Hunter 33_77-83 Owner Modifications and Upgrades

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H-33C Portlight Replacement

posted 10-07-2008 by Michael Nikisher | Add this mod to a FAQ

These are the tools I used. Not shown are the clamps used to hold the drill template in place and a phillips head screwdriver. Starting from the left, a Makita 4 inch grinder with a metal cutoff wheel installed, a 5/8 counter-bore with a 3/8 pilot, a 3/8 drill bit, a 7/16 drill bit, a 5/8 rasp and two 3/8x1-1/4 bolts with nuts and flat washers. On the bottom is a drill motor. Its not cordless because there is a whole bunch of drilling and grinding to do.

I used the grinder with a metal cutoff wheel to cut a set of fasteners to length. All of the portlights except the one under the companion way used 1-1/4 fasteners. The portlight under the companion way need fasteners that were shorter than an 1-1/2 (the next available size) but slightly longer than 1-1/4.

I purchased the counterbore from NFM as I could not find one in the greater Austin metropolitan area. The counterbore is used to provide relief holes for the hinge and dog posts.

The 3/8 drill bit is used to drill the holes for the hinge and dog posts. Those holes are drilled through the cabin wall and then counterbored.

The 5/16 drill bit is used to drill the holes for the fasteners.

I used the rasp bit to grind out the new drain reliefs. It was messy but effective.

The two 3/8 bolts, nuts, etc. are used to hold the drill template in place while you drill all of the holes for the fasteners.

And last, but not least, my Milwalkee drill motor. Let me say it again, there is a whole lot of drilling and grinding to do.

Tools Required

This was my first experience with epoxy so I bought the West System pumps to meter the resin and hardner. The black stick looking thing is a stir stick. You can purchase a package of them. The epoxy does not stick to them when dried so you will probably buy only one of these packages in your life time. The spoon is just a common plastic spoon I used to scoop out the filler. Before I used the spoon I thought I could just pour a little filler into the mixing cup. Just a little tap produced an avalanche of filler, nearly filling the cup. I did mention that this was my first experience with epoxy didnt I?

The thickened epoxy is used to fill the old drain reliefs in the cabin wall. You will see what I mean in the next photo.

I filled a few rain reliefs at a time. I recall that 5 shots of resin and hardner filled the drain reliefs in about 4 portlights.

Epoxy Supplies

This is why the TriMatrix portlight is not a plug and play replacement. This is a view from the outside of the boat showing the existing drain reliefs in the cabin wall located to the inside of the drain reliefs in the drilling template. By the way, do rent the drilling templates from NFM. I just dont believe you can do this job without them.

Not Plug and Play

Here is a view from the inside looking out. Notice that the one of the fastener holes falls right into the existing drain relief. Actually that would not be a problem as the TriMatrix portlight is designed to sandwich the cabin between the outer and inner frames. The outer frame has an o-ring gasket that runs between the fastener holes and the outer edge of the frame. That will seal water out unless the drain relief is cut so deep that the o-ring cuts across it. Unfortunately, that was the case with some of the drain reliefs in my boats cabin.

Another Gotcha

You can put as many clamps on that template as will fit but unless you are a whole lot more skillful with a drill than I am, that template will slip and you will be drilling holes that will not line up with the portlight frames no matter how much time (and bad words) you throw at it. Hence the 3/8 bolts you see holding both ends. Heres how I did it...

1) Align the template in the cutout and clamp in place. Use at least three clamps.
2) Go outside and drill one of the 3/8 post holes.
3) Run the 3/8x1-1/2 bolt through the hole.
4) Go back inside and put the washer and nut on. Tighten it down with a wrench.
5) Realign the template in the cutout if necessary.
6) Go outside and drill another 3/8 post hole on the opposite side.
7) Repeat steps 3 and 4.
8) Now drill holes like a mad man (or woman) secure in the knowledge that the template is not going to move and all of those holes will line up perfectly when the time comes to mount the portlight.

I found that using the clamps to hold the interior liner against the cabin wall core facilitated drilling clean holes. I just moved the clamps around the opening as I drilled.

This photo also shows the original drain reliefs filled with epoxy. I discovered that you can use duct tape to create the dam on the outside and inside of the cabin wall so that the thickened epoxy does not sag and run down the walls. The duct tape peels right off when the epoxy hardens.

Three Clamps or Ten?

On your left, the good. A shiny new TriMatrix port light. Sunlight shining through a crystal clear lens, shiny stainless steel dogs. Beautiful stainless steel screens. Water tight. Did I mention how pretty and shiny they are?

On your right, the bad and the ugly (to me anyway). The original fogged out, crumbling, leaking portlight. I can hardly wait until it disappears in a frenzy of prying and scraping and epoxy filling and drilling and grinding...

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Its finished. Time now to bask in the glow of a job well done and soak up the compliments of my fellow boaters. Sailors and power boaters alike shower me with praise. It was all worth it. The sweat, the tears, the itchy arms, legs and eyes from grinding fiberglass.

I want to thank Carli at NFM for all of her patience as I first asked her to send me a TriMatrix sample so I could touch, feel and smell it. (She refused. Kinda hinted that I might be loony.) Then when she asked me how thick my cabin walls are and I replied How should I know? Im not going to remove the old portlights until I have the new ones. not realizing that the NFM web site documents a step-by-step procedure for determing the thickness of the cabin wall at each portlight without removing them. And then sending me box after box of fasteners as I discovered just how thick that cabin wall is.

So for you fellow H33C owners, you need the 1-1/4 fasteners for all of the portlights except the 5x12 under the companion way. There you will need the 1-1/2 fasteners and you will need to cut them down.

Looking Good and Dry

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