NFM has a useful You Tube video showing a basic install, but it doesn't have a lot of detail.

    It's been quite messy, a lot of work, and several marine-grade curse words were dropped. But I have to say it's been one of the most satisfying upgrades we have done. The portlights are excellent quality (IMHO), and they seem much more rugged than our originals. We (6 years ago) had replaced the plastic lenses on the existing ports because we couldn't see through them and they were already getting clouded again. The new ones, being tempered glass, should be much better. Seeing out of windows is a nice thing!

    Our old portlights were seeping water and a previous owner had done a horrible fix using Silicone Caulk. I don't hate very many things, but I really hate Silicone Caulk in the hands of DIY boat owners.

    This has been on our capital expense 'wish list' for a while. I recently called NFM with a question for planning purposes and talked with Richard the owner. He was lamenting about the looming tariffs (40%) because the factory is in China. That pushed me over the edge & we ordered replacement portlights. I guess that means I was looking for a reason to upgrade sooner rather than later. Great sales tactic, Richard! ;-)

    We ordered replacements for all 8 portlights:
    • 4" X 14" normal stainless portlights with 1.5" spigots (4 each)
    • 4" X 14" stainless portlights with 2" spigots (2 each) for the head and the quarter berth since these wall thicknesses are larger.
    • 6" X 26" stainless portlights with 1.5" spigots (2 each) for the Nav station and the Galley.
    • 6" X 26" Teak Spacers (2 each). The wall thickness on these two big ports is small enough that the teak spacers are desirable.

