Replacing a Cockpit Windscreen Panel on an Oceanranger by Ian Buchanan

The central panel of my Oceanranger windscreen had developed crazing/ cracks over the years. After several years of prevarication, it was decided that this section of the windscreen should be renewed (Figure 1).

Spoiler alert: This is an awkward job! The whole windscreen is easily removed from the boat. I took it home to work on it, also the fixing washers (figure 2) for repainting – going well so far! The main difficulty is in removing the old panel, as it is both sealed into the frame and secured by metal straps where the outer curved sections adjoin the central panel. Care needs to be taken in removing the interscrews in the metal straps, which may well have seized over the years. Cutting away the old sealant is difficult, but needs to be done to free the old panel from the frame. I found this to be the hardest part of the job (figures 3, 4, 5).

Having removed the old panel it was taken to a specialist plastics factory for a new panel to be made to the same size and shape. This central panel is not heat shaped, and although you can introduce some pre-bend this is not essential, as the new 8mm plastic is flexible enough to fit into the frame.

It is necessary to dry fit the new panel into the frame to ensure that the holes are aligned/ adjusted to fit. The holes under the metal straps are in fact semi holes and need to be filed out with a small round file (as you cannot drill half a hole) (figure 6). Prior to sealing in the new panel, the edges of the frame/straps/Perspex are masked to avoid sealant going in the wrong places (figure 7). Once everything is ready for the final re-assembly the frame slot and the adjoining curved windscreen panel edges can be coated with sealant; I used CT1 sealant. Temporary bolts and nuts were used to secure the straps during the assemble to hold everything secure whilst the sealant set. The interscrews were then refitted.

A feature of these panels is that they tend to gather dirt underneath the glazing where it is fitted over the cockpit coaming (figure 8). To avoid this dirt showing, the bottom edge of the panel is painted white. Alternatively, it could be fitted with a white vinyl strip. To seal the gap under the front edge of the panel/coaming joint I fitted a small strip of window sealing strip at the bottom edge on the inside of the windscreen.

Having done all the work it is then a simple job to replace it onto the boat (Figures 9 and 10).