I finally finished installing the new polycarbonate windows on the front of the hard dodger this weekend. It only took… about a month. I think I’ll be able to finish the side windows, which are larger, quite a bit quicker after figuring everything out with the front windows.
By far the most time consuming aspect of the whole thing was just waiting around for various stuff to set: epoxy filler putty to bring the frame fair; epoxy primer; UV protective spray paint on the edges of the glass; sealant; etc.
Anyway, here are some photos of the whole process (after removing the original windows and sealant).
First I filled in the inset ledge of the old window frame with epoxy filler putty to bring it out flush with the rest of the dodger. That involved many cycles of epoxy, dry, grind, sand. Here’s the end result once that was all done:
After that it was time to prep the frame and the glass with some paint. The polycarbonate comes with protective plastic stuck onto both sides, which makes for a good mask. I cut that away from the edge on the back side of the glass to expose the PC:
Then I used some plastic-safe black spray paint to create a UV barrier to help protect the sealant:
Charlene modeled with the painted glass after the first coat:
I masked off the window frames too:
Also the inside:
Then I slapped on three coats of epoxy primer to finish the window frames:
After that things moved pretty quickly. I measured very carefully and drilled a pilot hole in both the glass and the frame for one of the bolt holes, then used a nail as a hinge to get everything lined up perfectly before marking and drilling pilots for all the bolt holes, with the glass pressed to the frame. Then I (separately for glass and frame) widened the pilot holes up to 6.5mm. I found I had to work my way there with the polycarbonate since I didn’t want to drill too fast; I went from 3.5mm pilot holes to 5mm and then 6.5mm. Here’s the frame after all the drilling:
Then, finally, it was time to seal and bolt the windows on. I did the port side window first, after masking everything pretty carefully:
I used Sikaflex 295-UV. I only used about 2/3 of a tube for the first window. I realized later I probably should have been a little more liberal with the sealant as any extra just squeezes out from the sides anyway. But I managed to get enough on to properly cover everything. I used my finger to make a nice bead on both the inside and outside edges and force sealant into any little cracks; that worked quite well. Then I hand-tightened a couple of the bolts and popped all the rest through without tightening, to wait for the sealant to dry. The next morning I did the starboard side window; and once all the sealant was set, the mask was removed, and I used a knife to finish the edges of the sealant, Charlene helped me tighten all the bolts. I over-tightened one or two, making a small crack on the inside of the frame, but I can fix that pretty easily.
Here is the finished starboard side window:
And here are both, with a lovely model too:
I don’t think the whole thing could really have gone any better. The windows both look great and massively improve the look of the boat. I can’t wait to get the bigger ones on the sides of the dodger. The glass is 12mm thick, so it’s really solid and feels (and essentially is) bulletproof. It’s also great to have some un-crazed glass that doesn’t even seem like it’s there when you’re looking through it. The only downside: it’s made me realize that the big hatch in the center of the dodger is actually pretty cloudy and crazed (whereas before it seemed just fine, compared to all the other dodger glass). One more thing to add to the list.