    While NFM has a nice video showing a basic install, there weren't any step-by-step instructions. So here are my notes on basic step-by-step installation:
    1. Remove existing portlight. Phillips head screws, chisels and scrapers to pry old windows out.
    2. Clean up any mounting material that would interfere with clamping the template on the outside wall.
    3. Clamp NFM template into place (on the outside). Be sure the drain semi-circles are on the bottom. Measure top of template to corner on cabin top to ensure portlight is aligned with cabin top.
    4. Drill 3/8" holes for bolt holes using holes in the template.
    5. Place dowels into bolt holes to ensure alignment.
    6. Use a sharpie to trace the inside lines of the template.
    7. Use a Compact Router or Laminate Trimmer with a flush cut bit to cut out the curved areas where the drains are located.
    8. Remove the template and use a jig saw with special fiberglass blade (see Tip #7 below) to cut the rest of the opening. Cut slightly outside of your drawn lines because you can fill it in with Butyl for a better seal.
    9. Use the counter sink bit (order the counter sink bit from NFM) to bore out about 3/8" deep for the ring bolt studs (aka the thing you screw the bolts into).
    10. Use a 45 degree angle bit on a Compact Router or Laminate Trimmer to create a bevelled edge to all the inside and outside edges, and the outside bolt holes. This makes it much easier for the Butyl to get shoved into the gaps, both inside and outside.
    11. Dry fit the ring into the outside holes. Be sure the ring bolt holders fit totally in the holes and the ring therefore fits flush against the outside.
    12. Dry fit the spigot/portlight from the inside. Clamp it loosely into place so you can go outside and be sure there is at least a 1/4" gap between the spigot and the cabin walls.
    13. Remove hardware. Do intense cleaning using razor scraper and sandpaper. Remove any traces of Silicone Caulk or other packing agents.
    14. Vacuum and clean all surfaces. Use Acetone on a rag (and rubber gloves) to clean the dust off the surfaces and bolt holes. Use rag on a screw driver in the bolt holes.
    15. Acetone clean the ring and the spigot surfaces that will be receiving Butyl.
    16. Pack Butyl on the spigot - the width should be roughly the cabin wall thickness and have it tapered out to nothing on the outside of the spigot. The NFM video is useful for visualizing this. If you are using a teak spacer (like on the Nav station and Galley large portlights), be sure to put the teak spacer on the spigot before you put the Butyl on the spigot.
    17. Use closed cell foam tape (from NFM) to line the outside of the ring. Roll and pull on a Butyl strip to thin it out to about 3/8" cylinder and apply this to the inside of the ring. The NFM video is useful for visualizing this. We also pulled very thin strips of Butyl to wrap around the bolt structures in the ring.
    18. Carefully push the spigot into the hole in the cabin side (from the inside). When you're sure you have it lined up correctly, use clamps to push it into place, and flush with the inside cabin wall. You will need to put a block on the outside of the ring to ensure you are not clamping the spigot.
    19. Go to the outside and there will be gaps between the cabin walls and the spigot. These are important to fill so that the Butyl is standing a little bit higher than the cabin wall. The NFM video is useful for visualizing this.
    20. On the outside, place the ring. Use clamps (and blocks - see Tip #8 below) to get it set in place and tighten them enough that you can start threading your bolts. Thread the bolts incrementally going around the spigot and gradually tightening them into place. As you gradually do this, the Butyl will be compressed and should ooze out of the gap between the spigot and the ring. This is where you should know the difference in feeling between the bolt 'bottoming out' and the bolt gradually clamping down on the Butyl. (see Tip #5 below)
    21. Wait a day to let the Butyl ooze. Go have a cocktail to celebrate your new portals. Then remove each bolt one by one and squirt the bolt hole about half way full of silicone caulk. Squirt it as far back as possible so that it is against the ring. Then tighten the bolts down again. This is the only legal use of silicone caulk on your boat. All other uses are highly illegal and in bad form.
    22. Go outside and you should see the foam strip on the outside of the ring very compressed against the cabin wall. Compressed to the point that maybe 1/16" or less of foam is visible. If the screw is fully tightened and there is too much of the foam strip showing, your screw is probably 'bottomed out' and you probably need to cut off some of the fastener (see Tip #5 below).
    23. Clean Up. Use a razor/box cutter to cut the Butyl which as oozed outside of the ring. Use a tiny amount of Acetone to clean up cabin wall.
    Tips (in no particular order)
    1. Have a good shop vacuum handy. Use it often on the inside and outside of the boat.
    2. We covered the inside of the boat with plastic drop cloths taped to the cabin walls below the portlight. We used residue free duct tape (don't use regular duct tape!). It was still messy but the plastic sheeting helped.
    3. Protect your Butyl. Don't let dust/cuttings settle on your Butyl - cover it with plastic. I lost a couple rolls because dust/cuttings settled on it.
    4. Be sure to water test your portlights after they are installed. At first we didn't test them and I happened to stop by during a rainstorm and there was significant leaking on a couple of portlights because the bolts had bottomed out in the ring. (see next tip)
    5. There is only roughly a 1/4" of bolt thread going into the ring. On 3 of my portlights, the bolts bottomed out in the ring before they had enough tension. So I needed to pull each bolt out and cut off 1/4" and tighten them back down. I don't know if it was my measurements of the cabin wall thickness being slightly off, or if NFM sent me longer than needed. I used my Dremel tool with 1-1/2" EZ lock Metal Cutting Wheels to cut the bolts. So before you get started, try tightening a bolt down into the ring so you know what it feels like when it 'bottoms out' in the ring. During the installs, if you 'bottom out', cut about 1/4" off the bolt end so you can be sure to apply enough tension
    IMG_0467.png

    6. Loosen and remove shrouds when they are less than 8" away from the portlights. This is far easier than trying to battle your way around the shrouds with jig saw or router. Before you slack the turnbuckles measure the lengths or count the threads (and write them down), so you can correctly re-apply tension when you are done

    7. Get a special Bosch TM341HM1 jig saw blade (actually get several of them!) for cutting fiberglass. It is a huge improvement when cutting fiberglass over normal metal or wood blades. In fact, it's almost impossible with normal blades.

    8. Have some wood blocks (approximately 1"x1"x1") that you can use when clamping the ring and spigot together. The blocks can be seated on the ring to prevent the clamps from being seated on the spigot. I would have about 4-5 of these blocks ready.

