May 30, 2013

Maintenance: Seals for cockpit locker lids - trial and error

Cockpit locker lids have caused me a headache multiple times. The original seals were bonded tightly, but after over twenty years of service, the seals started to be a bit worn out. As their ability to keep the water out was compromised, we decided to renew all the seals. Well more easily said than done! The first attempt was made in June 2011 while sailing in Sweden: we bought a self-adhesive gasket tape from a local maritime store, but after one month or so, the new seal was already pushed out of its position. Every time the lid is closed, the seal is compressed and eventually looses its shape and becomes unstuck. Furthermore, the displaced tape leaves a nasty sticky surface, that collects all the dirt in the boat. So the self-adhesive tape clearly is not a long-term solution for the locker lids!

U-shaped seal
The second attempt was made in the spring 2012; we came up with a genuine solution (we thought) of glueing U-shaped seal on the locker side, so that when the lid is closed, the seal is pushed more firmly into its position. First we tried glueing the seal with Sikaflex, which made the surfaces so slippery, that it was difficult to get the seal to stay in place long enough before it started sticking. Then we tried an epoxy glue, which had a good grip, but this was not a long-term solution either, since the epoxy is not flexible. And flexibility is what is needed since the rubber is flexible. Furthermore, the U-shaped seal was too thin, so rest of the summer I was glueing those self-adhesive tapes every two weeks or so to keep the water out.  

U-seals did not last the whole season
Quick fix with a self-adhesive tape
This spring it was time to get this thing fixed, since I was totally done with playing with those seals all the time. With the help of another HR29 owner from England, we found a good quality material for the locker lid seals: that is solid neoprene or chloroprene rubber (CR), which is the best rubber material in terms of withstanding the weather at least according to our local chandlery. Another important thing was to find a strong waterproof adhesive which is still flexible. The local chandlery suggested using Fix All's High Tack adhesive which was very easy to apply. Also a 3M 5200 adhesive sealant could be a good option.

Only time will tell how well this (hopefully) final attempt works, but at least the start has been promising, since the seals have stayed firmly in place!
/Antti

Preparation is the key: the gelcoat was abraded, then cleaned and degreased with acetone. 

Making corners to the seal

 The surface was cleaned once more with a normal masking tape before glueing the seal


Left to dry at least for 24 hours

Locker lid with a new seal in place

2 comments:

  1. We have the exact same problem this year. The locker seals are for some reason coming off and so far we have only had time to scrub the old adhesive off. It didn't even cross my mind that the whole thing would be difficult to glue back. Let's see how we will do with our project. Hopefully yours won't give you extra gray hair this summer.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Vellamo! I guess that it depends also on the lid design, how much the seals are compressed etc.. I think that in general, if you choose good quality rubber, proper adhesive and prepare well the surfaces, you have good chances of succeeding.

    ReplyDelete

It would be very great to hear your opinion or comments. Thank you in advance for commenting! -Antti & Minna