My slats fit into a piece of aluminum U channel in a frame around the companionway, and the frame had a small leak. Nothing big but anytime it would rain hard I would have a few drops of water that leaked under the frame and would drip on whatever was below the companionway. Not huge, but it was annoying and I wanted to fix it before it got any worse. The leak had clearly been there for some time as the original owner had done the same thing as with the leaking stations and put some silicone on the outside of the frame to stop the leak. I needed to remove the frame and rebed it properly with 3M 4000UV, and hopefully it will last as long as the boat.
The frame came out without too much work. The (aprox) 15 screws were all removed, including 2 through a hand hold and one inside the head that went through the frame. Then with the aid of a couple fine knife blades and paint scrapers we worked the frame loose. The only hard part was the port side bulkhead that was placed hard against the frame so there was quite a lot of friction to work it free. It appears to have been originally bed in something like 3M 4000 UV, but it was done poorly and the sealant did not make it to the screw holes, resulting in one of the sources of the leaks.
Once the frame was removed we had to clean off the old sealant, which I found came off slowly yet pretty easily by pulling at a 120deg angle to the surface, while using the edge of the scraper to run back and forth over the edge of the sealant where it was still stuck to the gelcoat. After 2.5 hours of work It came off with almost no residue left on the surface.
I found that hidden behind the frame there were many voids and just an overall poor attention to detail from the factory at this joint where the deck mold and the cabin mold came together, and many of the joints and voids needed filled or reinforced. I mixed up a couple decent size batches of penetrating epoxy and injected it into all of the holes and seams, this actually took 2 rounds of epoxy injection to fill everything to my liking, and used roughly 16oz of mixed epoxy for the project. Since I was doing this in mid March and the temperatures were only hovering in the mid 50’s during the day (a little warmer than that under the cover), it took 2 weeks for the epoxy to fully cure vs the 24 hours it normally takes. To help the epoxy cure I was running the stove in the boat to warm things up while doing this, which brought the temp inside the cover up to at least 60, and well over 75 inside the cabin.
While the epoxy was curing I took the frame home and soda blasted the silicone and other crud off the frame that had collected and stained the surface over the years. The frame came out looking pretty much like new, and after an acetone wipe down was ready for reinstallation.
To reinstall I first predrilled out all the screw holes since I had filled them all in with epoxy, and I got the frame roughly into place and used a calk gun of 3M 4000UV to fill all the way around, paying extra attention to all the screw holes. I then slid the frame fully into place and injected some 4000UV directly into each screw hole, leaving a small bubble of it on the top, and screwed everything into place. An acetone soaked rag easily cleaned up the excess around the screws, leaving a very well sealed frame.
Then just to be fully safe I ran a small bead of 4000UV around the top and outside edge of the frame, as well as the inside edge, which I cleaned up the excess with acetone soaked rags, and leaving a very nice looking seal that should prevent any moisture intrusion from even reaching the inner bead of sealant.
To keep dirt from making it’s way into the wet bead of sealant while I continued to work on other projects for the weekend I put a piece of tape loosely over everything while it cured.
We have had a few hard rain storms this year, and not one drop has leaked in as a result.