View Full Version : wheelhouse windows

12-08-2013, 08:39 PM
When i put a new wheelhouse on my 45 ft '76 lobster boat rebuild I.am thinking of putting in traditional wood trim windows but my problem is i have never done this before; had a 36 footer when i was younger and it had screwed on plexglass...yuck. was involved in a few fg fishing boat constructions but we used glass guys to put them in with rubber seals and metal frames for slidng windows.
I cannot find much online or on here about installing or planning windows.
Does anyone know of any sites or books on this?
I want them traditional but functional with a sliding side window and possibly a fwd window slider or on hinges.

Ian McColgin
12-08-2013, 08:47 PM
Use lexan rather than plexi. You can get some local advice but I'd think 1/2" adequate.

It will be easier to make nice wood frames/sliders if you make the slide go up and down. You'll need a friction grip to keep them set.


Nick J
12-08-2013, 11:28 PM
You'll need a friction grip to keep them set.

On our 1950's wood tug we use wedges to hold them in place at whatever hight we like and a leather belt attached to the bottom to lower them down and raise them back up. This works well but keep in mind it is not water tight in heavy weather; the boat was built with this in mind at the yard so it has a draining basin underneath the windows.

Ian McColgin
12-08-2013, 11:50 PM
Boats I've been on with these windows usually had them drop into a pocket that was outside the main pilot house structure and had some weep holes at the bottom. That way even a breaking wave would not force water up past the underside of the window. The side and top runner troughs were a sort of hydrophobic felt so when the brake was applied - really a glorified wedge - the windows were press sealed against driving rain or even boarding seas.

At any rate, simple to design and make. Strong as the rest of the house.

Unless the front face of the pilot house is vertical, you don't want this approach there. Actually, I'd put fixed windows facing forward. Any opening sort is weaker than fixed and this is the direction where the most abuse lies.

For fixed windows, I like an inside frame as big as the basic cut-out, the lexan maybe 3/4" bigger than the cut out all around, and outside frame that has a step cut so it can lie on the lexan in the area of overlap lexan past cut-out and then step down to be flush with the house. Lexan is so stout that it makes sense to through bolt from outer frame through lexan, house side, and inner frame. Bed it with your poloytenacious glop of choise.

MN Dave
12-09-2013, 01:30 AM
Bed it with your poloytenacious glop of choise.

Check the label or manufacturer's literature to be sure that the glop is safe for polycarbonate. PC is very sensitive to some solvents (including acetone and MEK) and it will crack or even crumble if the wrong material is used.


David G
12-09-2013, 01:41 AM
I'd also caution that Lexan (polycarbonate) has drawbacks. While it is stronger, and will take substantially more impact, than plexiglass... it also scratches easier and hazes more quickly - esp. if it exposed to the wrong solvents/cleaning products. There are coatings available from the factory that help. Did you consider glass?

12-09-2013, 10:43 AM
While there is a scratch-resistant variety of polycarbonate, it's still pretty soft. If you intend a windshield wiper, it won't last well. For larger boat to be used in harsh conditions, I'd be thinking of tempered glass.

Ian McColgin
12-09-2013, 10:53 AM
It could make sense to make the front windows, or perhaps one, of auto windshield glass. Or put in a clearview. The side windows need not be scratched. Modern lexans I've seen are clear after about twenty years which seems long enough.

12-09-2013, 12:15 PM
Im going to be using glass, just looking for proper way to install and frame them in with wood so they look traditional yet are water tight and functional

12-09-2013, 12:21 PM
I'd also caution that Lexan (polycarbonate) has drawbacks. While it is stronger, and will take substantially more impact, than plexiglass... it also scratches easier and hazes more quickly - esp. if it exposed to the wrong solvents/cleaning products. There are coatings available from the factory that help. Did you consider glass?
Looking to use glass but wood framed and am looking for the proper way to frame them

12-09-2013, 01:10 PM
Almost all modern window installations are frameless....no frame on the exterior. The windows are bedded in adhesive.

just like your car windshield . Glass or plastic..your choice.

opening windows are a different story. You would be best to first look at manufactured, ready to set, opening windows.

a canadian company..that i cant remember the name...is prominent in this field. Google marine window, doors and have a look.

windows for camper vans are also worth a look.

the harbour workboat at the shipyard for antifoul has plastic side and aft windows with a lewmar opening port set into the center of the window...looks good.

12-09-2013, 02:04 PM
What you are going to do is build a bunch of sills, stops, and jambs, typically of hardwood. For lobsterboats mahogany is traditional, and it's finished bright(varnish). Once you decide on the specific sizes of the pieces, just run off a bunch on the tablesaw. The proportions are critical so look at other boats for clues as to the relative sizes. Sliders can run in grooves cut directly into the wood sills, or you can buy (Defender or Hamilton) sliding window track of aluminum or plastic and glue it into the sill.

These drawings are by Hub Miller and show various alternatives......



Lew Barrett
12-09-2013, 02:12 PM
On powerboats (glass is the right choice), the front windows are least troublesome if fixed in place. Traditional boats have simple arrangements, but they can be improved upon. The window is set in a rabbet bedded on both sides (rabbet and trim). Trim is attached so that it can be removed for re-bedding at a future date. All wood faying/mating surfaces must be very thoroughly sealed before bedding. The choice of bedding compound is crucial; it must be durable enough to last through a number of seasons, yet not so tenacious as to make future removal of trim or glass for re-bedding or replacement difficult. The key to making an oil based bedding compound hold up is proper sealing. Whatever you do, remember that large windows frequently become a source of weeping, so planning for refreshing and renewing components is important. Keeping it simple, with fewer opening windows eases the job, but of course you want to provide airflow enough for good ventilation.

