Acrylic Hatchboards

Ok dinner is digesting and i feel human again… I had been sick for about a week and just yesterday and today running around again… I think I over did it. lol..

So this morning I knew I was going to work at a customers that builds pool and deck enclosures etc… they do stuff with acrylic and lexan and usually have some off cuts left over from jobs….

I stopped at sea puppy on my way over there and took the hatch boards with me. After finishing my work for them we got the hatch boards out so they could see what size and we went digging in their plexiglass pile :) They had a sheet of tinted acrylic 1/2 thick that we could cut both hatchboads out of. They sorta assumed that I wanted them to cut it also and once I realized that I kept my mouth shut :) I had planned on doing it myself but they have alot more experience cutting this stuff than me. I have to admit to being right in the middle of it though..

The first thing we did was take a protractor and take the angles of the bevels off the old hatch boards. We used a 12 degree angle for the bevel of the top of the top hatch board where it meets the overhead sliding hatch. The angle between the two hatchboards measured out at 27 degrees.

Next up was using the old boards to draw a outline of the hatches on the material and carefully anotate which way the beveled cuts had to be made.

Cutting time… all straight cuts were done with a skill saw with a nice blade in it… makes me want to go out and buy 100 dollar blades for my saw here at home. The saw addjusted to 90 degrees for the sides of the hatch boards and the bottom of the bottom hatch board..The saw was adjusted to 27 degrees for the cuts in the top of the bottom hatch board and the bottom of the top hatch board.. Im confused writing this… much simpler doing it .lol… just measure and look 3 or 4 times before cutting.. The top arch of the hatchboards was cut with a jig saw angled at 12 degrees..

Easy part done now.

We then measured the hole for the lock….. They must have used different locks on these things cause the one on seapuppy is 7/8ths inches in diameter not 1 inch. also it is not centered port to starboard… We started to run into problems at this point…. We used a 7/8th inch drill bit to drill this hole and it went well at first but at the last there was a little fracturing on the in the boat side of the hatchboard .. it isn’t bad and with the lock in place you can’t really tell.. just a couple 1/8 inch divits out of the edge of the hole.

This was a foretaste of things to come. I decided that I didn’t want a large hole with a grill over it in for ventalation… instead I wanted to copy what what patty has on her new 323 which is a bunch of angled holes about 1/4 inch in diameter drilled through the hatch for air flow. Dang… how do they do that.. its not that easy in practice to drill nice holes through this stuff on an angle… first goof was me starting to drill the holes…. we had trouble fitting piece under the drill press and somehow i got the hatchboard backwards and drilled the first hole backwards.. can we saw funnel water to the inside of the boat backwards :( sigh….. ok plan B we went to 8 larger 7/8 inch holes with vent cover over them…. first hole we drilled went good till 3/4 of the way through the acrylic shattered. badly.. but just around that hole… ok plan c…. this drilling isnt working to well.. so I drew out a rectangular outline and said cut this out with the jig saw… :) this worked very well and also cut out all errors and mistakes :) smaller holes were drilled for stainless machine screws to bolt lock and vent onto hatch.. the smaller holes went in without a problem.. I think that the big problem with the larger drill bit was the type of drill bit or that it was dull….. they don’t usually drill this stuff just cut it with saws … so im impressed with their cutting abilities but drilling sucked mostly.

Ok…. this all took about an hour… lots of look and measure twice before cutting and scratching of heads and going to next plan level as prior one failed. At this point we peeled the protective plastic and paper film off th hatch boards and they looked hot :) yo baby!!!!

Of course now I rushed back to sea puppy with them and did a quick test… shit…… they didn’t quite fit right…. the port side is higher and the bottom one is sitting about 1/4 above the raised stops under the hatchboards.. Well I meant to sand the edges smooth anyway :) so out comes the palm sander and I start sanding the side edges of the bottom hatchboard to get it to go a little lower on the port side. many many renditions of sand some and then put hatchboard in slot and wiggle it fore and aft.. pull back out and look at where it was touching as it wiggled…. sand that point down…. try again. and again and again till it is the right height… this was slow but worth the effort… this set of hatch boards fits with much closer tolerances than the old boards.

At this point I now clean up with the sander all edges and take out the propane torch and gently heat them up till the acrylic starts to melt.. there is a fine line between to much heat and not enough. all edges though are now fused and look very sexy… almost like I knew what I was doing instead of this being the first time I’ve ever done anything like this..:) lol

I told a friend what I had done later and he just said… “I’ve never been that brave we always sanded and the buffed them smooth.”

Hardware time.. 4 stainless pan head machine screws 1 inch long with 5 washers and a locknut for each screw. These were used to mount the ock. the washers went between the lock and the acrylic to space it out properly as the acrylic is only 1/2 inch thick as opposed to the 5/8 or better of the old hatchboards. This made the face of the lock that comes through the hatch board fit flush with the surface of the acrylic hatchboards… The lock nuts are my anti theft devices… you can’t unscrew these screws without having a wrench or vise grips on the lock nut on the inside of the hatch. If you try to unscrew it from outside it just spins the lock nuts on the inside.

I mounted the vent with 1 inch stainles screws with a head that fit the countersunk holes in the plastic vent cover so that it is flush. Again I used lock nuts on the inside so that they will spin if someone tries to unscrew it from outside. I bedded all screws and around the face of the vent and the lock where it comes through the hatch with clear silicone sealant.

Here comes the first mistake that is noticable in the finished product. I have a can of denatured alcohol under the sink that I used for the stove. I also have found it is great for clean up on various boat goo .. a dab of it on a towel and most sticky icky resins and other stuff come right off… well I had smeared a little silicone when bedding the screws and without thinking took a little alcohol and wiped it up… well first it worked great for cleaning up the silicone… and almost imeadiatly the acrylic started to exibit small growing cracks in the surface. I imeadiatly washed it down with water and then soap and water and stopped it but was left with 4 or 5 small hairline cracks and one bigger deeper one near the lock. I tried using a torch to repair these and it worked to a small degree but still not perfect…. If your more than a couple feet from the hatch you can’t tell and It totally rocks…. looks a million dollars…. the lock works great .. everything lines up and fits .. I’m very happy with my new hatch boards…

oh… now I have a good reason to expidite my hatch board holders to keep these in good condition :)
I will try and post pictures when I get some.

and in no particular order here they go..