Access Hatch (1) at the Stern

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December 2005 --

At the stern, under the helm seat
(and behind the future propane locker)
is an access hatch.

It's always bothered me, because it's just screwed on
and not watertight, and I know that it
lets water down into the transom area when it rains.

As long as I'm rebuilding everything back here,
I'm going to make it a bit better.

I made a bunch of little blocks from
1/2" plywood, and drilled a 5/16" hole.
There was no attempt to make it pretty.

Then they soaked in Smith's Penetrating Epoxy
for an entire day.
Note the specialized flower pot epoxy tray.
I sure am glad I don't clean out my garage.

This little 1/4-20 T Nut
(from McMaster-Carr)
fits into the little block.

I waited a couple of days for the penetrating epoxy to be fairly well cured before
tapping the T Nuts in with a hammer.

After eight hours in epoxy, I let them dry out on a sheet of waxed paper.

It'll take them about a week to fully cure.

Then I covered the bolts with
mineral oil so I don't accidentally epoxy the bolts onto the boat.
I've used PAM, Olive Oil, Motor Oil, or any oil that's handy. I thought I'd try Mineral Oil this time, as it's cleaner and won't get rancid over time.

It worked perfectly.

Here it is, installed. I scraped the old silicone from the cockpit with a razor blade. The round gasket appears to seal nicely. The whole area needs to be cleaned up, but as you can see at the bottom of the picture, this little hatch is really a "sub project", and it's all going to get dirtier
before it gets cleaner.

This is under the helm seat, and will also be behind the propane locker, so I'm really not too worried about appearances.


After drilling out the holes in the fiberglass, the bolt was inserted
to hold everything in place
while the epoxy cures.

A little dab of super thick epoxy putty was smeared on the block.

After spending a few hours cleaning the lid with sanders, Dremel Tools, and finally a metal "Chore Boy", I removed all visible and tactile silicone caulk residue. Then
I painted with Interlux Brightside (I had an open can.)

You can see in the pic to the left that silicone residue remained embedded in the gelcoat and kept the paint off. The only way to really remove Silicone
is to grind the whole thing clean.
It's not worth it. I open this hatch twice a year.
It really doesn't have to look good, it just needs to be strong and keep water out.

I used my Handy Dremel Tool
to make a little groove for a gasket.

I think 3M makes a special adhesive for attaching hatch gaskets, but I don't have any.
I picked up this super contact cement
at a local auto parts super store,
after checking all the local chandleries
for the 3M product.

Now, the lid for the access hatch is an interesting piece of work. Over the years, it had been casually messed up. A previous owner smeared silicone all over it to try and keep water from dripping down, with predictable results. Then, since the silicone failed, someone smeared a second layer of silicone over the failed first layer.

There's a Darwin joke here, somewhere, but I'm afraid I might be the butt of it so I'll just let it go.

I should have used a smaller brush
for the groove in the lid.

But once the job was started, I didn't want to go poking around in the garage for a little teeny brush.

This section wasn't too bad.

The gasket material is very soft
1/4" EDPM foam from McMaster-Carr.
It's very weather resistant material.

I brushed the glue onto the gasket
easily enough with a little brush.

This section is downright ugly.

Oh well. I sure am glad I
never look back here.

You just can't mess with
contact cement once it cures.

That gasket is really stuck on there, though, and that's what I want.

I sure hope that you can paint over that cement once it's cured,
because I did.

If the paint fails, I don't really care. I never see this unless I'm doing boat maintenance in the transom.

I just want the gasket to work
so I can have peace of mind
when it's raining.

Speaking of rain -- the current (12/29/05) forecast is for a very nasty winter storm to roll through. It's expected to dump 4 inches of rain in 12 hours with gusts to 45.
My awning is good, but it's not *that* good, and I'm glad this hatch is covered now.
I'm in the middle of rebuilding the limber holes in the engine room,
and they'll never get dry if water keeps running down from the stern!