T30 MAKEOVER
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REPLACING THE WINDOWS: THE CURSE OF 3M 5200

One nice thing the PO had done was to replace the larger aft four cabin windows with stainless steel and glass opening portlights.  The original ports had been Plexiglas in rather tall aluminum frames, and they did not open.  The lower profile of the new ports made a big difference in the appearance of the boat and the fact that they opened provided a huge improvement in ventilation.  But they were very expensive; hence only four of eight were replaced.  It wasn’t long, however, before I decided that it would be really great to have all eight ports be a matched set.  So in the unusually mild winter of ‘01/’02 I began the task of removing, first the front four ports, and then the new rear four after I later discovered that the height of the openings were just barely covered by the ports.  In my opinion the ports could have been knocked out without all that much force.

This project was to be a long road.  It turns out that the front four ports were not the originals.  They all were painted aluminum framed ports, but did open.  However, they were bedded in place with 3M 5200, a caulking compound that has incredible adhesion properties.  After removing all the bolts that held the frames in place it should have been a simple matter of prying the frames off and the windows out.  But these might as well have been welded in place.  Many frustrating hours were spent using various knives and scrapers, and some stuff called Anti-Bond, which breaks down adhesives.  It worked a little but could not penetrate very far with the frames still in place.  At some point I had to just strong-arm the job with hammer, wide chisel, and pry bar. 

Ultimately I was successful but the results were not pretty.  I could not avoid ripping the fiberglass to pieces.  The starboard portlight in the v-berth looked like it was blown out with a shotgun.  (Sorry, I never took a picture of that.)  Inside the main cabin, where white countertop laminate had been adhered to the original teak veneer that was around the windows, there were chunks of laminate, fiberglass and veneer all over the place.  The aft four ports were less difficult to remove because there was very little overlap of the tops and bottoms of the windows over the openings.  But they too were bedded in 5200 and the inside of the cabin took a beating.  This was one of the times I was having serious doubts about having taken on this whole boat renovation thing.


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