Polycarbonate windows for Artemis

Warning: this is a long, slightly technical blog that is maybe only interesting if you are considering changing your boats windows.

Rustler 36 were built with glass windows in an aluminium frame. The aluminium frame was screwed in to the coach roof with steel screws which threaded in to steel cups on the inside. It appears that the holes for the windows in the coach roof were cut by hand and are a little too large in places and a little too small in others. The overlap of aluminium over roof was insufficient and made worse by holes being drilled right on the outside. The holes for the screws were drilled in the frame and roof by hand. The frames were sealed to the roof with a very thin layer of sealant allowing insufficient expansion. The system is less than perfect and on Artemis we had the following problems:

  • water leaked between the glass and the aluminium frame.
  • water leaked between the frame and the roof
  • water leaked through the screw holes
  • corrosion between the screws and the frame “ate” the frame so that water could leak round the holes. It also destroyed sections of frame.

Various people have removed the windows and frames and sent them to be refurbished and then reinstalled them but we felt that this would just get us back to a (temporarily) non-leaking but still fundamentally unsound system. We asked for and received lots of good advice from lots of people and decided to replace everything with a single piece of polycarbonate per window. We were lucky to have two shipwrights and an engineering plastics expert on hand when we started which was very comforting when you start to pull your boat apart.

We had been told that, after thirty years, the windows would just fall out. This was not true. We had to unscrew each screw and drive it out with a hammer. We then had to coax sealant out from between the roof and frame with a set of small picks until a part of the window would move very slightly. We then used metal and wood wedges to slowly force the windows out. It took ages.

With the windows out we then cleaned every piece of sealant, corrosion and dirt off the coach roof.

We had supplied the engineering plastics company with the original window drawings and asked them to make the polycarbonate larger than in the drawings so that we would have a 25 mm overlap. We also decided to go with tinted material. It keeps the boat a little cooler and provides more privacy.

We held the polycarbonate over the hole and drew around it inside and out. Next we masked up around the outside leaving about 5mm around the window. Next we lightly sanded the GRP and then cleaned it again with meths. On the inside of the window we cut the protective film following our line and pulled off the film around the edge. We then lightly sanded and meths cleaned the exposed polycarbonate.

We used double sided tape just outside our line to provide an instant bond. It is vital that this tape is approved for use with polycarbonate. The chemicals in some tapes will craze the polycarbonate and then there will be no bond. Next we applied Fix200 around the edge to provide the final adhesion and seal. We first “painted” a thin layer of Fix200 to the polycarbonate to ensure that no white hull would be seen and then filled the area with more than enough.

Finally we removed the protective tape from the double sided sticky tape and pressed the window to the roof in exactly the correct place. The tape held it immediately in place and we left it under a tarpaulin for three days to cure without direct sunlight.

Both shipwrights assured us that the Fix200 would hold under any conditions. The plastics engineer told us that, if we did everything properly, then it would definitely hold. The maths says that there is about six times more area of Fix200 bond trying to hold the window on than the area that a wave can push against to try and peel it off. The Internet is full of screws or no screws arguments but we decided to avoid screws as they are guaranteed to leak.

The edges need cleaning up but they are waterproof

With two windows done and cured, we set sail for Tasmania and thoroughly tested the system. Across the Bass Strait we were as much below as above water and the windows worked perfectly. Now we have all eight technically finished. “Technically” because they are sealed and waterproof but we still need a solution to make the inside look nice.

All the old windows

04.06 2024: the insides are also now finished. We had a carpenter in Papua make us wood surrounds which we glued on with a product recommended by a dutch carpenter. The wood fits well to the inside of Artemis.

Marking the dinghy

Our insurance policy states that our dinghy needs to have an “identifiable mark”. When we bought the boat, the dinghy already had “Artemis” written on it in three places so Heidi brushed up the lettering a bit and we sent a photo to the insurance.

