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Port lenses-where to get/or polish?

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by Skipper, Dec 7, 2017. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Skipper


    Joined Oct 9, 2008
    1,469 posts, 187 likes
    Bristol 29.9
    US Dana Point
    I looked but couldn't find posts here that exactly match. Please direct me or look at q's below. Thank you. :)

    1. Where do you get custom-cut port lenses? Acrylic, Lexan etc. I need 4 (pic) and locals want $250-$500 to cut them. :-|
    They're just 25"x6" flat plastic. Don't need new frames.
    2. One guy suggested actual glass, since it won't craze. I thought this odd. Don't want a breaking wave to crash through glass. Or have me throw gear aboard on deck, only to break glass. Am I wrong? Anyone use glass?
    3. What about headlight polish? I tried gel coat compound and wax, which worked some, can actually see outside now, but is there anything that actually restores clarity? I wasn't shy about compounding, since the lenses are fog city anyway.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  2. kloudie1


    Joined Nov 6, 2006
    7,561 posts, 405 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Mandeville Louisiana
    Recently replaced my hatch lenses with smoked acrylic from Tap.. They accurately cut it to size.. At the time I ordered, they were least expensive in "cut to order" but check out a few suppliers for what ya need.. Measure precisely and send them the drawing .. I used 3/8" for my hatches..
    Some people use safety glass in ports, like a car windshield.. very strong and shatter resistant ..

    Will Gilmore likes this.
  3. Ken Cross

    Ken Cross

    Joined Oct 24, 2010
    1,501 posts, 162 likes
    Hunter 30
    US Everett, WA
    You can certainly polish them. A headlight polishing may work. The only issue I see with polishing is it can introduce some optical distortion. If you (like me) don't care about that I'd polish more. You indicated gel coat compound, Some of that is a bit course if you are trying to see through it. You may need some finer compounding goop.


  4. Will Gilmore

    Will Gilmore

    Joined Oct 19, 2017
    1,610 posts, 594 likes
    O'Day 19
    US Littleton, NH Littleton, NH
    I'm sorry, I don't know anything about this but, I'm interested in seeing where this project takes you. I try to make stuff like this myself and the auto glass suggestion sounds good. Not a big span of glass so plenty of support from breaking. I'm the guy pulling a piece of side window out of a junkyard or picking up that FREE stuff on the side of the road to cut to my specs.
    I hope to have the time to make port lights that open so please let us know how it turns out?
    - Will (Dragonfly)

    kloudie1 likes this.
  5. LeslieTroyer


    Joined May 20, 2016
    1,209 posts, 331 likes
    Catalina 36 MK1
    US Sammamish, WA Everett, WA
    I have glass on my C36. I think you’ll find that expense and rapid design differation is the main reason for switching to acrylics. Some may say it was safety but I think $$$ and time to market mean more.

    I also suspect old glass is much stronger than old crazed plastic.

  6. Will Gilmore

    Will Gilmore

    Joined Oct 19, 2017
    1,610 posts, 594 likes
    O'Day 19
    US Littleton, NH Littleton, NH
    If you go with glad, get the safety coated stuff that doesn't fall to pieces of broken.
    -Will (Dragonfly)

  7. jssailem


    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    4,305 posts, 1,195 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    On plastics, like the lense for a clock or barometer, I have used Megiiars 10 and 17.
    It removed the fine scratches but only after several hours of work. The lenses were not really hardened surface plastic. They came out like new. Worth a try if damage is not deeply gouged.

    Also have used a buff wheel and jewelers rouge on large more deeply damaged pieces. This will remove material and care is needed to not over do the process. When you are removing product you can change the optic and induce blur or wavy lines. As @Ken Cross has identified.

  8. Sumner


    Joined Jan 31, 2009
    5,026 posts, 149 likes
    Macgregor 26S/Endeavour 37 .
    US Utah's Canyon Country
    You couldn't see through the lens at the binnacle on our Endeavour. I spent about 10 minutes on it with one of the lens polishing kits, probably HF's, and now it is way better. I was wiring the helm with all new wiring and instruments so went back to work on that, but will probably spend some more time on the lens in the future. I think I'll try it on our portals as well as they are also like yours. I've used the polish kits on my vehicles with good results,

    1300 miles to The Bahamas and Back in the Mac...
    Endeavour 37 Mods...
    MacGregor 26-S Mods...
    Mac Trips to Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Canada, Florida, Bahamas

  9. Charlie Jones s/v Tehani

    Charlie Jones s/v Tehani

    Joined Mar 1, 2012
    1,281 posts, 261 likes
    1961 Rhodes Meridian 25
    us Texas coast
    I made new lenses for a Van guard 32 I was working on. Lexan is very easy to cut with a jig saw and or Table saw. Edges clean up with a router. If you can source the materials not a big deal to cut. If you don't want to try it, find a small wood shop.

