Restoring Clear-vinyl Windows

Clear vinyl dodger windows, through which we keep watch, are annoying tattle tales, recording and announcing every bit of rough handling and neglect. They burn in the sun. They bleed plasticizers, turning yellow and sticky. And unlike mildew in the cockpit or an upholstery stain, we cant simply ignore their flaws by turning our heads.

Restoring Vinyl Windows: DIY or Hire a Pro?

If your vinyl dodger windows are more than five to seven years old and looking tired but your canvas is still looking good, its likely time to breathe some new life into them. Vinyl-window restoration can remove surface oxidation, plasticizer residue, imbedded dirt, scuffs, and very shallow scratches; it also can provide a durable coating to seal the surface, which will be more porous after buffing. Smaller window restorations can be handled by the do-it-yourselfer, but for big-or particularly gnarley-jobs, you may want to consider hiring someone to do it for you.

Heavy-Duty Rubbing Compounds

Gelcoat provides a fiberglass boat with a hard, water-resistant protective shell. When new, its polished and waxed to a bright shine, but after a few years of facing the elements-especially damaging UV rays-gelcoat will begin to oxidize and turn into a dull, chalky film on the surface. There are a few ways to remedy an oxidation problem (see Tips & Techniques), but for this article, we focused on coarse and medium-coarse rubbing compounds, which can be buffed on to remove the chalky layer and fine scratches. The tests evaluated ease of use, ability to remove oxidation and scratches, and whether they left swirl marks; testers also considered price, availability, and eco-friendliness.

Tired Daysailer Hull Serves as Test Platform

Practical Sailor tested the compounds on the badly oxidized hull of a neglected 1974 ODay Javelin daysailer that has been stored uncovered in the Florida sun and salt air for years. Formerly the platform for gelcoat restorer and wax tests, the Javelins once dark-blue hull had degraded into a chalky, light blue mess.

Shurhold Buffing Pad Cleaner

During our April 2014 performance test of rubbing compounds, we sullied a dozen brand-new wool buffing pads, all of which were Shurhold brand. Since quality buffing pads are reusable (and not cheap), we thought the rubbing compound test was a great opportunity to also check out Shurholds new, professional-grade Serious Pad Cleaner (No. 30803). Mixed with water, this powdered concentrate is formulated to dissolve compounds and waxes from wool, polyester, cotton, microfiber, and foam buffing pads or cloths.

Aggressive Hull Cleaning Stirs Up Copper Debate

Early this month, irate boat owners from Marina del Rey, Calif., packed the regional water-quality board meeting, protesting a rule that would require them to switch to a copper-free antifouling paint by the year 2024. The board unanimously voted in favor of the rule, moving it another step forward in the legislative process-a bureaucratic cricket match that will drag on for several years.

Keeping Canvas in Tip-top Shape

Canvas dodgers and biminis are the hallmark of a cruising yacht, but they arent cheap to come by. We wanted to find the best way to protect the investment and get the most life out of the canvas. Sunbrella makers recommend that routine maintenance include frequent freshwater rinsing, plus spot cleaning, and applying a treatment to restore the fabrics repellency. In this article, we take a look at treatments designed to keep on-board canvas water repellent and looking its best. We tested seven: Aquatech, Marykate, 3M, 303 Products, NikWax, Star brite, and Iosso.

Protecting Clear Vinyl Windows

Whats the best way to keep your dodger or biminis clear-vinyl windows looking new? We tested sprays, creams, and pastes to find the best way to clean and protect clear vinyl products like Strataglass, Regalite, and OSea. This report is an early look at the long-term test, which will be running for three years and includes cleaners and protectants from Imar, 303 Products, Star brite, AquaTech Marine, 3M, Meguiars, and Novus.

How Do Different Vinyl Types Compare?

After several months of testing the panels, we established some preliminary findings regarding different vinyl brands. The untreated Strataglass, OSea, and Regalite panels were equally clear; there was a slight difference in their coloring, but this is typical and in use, it would never be noticed.

Best Practices for Maintaining Clear Vinyl

The Strataglass users maintenance guide states the following: We recommend using only Imar Products. Imar Strataglass Protective Polish, Imar Strataglass Protective Cleaner, and mild soap (preferably Imar Yacht Soap Concentrate) on Strataglass. We no longer recommend the use of any other products, regardless of the manufacturers claims. Use of harsh cleaners like Simple Green and/or pine will dull the curtains quickly. Using any other product(s) void the factory warranty. The guide further warns: Use of RAINEX, Pledge, or Plexus on Strataglass appears to work for a short time but then dulls the surface and presents an Orange Peel effect. Do not use any of these products.

The Tragedy of the Driverless Dinghy

In the wake of a terrible tragedy that struck a few days before Thanksgiving in Sarasota, Florida, home of the Sarasota Youth Sailing Program...