Do you have a foggy view? Don’t throw away your expensive sprayhood or awning – you can replace the windows for just a few pounds, says Jake Kavanagh
The transparent acrylic windows in your sprayhood or awning suffer much more from the effects of ultraviolet degradation and the ravages of the marine environment than the surrounding canvas material. But the good news is that these windows can usually be replaced up to three times before the canvas itself wears out.
Changing the windows saves many hundreds of pounds over the cost of a new awning, so boat owners often choose this route when their sprayhood windows become fogged or split.
The replacement itself is fairly straightforward – but, says Alan Dring, an expert in marine upholstery who regularly replaces windows, the big secret is to leave the old window in place until the new one is fitted, ‘I urge customers not to rip the old window out, even if it has a big hole in it. The window will keep the canvas in shape, and make the replacement process much easier.’
In a previous article Alan showed us how to do some basic repairs to a cockpit cover from the Westerly Duo 29, Fidget, belonging to Doug and Jennifer Anderson. These included freeing jammed zips and poppers, and repairing tears in the fabric. In this article he tackles the three large windows, which were becoming opaque and splitting away at the corners.
Do they really need replacing?
With the cover spread out on Alan’s workbench, it’s possible to take a closer look at the detail. The cover is turned inside out, as nearly all repair work is done from the inside.
Lightly scratched or fogged windows can often be restored with an abrasive compound designed for polishing clear plastic. There are several on the market from suppliers such as Renovo, 3M and Starbrite. A lamb’s wool mop-head is attached to a slow running drill to spread the compound on both sides of the window. This is best done with the window taut on its frame, and the results can be superb. Unfortunately, it can also get a little messy if the compound is splattered onto the surrounding fabric. If this is likely to be a problem it would pay to mask off the surrounding area first.
Sometimes, however, the acrylic is just too far gone. The windows are scratched and badly fogged, there are irreparable splits in some areas, and the stitching has also seen better days. The easiest cure is a replacement, which will give the canopy a new lease of life.
Step 1: Positioning the new window
You will need:
- Window material (available in two thicknesses – 0.5mm and 0.75mm. Sprayhoods would have the thicker grade)
- Heavy-duty sewing machine
- Denim-style needles
- Polyester thread
- Stitching cutter
- Double-sided tape
- Silicon spray
- Clothes brush
Step 2: Stitching the seams
Step 3: Remove the old window
Now comes the task of removing the old window, which has acted as a brace to keep things in shape throughout the whole operation.
What did it cost?
For this size of window, Alan’s quoted price was around £35 per window. Even when all three windows were replaced, and some canvas repairs carried out, it still worked out a lot cheaper for the Andersons than an entire new canopy, which would have cost around £800-£900 for Fidget.
The refurbished canopy will operationally be as good as new. With a proper clean and reproofing with a dyed product, such as Renovo, it could even look (almost) new again.
Alan Dring, Hawke House Ltd, tel: 02392 588588, www.hawkehouse.co.uk
Alan runs demonstration days where classes of up to six people at a time are shown how to make their own covers, upholstery and undertake general repairs to boat fabrics.