  10. LloydB


    Joined Jan 15, 2006
    350 posts, 9 likes
    Macgregor 22
    US Silverton
    I recently went to Home Depot and bought acrylic that they sell for storm doors. By chance the store had several broken and miss-cut pieces at a discount that I could use. The acrylic can be cut the same way as glass by scoring it or with a saw or router.

    Will Gilmore likes this.
  11. Ron20324


    Joined Jan 22, 2008
    5,948 posts, 474 likes
    Beneteau 323
    US Annapolis MD
    Didn't someone once suggest toothpaste?

  12. jssailem


    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    4,305 posts, 1,195 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    They did Ron. Toothpaste is a light abrasive. Sometimes used on car headlights to cleanup the lenses.

  13. Chenega


    Joined Feb 3, 2012
    49 posts, 4 likes
    Morris Leigh 30
    US Lyme, CT
    Using a spray bottle of water, 3” Velcro polishing discs of 1500, 2000 and 3000 grit (McMaster Carr), I have polished acrylic pilot house windows to like new condition. Slow rpm and lots of water with cordless right angle drill, change discs often. You can buy a 3 inch Velcro softpad at true value hardware (for headlight polishing).
    Do on cloudy day - easy one beer job.
    I know this is an old post but may help someone...

  14. jviss


    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    2,140 posts, 151 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westborough Westport, MA
    I replaced a port on a 1984 Catalina 36. The originals are tinted, tempered, safety glass. I had the replacement made by an auto glass shop. It was not super expensive, that I recall, and will never scratch, unless you take a diamond to it.

    LloydB likes this.
  15. NYSail


    Joined Jan 6, 2006
    1,614 posts, 54 likes
    Beneteau 423
    US Mt. Sinai, NY
    those look like a Beckson port.... did you price new ones? Beckson also sell parts directly.... I bought all new lenses for my opening ports from them..... its worth a call if in fact they are Becksons. They were great to deal with... Good Luck

  16. Dan_Y


    Joined Oct 13, 2008
    417 posts, 37 likes
    Hunter 36
    US Hampton
    I read somewhere that a thin coat of clear sprayed on the plastic will prolong how long the polish job lasts. Has anyone tried that? Did my car headlights last year and they looked almost new, but look almost as bad a year later.

  17. Skipper


    Joined Oct 9, 2008
    1,469 posts, 187 likes
    Bristol 29.9
    US Dana Point
    Thanks all.
    I couldn't find tinted acrylic at Home Depot.
    I think the polishing wheel might be worth a try.
    The ports are specific to Bristol. They were custom made by an aluminum company that starts with A. Can't remember.
    Looks like it might be easiest to go with Tap per Kloudie. They are high volume and quoted $120 for all 4. This after locals wanted min $250 and as high as $500.... for 4 little pieces of flat plastic.
    Oh and then there's the tempered glass quote. $1,524. :-0 for 4 tiny panes of glass? Give me a feckin' break.
    Someone mentioned auto glass shop, but will they custom cut? I'll check it out tomorrow.

  18. jviss


    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    2,140 posts, 151 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westborough Westport, MA
    Yes, they will. And custom tint. I found a shop in Worcester, MA.

    Will Gilmore likes this.
  19. seadaddler


    Joined Dec 19, 2006
    5,269 posts, 104 likes
    Hunter 36
    US Punta Gorda
    Meguiar’s plastX
    My dodger windows were so bad I started getting prices on new ones but I was told about plastX
    With special orange buffing kit on portable drill like compounding gel coat ,apply heavy amount of plastX and buff away scratches and foggy.
    3 years ago I did buff and they still look like new,I had some real bad marks and could not see out and now clear like new.
    I put the liquid on and used the buffing until came clean and removed bad marks and bad scratches.

    Will Gilmore likes this.
  20. Skipper


    Joined Oct 9, 2008
    1,469 posts, 187 likes
    Bristol 29.9
    US Dana Point
    I might have to try that. As long as it doesn't make the lenses too clear. :) For you see, this project has taken a turn to the surreal....
    The wife found out what I was planning, and then disclosed that she very much likes the foggy windows. "More privacy" at the dock. Like a frosted bathroom window (pic).
    "If we have clear windows, we'll have to close the curtains."
    Who knew.
    So I bothered all those vendors for naught.

    Will Gilmore likes this.

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