110 Cookson Lane | Whitefield, ME  04353 | 207-232-7600 |  tim@lackeysailing.com

Skeedeen | Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Skeedeen was back for another round of the usual annual maintenance tasks, plus a few installations and upgrades.

One of the more significant projects this time around was to replace the original plastic opening ports with something nicer made of bronze.  The boat already had some nice bronze hardware, and for some time the owner had been pining for new bronze ports.  The only real problem was where to find something suitable.


In the weeks leading up to the project, the owner and I had a number of discussions about the ports, and considered various sources.  In the end, the most important aspect of the replacement was the final appearance:  the new ports needed to look right, and "feel" right in comparison to the rest of the boat.

Purveyors of quality bronze hardware were becoming increasingly difficult to find at any price.  While the ports in this boat were nothing unusual, and were of an industry-standard size, the choices for bronze replacements were extremely limited.

One of the options was New Found Metals.  We went as far as to order one port from NFM in order to get a sense of its construction, look, and "feel" before making any commitments.  Both the owner and I had the same sort of knee-jerk reaction to the NFM port's appearance:  somehow it just wasn't right for this job.

The highly-polished port of unknown, brass-colored bronze alloy, fabricated overseas, was generally attractive enough and had a good heft to it, but there was an almost intangible "tinny-ness" to the tacked-on spigot assembly that, to our probably overly-discerning eyes, detracted from any positive features of the port.  The spigot was not an integral part of the cast body of the port; it was a brazed and glued-on extruded piece that completely lacked the appearance of substance and heft of the adjacent parts.  

After several discussions, the owner decided that this was simply not the port for him.  We returned it, and resumed the search.


The search eventually led to Spartan Marine, which offered a rectangular bronze port of the appropriate size.  A little research revealed that the price for a burnished bronze (not polished) port from Spartan was only slightly higher than that of the NFM port; originally we'd thought there was a significant price difference between the two, but the higher price has been for a fully-polished version of the port. The rougher casting of the burnished product actually fit the boat and our expectations more closely than polished.

Cast locally in the northeast United States, Spartan bronze products are well-known as the supplier of the hardware found on Cape Dory boats, and they remain one of the few suppliers of US-cast bronze.  After additional discussions, measurements, and other considerations, the owner made the final decision to order the Spartan bronze ports; this was an important decision since these particular ports were only cast upon order.

The original plastic ports were bedded in silicone sealant, and I'd had some concerns about how well--or whether--they'd come out.  Fortunately, I found the removal process to be straightforward, and removed all four ports without damage to the boat or the plastic parts of the ports.  In each case, I found that the balsa-cored cabin sides were in good condition, and the edge of the core had been sealed by the factory before original installation.



With all the ports safely removed, I scraped away as much of the old silicone as I could from inside and around the openings.  Later, I'd undertake additional removal steps to rid the surfaces of any remaining traces of this evil product before installing the new ports.


Another job on the list was to replace the transom graphics, which had been on the boat since the owner purchased her a number of years ago. 

To that end, I spent some time measuring the old lettering and discussing with the graphics shop the new choices.  The first order of business was to determine exactly the new font required, for which we were working off a single photograph of another boat that featured lettering that the owner liked.  As of this writing, the details were still being worked out.

Annual brightwork maintenance was on the work list, so I spent most of the remainder of the day removing hardware from the windshield and completely removing some of the smaller pieces of wood down to the bench for refinishing.

Total Time on This Job Today:  5.75  hours

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