    9. Beware of the tension on some of the portlight dogs (latches). After we installed the big portlight over the nav station we were disappointed that it leaked when we sprayed the outside with water. We were horrified by the idea of needing to yank the whole thing out and start over. It turns out the dogs were just too loose and there was not enough pressure between the hatch and the gasket. It felt quite loose and we used the little Allen wrench tool that came with the portlights to tighten things up. Then it held water fine.​
    IMG_0468.png

    IMG_0420.png

    10. Butyl is your friend. The professional boat repair/fitting folks always use butyl for bedding hardware on the deck/cabin. For good reason: it oozes and seals very well. It was fairly cool (50 degrees F) when we did our install and our black butyl from New Found Metals (NFM) was quite clean and easy to work with. If it is warm or hot it can be quite a mess.

    Our experience? We would for sure do it again, and it was well worth the time and expense. And what was the time and expense? All of this cost about 3.5 boat bucks, and I'd guess we spent a total of 60 hours working on the installation and cleanup. We were taking our time and trying to do it right. These are really nice portlights. It was a fun project for my wife (Susan) and I and I'll be revising this description as I think of content we have missed.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
  2. Mitchell S Allen

    Mitchell S Allen Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2018
    Messages:
    43
    Home Port:
    Point Richmond, CA
    Mark,
    What a fantastic and thorough description! And "port tech".
    Thanks for making such an effort for all of us. Sonata came with NFM ports when we bought her last Spring and several have leaked quite a bit. I am going to try tightening the dogs as you mentioned. Hopefully it will help. If need be, now I have a better idea of how they're installed so if I need to rebed with butyl, I can.
    Thank you!
    Mitchell
     
  3. mpearson

    mpearson Mark Pearson Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    406
    Home Port:
    Portland, OR
    Hi Mitchell ... yes, my first suspect if you have leaks would be making sure the dogs are tightened. Could be a super easy fix.
    If that doesn't do it, I would be sure the screws are not 'bottomed out'. That's also a pretty easy fix to pull the screws and to cut off about 1/4".
    Good luck & let us know how it goes.
    Cheers,
    -Mark
     
  4. john Gonzalez

    john Gonzalez Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2015
    Messages:
    230
    Home Port:
    Gulfport Ms
    Mark great walk through. I wish I had your advice when I installed mine two years ago. By the way, I still had a leak or two after my install. I called NFM and they strongly incouraged me to use silicone in the screw holes after waiting a day or two as the last step. I resisted that as I do not like silicone anywhere near my boat but I relented and followed that step and the leaks are gone. These port are indeed a huge improvement. Did you replace the large fixed window? The 382s I believe have a larger opening than the 383s and 384s.
     
  5. dave_a

    dave_a Dave Ahlers

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2006
    Messages:
    740
    Mark, great right up. And congratulations on a terrific upgrade. I too put NFM ports in. Amazing difference between the UV'd brittle plastic OE ports, right?
    Also its gratifying to start the project, finish and then enjoy something so functional! Every time you're on the boat, you open the ports!
    My only "complaint" about the ports is that due to the inward camber of the house sides, the NFM drains hold a bit of water that drips inside. We had a "utility towel" to catch the drips when we opened them.
    Installation question: The compression of the inside paneling was my biggest challenge. What do think about shooting Great Stuff foam into the void (after removal and trimming the hole) around the empty port hole to prevent that compression? (and subsequent screw bottoming? Obviously a "stop work" point while the foam cures.
    But I had to shorten a lot of bolts to get everything squeezed together!
     
  6. mpearson

    mpearson Mark Pearson Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    406
    Home Port:
    Portland, OR
    John - thanks for pointing out that I didn't mention the final silicone in the bolt holes. I fixed the writeup to include that. We haven't actually done that yet, but plan to next weekend.

    Dave - I didn't have any compression of the inside paneling like you did. My paneling was all flush against the fiberglass. With the exception of the Head portal opening, which was due to the fiberglass compartment that lines the inside of the Head area. I had about a 1/4" gap there, but I just left it "as is" because the liner had plenty of beef for holding the spigot firmly. Some of that foam does really well in compression so it seems like that would work if needed. Some of it compresses too much so I suppose I would test it first.
     
  7. datswite

    datswite Ken Ferrari

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2013
    Messages:
    357
    Home Port:
    Cobb Island, MD
    Excellent right up. I did this job a few years ago. I'm still finding fiberglass dust from routing the original holes larger!