Any opening windows are usually fitted with a way to channel water overboard; Ian's suggestions for incorporating weep holes into fixed channels are important to observe.

Factories like Chris Craft used sliding windows in their designs, but note that years on, those can become a source of irritation when hardware and trim becomes "varnished in" over time, making window repairs into a refinishing project as well. Still, it's instructional to see how different people accomplished it. In CC's case, the windows usually slide fore/aft in a track that has the channel fitted with one or several small tubes that act as weep holes that drain through the cabin sides. Frequently, there are two opening lights ("inner" and "outer") that overlap somewhat when closed. These are run in two parallel tracks. Easier if you can see it than it is to describe.

Other designers and builders have their opening lights arranged to slide vertically much as a single hung window does, but with the catch "basin" (channel) fitted beneath and a weep hole to channel water overboard. These are frequently fitted with strapping and often fixed in place with wedges. Simple, effective. Yet other are elaborate affairs with window winders much as you'd find in cars. I consider these fun in a gilded age sort of way, but far too troublesome to be practical and obviously, difficult to source parts for and engineer.

Ed Monk, a very practical man avoided opening lights wherever possible. Air was moved through by hatch arrangement, generous door openings and the like. In hot climates this can have the effect of limiting airflow through the cabin onto the pilot, but it works well in northern climes. A fan fitted in an appropriate place makes a simple solution while running, and the open doors in the pilot house provide ample ventilation when anchored out or tied to the dock.

An opening front light can be accomplished in several ways: by swinging it out through an arc with an overlapping section covering the bottom portion of the light, often with appropriately sized gaskets fitted to seal the margins of the pane, or a framed light, usually hinged at the top with gaskets for sealing and hardware to match and hold in place. All in all, it's a lot easier to forgo a vanity window on the front of the boat, but they are surely appreciated when the weather is hot.

The best way to decide what approach to take is to look at a lot of boats, and to realize you may not need as many opening windows as you think.

Lew Barrett
12-09-2013, 02:15 PM
Wow! I just saw Tad's post and must say, I feel foolish! It must have gone up as I was typing out mine. A picture sure is worth a thousand words!

The thing Tad mentions that I do too, is to look at a lot of boats to decide what arrangements you'd like and feel comfortable will work for your climate and needs. Windows are a pane!

12-09-2013, 02:23 PM
Depending on your wheelhouse shape and size a three panel windscreen...port and stb swept with wipers and a center with top opening panel works very well.

wheelhouses get very hot. Heat rises.... Airflow is needed

flush mount Windows are less maintenece than exterior framed. Frames always hold water

http://s16.postimg.org/x85qk9d0l/image.jpg (http://postimage.org/)
subir fotos gratis (http://postimage.org/index.php?lang=spanish)

12-09-2013, 05:33 PM
Looks like you got some good suggestions and even some sketches of various designs. I built two hinged, wood framed windows this past spring for my 40 year old Jarvis Newman 36 lobster boat built by Joel White. My only suggestions would be to remember that the devil is in the details. If you make a hinged window you will need to gasket the joint between the frame and the house, you may need to test some samples of gasket to find the right one for your build but in general using an EPDM closed cell foam should work pretty well and be inexpensive. You will want the hinges to act such that all four sealing surfaces come to rest at the same time and compress equally, no more than 50% of the seal thickness, shoot for 20-25%. Poron is another great sealing element, very little compression set so if applied correctly it will seal and reseal over a long period of time without staying "squished." Hinges will leak a little bit through the hinge pin so depending on your design you may need to put a flexible shield over the hinge or keep the pin out of the path of the water. Go with glass, just like cars use. Tempered glass is four or five time stronger than regular glass and is used on the side windows of cars. When damaged it will break into many small fairly harmless pieces. Laminated glass is used on car windshields and has a layer of plastic in the middle to contain the fragments. Either one will work. I used Dulles Glass to make my pieces, google their name, informative website. Also, take another cue from autos, use butyl tape to set the glass onto your frame. The type used on cars is very firm yet flexible and allows the glass to float on your frame while remaining water tight. It also allows for expansion and contraction from temperature extremes. Look at how it is done on cars, they just put one layer of tape onto the car frame and set the glass on the tape. In many cases there is not even a trim strip to cover the joint. They make millions of these without leaks. Windshield wipers: be careful how far above the outside face of the house that the window frame extends. If your house is thick the shaft of the wiper motor may not be long enough to allow the wiper to fit the window. I had to make some shaft extensions to make mine work. Have fun!

12-09-2013, 08:42 PM
Thx for the great suggestions, very informative

12-09-2013, 10:19 PM
I am be a bit late but I did put some windows in my boat,about 13 of them.I built the frames and all and used laminated 1/4" glass.

If you've the patience, just skip by the unrelated posts and check out how I did my windows....I have pictures showing the process a ways down the following pages:


which carries over onto page 21.

this page shows installing the glass


and this page shows why laminated glass was chosen over safety glass....it keeps something in the opening instead of a million beads all over the floor.


it carries over to page 125

As I said, scroll down until you come to pictures of the windows, otherwise you may get dragged into a lot of madness

Hope it is helpful and inspiring.



donald branscom
12-10-2013, 07:19 PM
I'd also caution that Lexan (polycarbonate) has drawbacks. While it is stronger, and will take substantially more impact, than plexiglass... it also scratches easier and hazes more quickly - esp. if it exposed to the wrong solvents/cleaning products. There are coatings available from the factory that help. Did you consider glass?

A wave breaking over the bow of a boat can exert 77,000 lbs of force per sq. foot.

I know you do not want glass.
I have seen 6 inch diameter 1/2 inch thick ports that were broken.