A very common problem with older C-22s is a companionway hatch that screeches when opened or closed. Over the years, the flanges on the sides of the hatch and the teak rails that they slide in wear thin from use.
This eventually lowers the middle of the front edge of the hatch until it scrapes against the cabin roof. The sound it makes is like fingernails on a blackboard, only louder. It’s not something that you want to put up with for long.
If left unattended, the flanges can begin to crack and chip. Fortunately, you don’t need an expensive new hatch or a complicated fiberglass repair. Instead, a simple rebuild of the bottom of the flanges with epoxy often suffices and at a very stingy cost.
After the thickness of the flanges has been restored, the front edge of the hatch should clear the cabin roof and not screech.
Masking tape. It’s not just for painting anymore
Here’s a trick to make this job even easier – use masking tape to make a temporary mold around the worn flange.
To rebuild the hatch flanges:
1. Remove the screws on the underside of the cabin roof for one of the teak hatch rails and remove the rail. You might need to gently pry it off with a putty knife if sealant was used. Remove the hatch to an area where you can work on it. Now would be a good time to refinish both rails like I describe in Restore Your Exterior Teak to Better Than New.
2. Prepare the bottoms of the flange surfaces. Turn the hatch upside down and use an abrasive mesh wheel in a drill or a similar tool to remove all paint and loose fiberglass anywhere the epoxy needs to adhere. Then wipe everything down well with Acetone.
3. To contain the epoxy, wrap masking tape around the outer and inner edges of each flange. Affix half of the tape width to the hatch and leave the other half of the width standing free. This makes a simple mold that can be easily peeled off. Be sure to seal off the ends and do not leave any gaps in the tape or the epoxy will run out.
4. Mix a batch of unthickened epoxy in a small paper cup or other container that is easy to pour. Each flange will take 2 pumps each of resin and hardener to produce about 1/4″ of material.
5. Pour the epoxy into the molds and use a mixing stick to spread it evenly down the full length of each flange. Use a bubble level to be sure the epoxy will settle to a uniform thickness along the entire length of the flanges.
6. After the epoxy has hardened completely, simply peel off the masking tape molds. The adhesive works like a mold release, leaving no paper behind.
7. Sand the edges flat and round them over slightly with 80 grit sandpaper on a hand-held belt sander or sanding block. No gel coat or painting needed.
8. Test the fit of the flanges in the slots of the teak hatch slides. If necessary, remove more epoxy until the flanges slide easily without binding.
9. Replace the hatch and the teak rail.
You might discover that the hatch still screeches even if there is space between the middle front edge and the cabin roof. That might be because one of the cutouts in the front of the hatch (see the close-up photos above) is scraping on the roof rib beneath it. If so, then the hatch may be too loose from side to side within the rails because the flanges are too narrow.
You can either make them wider when you rebuild the flanges as above or try rounding the edges of the cutouts with sandpaper so that there are no sharp edges to scrape on the ribs.
At last, no more screeching!
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