Tom Wynne purchased a 1985 Pearson 36-2, hull #54, in the spring of 2013 and since has undertaken a fairly major refit of the boat and has used it fairly extensively on Lake Erie. Tom contacted myself about posting a series of project articles in hopes of assisting other Pearson 36-2 owners who are considering tackling these same projects.
Tom reports that “Several times now I have had people walk up to the boat and say something along the lines of “I thought Pearson stopped making boats 25 years ago” or “when did Pearson go back into production.” That is always a great compliment.” He obviously has great pride of ownership and as you will see in the accompanying images, Tom has done great work and the compliments are deserved.
We are planning on posting his projects in the upcoming weeks, so follow along. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to take on your own project! It’s well worth the effort.
Also, if there is anyone else out there that would like to have their boat project added to this site, I encourage you to send your project story and images to me at email@example.com. I would love to see more Pearson 36-2 projects!
One of the projects that I undertook over the winter of 2014 was to replace the 11 portlights on the boat. There were several reasons why I decided to undertake this project:
- The old plastic portlights were cloudy and scratched up, and I didn’t like that some didn’t open (like the angled one) and others had openings significantly smaller than the actual portlight.
- The wood plywood on the inside of the boat around the portlights was delaminating as the bedding around the original portlights was failing/had failed.
- One of the only things that I didn’t like about the boat (purely aesthetics) when I first looked at it was that the white plastic portlights were cheap looking and the angled one really dated the boat.
For those reasons, the portlight project made it onto the extensive list for the first winter I owned the boat.
That winter I had the luxury of storing the boat inside a storage condo that served as the workshop for a friend in the boat repair business. I was the only boat in storage condo, which was a few blocks from the water, requiring that the boat be transported on an over-the-road trailer and then set on jack stands in the heated shop. I had 24/7 access to the locker, to my friend’s tools, and to his expertise (all of which really helped this project and the others that I have undertaken).
The first task was to remove the old portlights (very easy – I simply removed the fasteners and they came right apart with the slight help of a putty knife). The difficult tasks were then to remove the bedding on the outside of the boat (razor blades and acetone) and remove and replace the teak wood on the inside of the boat. At least on my boat, Pearson glued the heck out of the wood when they installed it. It was a plywood with several layers, so while 90% came off easily, the difficult 10% left behind was the bottom layer that remained glued to the interior liner. I had to use elbow grease, a heat gun, acetone and adhesive remover, and a scraper and it took a long time to clean off the surface to ready it for the new wood. It was a tedious task, made more difficult by having to use acetone and adhesive remover in the enclosed cabin.
The next step was to have some fiberglass work done on the angled portlights to ready the openings for replacement with rectangular portlights. A portion of the forward/pointed part of the openings had to be glassed in and gelcoated. I was aware of a good glass/gelcoat guy, and engaged him to do that part of the project. The charge for the fiberglass and gelcoat work was $495 including materials.
As we live on the southern shore of Lake Erie, I had the good fortune of being introduced to a craftsman who had worked for decades at nearby Tartan Yachts. At that time, Tartan was slow and he and one of his co-workers were happy to pick up some side work. This was the first of several projects that I engaged them on. They created templates for the area that I wanted to recover with new teak plywood, and then they cut and shaped (the edges needed to be mitered all the way around for a clean fit) the teak to fit perfectly. Note that both sides were different in dimension, and not symmetrical, so to do this part of the project correctly each side needs to be completely templated from end to end and top to bottom as they are significantly different from side to side. The sheet of teak plywood was $150. I installed the new teak panels using contact cement. The process was straight forward. I rolled a coat onto the teak panels, and a coat onto the receiving surface on the interior liner bulkhead, and after waiting the requisite time I married the two and let it dry.
The portlights that I chose were Lewmar Standard Opening Portlights. They have friction hinges that allow the acrylic lens to open and remain open at any angle. They come with mounting hardware (the process requires a cutout just smaller than the outside diameter), and portlight itself is held in place by screwing a flange from the inside of the boat (essentially sandwiching the boat between the portlight and the flange/ring. The inside flange and bolts can be covered with a plastic trim ring that comes with the portlight, and the portlights come with screens. They come in many different sizes, and come with a pattern so that you know how large the cutouts need to be in the boat. I was able to find portlights for each existing opening that were just slightly larger than the original openings, requiring each opening to be slightly enlarged. The cutouts in the boat were made as follows:
- The paper template was used to make a plywood template to guide a router with a carbide cutout bit.
- The plywood template was temporarily mounted to the outside of the boat in the appropriate place using double faced 3M tape.
- A router was used to enlarge the hole.
Once the holes were cut, I found that there was a void between the outside fiberglass of the cabin top and the inside liner. I filled that void with thickend epoxy (West 611) and spread the epoxy around the entire opening to seal it. I also applied 2 coats of West System epoxy to the new teak plywood, being careful to also coat (and thereby seal) the inside of the cutouts. That way, if the portlights do leak, they teak plywood will not deteriorate as the original plywood did.
Once the cutouts were made and sealed, the portlights were bedded with butyl tape, pressed against the hull from the outside, and the interior flanges were bolted on to complete the mounting. I used butyl tape as that is what the Tartan guys suggested. Since installing them, two have developed small leaks. To solve the leaks, I unbolted the ones that were leaking, pulled the butyl tape away (easily removed) and re-bed the portlights using 3M 4000. That solved the problem. The 3M 4000 bedding process is to hold the portlight in place and trace around the outside of the portlight frame onto the exterior of the boat. Tape just outside of the tracing line with blue painters tape. Apply a bead of 3M 4000 around the exterior of the hole and press the portlight in place and hold it there while someone from inside the boat puts the mounting flange in place and installs and tightens the bolts. The excess 3M 4000 can be easily cleaned up using mineral spirits BEFORE IT CURES. Otherwise, it can be cut away after it cures, in which case the aluminum frame should be taped as well before installation to avoid curing 3m 4000 on the aluminum frame.
The end result is that I have nice, attractive, relatively affordable portlights (in 2014 the 11 portlights cost me $2,622) with screens. All of them open fully allowing for great ventilation inside the boat, and the one in the aft cabin is nearly twice as large as the original one that I replaced, which certainly helps airflow back there.
If I had it to do over again, I would probably take a closer look at the stainless steel portlights offered by New Found Metals for the following reasons:
- They look a little more traditional and I think they would give the boat a much different and an even better appearance
- they have a lip on the outside that surrounds the portlight opening and protrudes outward, which I suspect would help in situations when there is water running down the deck (with the Lewmars, anything that runs off the deck runs into the open portlight)
- And I think that the screens on the New Found Metals portlights can be left in permanently.
The Lewmars advertise that the screens can be left in, but doing so compromises the smooth seal when the portlight is shut and the seal leaks. I therefore find myself removing the screens and reinstalling them when we spend the night on the boat. That is problematic when it rains in the middle of the night, as they need to be removed to close the portlight. Putting the screens in and taking them out isn’t difficult, but it would be nice if they really could be left in permanently. I don’t recall what the price difference would have been between the Lewmars and the New Found Metal portlights (I did look at the time) but I believe that they were at least 2x as expensive.