Hunter 37-cutter Owner Modifications and Upgrades

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H37c port replacement

posted 10-07-2008 by Sanders LaMont | Add this mod to a FAQ

This report is similar to others in the forum, but I will try to attend specifics for dealing with replacing the existing ports on a 37c with the Bomar-Gray “duplicates” still available, and not repeat too much of the earlier posts on the subject.

The ports on s/v Good News were around 25 years old. More than half leaked, and in the past two years the plastic which holds the inside dogs had begun to shatter, obviously from age and over tensioning. I read the forums and shopped for replacements, but decided to go with the direct replacements because: old ports had no drains (all were plugged in the past); price was better than Beckson or metal ports; I could replace a few at a time and have a consistent look; wealth of knowledge from other Hunter owners on how-to. Boy did that pay off.

This is what the old ports looked like from outside:

Note the worn look, and the scarred lenses, plus the old piled up goop (silicone) from an offshore trip when they had to be coated to keep water out of the boat. Then old ports were painted black, and that created some appearance/maintenance problems for me.
This port pictured next had the external screws removed, a first step in demolition. Some of the screws were just freewheeling in the holes, obvious water entry spots.

Old ports


Note the worn look, and the scarred lenses, plus the old piled up goop (silicone) from an offshore trip when they had to be coated to keep water out of the boat. Then old ports were painted black, and that created some appearance/maintenance problems for me.
This port pictured had the external screws removed, a first step in demolition. Some of the screws were just freewheeling in the holes, obvious water entry spots.

with screws removed


From the inside the view was restricted, and in the heavy rains (and foggy drips) I get at the dock in San Francisco Bay, the pooling water in the ports was constantly dripping on my expensive and relatively new upholstery.

Inside looking nowhere

Demolition on each port was time - consuming, but not too difficult thanks to Michael and others who suggested several important tools to use. The steps were obvious: remove all screws (inside and out); cut the silicone on the outside from outside and inside the ring (avoid cutting the gelcoat!); pry the ring off, cut some more silicone out and then force the old port in to finish breaking the seal. Basic tools are pictured later but I also found I needed a hammer to work the thin blade behind the trim ring and cut through the silicone (wear eye protection).

It makes a mess.

Removing the old


Then you have to clean everything down to the wood and gelcoat. A small chisel and a scraping tool (like the one I use to remove varnish) worked well for that.

No way to avoid a mess


The old silicone was in good condition, and I did not find any severely damaged wood. The photo shows a partially prepped port with the primary tools. The little “hammer” is a restorer’s catspaw, a great ten buck tool.

Tools and more work


Once you have the opening completely cleaned,a tedious but important chore, then I coated all exposed wooden surface with epoxy (I used West Systems, which was easy) and filled the old drain holes. In a few cases, there were obvious voids below the drain holes and I simply let the epoxy fill the void, with clamps in place to avoid distortion. It’s better to let this dry overnight. This next photo shows the epoxy drying, clamps in place.

I missed getting a photo of me cutting the new drain holes, but it is covered in another post, and is pretty obvious. Mark the drain spots carefully. I used a small hole saw on a power drill, and a small electric saw, and cleaned up with a wood chisel.
Everything you do leaves a big mess, particularly the power tools, so cover everything possible and keep a shop vac running nearby.

A clean porthole

I also missed pictures of applying the caulk, which others have pictured. It is really time critical and you have to have everything ready, move quickly, and get ot clean before it sets. I used Dow Corning 795 caulk, bought from a local construction supply, and it was reasonably priced and easy to work with. Under no circumstances would I ever use 5200, which the port manufacturer recommends. Caulk everything thoroughly. Leave no gaps.

Clamped, and epoxy drying

Here’s a not-very-detailed picture of two ports ready for installing. The new port is sitting on the edge of the sink, and you can see in the bright light the new cuts I made for the drains. And mess is pretty clear too. While everything was torn up, and the curtains down, I scrubbed the overheads and bulkheads down (I have a kerosene stove) and washed curtains. Made me feel good.

The inside view of a mess


Here’s a picture of a port in place, next to an old one. The trim rings are held in place by the caulk, and it presents a nice clean look.

The look I wanted

And here’s the completed job.

I am very happy with the way it looks, but a little concerned about how far the ports stick out on the front of the boat. I am going to pursue trimming them back flush to avoid a tripping hazard.

Things I had to learn:
-- Everything takes longer and cost more;
-- After lengthy shopping I bought most of the new ports I needed through Sailnet. The first four arrived on time, exactly as ordered. The salesman, John, was great, and knew what he was talking about. The next order was totally screwed up, and delayed the work at least a week. Two of three items ordered were wrong, and when they sent one replacement the shipping people ignored the customer service request and sent it the slowest possible way. Customer service was helpful, but I do not know what to think about the experience purchasing about $700 worth of ports. They still have not reimbursed me for my cost to ship the item back to them.
-- I was able to get a port through eBay from a Hunter owner who saw my note on this forum. Great deal.
-- In all I replaced ten ports, six large and four small, and am happy with the results. It is very labor intensive, and having help from my son-in-law one weekend was a big help.

It’s more fun with two people and a six pack.

The advice from several of you made this a much easier job.

Thanks


Sanders LaMont
s/v Good News
Alameda, CA

Facing aft with new ports in place

Click image for largest view