Here in the Caribbean everyone says “always lock your dinghy up!” and “don’t write the boats name on the dinghy!” The logic being that when your dinghy is on the beach, the bad guys know your boat is empty. We explained this to the insurers who agreed and said they would never mark the dinghy with the boats name (?)

Even the police lock up their boats in Martinique

Half a day with Acetone and Heidi’s work had been destroyed. Now we had a naked dinghy and needed an “identifiable mark” that had nothing to do with the boat but clearly said “It’s ours!” Sounded a bit contradictory.

Our solution is a generic email address that is now “permanently” marked on the dinghy and which passes any mails received on to both our email accounts. In addition, any one who writes to us on this address gets an autoreply with a thank you and our mobile phone numbers. The address has nothing to do with the boat or us so the potential thieves can spend an enjoyable evening looking for a fictive boat called “Soseies”. Hopefully if the dinghy is stolen and discarded some one will contact us. If not, at least we have complied with the insurance policy.

Amazing what good solutions we can work out when we have so much time to think about the problem. And thank you Gremmel lending us the generic address.

Organising Life

Almost two years ago I wrote about the importance of organisation in ensuring that your adventure happens. I also mentioned the importance of keeping track of your research and the information you have collated.

moo.do logo As we near our D-day the pace of the project is picking up and the number of threads we are keeping track of is multiplying continously. Where we once had only one task – “buy boat”, we now have a list of almost one hundred jobs and tasks that are needed to get our boat up to standard and “ready to go”. One of those tasks is to register the boat and this has now spawned a further six tasks. Many of the tasks are delegated but we still need to keep track of who is doing what and expected or agreed deadlines.

Continue reading “Organising Life”

Getting a Second Year Visa for Australia

So you want to stay in Australia a little longer?

So what is this entry actually about? Well, some of us “work & holiday” backpackers end up liking Australia so much or not having any idea what else we want to do, be it back home or elsewhere in the world. After spending one year in Australia we think “Hey, I’d like to spend another year Down Under”.

Fortunately, for us, Australia has a visa which grants exactly that, another year on the same terms as the first working holiday visa (subclass 417). As I could find no help online exept a few unofficial websites that offered the visa (while wanting money for their help), I decided to write this article. Continue reading “Getting a Second Year Visa for Australia”

Adding an Infobox at WordPress.com

Information_SignAlii errem dolor et vis. Aliquam euripidis forensibus in eam, iudico feugiat no his, sea ex virtute bonorum scribentur

I was writing an article for this site and decided I had some text that I wanted to separate in an “infobox”. Ideally I wanted the infobox to take up about half the space on the right side of my column and for the text to flow round it. Checking in Google I found links to plugins that world achieve this but I also found that plugins can not be installed on sites hosted at WordPress.com.

This article describes how to achieve an Infobox as shown on the right.
Continue reading “Adding an Infobox at WordPress.com”

Make your adventure happen

The world is full of potential adventurers; people who have a plan to “get out there and do something”. But in reality most of them are waiting for a tomorrow that never comes. 

“out of office”

A couple who had cycled to Nepal were giving a presentation to a packed hall. They cycled up to Finland, across in to Russia, took the Siberian Express (after smuggling their bikes on board) and then cycled across the Gobi Desert and through the Himalayas. After the presentation, some one asked what the most difficult part of the journey had been and the man answered “setting off!”

This article explains how to ensure that you achieve your dream. Continue reading “Make your adventure happen”

Easily creating a GPS bike route with free tools.

I well remember cycling across the Alps in “the good old days” using marked up maps that we had added our route to before leaving home. I remember the frustration as the map and the scenery differed and the freezing alpine river crossing that resulted from a navigational error.

the good old days

You still see cyclists stood at a junction pouring over a route book or trying to open their map as the wind attempts to rip it from their hands. Some people just love paper and this article is definitely not meant for them. If however you have a GPS receiver or even a GPS enabled phone, then you have probably already tried following a route that you either downloaded from the Internet or received from a friend. This article will take you a step further by describing how to create your own routes with free software. Continue reading “Easily creating a GPS bike route with free tools.”