Port lights

Friday, August 21, 2020

1/2 inch plate glass sandwiched between polished stainless steel outer trims

One of the jobs I managed to complete in the past weeks is re and re all of WW II’s ten port lights. This is something I needed to do since landing in Fremantle in 2014. As with all projects like this, 80% of the project is in getting all the materials up together and prepping the surfaces. That took the better part of a year and the actual installation took only eight days.

Twin back-to-back ‘C’s of the words Chris Craft

Of the ten lights, four are the same size. They are the largest and their unique shape represents the twin back-to-back C’s of the two words Chris- Craft who manufactured the Comanche as part of the then “Indian series” sailboats that Chris-Craft made along with their famous power boats. West Wind II was the last of the 22 Comanches built in the sixties. These four lights have 1/2 inch plate glass sandwiched between polished stainless steel outer trims and varnished mahogany inner trims held in place with quarter inch bolts and flush nuts. I put these together after several hours of preparation and a great deal of thought. Each one required one and a half tubes of caulking inside and out that all had to be put together at one time, glass, inside trim and outside trim and all 16 nuts and bolts had to line up as well as be tightened all in one process by myself. Holding the glass in place then the inside trim braced to the other side of the cabin, then the outside trim, then line up the nuts through the caulking and hold the nuts on the inside as well, without getting covered in fast setting caulking! 

I’ve realized over the years that taping each surface inside and out is the best way to stop the spread of the caulking to everywhere but where you want it. It is not foolproof by any means, and I always keep a 2 litre container of Methyl Hydrate handy. I also wear two pairs of murder gloves so when one pair become covered in caulking I peel them off to have a fresh pair as emergency back up. 

WW II had six beautifully chromed opening port lights that were in different stages of decay. I managed to rescue three out of parts from the original six and had them re-chromed and reinstalled, two in the forward cabin and one in the head. The other three I had new 1/2 inch glass cut and similar inside and outside trims made  to match the four larger ones. While I had these ten lights out I sanded the cabin sides and prepared them for paint. This led to a much bigger job that took longer than I thought and required a whole other set of skills but same elbow grease ingredient. I experienced the phenomenon commonly  known as “project creep”.

Before I knew it I was preparing and refinishing WW II’s entire deck including the the non skid! I really didn’t need this pressure but choose to push on and get it done.       

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