Portlight Questions

Discussion in 'Materials' started by SeaJay, Oct 7, 2009.

  1. SeaJay
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Sacramento

    SeaJay Senior Member

    Ok, I’m at a bit of a dead end on this…I need to purchase 4 opening portlights, (custom build) and have tried, without luck, to find some independent evaluation of the various major brands.

    These things aren’t cheap and I’m just not comfortable in using the manufacturer’s marketing material as the major basis of my purchase. While the AL or SS frames have obvious attractive features, the Bomar “plastic” portlights are considerably less expensive. Is this false economy in the long run. I would really appreciate some feedback from the members of this forum. What have been your experiences? What features should I be looking for, what do I want to avoid?

    Regards to all,

  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The usual suspects in materials are bronze, aluminum, steel and plastic. Bronze is highest on the list for durability. It's strong and weathers the marine environment well. Stainless is a good choice, if it's 316L. Aluminum tends to be made more cheaply then the bronze or steel versions. It's fairly common to see extruded assemblies with less then desirable alloys. They seem to pit quickly and aren't especially strong. Custom built units can be far better with good grades of aluminum and thick enough sections to tolerate abuse. Plastics are easy to manufacture and why you see them. They aren't especially strong and eventually will break down from UV. You can get hundreds of years of service from a bronze unit, maybe 20 from a plastic one, with the last 10 looking pretty chalky.

    In the end, most try to balance price against the durability they want. If you don't expect to hand this boat down to your kids, then plastic may be an option. If you'd like your kids to have the option of handing it down to your grand kids, then bronze is the choice.
  3. SeaJay
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Sacramento

    SeaJay Senior Member

    Thanks Par for your typical informative reply. I sort of figured the materials would line up as you noted, but what about quality of construction and details. Are there any features or models you would or would not recommend?
  4. ScottK
    Joined: Jan 2010
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    Location: Air Ronge, SK, Canada

    ScottK Landlubber

  5. missinginaction
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: New York

    missinginaction Senior Member

    Those ports from New Found Metals are sure nice.

    I don't know what you are building but a less expensive alternative for you might be from Beckson Corporation.


    I've used four 8" round ports on my SIlverton restoration. Two on a rear cabin bulkhead and two on a partition inside the boat. They were inexpensive but IMO very nice quality. Now I'm not a blue water cruiser and if I ever get green water over the stern high enough to stress these ports I'll be going down anyway so brute strength was not my #1 priority. I remember paying $40.00 each for the 8" round opening ports a couple of years ago. I don't know what they are going for now. I called Beckson before I installed the ports and one of the reps there took 1/2 hour or so discussing exactly how to install them. They were nice people to deal with and very helpful.

    Hey PAR while I'm here, how come your handle says "20100203"?

  6. SeaJay
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Sacramento

    SeaJay Senior Member

    Yes, the ports from New Found Metals are nice. So far they seem to be the best value I've been able to locate. I've spoken with the factory and they were very helpful and suggested that discounts might be available for multiple unit purchases. Their TriMatrix models (plastic) are particularly attractively priced, although I'm not wild about their outside appearance...they just seem a bit too "busy". (Maybe the entire outside could be painted to clean up the visual clutter. Really a minor complaint.)

  7. dskira

    dskira Previous Member

    Plastic ports are to be avoided at any cost.
    Go for the real, on the long run you will save money, and dripping, and UV fading, and total destruction at the wrong time.
    So go for steel, ss or bronze, everything but plastic.
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