    Ken
     
  8. Richard Noddin

    Richard Noddin Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2015
    Messages:
    45
    Home Port:
    Green Cove Springs Marina, Jacksonville, FL
    I did the NFM portlight job too. Really pleased with tesults.
    I found a lot of rot in the plywood surrounding four of the portlights. Had to chisel and rout the punky stuff out to solid wood, then epoxy in filler sheets of 1/4" marine plywood. That was all surface sanded and filled with West 404 reinforced epoxy, leveled to the old plywood surface. I then sourced a couple of 4x8 sheets of teak veneer. I roughed up and stripped the varnish from the existing cabin sides and applied the new veneer with "stinky" contact cement. I rough cut the spigot holes, smaller than the NFM router guide, then drilled and routed the openings. Those router bits are expensive!
    Before butyl caulk sealing, I painted all of the cut edges (spigot openings and holes) with two coats of epoxy to seal them up and keep water out of the plywood. That was 2014 and no leaks since then.
    NFM highly recommended.
     
  9. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2004
    Messages:
    988
    sort of a late question here. To begin with, I did just one of these (cockpit) and it took hours of work. I am impressed with those that do 8. Mark: doesn't the cabin side at the big window (nav station,galley) curve? How did you get stainless and, more importantly, glass to curve? I am contemplating just redoing my acrylic ports at that location because of that curvature. And on the 382, the window is quite a bit longer, (nearly 34 inches) which makes the curve even more problematic.
     
  10. mpearson

    mpearson Mark Pearson Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    406
    Home Port:
    Portland, OR
    Hi Terry - it might curve a little, but Butyl is the magic elixir that heals all problems. I also like the screens on the big port lights better than on the small port lights. They don’t require adjustments of the bolts to take off and put on.

    For the big port lights you need to be careful to place them down a little lower so that you have enough room for the teak spacer to fit under the cabin roof. I remembered on one, but the other I needed to trim a little off the teak spacer at the top to fit.

    You’re welcome to come take a look if you want. It’s about time for a beer, isn’t it?
    Cheers,
    -Mark
     
  11. schlepper

    schlepper John m. Harrison

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2012
    Messages:
    260
    I had my NFM's installed as the boat is too far from me to have been able to do it. I have one (starboard, forward most ) that leaks from time to time... I am going to pull the screws out, insert some silicone and see if that does the trick. Thanks for the detailed post, I am quite sure it will save tons of frustration for others.
     
  12. stnick

    stnick lee nicholas

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,249
    Home Port:
    Tarpon Springs fl
    The screws on NFM port lights are on the inside If water is dripping from the scews holes now that means its getting past the outside rim ! Stopping the water from to the inside MIGHT just mean is still comming in just inbetween the outside rim and the hull and starting to seep into the wood around the port and not just from a screw hole. !
    Pull the whole thing Buytl tape as Mark says and tighten the screws over a long perod of time , not alll at once. Best of luck
     
  13. mpearson

    mpearson Mark Pearson Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    406
    Home Port:
    Portland, OR
    John - I think I would:
    • On the outside, look where the ring compresses against the exterior cabin wall. If it was installed per NFM directions there should be a bead of closed cell foam or Butyl around the inside and outside of the ring. On ours, those beads are seriously compressed so that maybe less that 1/16” is visible.
    • When you pull the screws out to Silicone, check how much is threaded into the ring. If it’s more than 1/4”, you might be able to cut a little off the screw end (shorten it) to get more compression. The screws might be bottomed out.
    • When my Portlights leaked a little it was because the dogs (latches) needed to be tightened. It wasn’t very obvious because it was hard to tell exactly where the water was coming from. On one, water appeared to be coming in through a bottom screw hole, but it was really a dog issue.
    What Lee described (pulling the ring and re-butyl) Is good, but it will be a fair amount of work to clean it up and re-apply the Butyl. And if the screws are too long or the dogs needed to be tightened you could just end up with the same problem. So I would check those first then do what Lee suggested.

    Confession (blushing): I actually still haven’t pulled all of our screws and done the Silicone. I keep waiting for some downtime to do that, but they still don’t leak at all.

    Good luck & let us know how it goes.
    Cheers,
    -Mark
     

Share This Page