I’ve been working the last few months on remodeling the aft cabin on the Pomaika’i. This will be my primary living space, so I wanted it free of the old boat smell and easy to keep clean. To accomplish this, I tore out all the old liner, faired the inside of the hull, and started to paint. I figured this would be a good time to rebed the portlights in the cabin to guarantee that everything was watertight. While the New Found Metals portlights are top in the industry, these had been neglected for years. Also one of the previous owners had done a poor job of cleaning up after the install, and there was butyl tape seeping out from around the edges of the portlights.
Cleaning Off The Butyl Tape
Butyl tape is a rubbery tape material that is very good to use for bedding items on the deck. It’s easily malleable; this allows it fill in areas around bolts and surfaces to mold to the surface. Also, the butyl tape isn’t permanent. This makes it easier than say 3M’s 5200 bedding which is almost impossible to remove when you’re doing maintenance on deck hardware.
The first step to cleaning the New Found Metals portlights was to use a plastic putty knife to remove the bulk of the tape. If you take your time and slowly roll the tape off with the putty knife, you’ll find that the bulk of it will come off easily. If you try to work it too fast, you’ll find that it just smears across the surface.
Next use mineral spirits to wipe off the residue. Find some rags you won’t mind never using again, as they’ll go straight into the trash when you’re done. I found that if I wiped it once with a mineral spirits wetted rag and let it set for 5 – 10 seconds allowing it to penetrate a bit the butyl tape came off easier.
Polish and Protect The Portlights
I’ve become a big fan of 3M Marine Metal Restorer and Polish. The Pomaika’i stainless steel has been neglected for years. Surface rust and dirt has been left to for far too long. A little elbow grease and patience and the stainless is cleaning up nicely. I’ve found that using cheap socks as polishing rags has really made cleaning up the rounded surfaces of stainless steel really easy. Using the sock as a puppet, you can grip the stainless steel pipes of the stanchions and steering wheel to quickly clean them up.