Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Finishing installation of new pilothouse windows

I took on the this project to replace the old windows in the pilothouse because after 20 years the acrylic was badly crazed and the sliding windows didn't slide much anymore. With all my strength I could budge them, but my poor wife...

So I've set about replacing them with beautiful new aluminum framed tempered glass windows. The old frames were plastic. I got the windows from Wynne Enterprises in Alabama, of all places. This happened primarily because I called the folks in R.I. making the new Gulf 32's and asked who they had making their windows. I've been happy with the quality and fit. The only bummer is that they can't bend the aluminum frames any smaller than a 6' radius circle, and the original corners on the windows are tighter than that in a few places. The overlap of the flange is sufficient to deal with that in all but two spots. The forward sliding windows require an epoxy patch at their tightest corners.

This was fun to do. I mixed up some West System with enough colloidal silica to make it like peanut butter so it could hold the shape of the vertical placement. I put in some cloth to give it some strength, and whammo, it worked as it should.

The new windows are beautiful and so very easy to use. I put 1/4 tempered and smoked on the side windows and 3/8 on the front. Should be plenty strong to deal with anything short of outer coast or bad luck with a log tossed aboard. I plan to mount Lexan storm windows in teak rails like the sister ship Tsing Tao did, if we end up taking her down the coast someday.

The Gulf 32 is already incredibly light and airy inside, and these new windows just add to all that with their incredible clarity. I went with glass over acrylic in large part because I wanted to preserve the long term clarity of the windows. Unlike windows on most boats which are just to let in a dismal amount of light, our pilothouse windows actually serve a navigation function and a dramatic quality of life purpose.

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